Features

Dances with Hummingbirds
Joan Day-Martin is New Mexico's only hummingbird bander.

The Fire This Time
A journal from the edge of the Bear and Martinez fires.

Drunks' Night Out
A night at a sobriety checkpoint.

Strings Attached
Meet five area luthiers—professional makers of stringed instruments.

Healthy Horizons
Mysterious Horizons Farms specializes in growing healthy.

Day Spahhhh
Local oases offer lush ways to retreat and rejuvenate.

Just in Case
Grant County's first Community Emergency Response Team.

A Blessed Sort of Work
Gardening with principles—four area examples.


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Words from the Wise

Readers tell us what they like (OK, love) about Desert Exposure,
and how we could do better.

 

As much as the number-cruncher in us loves analyzing the statistics from our annual reader survey ("Henry Lightcap's rating is up point-two percent among Deming readers who keep the paper longer than a month!"), it's the written comments accompanying the responses that really get to us. Truth be told, in previous publishing incarnations we've seldom had the opportunity for so much direct, personal feedback from readers. Even when I was features editor of the St. Paul Pioneer Press in Minnesota, I seldom heard from readers unless I'd dropped their favorite comic strip or (heaven forbid!) moved the bridge column. One of the many wonderful things about running Desert Exposure is that we know that people out there are really reading what we do each month. We love hearing your comments, good and bad, and being reminded that Desert Exposure is important to your lives.

Of course, we're vain enough to particularly appreciate reader-survey comments like these: "Best newspaper around these parts! Bar none! The dailies could learn a LOT from you." "The best regional publication I've ever seen." "Great publication! I appreciate the in-depth coverage you give to your feature articles." "This is the best publication of the Southwest and maybe of the US."

Several readers particularly commented how much they look forward to each month's new issue: "This is an amazing paper! Living in Silver City for more than 20 years, I've never gotten a paper like this. You guys look deep into the issues and from all perspectives. Can't wait till the first of each month." "DE has become a marker for us, like a calendar. (Remember that scene with Steve Martin? 'The new DE is here! The new DE is here!') I especially like your editorial views. Articles are well-researched and written with an intelligent and witty humanity I especially appreciate. We're so glad you decided to come to this area as you searched for the perfect paper. May you be as rewarded as we have been from your publication." "Really do enjoy all of the paper. Refer back to each issue for months and have saved them all."

But this year, especially, quite a few readers commented on why they don't keep their copies of Desert Exposure—they're passing each issue along, it turns out, around town or even around the world: "I don't keep my copy because I pass it along in my building, and every time when I leave it on a table it disappears in no time." "I have a 92-year-old friend to whom I send the paper. Every time she receives it, she tells me she truly enjoys this 'true newspaper.' Best compliment in the world for you." "Other copies of your paper are sent overseas as I have friends who just love it."

Some readers even use Desert Exposure as a sort of recruiting tool to get others to move or visit here: "I send it to friends and relatives to 'lure' them to our portion of the Land of Enchantment. Especially this month's issue's article, 'Heaven on Wheels' (April), as my niece is a 'distance' cyclist in California. Trying to lure her to Silver. And friends who have a blues band who should come and play. . . . If there's an article that would touch some person in our circle of family and friends, they get our copy. So I really don't know how many people read our copies besides the recipients."

Folks, don't forget that you can also share each month's Desert Exposure "virtually" via our Web site, www.desertexposure.com. If distant readers and wannabe New Mexicans out there have missed an issue, they can also catch up online, where copy from all our issues from January 2005 on lives in cyberspace.

 

Since our annual survey asks readers to pick their favorites among our regular columns and departments, a number of respondents used the "comments" area to elaborate on their picks: "I like most of your columns and really hated picking a favorite regular feature, I picked the one I did because the blonde joke from the April issue (Desert Diary) was still stuck in my mind at the moment." "Love Desert Diary—it gets read at social gatherings. Gotta have the calendar of events—I love it!" "Starry Dome and 40 Days & 40 Nights are the best!" One reader, not satisfied with circling a single favorite, added: "My second favorite read in Desert Exposure is Henry Lightcap. Love his wit!" (Please don't tell Lightcap—his head's swelled enough as it is with that point-two-percent gain in Deming.)

Besides wallowing in your praise, we also welcome suggestions and what our teachers used to call "constructive criticism." So we'll try to take to heart these comments:

"Would like to see honest restaurant reviews. David is too nice. Keep up the good work." (Truthfully, we are honest, though we do also try to be nice and highlight the good things about a place. If it's a restaurant not worth recommending, you won't read about it in our pages—it's not worth the space, either, we figure. And chefs do carry those really big knives. . . .)

"I like your in-depth investigative pieces but because of the length, I often don't finish them. But I'm very glad the DE provides a place for this kind of reporting and I'm excited to be associated with a paper that is so smart. And the best little paper in the Southwest!" (OK, not entirely a knock, but we will try to rein in our opuses—opi?—when we can while still presenting both sides of a story. Note that this issue's lead feature, which blows the lid off the whole hummingbird lifestyle—little sugar-addicted moochers!—runs only four pages.)

"More articles on the history of the area." (We hope this reader enjoyed last issue's feature on "Ulzana's Raid"—more such pieces on various aspects of local lore are in the works.)

"I miss some of the outrageousness Adam [original owner Adam Kizanis] brought to the Desert Exposure. With the change of ownership it seems to have become more and more conservative. It seems creative expression—stories about people that are not in the mainstream—have all but disappeared. I am also grateful and appreciate its existence." (Perhaps last month's story on Root Skankadelic helped fill this void?)

Then again, just as we're trying to be a bit more "outrageous," there's this reader comment: "Half the paper is too free-style."

Finally, we especially appreciate reader comments about the advertising. That's in part because we've never before worked at a publication where people wrote in to say nice things about the ads, and in part because it's the advertising, after all, that makes each issue of Desert Exposure possible. So we loved this comment, even though it hurt our writerly feelings a tad: "The advertisements are the most interesting part. They are creative and fun." And this: "I think Lisa does a spectacular job with ad layout. The whole publication is a class act, and you both are to be commended for getting active in and supporting the community the way you do."

Thanks to all of you who responded to our survey, and thanks for all the kind words and suggestions. We will try to continue to be a "class act," and to be worthy of your time and thoughtful attention—to continue to deserve such great advertisers and readers.

 

David A. Fryxell is editor and publisher of Desert Exposure.

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