Walla Walla speaks; U-B listens

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Just a few months back the Union-Bulletin asked for your help and you delivered in a big way. Thank you, Walla Walla!

We recently engaged in a strategic planning process aimed to ensure we remain the voice of the Walla Walla Valley well into the future, by serving you with the quality news and information you deserve.

An initial step involved asking for reader feedback. Well, let's just say folks in Walla Walla aren't bashful. We expected about 100 surveys; nearly 700 came in. We also had strong participation in two in-person focus groups.

What did we learn? You told us we are doing a lot of things right, and can do some things better. Here's a summary of what you told us:

What we're doing right:

You rely on the U-B to tell you the stories about your community that cannot be found anywhere else. For many of you, there is no other source.

You continue to rely on the U-B mostly in print, although an increasing number of you are utilizing Union-Bulletin.com. Accessing the U-B on other electronic devices is a ways off for most of you.

You appreciate the U-B's increased focus on the amount of local news coverage, but many of you want us to continue to keep a balance of some regional, national and international news.

You appreciate the photography, readability and well-crafted articles and many feel the newspaper overall has an appealing design.

You value the local content appearing in the U-B that is produced by community members.

Where we can improve:

Many of you are frustrated by too many errors, including spelling, grammar, editing and typos.

You want us to improve the website with more breaking news, better design and navigation and better search.

You feel some sections of the newspaper have grown stale and could use a design and content facelift.

-You feel the calendars throughout the paper are difficult to use.

You want more transparency about U-B policies and why and how the U-B does things, e.g., "Do you run all the letters?"

You want us to anchor sections and content wherever possible.

Although it would be wonderful if we could make all these improvements (and more) overnight, we are a relatively small media company with a finite number of people and resources. To help match our resources with the needs of our readers, it was important for us to revisit our mission.

In that vein and as part of our strategic planning, we updated our statements of mission, vision and core values. The new statements (see the box with this column) reflect who we are and who we want to become.

Using these and your feedback as guides, we've already made several changes. A few examples:

An increased emphasis on preventing errors by the entire staff including the addition of another copy editor.

The weather page has been anchored on the back of the Sports section.

On the editorial page, we now provide a letters' policy explanation.

A daily email with headlines now goes out to registered print users, online subscribers and those who sign up to receive it.

We're continuing to increase the number of breaking news stories on Union-Bulletin.com.

The Daily Launchpad on Union-Bulletin.com now gives fresh content in the morning.

Our plan is to continue to make improvements through a systematic evaluation process of all of our products. Look for more changes as we embark on that endeavor.

Thanks again for all of the wonderful feedback and for your readership. Please continue to let us know what questions, comments or feedback you have.

Rob Blethen is publisher of the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. He can be reached at robblethen@wwub.com or 526-8331.

Our Mission

The Union-Bulletin is committed to serving the Walla Walla Valley by being its indispensable local news and information provider - distributing this in a way that best meets each individual's needs. The U-B will assume a leadership role in improving the quality of life of the Valley.

Our Vision

The Union-Bulletin will be the preferred and most trusted source of local news and information for everyone in the Walla Walla Valley. We will achieve excellence in everything we do and be among the best in the nation compared to media companies our size.

Our Core Values

The Union-Bulletin is guided by the following:

We value accuracy.

We value compassion.

We value diversity.

We value finding and reporting the truth.

We value independence.

We value innovation.

We value integrity.

We value teamwork.

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