Change Can Do Us Good
By Penny Wiegert
They say the only constant in life is change. And the evidence to support that saying is everywhere. While we know that change can be difficult, and not every change is good or welcome, we also know that many times, change teaches and improves us.
 
I thought a lot about the changes in life when I read the sad news recently that my high school typing teacher had died. I was incredibly intimidated in that class for many reasons. 
 
First, my mom was not only incredibly fast at typing, but she was also incredibly accurate. So I felt like the bar was already set pretty high in learning to type. 
 
Then there was Mrs. Lagerstam’s class. She was quiet, she was firm and she demanded excellence because the skill of typing was totally unforgiving. It was either right or wrong. No gray area.
 
How things have changed. There are still no gray areas in typing but the right and wrong are so easily fixed. Words per minute is no longer the optimum measure of success it once was. With computers there’s no more changing the ribbon or ball. No more counting to find the middle of the page or the margins. No more timed tests for speed and accuracy. Mistakes don’t require whiteout or a new piece of paper, you just run spellcheck and save as. The computer does most everything for you. 
 
I reflected on the fact that I was actually grateful to have lived through these particular changes. Even though many times it has been a challenge and frustration keeping up with the rapidity of the computer’s evolution, I embrace the flexibility and creativity our digital age affords us. And I certainly would never trade the skills imparted by Mrs. Lagerstam for any amount of money. Her guidance made all the transformations relevant and bearable.
 
Typing and computers are just a part of the change experienced at newspapers like The Observer. Virtually everything about the newspaper business has changed. Whether secular, religious or niche, publications have had to adapt to the changing needs and wants of those who consume the product. The computer has been both savior and satan to printed products. It has been a savior in that the news can be gathered, written, reproduced and reported in record time and on countless platforms. 
 
But the devil is in the dollars and computer technology has all but eliminated the consumer’s compulsion to pay for subscriptions. That single fact has been the domino responsible for the fall of news organizations, newspapers, magazines, the number of journalists and colleges offering journalism degrees, not to mention the adverse effect on the quality and ethics of some news outlets. This has required changes in reporting and delivering the news. Catholic publications have had to change too.
 
At The Observer, we want to make changes that serve you, our readers. So why not ask you, our readers, for reader help and guidance? What changes can The Observer make that would make sense to you? 
 
Take this little survey, quiz, whatever you would like to call it and help us learn what you like. Answer these questions and send them back via traditional mail or email. We would love to hear from you so we can listen, learn and make changes that best serve you and the local Catholic church. Please be truthful and civil in your comments and if you choose to be anonymous that’s okay. Thanks for your help.
 
Why do you read The Observer?
 
What is your favorite feature in The Observer?
 
What do you feel is missing in its content?
 
Do you read The Observer online, in print or both?
 
Do you pay for your copy?
 
Do you like that it’s a weekly publication?
 
What changes would you like to see in The Observer? (Comments can include types of stories, length, format, style, design, etc.)
 
Send your comments to me at pwiegert@rockforddiocese.org or to The Observer, PO Box 7044, Rockford, IL 61125.