Survey Says. . .

September 1, 1998

Judith Zwolak

You want calendars that arrive on time and more information on parking, construction and university policies and issues. Shorter stories covering a wider variety of topics would be nice, too. These are some of the desires that Inside Tulane readers mentioned in surveys that were mailed to the entire Tulane community earlier this year.

You completed and returned 333 surveys.That return accounted for about 7 percent of our on-campus readership and broke down into 227 from the uptown campus (167 from staff, 60 from faculty) and 106 from the medical center (88 from staff and 18 from faculty).

Fifty-six percent of the respondents say they always read Inside Tulane and 29 percent said they read the publication frequently. All groups primarily read Inside Tulane for news on university policies and issues. For staff, notification of events was the next most popular part of the paper. Faculty members read for information on faculty research.

Along the same lines, faculty members wanted to see more faculty research and staff members reported that they would like to see more staff news. Across the board, readers wanted less coverage of athletics. A great majority of you thought that the writing, photography and design elements of the newspaper were either excellent or good.

Receiving a higher proportion of "fair" ratings were topic variety, story length and number of stories. In terms of coverage, the majority of respondents from all groups agreed that Inside Tulane provided balanced coverage of both campuses, however, a higher percentage of medical center employees than uptown employees disagreed with that statement.

And, although 83 percent of you agreed or agreed somewhat that Inside Tulane provides information in a timely manner, receiving the calendar after the first of the month was a complaint voiced in a number of comments made on the surveys. The calendar was a popular item with readers, especially uptown staff, 72 percent of whom reported reading the calendar occasionally or frequently.

Medical center staff read the calendar the least: 45 percent seldom or never refer to it. (We encourage medical center departments to submit events of interest.) Reading a possible version of Inside Tulane on the World Wide Web was not a particularly popular proposition. Uptown faculty members were the least likely to refer to an on-line version (61 percent seldom or never would), while medical center faculty members were the most likely (75 percent reported they would do so occasionally or frequently).

Uptown staff were slightly more interested in an on-line Inside Tulane--55 percent would occasionally or frequently read a Web version as opposed to 48 percent of medical center staff. Survey comments were largely positive, wide ranging and sometimes contradictory.

Some readers praised us as an "unbiased source of information on university issues" and for our "balanced reporting--not just propaganda written to make Tulane look good." Others accused us of being "yes men" to the administration and claimed "the paper will be taken more seriously if it seeks out skeptics and critics to interview, too."

A few of you suggested that we write periodic stories that profile a department and its staff members. Others wanted to see more photos of staff members so employees could put names to faces. Some recent changes at Inside Tulane should address some of our readers' concerns. We hope that a letter recently sent to all deans, directors and department heads will spur more reports of staff accomplishments in the faculty and staff news section (the lack of which was a common complaint in our survey).

Also, to provide information in a more timely manner, on Oct. 1 Inside Tulane will begin publishing twice a month during the school year. We hope, too, that the new format will allow for coverage of a wider variety of stories on both campuses. This survey is not the only means for communicating with us at Inside Tulane. We welcome story ideas, comments and criticisms. Call Nick Marinello or Judy Zwolak at 865-5714 or e-mail us at

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