This is an archived article that was published on in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

From time to time, I go out into the community and speak to reader groups; this week I met with a women's book club in Millcreek. While there were no red hats in evidence, these were ladies of a certain age.

And to a woman, they have read The Salt Lake Tribune since they were teens. From cover to cover. Almost every word, every day.

Believe me, they know what we cover, what we used to cover, what they like and what they hate.

These are the women who were trained by their parents to read the paper and be informed.

Each one of them has a preferred method of saving articles they will refer to again. Some use tiny embroidery scissors to do the cutting; some use X-Acto knives, some use the kitchen shears and the boldest just tear the articles out of the paper.

And, they file the articles, each one like an archivist for a particular subject.

These are not ladies who lunch; these are ladies who read, and study and discuss.

What do they want?

First, they want us to pay more attention to spelling and grammar. They want us to put modifying phrases where they belong. They want us to write articles the length they need to be to tell the story.

They spot it when a reporter pads a story with extraneous material. They spot it when we struggle to find the lead paragraph in a report. They spot it when we rush things into print and spot it when we seem to dawdle in publishing something.

"I like the little, bright articles you print. They should be short and clever. Why are some of them so long?" one woman asked.

I told her the truth: It's harder to write short articles than long ones. We are working on it.

Why does The Tribune have so much sports coverage, one woman wanted to know.

I told her the truth: Many families take The Tribune to read sports coverage. Several minutes of sports on local TV doesn't meet the need of readers who want the statistics and the preview stories, plus the sports features.

"I love the Letters to the Editor section," one lady said. "Why don't you have more letters with a conservative bent?"

I told her the truth: The Editorial Department gets more liberal and moderate letter-writers than conservative.

One woman said she likes the Saturday Faith section. "I like to read what other religions are doing and about the people of various faiths."

I said thanks for the confidence.

Finally, one woman voiced what I have come to understand in this community: "You should know this is my Salt Lake Tribune, so don't mess it up."

We hear you.


* The Reader Advocate's phone number is 801-257-8782. Write to the Reader Advocate, The Salt Lake Tribune, 90 S. 400 West, Suite 700, Salt Lake City, Utah 84101.

This week's stats

* 105: Number pleased with Utah Jazz coverage

* 33: Number upset about not enough Iraq War coverage

* 19: Number who want more coverage of "pocketbook" issues

* 31: Number upset by too much polygamy coverage

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