Daily Citizen staff gathered in January for an initial meeting to plan coverage. (Photo by Shannon Cay Bowers)

OPINION |

As we approach the five-month anniversary since the launch of the Springfield Daily Citizen, we are continuing to look for ways we can improve our nonprofit source of local news.

To meet our goals, and to better serve the community, we need your feedback.

Generally, readers have been very complimentary about the quality and quantity of our coverage of Springfield and Greene County, including in-depth reports, daily news stories and a variety of columns and features reflecting a slice of life here.

But we know we are far from perfect. One common thread in reader comments is to ask more about our priorities for coverage, and why we have chosen to cover certain things and not cover other news.

Reader survey

We would welcome your input. Please take a few minutes to complete this reader survey on the topics that are of highest interest to you.

In a minute, I’m going to ask you for feedback and encourage you to tell us more about your priorities. But first, here’s some background for you on our decision-making processes.

When you have a small staff and a focus on in-depth reporting, it means you make a lot of choices about what not to cover in terms of local news.

We have five full-time reporters, plus a digital media assistant, and some added help this summer from a limited-term employee and two part-time reporting interns. We also have a set of regular contributors writing stories and providing photos. Managing Editor Brittany Meiling works closely with the staff and contributors to juggle the need for daily and in-depth coverage.

Typically, our reporters gather each Monday for a meeting to discuss plans for the week, and review longer-term reporting projects. Then, we have a stand-up meeting on other days as time allows, to share updates on breaking news and adjust plans.

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Kevin and Carol Winslow, the parents of Sean Winslow, at their home in Highlandville, MO. Sean died in February at age 27 after falling and hitting his head after being tased by Greene County deputy sheriffs in Springfield, MO, on January 28, 2022
Kevin and Carol Winslow, the parents of Sean Winslow, at their home in Highlandville. Sean died in February at age 27 after falling and hitting his head after being tased by Greene County sheriff’s deputies. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

Producing in-depth reports takes time

At any given time, at least a couple of people are working on in-depth stories. Just to give you an idea of the time involved:

You do not regularly see stories like these from other local media. These are just two examples of the 8-10 in-depth stories we’ve published in recent weeks.

At the same time, other media are covering news that we regularly skip. Hard-working and talented journalists can be found at the Springfield News-Leader, the Springfield Business Journal, KSMU, KY3, KOLR10 and other outlets in the area. In case you had not noticed, we highlight the best of their work each weekday in our free email newsletter, linking you to coverage to round out your view of the news. (If you are a regular reader, but not getting the daily email newsletter, please check your account settings by clicking on the little round logo on the bottom right of our site, and then click “Manage Newsletters.”)

Our approach reflects what we have said from the beginning: Our goal is not to duplicate the coverage of other local media, as much as it is to fill the gaps left by the persistent reductions made by for-profit media in staff, coverage and publication schedules.

Still, we like to hear from subscribers when we are not meeting your expectations. You can email me or Brittany Meiling, or contact a staff member directly with suggestions.

We also will publish letters to the editor with feedback (positive or negative) about our work. For instance, Mike Schilling recently wrote to express his concern about our lack of coverage of the trial of state Rep. Tricia Derges. In this case, we knew other local media were planning to cover the trial — and we chose to let our reporters invest their time in stories that other media are not covering. We did report on the verdict.

Let us know what you think

We recently updated the look of our homepage, responding to reader suggestions and feedback, including requests for more photos. If you have feedback on the redesign, please email Managing Editor Brittany Meiling.

Meanwhile, we would love to hear your thoughts as we continue to shape our coverage and look for ways to improve. Please complete our reader survey on the topics that are of highest interest to you.

The survey also includes an open-ended question where you can list specific ideas for stories you think we ought to cover.

Thank you for your readership and support for the Daily Citizen.

David Stoeffler

David Stoeffler is the chief executive officer of the Springfield Daily Citizen. He has more than 40 years experience in the news business, having been a reporter, editor and news executive in Wisconsin, Nebraska, Iowa, Arizona and Missouri. You may email him at dstoeffler@sgfcitizen.org or call 417-837-3664. More by David Stoeffler