An anniversary gift of research

This issue marks the second anniversary of the Heights Observer.

A few months ago, working with two marketing classes at John Carroll University, the Observer conducted a readership survey. Here are some highlights of what we learned from the 172 respondents:

·   89 percent have read the Observer.

·   80 percent know the Observer is published by the nonprofit FutureHeights.

·   70 percent read it regularly (at least 3 out of 4 issues).

·   When asked to rate overall satisfaction with the Observer, respondents were very satisfied (52%), somewhat satisfied (28%) or had no response (15%). They tended not to be neutral (4%), somewhat dissatisfied (1%) or very dissatisfied (0%).

·   When asked “What would you like to read more about in the Heights Observer,” the top responses were: local events (67%); community organizations (54%); local businesses (45%) and local government (41%). Multiple answers on this question allow totals to exceed 100 percent.

·   On average, respondents visit the Observer Web site only occasionally – defined as less than weekly and more than never.

·   Many people know our articles are written by community residents (86%), local business owners (32%), staff of local organizations (32%) or (my favorite) anyone who wants to contribute (52%). Multiple answers were again allowed on this question. But many also think, incorrectly, – that content is supplied by freelance journalists (38%) or paid staff journalists (10%). That’s a detail I’d like to set straight: The Observer has never paid for any of its content.

So what do we do with this information? Some of it is just nice to know. Some of it will help us with advertising sales. Other parts will help us refine the product.

For instance, based on this data, we’re campaigning to increase the amount of community news we receive from contributors. We’re encouraging local businesses to provide more information, too. And over the next few months, you should see evidence of our efforts to make the Web site worth visiting more often.

Mostly, though, the research tells me that in two years, the Observer has become part of the fabric of this community. As a resident, I’m grateful for that.

Bob Rosenbaum, chairman of the newspaper’s Editorial Advisory Committee and a member of the FutureHeights board, writes this monthly column to provide transparency about the Heights Observer. Send your comments and questions to

You can write for the Heights Observer by registering at the Member Center at 

Read More on Opening the Observer
Volume 3, Issue 4, Posted 4:04 PM, 03.23.2010