Are you using all your ketchup

Published 11:53 pm Tuesday, July 1, 2008

I remember when the chicken at my favorite chicken strip restaurant was bigger.

When the chain restaurant first opened the strips were bulky. And good.

Then, after time, the chain’s business grew along with the expenses and the chicken got smaller.

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The same thing has happened at nearly every fast food restaurant — remember when they used to give away handfuls of ketchup even if you didn’t ask?

But times change, and now you might be lucky to get two packs of your favorite sauce even if you ask nicely.

Budgets get tighter as expenses increase, salaries grow, things change and the result is smaller chicken strips and less ketchup.

I’d be a liar if I said the same thing didn’t happen in the newspaper business.

We, like all of you, pay the same high gas prices and product costs. We, like every business out there, want to provide the best service at the lowest cost.

So, periodically we examine the services we are offering and consider what you all want the most. We can never please everyone, but we try to meet the needs of the majority.

For years now we’ve been publishing a daily stocks report based on the trading at the U.S. stock exchanges.

The stocks report is one we buy from the Associated Press each month. And by the time you read it each morning, it’s often outdated and provides inaccurate information.

Financial markets move every second around the world.

The addition of after hours trading in the last decade has made it impossible for newspapers to accurately provide stock information.

The Internet is the best source for stock updates. You can get them from multiple online sources for free.

Because of this, we stopped publishing the daily stocks reports this week. This may be an inconvenience to those of you who do not use the Internet, however the space and the money can be better invested in continuing to provide you with the local coverage that no one else offers.

Along the same lines, we are also seeking to take a closer look at some other features in the newspaper that we purchase from out-of-town vendors.

Those of you who read your copy of the “Best of the Best” section in Sunday’s edition may have noticed a few extra questions at the end of the “bests” ballot.

“Best of the Best” is an annual community contest we sponsor that allows all of you to vote for things like your favorite restaurant and your favorite car dealer.

This year we’ve included one question that pertains to features in your newspaper — comics, the crossword puzzle, TV listings, the astrology report, the bridge report, Annie’s Mailbox and the weather map.

Another question deals just with content on page 2B of the sports section.

Please take a minute to fill out the “Best of the Best” ballot and to circle your favorite features in your newspaper.

The results of this survey will help us understand what readers like best.

We want to continue to include features that the majority of our readers enjoy.

Our goal in asking for your thoughts is twofold, to serve you better and keep our costs in check. But we don’t want to cut back on the packets of ketchup until we hear you say you’ve been throwing away the excess anyway.

So let us know what you read, what you love, what you can’t live without. And if there is something that you never even glance at, tell us that too.

Feel free to write-in comments on the “Best of the Best” ballot, or to contact me directly.

Julie Finley is the managing editor of The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at 601-445-3551 or