We asked, you answered: final results from our first-ever readership survey


Answers to the question: Why do you read Tenth to the Fraser?
Answers to the question: Why do you read Tenth to the Fraser? The size of the words relates to the relative frequency of use (commonly used words show up bigger).

A little while ago we launched our first ever readership survey on Tenth to the Fraser. We had a great response, with 44 of you taking the time to share your thoughts on the website. I shared some of the preliminary response in an earlier blog post, and as promised, here are the full results.

Why you read Tenth to the Fraser

The graphic above summarizes the trend in results. You read our blog to know more about local news and community events. In short, to stay connected and about important issues & happenings. Here are some of my favourite quotes from your responses:

  • “great to learn about facts and opinions on issues in the city, a place where the active civic community discuss and present ideas”
  • “It’s relevant to my life and my community, it’s informative and diverse, and good at keeping up new content.”
  • “It keeps me up to date on whats going on in new west and also gives me new places to go and see Great job my sister in law in vancouver told me about your blog and I have followed you since then and even spread the word among my friends and family”

and my favourite:

  • “To see what Will, Briana, and Jen are thinking about. Would like to see posts from a more diverse audience. I know Briana, I should write one.”

Hee hee. Yes, you should!

What you like about the blog

We got some really great replies here. It’s always nice to hear good things, but more importantly, it makes me feel good to know that other people understand what we’re trying to do with Tenth to the Fraser and appreciate the same features of the site that we believe to be important too. You said:

  • “It is the best local blog, and the internet face of New Westminster. A great variety of topics, voices, and ideas.”
  • “Everything! The inclusiveness, the smart folks who know how to foster and create community, the good writing, the new look.”
  • “It’s the only place that gives a clear view of New Westminster.”
  • “Its accurate interesting articles that make you read them even if you weren’t that interested before”
  • “The great writing, inclusive view points and open format. I like that there are so many ways to connect and keep in touch.”
  • “I like that it both brings people, often strangers, together AND divides people (mostly politically).”
  • “Serendipitous info on local businesses and events.”
  • “Since the major media and daily papers only talk about Vancouver the Great, it’s nice to read about what’s happening in the Royal City (even our local community papers seem to so little human interest stoiries)”
  • “I like the fact that it is not just one persons thoughts on this blog. I appreciate the fact that anyone can post something.. within reason right?”
  • “I like the articles for their friendly tone and I love the sense of community each person shares”

A lot of people mentioned the diversity of viewpoints and writers as being something they really like about this blog. This is something I feel really passionately about. I am always looking for contributions from guest writers because it’s just not possible for one person to know everything about the city. Everyone’s got their own passions and perspectives, and one of my aspirations for this blog has always been to provide a way for people to share information and commentary about the things they’re passionate about with others in our community, whether it’s transportation issues, arts & culture, environmental issues, shopping, parenthood, foodie appreciation or local history. We have had over 50 people write for Tenth to the Fraser in the past two years, and I hope to see many more of you step forward and contribute a post!

Until now our guest writers have usually approached us with an idea (or been pressed into service by me to write about a particular topic). But I’d like to try something new. I’d like to start a TF writers’ pool. Every Wednesday starting this week I’ll send out a writing prompt via the blog, Facebook and Twitter and if you have something to say on the matter you can share your thoughts. If it turns out you’ve got a lot to say about it, you can respond with a guest post. You can also write about it on your own blog (if you do, please send me the link so I can link back to you!). If you’re interested in writing about New Westminster issues but you need inspiration, please comment on this post or send me an email and I’ll add you to the pool. This new feature will be called New West Wednesdays, and will hopefully inspire more people to write about our town! I’ll also be sharing some Twitter love on Follow Friday for anyone who participates.

What kind of information & commentary do you want to see more of?

100% of our survey respondents said you are very or somewhat interested in seeing more local event information. OK. We get the message! We’ve now got a small posse of amazing volunteers helping me add events to our New Westminster Events Calendar on Tenth to the Fraser, and I’ll work on writing more posts for the blog about local events. If you’d be interested in helping out, please let me know! If you are organizing an event or if you notice that we’re missing an event on the calendar, please send the information via email to info at tenthtothefraser.ca.

