MARCO ISLAND — On the heels of launching a revamped Web site, marconews.com, the Marco Eagle is looking to spruce up it’s hard copy newspaper as well.
Multimedia editor Vonna Keomanyvong had described the new Web site as having a “sleeker design” and that’s just what Eagle readers, who came to a focus group at the Eagle office Monday morning, said they liked about the proposed new look to their newspaper as well.
The Marco Eagle will soon be printed at the new $95 million, 186,000-square-foot building on Immokalee Road in North Naples. With the new press will come higher quality ink and a thinner, taller paper, said Robert Sandy, general manager of the Eagle.
The Marco Eagle expects to start printing on the new press in August, but the offices will remain on Bald Eagle Drive.
While the print quality improvements and size change are a given, other changes are likely to come between a partnership of proposals made by news officials and the community they serve.
About 15 readers, advertisers and news officials gathered in the Marco newsroom Monday to discuss ways to improve and qualities that should stay the same. Islanders included Frances Enman, Bill Perdichizzi, Ruth McCann and several others led in discussion by Mary Jo Spartz, Naples News Media Group’s director of marketing.
“One of things that’s been nice to hear in the feedback coming back from these focus groups is the warning to be careful what we’re changing because readers are saying ‘we’re already choosing you, so don’t mess that up,’ ” said publisher Chris Doyle.
Reader Jose Granda said such consistency was important to him.
That didn’t mean there wasn’t room for improvement in his opinion.
Granda said he would like to see more coverage of clubs, events and fundraisers.
“I belong to different organizations on the Island, the Police Foundation, the Knights of Columbus, I’ve had a difficult time getting free press for fundraisers,” he said.
“You seem more interested in political articles and dirt and less on the good news,” he added.
On the flip side of that coin, readers Keith Dameron and Craig Woodward said the substantive articles in the Marco Eagle are what sets it apart.
“You have a challenge covering controversial issues on the Island. There’s a risk when really digging deep on news stories. It’s a challenge. I would encourage you to be bold, be courageous in the community. It will pay dividends,” the Orion Bank vice president said.
“What I don’t want is interpretation. I don’t want innuendo. I don’t want opinion. I can form my own,” said Shirley English, executive director of the Marco Island Area Association of Realtors.
Nick Campo, of Marco Movies, an advertiser and reader of the Eagle, said he would like more point, counter-point pieces from community members who are informed on an issue.
Vicki Williams said she liked the new size. “It’s easier to handle,” she said as she flipped through a sample.
There was a near consensus on a proposed color scheme at the focus group. Three feature colors have been proposed, blue, green or orange. The dark orange, nearly red color, was the favorite Monday.
Eagle Editor Bill Green encouraged print readers to go to the Web site, marconews.com, and cast their vote in an online poll about the three color options.
Green also encouraged feedback, inviting readers to take the online survey.
One other proposal the Eagle needs reader feedback on is for changes to the Sunday edition. Currently ETC is a Sunday publication with a circulation up the 951, Collier Boulevard corridor, to Interstate 75.
Some people said they didn’t get the concept of ETC and thought the articles were too light on content and too long on words.
“Sometimes a story goes on for four to seven pages. I think “when is this ever going to end?” Dameron said.
“Some of us have longer attention spans,” quipped Woodward with a smile.
English suggested a proposed Sunday Eagle, which would replace ETC, should include a summary of local, state and national news from the week.
“All the news you missed, especially because of all the attention to a story like Michael Jackson’s death,” she said.
Campo disagreed. “I think this is a waste. It fragments the market.”
Many people said they liked the idea of a larger circulation on Sunday and hearing news from off-Island.
“We know everyone here and that gets boring,” Williams said.
Others said they likely wouldn’t be able to handle another paper in addition to their already read Sunday Naples Daily News.
“What I think I’m hearing is if we’re going to have a Sunday paper, we have some more work to do,” said Russell Tuff, executive editor of the community publications, which includes the Eagle.
There were several nods of agreement in the room.