VALDOSTA — The Valdosta Daily Times met with readers Thursday afternoon to answer their questions and receive their feedback.
Readers talked mostly about what they like about The Valdosta Daily Times during the second Coffee, Tea & The VDT event at the Willis L. Miller Library.
They shared issues regarding sports coverage of golf and NASCAR, the weekly SunLight Project stories, community apathy, advertising to content ratio and the printed newspaper and the digital edition.
Valdosta Daily Times Editor Jim Zachary told participants the VDT staff wasn't there to defend anything the paper does but to shed light on how decisions at the paper are made.
"We truly believe that the newspaper belongs to the community," Zachary said. "The newspaper has been here a lot longer than any of us, and it'll be here long after any of us are gone too."
He then turned to the audience for feedback.
Joyce Aigen of Valdosta suggested The Times provide instructional sessions for how to use the website and the best way to submit press releases.
Sementha Mathews, Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts executive director, commended The Times for its commitment to covering the arts in Valdosta and Lowndes County.
One participant complimented the SunLight Project, which she called exceptional for a small town newspaper to be producing such long-form stories.
One person raised the issue of how much advertising there is compared to the amount of stories. Times staff explained its a ratio the paper is always trying to balance.
One challenge is balancing the demands of print and digital editions. This is not a Valdosta Daily Times problem, but an everywhere problem, Zachary said.
Andrew Wardle, the regional director of audience, said subscriptions to the print editions are down but readership has been growing. Readers are moving to mobile devices and computers where people get their news from Facebook, Twitter or places such as The Valdosta Daily Times app.
"We've moved from the physical world to the digital," Wardle said.
The Times is meeting with readers so people can ask questions and engage with editorial, advertising and circulation staff on ways to improve the newspaper.
Zachary said more events similar to Coffee, Tea and the VDT will be held in the future.
NOTE: This story was updated with comments from readers.
Thomas Lynn is a government and education reporter for The Valdosta Daily Times. He can be reached at (229)244-3400 ext. 1256