Here's what I learned about reaching out to Free Press readers, asking them for help in redesigning their weekend edition: Not only are they passionate readers of what we produce, they also write with passion, especially when it comes to telling me what they like, what they don't like and what they want and need.
My invite for reader input in January led to more than 500 of you taking the time to help our newsroom create a new showcase section. Some were short and sweet emails. Others were rather pointed. A few even took the time to pen detailed responses in beautiful handwriting that went on for pages.
And all were shared with our reporters and editors as we embarked on this project to develop a new section our readers would be prepared to fight over when they pick up their paper Saturday morning.
What's emerging three months later is a new 20-page section that will have a magazine feel to it. Our readers made clear to us they want lots from their Saturday Free Press and so we are going to give you lots.
There will be more exclusives, more thought-provoking, more analysis from near and afar, more latitude and attitude and yes, even more whimsy.
We are still tweaking as we work toward a launch at the end of May, but here's where you come in again.
I am prepared to give you a sneak peek in exchange for your feedback.
Next week, I will have proofs of our new section at the Free Press Café at 237 McDermot Ave., and a standing offer to go over it with whoever wants to join me for coffee. And yes, I am buying. I'll be at our New Café at the following times:
-- Monday, May 6, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
-- Wednesday, May 8, 9:30 to 11 a.m.
-- Friday, May 10 from 9:30 to 11 a.m.
Listening to our readers, hearing their ideas and interests, was the starting point for this creative exercise. I hope your edits will help us get it across the finish line and onto the presses. You can find me at the table in the corner. I'll be the former Free Press paper boy ready to deliver the very early edition of your new Saturday paper.
Paul Samyn is editor of the Free Press.