There was also a big response in favour of more restaurant and business reviews and profiles of individuals who are making a difference in our community. We’ll work on that!

The opinion on politics was more mixed. The majority of you indicated some interest, but only 56% were ‘very’ interested. We’ll be publishing some political information leading up the federal election and the next civic election but we’ll continue to focus primarily on lifestyle & opinion. Tenth to the Fraser will be co-sponsoring an all-candidates event related to the federal election very soon in partnership with New West Environmental Partners and N.E.X.T. New West. We’ll be publishing the details on that as soon as the date and location are finalized.

Another somewhat divisive topic was family & parenting in New West. Understandably this is not something that matters as much if you don’t have kids! We’ll continue to publish info about this but we’ll try to balance it out with more coverage about the things you said really mattered to you.

And you also had some great suggestions:

  • “I always want to see more arts coverage everywhere. One of the problems with living in New West is that there aren’t a lot of cultural activities. By covering the arts more – features on local artists and writers – perhaps that will change.”
  • “Issues in other parts of the GVRD that could impact New West, even if they don’t directly touch on it at that time.”
  • “Additional news coverage, going beyond and further indepth then our papers on local issues.”

As always, time is the biggest issue in pursuing some of the in-depth coverage you’ve asked for. Tenth to the Fraser is not something we are paid to do. Money we make from advertising goes into web hosting and promotion for the site. We do what we can with the hours not taken up with paid work, sleep and family life. As always, we welcome your volunteer contributions to help us do more.

Comment moderation policy

As regular readers know, I’ve struggled recently with how much latitude to allow in the comments section. We’ve had a few minor skirmishes with comment trolls and I wrestled with how to respond in a way that allowed fair comment while respecting that most of our readers are not interested in fighting a war of words. 77% of you said that our approach so far is about right, while 20% thought we were too lenient. Only one person thought we have been too strict. This is reassuring to see, as I try very hard to be a fair moderator.

I’ll be adding a formal comment policy to the website in the coming weeks that will outline what is and is not allowed in the comments, and clarifies what happens if a comment is not approved (I always try to contact people if there’s some reason why I don’t feel I should publish their comment). I’ll share more details about the feedback you shared on this topic in a later post when the new comment policy is announced.

The evolution of Tenth to the Fraser

A key aim of the survey was to gather feedback on how you’d like to see Tenth to the Fraser evolve. I’ve got a long list of things I’m interested in trying, but I only have so much time and money to put into this project! Based on your feedback, I’ll prioritize improvements to the events calendar and other ways to highlight arts, cultural & community events, and explore adding some directory features including resources for jobs, finding other New West bloggers and highlighting New West businesses.

What you love about New West

The final question on our survey was about what you like best about our town. Here’s what you said:

  • Great restaurant selection
  • Potential to become a great city, transition right now, exciting
  • centrality
  • Everything’s walkable
  • the small-town feel
  • Bob Osterman’s outrage
  • Small town feel in a big urban area.
  • The sense of community.
  • small community with ease to the bigger city
  • Small town feel with many of the “big city” amenities I need.
  • It is home
  • The fact that it actually IS a community, and that it’s a community of great people.
  • It’s charm and rich history
  • vampires
  • walkability, neighbours, small town atmosphere
  • Central location to Metro Vancouver
  • It’s great people, a strong ethos of involvement and cooperation.
  • The challenge to make it a more efficient and a better place to live.
  • Community
  • decent parks and library. relatively clean.
  • small town feeling – you know people from all over New West
  • bookstores, old stuff
  • The sense of community and diversity
  • history
  • small community
  • It’s at the centre of the Fraser Valley Universe.
  • real community spirit
  • Was cheap to buy a house. Not anymore.
  • The great vibe!
  • Water front, Small comminuty feeling.
  • friendly, community feeling; right in the heart of the action; walkable, historic, interesting
  • Strong sense of community.
  • Born, raised… a lifer… How could I list one favorite? 🙂
  • it’s small size; it’s character
  • I love how we are a little city squish between a bunch of large cities. The city may change physically but it will always have that small city feel which I absolutely love.
  • Heritage homes & buildings
  • The people!
  • Size of the city makes it easy to get around.
  • it’s home
  • double rainbows
  • strong community feeling, friendliness
  • location, folks who are friendly

Thanks to everyone who participated in the survey and to all who support Tenth to the Fraser by reading, commenting, writing, linking, tweeting, Facebooking, gossiping and recommending our site to friends. We couldn’t do it without you.

