The results of a spring survey about what the community wants from a new Harpswell Anchor show widespread excitement and support for the newspaper’s return.
The Harpswell News Board of Directors mailed 4,122 surveys to Harpswell property owners and received 747 responses.
“The response to this survey has been phenomenal,” said Greg Bestick, president of the board. “We want to thank everybody who took the time to send us feedback and suggestions. We’ll use what they’ve told us to make the Anchor an even better resource for the community.”
The survey results show a desire for news about Harpswell — its events, government, history, people and schools.
A whopping 99.59% of respondents answered that they read the old Anchor, with 84.2% saying they read the Anchor regularly and another 15.4% saying they read occasionally.
Also close to unanimous was support for keeping the Anchor’s name, at 97.71%.
In response to a question about how they want to receive the news, 82.39% of respondents wanted to continue receiving a monthly print product. Respondents could choose multiple answers to this question: 45.12% wanted a digital version of the print newspaper, 28.89% supported a website with regular updates and 11.28% asked for news on social media.
The Anchor is now providing news via all four methods: a monthly print edition mailed to every Harpswell address and a digital replica of the print edition at harpswellanchor.org, as well as frequent updates on harpswellanchor.org and the Anchor’s Facebook page.
Local news, a community calendar and features were the top three answers to the question, “What content would you like to see in a new Harpswell paper?” Those options captured support from 97.3%, 95.14% and 91.77% of respondents, respectively.
The new Anchor has continued to provide all three, with an emphasis on news about town government, schools and the waterfront.
Numerous survey respondents offered their time as volunteers and the Anchor has already drawn on this resource. For example, Kate Willeford, a certified public accountant who volunteered through the survey, now serves as treasurer of the Harpswell News board.
The Anchor has followed up on the many offers of help through a recent email newsletter. The organization now has a team of volunteers it can ask for assistance with anything from stuffing envelopes toreplenishing newspapers in local businesses. To be added to this group, contact Janice Thompson at 207-504-4428 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The survey solicited general comments too, with many respondents sharing their hopes and ideas for the reincarnation of the Anchor.
Some comments focused on the potential for the Anchor to connect and strengthen the town.
“A vibrant local newspaper is a foundation and a keystone of an informed and engaged community,” one respondent said.
“I believe the Harpswell Anchor could be a ‘tool’ to connect our community and draw its people together,” another wrote.
Several commenters expressed a desire for the Anchor to be a nonpartisan, objective news source.
“We have a diverse-in-thought community — lobstermen, contractors, lawyers, teachers — can we express all viewpoints without condemning people who don’t share one or the other viewpoint?” one commenter said. “Let’s make it an all-inclusive Harpswell Anchor.”
J.W. Oliver, editor of the new Anchor, said the newspaper will strive for fairness and uphold journalistic ethics.
“Harpswell News has ‘nonpartisan’ right in its mission statement,” Oliver said. “We will not endorse candidates, we will not take sides on referendum questions and we will insist on civility on our letters page.”
In addition, the Anchor will cover news from all geographic and demographic corners of the town.
The vast majority of survey respondents shared a sentiment expressed in one concise comment: “We miss the Anchor!” Before it ceased publication, the paper had been a beloved community resource for 22 years, and the Harpswell News board and staff are pleased to bring it back to life.
The Harpswell Anchor and Harpswell News continue to welcome feedback from the community. For business inquiries, email email@example.com. For news inquiries, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Send mail to P.O. Box 448, Harpswell, ME 04079.