For a U.S. 1 reporter eating out, lunch isn’t just lunch. It’s an exercise in craning one’s neck to see what U.S. 1 story the people at surrounding tables are reading. At pizza parlors or corporate eateries, solitary lunchers are almost certainly going to be paging through the paper.

Marketing firms get big bucks to divine what consumers think about publications, but we don’t have a budget for that, so we might as well glean what we can.

Where do they start? In the middle with the singles ads? In back with the Help Wanted ads? Up front with the news-you-can-use Survival Guide? How fast do they page through?

With all the variety, it’s hard to predict what article will capture their attention. In Survival Guide this week, you will meet a lacrosse stick manufacturer who gives marketing advice, an environmental attorney who warns about contamination, a public relations expert who predicts trends, a sales force trainer who explains how to get contracts, and a nonprofit expert who advises how to pick a volunteer job. Each of these personalities has a speaking engagement in the next week or so. If you are intrigued by reading about them, you can also go and hear them talk.

Folks who turn to the middle section, Preview, are looking for something to do after work or on the weekend. This week they will meet an actor who plays Scrooge at McCarter Theater, a local poet, and clock collector who stages a monthly culture-fest in Lambertville. The most popular part of that section, by far, seems to be the calendar, a trove of mini-stories arranged day by day and in categories.

For the holiday season we’ve been offering gift-giving ideas. Last week our technical writer, Doug Dixon, told of new trends in portable players, mobile phones, and GPS devices. This week Dixon takes the mystery out of choosing TVs, camcorders, and digital cameras.

Jobseekers haunt the classified ads, but we also see them poring over the companies listed in Life in the Fast Lane, especially under the “New in Town” and “Expansions” headlines. If a business is doing so well that it needs extra space, it might need more people.

Of course it is a humbling experience when the spied-upon reader barely glances at the story on which the spy/reporter labored so hard and dumps it into the trash. But more often than not, the lunchtime reader puts the paper back in the rack, or takes it home as a calendar reference. For us, that’s better than dessert.

To the Editor

Thanks to the literally hundreds of individuals and organizations that participated in HomeFront’s annual Thanksgiving Food Basket drive. Some 1,523 very low-income families (an estimated 6,000 parents and children) in our community were able to gather around their tables and celebrate the holiday with a turkey dinner with all the trimmings.

I know the families we serve were truly thankful for the caring and generosity of our community and I hope that all the people who made it possible shared in their joy.

Connie Mercer

Executive director, HomeFront

Facebook Comments