I recently asked readers what they want more of from the Daily Pilot in 2011.
I'm glad I did. There were some surprises in our online poll and the e-mails, phone calls and web comments that followed.
Though Web polls are not scientific, it was pretty easy to spot a trend among the 611 responses. Some 35% of respondents said they want more schools coverage.
Conventional wisdom in the newspaper business says that readers care more about schools but editors care more about politics. I've been guilty of that in the past and plan to correct the balance.
Our schools reporter, Britney Barnes, has been asked to attack the beat with vigor, balancing meeting coverage with features and profiles. She could also use your ideas from public and private schools as well as the colleges. Send them to Britney.Barnes@latimes.com.
Also helping is our new Newport Beach columnist, Patrice Apodaca, who has declared schools coverage a priority as both a Newport-Mesa Unified mother and as a seasoned journalist. She recently did a fantastic profile of an unsung teacher at Lincoln Elementary School.
I am also proud of the work by Lisa McLaughlin, who writes a Sunday column, The College Conversation, that helps parents and teens make good choices when applying to college. I plan to use her work as a roadmap when it's time for my daughter to apply for college.
The next-highest scorer among nine categories was public safety, which attracted 20% of the votes. I feel like we already do an excellent job here, covering crime and trials in Costa Mesa, Newport Beach and, gradually, Irvine as well. Our crime reporter, Joseph Serna, to put it mildly, is always busy.
Business ranked third at 12%. This is dear to me, as I revived our dormant Business page and added editorial content to the Coastal Real Estate section. Pretty much everyone around here has an obsession with home prices, and so many of our readers work in and own businesses.
Sports tied with arts and entertainment at 9% each. These niches are critical in an area that celebrates both arts and athleticism. Heck, our newspaper is based in the "City of the Arts," Costa Mesa. And I get more feedback on our sports pages than just about anything else when I attend community functions.
My personal baby, politics, trailed at 7%, the same score earned by opinions and columns. I get the opinion score, as the Internet has made it easy to find them.
But the politics ranking surprised me, as being a government watchdog is the first obligation of the press. Maybe the readers are saying that they are pleased with the coverage and don't want "more." Or maybe we've been overdoing it. Let me know.
After all, readers are, in essence, a newspaper's customers. And you know what they say about the customer.
JOHN CANALIS is the editor for the Daily Pilot, Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot and Huntington Beach Independent. He can be reached at (714) 966-4607 and firstname.lastname@example.org.