I spent two mornings this week meeting readers to get feedback on what they want from Hawke's Bay Today.
Both sessions - in Taradale and Havelock North - were very rewarding. The message that came through loud and clear was that our readers love the fact that Hawke's Bay Today is unashamedly local. Local news and events always come first and they love it.
There were some constructive suggestions on how we can improve the paper and I was also questioned on why we promote some stories on the front page and put others inside. We don't shy away from criticism, but we also believe we need to tell things as they are.
The breaking news stories we run on the front page are there for a reason. We highlight people who drive drunk, especially if they are public figures, because we want to lead the campaign against drink-driving.
We put photographs of road accidents on page one because we believe it is important to push the road safety message. However, we are also proud cheerleaders of Hawke's Bay.
We celebrate and promote all that is good about our province. When there is a new initiative or when someone achieves acclaim, we will publish it. Just last week we covered the launch of a wonderful new tourist venture, the Food and Wine Classic. We are fully supportive of this venture, which will see 56 events displaying the best of our food and wine.
Readers are also pleased with the indepth journalism and debate we are getting into the paper. Each Saturday we run a big feature called Insight, in which we highlight an important issue or showcase someone doing something in the community.
Our Wednesday Write-In column is a forum for public figures, interest groups and academics to give their perspective on issues. It has proved to be very popular and we encourage people to write in.
What pleased me about my sessions with our readers was that, on the whole, they were happy with their newspaper. That does not mean that we must stop trying to be better.
The change to morning delivery after so many years of being an afternoon paper did take some people time to get used to but the general feeling is that it was a good move.
From the newspaper's perspective it was the right move at the right time. The way people consume their news has changed and moving to the morning cycle means we can set the agenda. We have many things planned for the future and we will continue to evolve.
Be assured of one thing. We will keep talking to you, our readers.