Dec 13, 2009

SGVN reaches out to readers

Steve Lambert, editor and publisher of the three newspapers in the San Gabriel Valley Newspaper Group, wrote a column that asks readers to send in suggestions for how to improve the newspapers and make them more useful to subscribers. From the column:
What would you change about your newspaper? About our Web site?

What do you like? What would you add?

Is there a topic you would like us to delve into, or a feature you would like us to include?

In simplest terms, what can we do to become a more indispensable part of your lives?

In the coming weeks, we'll take that information and make it part of our strategic planning process - again to better align us with your expectations.

Don't know if this is related, but some newsroom reporters have been summoned to SGVN headquarters in West Covina for training.


Anonymous said...

Another cluster f--- with the queen of mirth. If you haven't been listening to your readers yet, this should turn it around. How about fixing your delivery problems, giving readers a local product, having employees enjoy their job, planning a future.

This will go down as another waste of time to pandering and NOTHING of substance will come of this to improve any aspect of the product.

No points even for the attempt.

Anonymous said...

I hate to Lambert bash but my personal opinion is, rather than publish another public plea for help with ideas YET AGAIN, they should move Lambert out and move someone with fresh ideas in. Singleton pays this man a lot of money to keep trying the same old, tired ideas. Another "attempt" to involve the community?

They need fresh thinking.

Anonymous said...

Isn't that sort of what the guy in charge is paid to do -- figure out how to run the newspaper? Isn't he supposed to have some knowledge and experience and ideas about the business? Any goof can sit in the glass-walled office and say, "OK, tell me what I'm supposed to do now."

What next? Online polls to decide which stories run on page 1 and which stories are killed? Heck, maybe the readers can even write and edit the stories, too. And what if the readers say they want Page Three Girls and autopsy photos? Will that become part of their "strategic planning process"?

What do they expect readers are going to say? I'd be willing to bet that the vast majority who bother to say anything will ask for more local news, more local sports coverage, well-written and interesting features, and informative and balanced news analyses -- things the SGVN can't do with it's current staffing.

And then the suits will print the results of the survey, and say, "Your voice has been heard, and we will make every effort to become the newspaper you want us to be, so please keep subscribing," and then they'll forget the whole thing and do whatever the heck they want to do.

If you want to keep readers, the answer is simple: Give them the news they can't get anywhere else. Which means local, local, local.

Anonymous said...

So, let me get this straight...Lambert has no marketing experience, no advertising experience, no circulation experience, etc., but, the one area he does have experience in he is looking for help.

What changes have you done in your time in the current position Lambert? Anything creative, new, inspiring? The paper was never great, now it isn't adequate.

Quit pandering to your boss and trying to make yourself look good. Exactly what monumental suggestions do you expect from readers who are what is left of your circulation base? I am sure they will give you a number of new innovations...unreal!

Anonymous said...

Hey Steve,

As a reader, I want less local news produced by fewer and barely-trained reporters.

I want more mistakes in the copy.

I wanted half-bakes special sections and zoned nonsense pages with throwaway content. You know, stories that have absolutely no importance whatsoever to my day-to-day life.

I want "from the source" copy, where you run press releases from the community in your "news" pages.

In short, you're already doing a great job. Tell your bosses that you're giving the readers exactly what they want. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

And, one more think, keep delivering the paper late or not at all and keep those billing errors too. Thank you for your help.

Anonymous said...

Love those totally irrelevant shared-content stories that show up in a desparate bid to fill news pages and ship them off under intense production deadlines. Does anyone seriously believe that readers in Southern California care about a change in hours at a landfill in Chico in Northern California? Yet that's what was published recently in SGVN editions. You'd be better off sticking in a house ad.

Newshound said...

Steve, bubby, there really isn't much you can do anymore to keep your product from circling the drain.

You made the choice to cut newsroom staff to the bone, even though those are the cuts that hurt your product the most.

You fired all sorts of good people because you didn't like them, and all you have left now are the ones who tell you what you want to hear.

You got promoted about three levels past your level of competence because you told Dean what he wanted to hear.

It isn't even about ideas anymore. It's about bad people running bad product.

See you in the funny pages.

Anonymous said...

This my friends is the Peter Principle at it's best.

Anonymous said...

why don't they just shut down already? on life support as it is.

Anonymous said...

former LANG dodgers beat writer tony jackson got hired by the new espn l.a.

Anonymous said...

I love how he wants readers to come to him. These folks who lead the papers should be going to neighborhood council meetings and homeowner association meetings, at the very least. I doubt some of the editors of a certain paper have been to certain parts of a certain Valley.

On the flip side, what's the point of all of that, if there are only a handful of reporters? How are these papers going to get any better if reporters aren't allowed to come up with enterprise pieces? You want a better paper Steve and others who lead the LANG papers? Hire more reporters. Give editors a chance to breath and talk to reporters about stories. Remember stories? They include solid research, reporting, listening, and writing. Don't pimp your reporters to write lame ass pieces of crap stories for dumb magazines and inserts and special sections no one with half a brain reads. Believe it or not, some of us were real reporters at other papers before we got stuck in this sandtrap of these so-called newspapers and this horrid chain.

Anonymous said...

