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Readers turn to local news first

| Saturday, May 12, 2012, 2:36 p.m.

Hometown and neighborhood news remains important to Tribune-Review readers, and that commitment to local people and events is reflected in our annual readers survey.

Community News, Local and Westmoreland Sunday continue to be the most popular special pages and sections in the newspaper.

About 500 readers took the time to evaluate how we are doing by filling out a detailed survey form published six times during the month of February. The results were tabulated and a detailed report was compiled.

Four readers were rewarded for their efforts when their names were drawn randomly, earning each of them a $50 prize. They are John N. Beck, of Greensburg; George Eric Trout, of Monessen; Ernest Magario, of Brownsville; and Marcy Kurpieski, of Jeannette.

Overall, the survey shows a high degree of satisfaction with the newspaper.

Among special pages, Page 1 (92 percent) ranked highest in readership followed by Community News (84 percent). Among special sections, the top three were Local (83 percent), Westmoreland Sunday (80 percent) and Focus (77 percent), followed by USA Weekend (75 percent) and Food (69 percent).

Among columns and features, the top three were Obituaries (80 percent), Local Health Extra Features (69 percent) and Health Extra Ask The Doctor (66 percent), followed by Supermarket Shopper (64 percent) and Judges' Decisions (63 percent).

In Opinion and Commentary, Letters to the Editor (76 percent) and Local Editorials (68 percent) were the most popular features. The top writers for that section were George Will (42 percent), Robert Novak (40 percent), Mark Russell and Bill Steigerwald (both 38 percent), Thomas Purcell (35 percent) and Ann Coulter (33 percent).

Sam Ross Jr. was voted favorite sportswriter for the third consecutive year and the favorite comic strip for the fifth straight year was Pluggers.

Our overall coverage was rated as about the same by 46 percent of respondents, improved by 36 percent and gotten worse by 7 percent.

Local news coverage was rated excellent by 69 percent, average by 31 percent and poor by 5 percent.

Most of the special sections enjoyed increased ratings of "excellent," with Travel up 7 percent, Style and Food up 5 percent and Business up 4 percent.

Of the 75 percent of respondents who rated local coverage as "very important," 48 percent said we were doing an excellent job in that area of coverage, 23 percent rated us as average and 5 percent as poor.

Survey respondents also had the opportunity to include comments and many offered both praise and criticism of different departments -- from news coverage to newspaper delivery:

  • "Bob Frye's articles are a great improvement to the outdoors section. Very interesting and educational, I would like to see more."

  • "We've been subscribers since 1969. I would not care to be a reader of any other daily paper."

  • "I have canceled my subscription after 55 years of reading and delivering. Your biased reporting has gotten unbearable."

  • "Don't agree with your politics but I salute your paper for its willingness to print opposing views in your editorial section."

  • "Never let Randy Bish go! His cartoon is the first thing I read. Thanks Randy."

  • "Put daily features, obits, advice columns in the same section every day."

  • "Unhappy about delivery on rainy/snowy days because the paper occasionally gets wet on the corners."

  • "Yours is our only newspaper. Keep up the good work."

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