Better Roads Staff
Our December reader outlook survey that was a primary component of my cover story forecasting 2012 [page 8], was sent to leaders in transportation contracting industries and leaders of government agencies responsible for highways and bridges (i.e., you). I asked for more than numbers. I asked for voices. Give me your numbers, I asked, and then talk to me. Here, I thought, was a chance to gauge mood and mindset across a broad base.
I had lit a fuse. I got all that I bargained for and more in the piled-up pages of comments. Pent-up frustration is pressing on people who are deeply attached to their livelihood, people who have to find a way through another flat year. It is impossible not to feel the emotion and the frustration. But digging into the comments I began to find what I was looking for.
There are patterns, trends and priorities. No, you don’t expect a great year, no surprise there. But you also don’t expect to sit back and hope it passes. You expect, come hell or high water, to get work done. Strategies to squeeze every funding dollar and cent emerge, concerns and plans for worst case scenarios are in there, and so are some optimistic, or at least bold, plans to take on the economy head first. The repair/maintenance/preservation balancing act features prominently in plans, so does an expectation for more bridge repair and rehab work.
There are fears of an “election-year slowdown,” and, how shall I put this, some colorful words for our elected representatives in Washington. A few of you expect some good times.
Surveys are important to us. In the last quarter of 2011 we reaped a harvest of information about our readers’ use of, and attitudes towards, social media, and we also conducted a general reader survey. And then the 2012 outlook survey.
Perhaps I ask too much, but the responses suggest you are willing to help us. In this rapidly-changing media environment, the role of magazines changes. In some fields, editors can run with the herd, making changes dictated by consultants and various shades of media gurus. But in our world, where magazines must have a use value, knowing who your audience is and what your audience wants and needs, are still the overwhelming driving forces.
That’s why we keep up with you.