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updated: 9/29/2011 12:02 PM

Talk with the Editor: Help us improve our new videos

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I'd like to get your assessment of a couple of video features we've recently introduced -- what you think of them, but also, your suggestions for refinements to make them better.

You may have seen the new video feature we posted Wednesday afternoon,"The Suburbs This Weekend." If not, once you're done reading, click here and give it a try.

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Meanwhile, we're into the third week of our "Ask the Sports Writers" video. If you haven't seen it, you can click here to check out the latest installment with Joe Aguilar's thoughts on the Bears.

Both of these are works in progress. We expect them to improve as we go along, and we hope they find an audience.

"The Suburbs This Weekend" is intended to provide recommendations on what you might do over the weekend weekend. But it's also intended to have a bit of charm.

We chose Richard Battin as one of the regular personalities partly because he reflects the interests of older suburbanites but also because he's got a droll sense of humor that I think will grow on you. And we chose Sean Stangland as his teammate partly because Sean reflects the interests of younger adults but also because he's got an intense passion for entertainment.

This is their first time out, and I know they're as anxious as I am for constructive feedback. They're going to get more comfortable and they're going to get better and you can help.

It is our intention to link the video to a story with a text list of things going on in the suburbs, which some people may find more helpful than the video, but we also hope you enjoy "the show."

The "Ask the Sportswriters" feature is intended, frankly, to showcase in an entertaining way our field of pro sports experts. On every major beat in Chicago pro sports, our sportswriters are the most experienced in town.

The first three weeks have focused on the Bears as they begin their new season, but we will be rotating sports on most weeks, and definitely, we will be trying to give you a taste of our sports personalities.

The key is, we want to ask them the questions that you want asked, so please, pass along your questions to Sports Editor Tom Quinlan.

Please let me know what you think. Thanks for your help.

How People Learn About Their Community (Posted Tuesday, Sept. 27)

I try to remind myself that my views on the future of newspapers no doubt are colored by my vested interest in them.

That said, I also think everyone has a vested interest in newspapers -- it's clearly been shown that societies without newspapers, and societies without a free press, are less engaged, less democratic and more corrupt. That's true for a variety of reasons, not just the relative competence of the particular newspaper but also the nature of the citizenry's interaction with it.

Whatever the case, the Pew Reseach Center released an analysis Monday of "How People Learn About Their Local Community," and the report included some interesting findings on the role of newspapers.

One of them was the presumption by about two thirds of the population "say that if the local newspaper no longer existed, it would not have a major impact on their ability to keep up with information and news about their community."

It went on to say that, "Yet the data show that newspapers play a much bigger role in people's lives than many may realize. Newspapers ... rank first or tie for first as the source people rely on most for 11 of the 16 different kinds of local information asked about -- more topics than any other media source."

That, I think, leaves me, and I hope you, with a sense of optimism.

And it doesn't even get into the reality that a large portion of the news Americans get from television, radio, social media and conversations has its origin in a newspaper.

I'm interested in hearing what you think, and in particular, in hearing your suggestions for what we can do to be more relevant to readers and to the community.

Thanks for checking in with me today.

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