Dimon Kendrick-Holmes: What kind of reader are you?

February 28, 2014 

People tell me all the time that they love their newspaper, and they usually follow up by saying they hate what the Internet has done to newspapers.

These are never young people. They're folks who grew up reading newspapers and hope to be doing so — with a cup of coffee in their hand, of course — when their life reaches -30-.

That's newspaper jargon for the end of the story.

I'm young compared to most people who tell me this, but I'm not really young. I grew up reading ink-and-paper versions of the LaFayette Sun, the Valley Times-News and, yes, both the Columbus Ledger and the Columbus Enquirer, the two papers merging when I was halfway through college.

Because I'm now the editor, people expect me to commiserate, and I suspect that much of their diatribe is for my benefit.

I still enjoy holding a newspaper in my hands, preferably on a porch swing at the start of a pleasant day. But I also enjoy reading stories — and watching video — on my laptop and iPad and smart phone. So do a lot of other people. That's why the Ledger-Enquirer now delivers news and information across a bunch of platforms, with a heavy emphasis on digital.

I don't think that's cause for gloom and doom — actually, it's a pretty exciting time to be a newspaper reader, or to be trying to please newspaper readers, or audience members, as we call them.

Never before have so many people gotten their news in so many different ways. And never before have there been so many different kinds of readers.

I have a short attention span, so I like scanning a bunch of web headlines and then clicking on something when it grabs my attention. You can sift through a ton of information and learn a bunch of stuff that way, although doing so probably won't accelerate your membership into the Mensa Society. Our website works well for this, and so does our mobile app.

I also like finding a good narrative story or piece of analysis and taking my time with it. A print paper works well, of course, but so does a tablet, and you have access to much more material from which to choose. It's amazing how many people of all ages now read long stories and even novels on a tablet.

By the way, Facebook friends and Twitter followers usually have great recommendations of stories to read.

But some people just like the feel of a newspaper in their hands, and I'll be the last person to complain about that.

In fact, tomorrow we're going to unveil a new Sunday newspaper with a fresh look and new content, including a section called Chattahoochee Sunday, a business page and a schools page. We'll have a big interview with a community leader, a look back at the week's most talked-about stories, a job spotlight, a weekly planner, a new columnist, and a bunch of other stuff.

Let me know what you think, and thanks for reading — however you like to read.

Contact Dimon Kendrick-Holmes, executive editor, at dkholmes@ledger-enquirer.com

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