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My Perspective: What’s not in the paper

By Jim Palmer

When I run into people who ask me about the Senior Perspective, they often talk about all the things that we have in the paper. Some like the stories, others like the recipes, the jokes, the poems or the classified ads. And I agree, all that is very important in our formula for success. But as important as those ingredients are, just as important are the ingredients that we don’t add each month.

There are a lot of pitfalls when it comes to publications like this. One of the big ones is putting in information that shouldn’t be included. What don’t we put in the Senior Perspective? Here is a list of the big ones...

• We don’t put a bunch of filler stories in here. In fact, nearly 100 percent of our stories and articles come from our own writers or are submitted by our actual readers. In the last year, I have only had to dig for a little filler story maybe once or twice to fill a small space. And some of that was because of the disruption to advertising caused by the pandemic.

One of the most important things I have learned in this business is that people know when they are reading fluff and filler and they don’t like it... and when people don’t like something they aren’t going to do it for very long. If you read a newspaper or magazine will all filler stories (there are some out there), that publication will have a hard time making it long term. Would you pick up a newspaper or magazine if there wasn’t anything special about the content inside?

• We don’t put anything political in here. This is an apolitical newspaper. One time a guy told me that he didn’t like the Senior Perspective because of a column I wrote that was political. I had to correct him. I told him that he had the wrong guy since the paper is politics free. Turns out, he was thinking about a different newspaper and a different publisher. That is one of the many reasons why we don’t put any political editorial copy in this newspaper. There is plenty of that in other publications, online, on TV... pretty much everywhere else. We are a “safe space” in that regard. If you are picking up a paper to get hard news or to get fired up about political views, you are going to have to pick up a different paper.

• We don’t have a letters to the editor section. We have been asked about this many times and we toyed around with idea about 15 years ago and even tried it. The letters that were received that we could print were very nice but were all very similar. The redundancy wasn’t a good use of the space. And most of the letters we received were political and we couldn’t print them. We discontinued the letters to the editor more than a decade ago.

• We don’t use small font. The font in our paper is strategically a little larger than most publications out there. Since most of our readers are not spring chickens, we want to make sure the font is large enough to read. One of the trends in newspapers a few years back was to tighten and shrink fonts slightly. We didn’t follow that trend. It is a little thing, but for some it is a big deal. We even place importance on larger font when designing our ads. Some of the ads are sent to us from ad agencies, so we don’t have control of those, but we always consider readability of fonts for the ones we design in house.

• We don’t publish most of the jokes we read/receive. The jokes are heavily screened before they find their way on the pages.

• We don’t restrict our delivery to just advertisers. This is a semi-common practice in the world of publications like ours. We have never done this. Even though it costs more to deliver it in more locations, our wide-spread distribution is one of our more important ingredients. It has helped our readership tremendously. Higher readership results in more advertisers. If you take a great ad and put it in the hands of whole bunch of people, great things can happen. And that results in more ads. Those extra ads pay for the extra cost of delivering to a lot of locations.

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