When Readers Write
Sorting through the comments from this year's reader survey, from "Love it!" to "YOU SUCK!!!"
Most months, this column is where I have my say. Twice a year, however, we turn this space over to you, the readers, and report your responses and comments to our annual survey. Last month, we shared the statistical stuff; this month, some highlights of the many thoughtful comments readers took time to pen on the survey form or type online. We had a record response to the 2008 survey, so we also have an unprecedented pile of comments. All are read and appreciated, even if we don't have the space to share them all here.
Frankly, we could fill this entire column just with expressions of praise and appreciation for Desert Exposure along the lines of one reader's, "Love it! Love it! Love it! (Did I mention that I love it?)." But we'll try to be selective, lest you get bored and we get even more swell-headed than we did reading these comments in the first place:
"This is the best source of entertainment and local information. I look forward to it every month," wrote a Santa Clara reader. "Your paper has the kind of news I love to read! I wait anxiously for the next Desert Exposure to come out each month. It is the BEST little newspaper I've ever seen," writes a reader who (sadly) is moving to Arizona — but vows to keep reading our online edition. "Best free newspaper I've ever read anywhere. Best newspaper in Silver City/Grant County. I'd pay to get it more often," says a Silver City fan. Alas, such a payment would go entirely toward therapy for our nervous breakdowns from publishing more often!
"We're lucky to have the Desert Exposure. I believe that your publication is all a paper should be," wrote a Reserve reader. "A very well-written publication. An intelligent alternative to the 'mass media' (even local media)." "Love the variety of viewpoints and articles. . . . The variety of viewpoints and the mix of serious articles with humor and 'light stuff' in DE are your strengths."
Many readers singled out features they especially enjoy in Desert Exposure: "I read almost everything but always look for Jeff Berg's byline." "I am particularly interested in Jerry Eagan's fine articles." "Love the artwork on the front cover." "I can't say enough in praise of your local history pieces. They are fascinating!" An unusually perspicacious reader wrote: "A great publication and the editorials by Fryxell are superb!" "Love the great photography!" wrote a Mimbres reader, adding, "I always leave three or four copies in guest rooms and mail copies to friends all over the US, the UK and the Netherlands — they love it!"
That theme of sharing Desert Exposure was echoed again and again: "Took a copy to England to show my relatives. My sister-in-law found more information in the article about fibromyalgia than she could locally." "I usually send my copy on to my family in Vermont, hoping to persuade them to relocate. They love the paper, but still aren't sure about such a big move."
Some readers who've made that big move commented on Desert Exposure's role in helping them settle in: "We have been reading this paper ever since we decided to move to New Mexico several years ago. It has been a great help to us." Others wrote from afar to say that Desert Exposure helps them keep in touch with home: "I was born and lived in Santa Rita until I was four. . . . My interest in Southwest New Mexico goes back many years. Desert Exposure answers some of my need for maintaining my roots in a wonderful and fascinating place." "Even though far from New Mexico now, still enjoy my monthly visit with Desert Exposure."
We particularly appreciate the survey respondents who mention the reason Desert Exposure can exist — our advertisers: "Enjoy the advertisements. Much information as to what is available in Silver City. Read articles first, then go back and read the advertisements." "I really appreciate the extensive advertising by vendors in our area." "We love reading Desert Exposure. We read everything, including all the ads!"
As much as we love hearing how much you love Desert Exposure — hey, we're only human! — we also welcome the suggestions and even the complaints that readers make via our annual survey. Some offered ideas for types of coverage they'd like to see more of: "Local wildlife and wetlands issues." "More stories from the public and more of the type of story in 'Voice of a Ranchwoman.'" "More arts and crafts information, travel tips, money-saving tips, housecleaning tips and medical information." "Some local cartoons and more coverage of local politics." "A brief profile (including their voting history on issues of major concern) of the major political candidates (especially presidential candidates) late in the summer."
One reader was upset about our coverage of the Daily Press' switch from printing locally, believing we did the newspaper "an injustice" and that "it came across as mean and petty and bullying." We're sorry if any readers took our coverage that way — though the idea that a free monthly could "bully" the local daily does surprise us; we cover local media enterprises just like any other business, and this seemed a major change.
A Silver City reader commented, "This is the 21st century — why are horoscopes given such prominence in your FIRST-RATE publication?" Here again is evidence of how we really do listen to readers: The last time we failed to run a horoscope, soon after we bought Desert Exposure, we heard about it for months! And numerous readers in subsequent surveys have singled out Moti's "Celestial Cycles" horoscope column as their favorite.
And we guess this qualifies as a complaint: "I was born/raised in the Silver City area but have been gone 30-plus yrs. I visit every year. I find the Desert Exposure too heavy on 'new age' newcomer stuff. You should concentrate on the real-life local folks/history/news; don't treat it like a little Sedona disaster. I sometimes don't recognize Silver City as the same place described in the paper. But still a great mag!"
Somewhat along the same lines is this note: "Sometimes I get annoyed by so many articles with a liberal agenda; it doesn't seem balanced to me. But I still look forward to grabbing a copy on the first day out! I really do enjoy the paper and I hope you are around for a very long time!"
Perhaps that reader who thinks we're too liberal could chat with the two supporters of the extremely liberal Ralph Nader who wrote at length (and, in one case, in all uppercase letters) to express their disgust at our editorial urging readers to nix Nader's independent candidacy in 2008. One commented in part, "I will no longer bother to pick up the paper except to throw it in the garbage! Because of Fryxell I see little difference between your paper and the Scum news! This paper is not even worth using to housebreak puppies or line bird cages!" But that was mild compared to the respondent who apparently fails to understand the function of the shift and caps-lock keys: "YOU SUCK!!! . . . DON'T BE SURPRISED WHEN THE NEXT TIME YOU COME TO CRUCES, YOU FIND BUNDLES OF THE LATEST EDITION OF DESERT EXPOSURE IN THE TRASH INSTEAD OF THE RACK! (YOUR PAPER IS SO WORTHLESS, IT'S NOT EVEN WORTH RECYCLING! I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU ARE KILLING TREES FOR THIS GARBAGE!)"