How to improve a printed newspaper that has been operating for more than 250 years... That's what usually wakes me up at 2am. 

Among the many other niggly worries that cross a newspaper editor's mind, this is probably one of the nicer problems to have.  

There's something about print, the feel of the paper, the smell and the physicality of it. 

Swapping your £1.50 for a copy of the local newspaper, holding it, tucking it under your arm, walking out of the shop with it, enjoying it and then letting it languish on your coffee table, kitchen side or bedside cabinet for a while. It's all part of the enjoyment of a printed newspaper. 

But what makes you stop in the shop and want to pick one up? And then what makes you come back for more? 

Particularly now, in the modern age, when the newspaper has a brilliant (even if I do say so myself) digital edition and up-to-the-minute website. We push our digital subscription packages, encouraging readers to sign up to pay a monthly fee, which many loyal readers do (thank you), but that gives them even better access to the website, fewer ads and a replica of the printed newspaper on screen. So what can we do to make sure people still actually want to go out of their way to pick up a physical copy?

That's all part of the modern-day conundrum that newspaper publishers face. 

And with the rush to keep up with technology, to find a way to monetise local news online, the emphasis has for the last 10 years or more been on the web. How to display stories properly, what time to publish, what platform to use, which medium to use, plus many other matters. 

The focus has been on page views, the amount of people who click on each story. Each article is looked at, we know exactly how many people have read it, where they have come from, what they click next, how long they stay, plus many other data points. 

While that's nice to know, and can help us to produce only the things that people want to read, it's also swept away any focus on print. 

With print, you can assess how many people have bought the paper. We can roughly guess that each paper is going to be read by three people, we think, but what they look at, how they enjoy it, is anyone's guess. We don't even know if it's flung in the bin. 

Hampshire Chronicle: The print review The print review (Image: Kimberley Barber)

Recently, a panel of editors were brought together by Newsquest to look at a whole range of matters that will improve the longevity of the printed product.

Yes, print circulation is falling, that's no secret, and it has been for quite a few years, maybe even decades, but how do we make it not fall as fast as our competitors? How do we convince people to still go to the shop, to still hand over £1.50 each week? 

One of the parts of this project I have been leading is a print product review. With 200+ newspapers, all with different styles, quirks and areas, this is a mammoth task. I have started close to home and recently carried out an internal review of my titles. 

I then held a reader panel, made up of nine trusted people who I know all regularly buy and read the printed version of the Chronicle. Thank you to those who took part. 

This was an eye-opener into what people like and don't like. And it has helped shape a few changes, just small things at the moment, that I hope will improve the enjoyment of you, the reader, as you work your way through the Chronicle. (Note the new improved page 2, with a revived contents section, just one small thing). 

Some things will require a lot more work to change that cropped up - such as a question around puzzles, and whether the eight-page puzzle supplement should survive in this post-pandemic world, and the overwhelming plea for more heritage and nostalgia content. I am working on this. 

It was great to hear genuine readers' views - and if you would like to contribute anything, please do email me - I am always open to suggestions. 

There will be a reader survey in the early part of next year too, I hope some of you will fill it in too.

For now, it's brilliant to see a news organisation valuing and respecting the medium that's been around far longer than any other - and hopefully, with a bit of love, we can carry it through another 250 years.