But my interest has always been trying to figure out how you take environmental information beyond the choir and develop a system for reaching broader audiences. Can we transcend just doing a publication and create a mechanism for reaching broader audiences, particularly in this day and age where there is a lot less environmental coverage in other newspapers? That’s what I want to see us work on.
We produce a publication that has a lot of credibility and the test for us is to build off that credibility to create content that other people can use and that helps create a more environment-literate society. To me, that’s the model I would like to create and that I’m working for. We’re headed in that direction and I’m optimistic that we will get there, but that’s a much tougher nut to crack than just producing a publication.
One thing I’ve tried to avoid is saying, let’s just do a website and let people come to the website. You see environmental websites all over, and I’m not sure who looks at them. This gets back to the newsstand issue that we talked about before. You go to a newsstand and there are a lot of hook-and-bullet magazines and not very much environment stuff. I don’t think you can create a website and expect a lot of people with little or no interest in these issues to go look at it. You have to find mechanisms to take your story to people. That’s what we’re trying to do.
You recently did a readership survey. What did you learn about who’s reading the Bay Journal?
The vast majority—about 80 percent—are people who identified themselves as being concerned citizens. One thing we found by the way, since you asked about coverage of government, is that coverage of governmental issues is one of the things people want to see more of. I think that’s because they’re important to a lot of people but don’t get coverage in a lot of the media. But when you ask people what they want to read about, it’s everything—more government, more science, more land use, more fisheries. The most gratifying thing was that we got virtually no negative comments. A lot of people noticed our editorial about changing publishers and expanding our content and staff. People had noticed the additional coverage and the new writers, and they offered a lot of encouraging remarks.
Is there any subject that you’d like to cover more?
There are several things we’d like to cover more of. I’m trying to get funding right now so we can add at least a part-time writer in Virginia and a part-time writer in upstate Pennsylvania to cover more issues there. We also got some grants to support increased coverage of urban environment issues, which is something that really gets neglected in the context of the bay. You often have impoverished communities, really degraded streams, and we are hoping, if we can continue to get the funding, to make that an area of emphasis. There are a lot of articles we’d like to do on that subject.
Over time, I want to cover more regional environment issues that aren’t as closely tied to the bay. That was another thing that came out of the readership survey. A lot of people told us they’d like to read more about upstream issues. That’s actually been a goal of mine for years. It’s just that there are so many issues that affect the bay. If you’re trying to be—sometimes people call us the “record of the bay”—and if you’re doing that, you don’t have enough time to get to the other issues. But if we can get more staff, it’s pretty cheap to print more pages, and we can put more in the paper. There’s a lot of upstream stuff I’d like to do.
Is that kind of the key to getting more staff—just bringing in more grants?