Key Pages:

13 Things 2009

13 Things 2008

Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology

Search Brown



Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World
Brown University
Box 1837 / 60 George Street
Providence, RI 02912
Telephone: (401) 863-3188
Fax: (401) 863-9423
[email protected]

The Feedback section, a staple of the NewPaper, exemplifies the publication's commitment to fostering a two-way relationship between reader and journalist. However, because this section existed before the immediacy of e-mail and the development of the Phoenix website, it relies on snail mail as the means of communication. Also, limited to a single page in the paper, Feedback only has room to publish a few letters each week. This means that the perspective of the community presented in the NewPaper each week only reflects the opinions of a few select readers.

Uploaded Image

The above image is from the October 4 - 10 1978 issue of the NewPaper, published about a month into the newspaper's run. The editorial staff provides the following pitch at the top of the column:

"Feedback is our readers' column. Not quite an op-ed forum, feedback is closer to a letter-to-the-editor column. Usually, you'll find short articles about music--particularly about records, bands and performances we've missed... or should have missed--but we also welcome other submissions on whatever topics you think we should cover. Many feedback contributers have never published anywhere else before."

It is clear that as a new publication, the NewPaper was eager to provide a place for community members to voice their opinions and reveal their interests, likes and dislikes. While the previously-unpublished individual gets the gratification of seeing his or her name in print, the editors of the NewPaper begin to get a feel for the audience to which they are catering. Further incentive is offered in the second paragraph of the pitch:

"If your piece is short (!), readable (neatness counts) and communicates an interesting opinion of any sort, we'll run it. We won't pay you but you will see your writing in print with your byline on it. Who knows, if we really like it, we might commission you to write other pieces for us... and we'll pay you for those. A number of regular NewPaper contributers began writing for us this way."

The presence of an alternative newsweekly that is so willing to incorporate the contributions of readers blurs the line between reader and journalist and in doing so fosters a more tight-knit community. This pitch is also evidence that the NewPaper/Phoenix has been deeply engrained in the Providence community for 30 years. Because the Providence Phoenix has such a small full-time journalistic staff, the majority of articles today still come from contributing writers. Although there is less opportunity today for readers to publish feedback in print, they can easily voice their opinions and respond to articles via e-mail and through the message boards and blogs on the Phoenix website.

The final paragraph of the pitch is a clear reminder of how much faster and more efficient communication is today in the Internet Age. Rather than shoot an e-mail to an editor, the reader must do the following:

"Send your feedback article--neatly typed, triple-spaced, with a two inch left hand margin, on one side of blank paper--to:

feedback The NewPaper Box 2393 Providence, RI 02906"

It is no surprise that communication between reader and journalist is smoother and more frequent today.

Back to The NewPaper