Tom Frazier: Grading the Sun-Star

Tom Frazier
Tom Frazier

Early response to the Sun Dog indicates readers are happy with the paper.

Or they just don't care.

"Police begin campaign to run down jaywalkers"

That's an actual newspaper headline. Not the Sun-Star's. Maybe it could have been.

How does the Sun-Star stack up? Not just for headlines, but as a community newspaper?

Let's decide.

Your advocate, the ombudsman, has been in business about six weeks. Nothing much has surfaced.

Sun Dog complained that editorials are copied from other papers; only one in five is locally written.

Readers: silence.

Sun Dog complained that photography needed improvement.

Readers: A handful of responses agreed and one letter to the editor that disagreed.

Recent commenters tell me they think photography is "getting better."

Sun Dog pointed out the virtues of the online paper.

Readers: silence

So, just how would you rate the Sun-Star's content?

Are the right stories always covered?

Have you had story ideas rejected?

Have you written a letter to the editor? Was it published? Was it severely edited before being published?

How about the mix of news?

"Something went wrong in plane crash, expert says"

Too much national coverage? Too little?

Good balance between news and sports?

"Juvenile court to try shooting defendant"

Is the Sun-Star too focused on sensationalism?

Is there too much coverage of crime?

Are there too many "feel-good" stories -- or not enough?

"Local high school dropouts cut in half"

How would you rate education coverage?

Is education coverage well balanced between elementary schools, middle schools, high schools and colleges?

Is the Sun-Star neglecting Merced College since UC Merced came to town?

"Red tape holds up new bridges"

Is there enough coverage of city and county governments? How about Merced Irrigation District?

"Hospitals are sued by 7 foot doctors"

Is coverage of medical issues fair and balanced? Is there enough or too much column space for medical stories?

We all know that our local economy is heavily influenced by agriculture. How does the Sun-Star cover this important aspect of our community?

How would you rate the columnists? There are currently an even dozen of them listed. Do you have favorites -- ones that you regularly read? Are there others you routinely skip?

What grades would you assign to The Gadfly, Loose Lips, The Iraq Connection and Sports Sidelines?

Do the editorials make you think?

How would you rate the Sun-Star's online forums? Online blogs? How about the special reader forum, "The Sun Spot Forum?"

Do you follow the reporters by reading the "Reporters Notebook?"

Have you tried the online search feature? Have you searched through archives where you can buy older stories?

Let me know what you think. If there is enough response, I'll put a page online where you can assign grades to each area, then later share the results of your input.

If there were an online survey, would you participate?

I'm not saying that if you respond in large numbers, we will be able to make any changes to the paper.

But I can tell you that if we don't voice our opinions, they will think we are happy.

Maybe you are. So far, it's hard to tell.

Tom Frazier writes Sun Dog and can be reached at