New West FTW!

Tenth to the Fraser Endorsements Due

Many newspapers and websites have chosen through history to forgo complete objectivity and endorse a candidate or candidates in an election. Often, the choice made is an illustration of that publication but it is often the intent of the endorsing journal to present a choice that, in their view, would be preferred by their readers. Such is the value of knowing ones audience. The New York Times, for example, first endorsed a presidential candidate with Republican Abraham Lincoln, who would later lead America in a war to emancipate the slaves of the Confederacy, and has most recently endorsed Sen. Barack Obama, also a unique product of the story of Africans in America.
Here on Tenth to the Fraser, we have no historical leg to stand on. As far as you know, we could be rabbits escaped for the Queen’s Park Rainbow Playland Petting Zoo but nevertheless, we have decided that we will be endorsing our own custom slate of candidates for Mayor and council.

Blog Editor Briana and I (William) will each be presenting our picks later this week, after we have had a chance to hear another scheduled All Candidate Meeting (this Tuesday) and hand out gobs of Hallowe’en candy. In an election that will be so poorly followed an attended, we figure it is almost a necessity to publish these choices as a way of synthesising and evaluating what is available from the candidates.

Or we are both full of it. You decide.

Yikes! Bias. I Hardly Know Thee.

I was just reading Pat Tracy’s neat blog From the Editor’s Desk . Her most recent post is about the difficulty in remaining unbiased while relating political events. Or at least being perceived as unbiased. As the editor of the Record and the Burnaby Now, she has to keep on top of those concerns as her papers cover the municipal elections:

And then there’s New Westminster, where The Record has been accused of both being for and against the new civic slate, Voice, which is running a full-throttle campaign.

I have also had this experience now with this website. Hey, the stakes are low but these pages are for all of New West so when I was writing about the recent all candidates meeting in Queensborough, I wanted to give each candidate a fair review. As I sit down now to write about the presentations made by the Mayoral candidates, I think to myself, ‘do I really need to be fair?’ There are plenty of opinionated blogs out there. I think for now, every one gets an even shake. There is lots of time for broad generalisatons and disparaging remarks between now and November 15th.

Let me know if you agree!

Tenth to the Fraser

New Westminster was the ideal location for a bustling metropolis, built up by the Royal Engineers as British Columbia’s first capital. Today it is known as that suburb you drive through to get downtown.
My family is from here. My great grandfather came to this city through Montreal from Manchester, England. He raised a family in a duplex, still standing, on the corner of 10th avenue and third street. He was a carpenter at the BC Electric trolley factory at the bottom of 12th st. My grandfather studied at UBC and was a biologist for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on the Fraser. He and my Grandmother, a head nurse at Riverview, raised their family in a house on 7th street, across from Lord Kelvin Elementary. It was only recently torn down and replaced. My Grandfather shot the photograph on this post; the construction of the Putello Bridge in 1937.
I was raised on First Street with my family and now I raise my children in the West End, near Lord Tweedsmuir Elementary. This website is to illustrate just what kind of town New Westminster is. It has often had an undeserved reputation but I have always known it as the perfect jewel in the center of the Lower Mainland. Tightly knit, self sustainable yet fully a part of the greater metropolis around it, New Westminster sits at the intersection of our regional commerce and the heart of our regional identity.
Here, I hope, you will read interviews with notable personalities within ours, the Royal City; explanations of current events, political goings-on and a place to showcase features of our city in our past and present. It is an interactive site, so feel free to contribute.
There is a lot to look forward to! We have an upcoming civic election, featuring for the first time the newly formed Voice New Westminster slate. We have seen a vast change in the city since 1986 and certainly in the last five years. In my view, New Westminster could be the jewel box of the lower mainland. With defined, tightly knit neighbourhoods, heavily integrated transit options and a distributed commercial base, New Westminster is a city for its Citizens. I invite you to explore it with me.