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Reader Survey: Constructive criticism leading to a better newspaper

By Staff
Dec. 10, 2000
It takes a lot for me to be shocked these days. I've been to a hog killin', seen a race riot, and even been to a World's Fair. I once watched a redneck buddy of mine dive off a three story building into a pile of cardboard boxes. Twenty-five years later the limp is barely noticeable.
But I have to say I've been shocked at the response to our Reader Survey. Not only have we received hundreds more responses than I had imagined, the comments, answers and constructive criticism have been outstanding.
Great suggestions
And it's been humbling and rewarding to hear from so many of our readers who are genuinely hooked on The Star and offer great suggestions on how to make it even better.
Oh, there are the few nasty folks who don't like anything, much less the daily newspaper, who want to vent their frustrations because their DUI was listed in the arrest reports, but the overwhelming response has been constructive and positive. And those constructive remarks can only serve to give you, our readers, a better newspaper. I am truly grateful for your participation.
I have always felt that airing differences and sharing ideas is the best way to move forward. It is why I have open discussions in our daily staff meetings, and why I take staffers on the occasional retreat in order to hear what they have to say without the noise of the paper in their ears.
If taken and given in good faith, constructive criticism will only make us stronger.
Reaching out
In that vein, I applaud the Meridian Public Schools efforts to reach out to the community, make a better effort to keep the media informed of their goings on, and to break down some barriers that have isolated the board and created an "us versus them" mentality with many parents.
Perhaps it took the solid defeat of the recent school bond issues to wake folks up to the fact that there were very serious communication and trust issues that had to be overcome before the process could be moved forward. No one, not even the opposition to the bond issues, was against better schools. But the inability to sit down in the same room, with egos left at the door, stifled the process. Again, "us versus them."
Likewise, the efforts of the Grow Meridian task force should be looked upon as a way to put all issues and concerns, positive and negative, to the table. This group, under the capable leadership of Bill Crawford, can only be as good as the input it receives from the people of Meridian. I encourage those with ideas, concerns, and criticisms to let this committee know how you feel.
Chain of trust
As an old PR man who learned from some masters in some mighty deep trenches, I can assure you that communication, in the form of constructive dialog, can ultimately lead to trust.
Trust can lead to accomplishments that earlier seemed unattainable. And once those accomplishments begin to come in waves, they create a culture. And from that winning culture comes expectations for greater and greater achievements. The whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. And we all reap the benefits of our success.
Paul Barrett is publisher of The Meridian Star. E-mail him at