At Executive in October Bev and Terry raised concerns regarding some critical word of mouth reports received regarding the size of the newsletter.
Bev spoke to her notes on the issue after pulling together some statistics. Bev's first set of statistics indicated that under Judith's editorship the 'median' average number of pages was 8; under Freida's editorship and the first half of this year it was 10; and in recent months it has risen to 12 with the addition of the popular 'What's On' calendar and also the trialling of an index section. Of course there are times when eg. nomination forms; the Second Term timetable is included, where it may have increased by one or two pages in any year. The executive decided that where the number of pages exceeds 12 - as when timetables are posted out - we will send posted newsletters out in larger envelopes. The number of people getting newsletters posted is continuing to reduce, with numbers now under 50.
Bev's second set of statistics related to the size of articles in the newsletter. Articles range from 25 to (on very rare occasions) 500 words. Convenors and newsletter correspondents tend to follow a pattern in relation to number of words written, with as many reports in the lower to mid range as at the longer end.
Bev expressed her view that the current newsletter, with its acceptance of a diversity of reports from up to 30 convenors and newsletter correspondents each month, some who love to write, others who don't; is a wonderful asset in terms of our website. The newsletter is the chief source of information for our website, which is visited by between 500 and 800 unique individuals each month and has between 5000 and 8000 page views each month. Bev also expressed the view that we have readers who love to read, some who don't and that the newsletter needs to cater for both. Bev used as samples two reports written by executive members Geraldine and Margaret whose reports varied from middle to longer lengths and explained that articles of 300 to 350 words are written by quite a number of contributors.
We talked about whether there was a need to set an upper limit of eg. 300 words. The executive were loathe to do so because
- people who haven't been able to attend like to catch up on what happened in the sessions they missed
- people report that they have read things in the newsletter which have encouraged them or are interesting them in attending other groups
- groups which discuss ideas often like to write about them - they have a different response than groups which for example, go out to lunch or take excursions to appreciate wine.
- there isn't a need to reduce size in terms of postage expense in relation to email and website readers.
Terry also recommended having the deadline later in the month, as when the third Wednesday falls on dates in the 'teens' as in recent months, many activities for the month are excluded. It was decided to leave the date as the third Monday for the remainder of the year as it has only just been changed and discuss the issue further next month.