It's like trying to turn a huge ship headed for the rocks. You can spin the wheel and turn her but it's too late you are gonna hit the rocks.

Anonymous said...

Stevie, bubala, when the vultures are out, no, make that in flight, no, make that circling, it it way late to ask your customers their opinion about your product. My guess is that readers have voted to buy less of you, advertisers have voted to buy less of you, which should sum up how readers feel about the crap you call a newspaper.

Maybe you can work out a deal with Gannett and start reporting local news in Arizona...hey, it is close isn't it?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

If he's asking the people who already get the paper, he's wasting his time. They're obviously happy enough with the product that they're still willing to pay for it. Why not ask the people who canceled their subscriptions? Does the circulation department still do that when people call to cancel? If so, he should have a pretty good list of what people don't like or want changed. Of course, that's assuming that there still is a circulation department.

Anonymous said...

Come on now 3:42...ask people who cancelled the product? Next you will be telling us it is important to deliver the newspaper all seven days during the week.

You are asking those in charge to use common sense and management skills, both talents are missing at these newspapers.

Anonymous said...

I know, 4:21. You're right. I'm sorry. How silly of me.

At least in the Golden Era of Steve O'Sullivan, he would have never asked for any help, suggestions or advice from anyone. He knew EVERYTHING.

Anonymous said...

hate to say it but the paper was in much better shape then.

Anonymous said...

So genius Lambert is out of ideas? So, how much is he going to pay the reader(s) who come up with the idea that gets him outta the hole? He ran out of people to fire to save money, so now he wants the readership to tell him what to do? Maybe he should quit and let a reader take over the paper. They could not do worse.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Lambert can ask the NAA for some ideas next...another brilliant group filled with radical newspaper saving ploys.

He can always do another newspaper next session and build upon those many revenue ideas that are all around Lang newspapers.

Hey, he can get ahold of little
eddie and soak up his multitude of revenue ideas and solid reporting skills.

Maybe, just maybe Lambert should go to readers...very quickly...there aren't many left.

Does anyone know how revenue has held up at SGVN during the last six months?

Anonymous said...

The issues can't be fixed by a mere replacement from O'Sullivan to Lambert or with reader input.

The problem is an antiquated business model that has been unstable for years.

Anonymous said...

The paper was in better shape when O'Sullivan was there, 5:24, because it had a bigger staff, and editors and reporters who actually cared about the product. But it was in better shape in spite of him, not because of him.

Anonymous said...

Hey 3:41. I ain't defending ol stevie bou here. Just the facts. For whatever reason the talent and product were better. I'll be happy to give all the credit to reporters, salespeople, etc., but, whether in spite of him or not it was better.

If Singleton had a business model that worked, newspapers would be groveling at his genius no matter what a crappy owner he is.

Decisions were made on stevie's watch that minimized the carnage until the dam broke. He didn't cause lang's demise.

Anonymous said...

There's a concept called "best practices" which is where you look at what others in your industry have done successfully and emulate those things. I do not know what those things are for newspapers, but I don't think Lambert will find out this way. He should go digging around himself if he wants to find out. Hint: it's not writing lugubrious and totally irrelevant columns about how much you love your wife.

Anonymous said...

After SGVN summoned the Star-News crime reporter to SGVN for punitive "training" two months back, the dude got insulted and quit in disgust with no other job lined up. Buoyed by this success, management has now decided to call all its reporters in for "training."

Anonymous said...

Nothing gets more robust page views than a story about the Lambert that can't sing.

Anonymous said...

Nothing gets the comments out like a lang screwup, and, there are some many to choose from.

If this wasn't so sad it would be funny.

Actually it is funny, but, not for the people who have to put up with the lunacy.

Boy, I sure would like to know how well Lambert's done financially for the newspaper in the last year...must be wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Still great to see the venom spouted at this empire...there must be something in the water that causes this rancor among the current and prior ranks.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous that said "Peter Principle" is a genius and obviously a former LANG employee. All the good people leave and all the idiots rise to the top. And the worse you are the longer you stay!

Anonymous said...

The way they are going it may be the only way left to touch a reader.

No fan of the man said...

Why does everyone connected with LANG hate Steve Lambert so much?

We've all had bad bosses before, but to listen to the people who have been posting for the last two years, this guy is Hitler's grandson.

I mean really, he isn't the only boss in the world who throws people under the bus to protect his own job.

He isn't the only boss to run his office through fear and loathing.

He isn't the only little man with a Napoleon complex.

Really, there are a lot of people like him and even worse out there. Give the guy a break.

Anonymous said...

I thought the posters here had given him a break!

BTW, you haven't given him the proper credit for reviving the flagship of lang. What a product.

White Sox fan said...

Revive? Nah, with his troika of papers in West Covina, Lambo is now on the way to destroying five different LANG newspapers.

Oh, but it's OK. He'll make small talk about the Chicago Cubs just to prove he isn't an evil robot.

Whata guy!

Anonymous said...

Hey, get off lamberts back, sure he hasn't a clue on how to run a newspaper, neither does his boss. That doesn't make him a bad guy, just unable to lead and run a business.

Maybe with his talent he should run for office. I am sure the readers and employees would support his decision.