Get involved on the Tribune Reader Advisory Board

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 21, 1999

The fair’s history.

Saturday, August 21, 1999

The fair’s history. A slight chill has cut the night air on several occasions. Back-to-school shopping is underway. It’s starting to feel a lot like fall.

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An exciting time, fall’s not just about returning to classrooms, colorful foliage, Halloween fun and the quick march to the holidays.

For us, fall brings our readers and customers another chance to learn more about, and have a hand in operations of the Albert Lea Tribune.

Our third Reader Advisory Board will begin meeting in about a month, and right now membership is open.

Let’s take a look at who can join, how the meetings work and why reader involvement is important for the newspaper and community.

First, anyone with an interest is welcome to inquire about the board; we then try to put together a voluntary group of about seven people that represents well the Albert Lea region. For example, we’ll try to represent businesses, families, senior citizens, students and other groups on the board in order to better serve all segments of the local population.

To participate, you’ll need one free hour a month, a willingness to speak your mind, and perhaps a love of free coffee and donuts. Meetings are typically held from October through May, eight meetings per year, then adjourning for the summer.

Call me at 379-3433 to submit your name; leave a message and I’ll return your call promptly.

Second, it’s really not at all complicated.

Once a group is selected, we find a time that works for all involved (the biggest challenge). For the past two years, that has been from 7-8 a.m. on the third Tuesday of each month, although the timing could very well change this year.

To start, we provide a tour and information about how the Tribune operates. For example, many past board members have been surprised to learn not only that the Tribune must buy every feature it publishes, but how much those features cost. Others have found it interesting to look at the size of our newsroom staff – six full-time employees and two part-time – and how those positions are used to publish a six-day daily newspaper. We also discuss circulation, advertising and classifieds topics.

We strive to answer board members’ questions to the best of our abilities on a variety of matters. Then, board members are better able to make informed comments and criticisms.

Third, we listen.

That’s when the fun begins; even blunt criticism (and there has been some) is interesting, and helpful to us in our day-to-day work.

For us, the advisory board serves several purposes.

Input by board members helps us to serve the community well; whether by helping us to maintain balanced coverage, or to improve customer service, input from board members is another window to the community.

Comments from board members help us to hear the community’s thoughts on the newspaper; in fact, past board members often received comments directly from people who might otherwise not have contacted the newspaper. By reporting these comments during our meetings, board members help us to better react to the public’s wishes.

Change is constant, and there are always issues available for discussion. To name just one, the Tribune has added a new Internet web site Aug. 12, at It seems likely that one of our upcoming meetings will involve this subject, but there are many more.

Indeed, on numerous occasions in the past year, operational decisions by the Tribune took into account the recommendations, suggestions and comments of Reader Advisory Board members.

Last, while often fun, the board discussions are always stimulating. We maintain an informal, casual approach, talking freely over the aforementioned coffee and donuts in the Tribune’s break room.

Fall’s a great time to live in Minnesota, and with sports and schools back in full force, it is also a fun time to publish a community newspaper. The advisory board is yet another fall feature that we enjoy.

So give us a call. We look forward to meeting this year’s board members, and announcing them in the Tribune.