Patricia Christian of Kenmore wants to be heard. So do Edward Nickson of Grand Island, Marcia Seibel of Williamsville and Jeffrey Crane of Buffalo.

They are just a few of the many Buffalo News readers who reacted strongly to last week's column. They want to chime in on what really matters to them in their newspaper.

Some of them, admittedly, are coupon-clippers like The News readers and former readers who were part of two recent focus groups looking at proposed changes to the Sunday News.

But almost all who wrote were appreciative of The News' journalism, and wanted everyone at the paper to know it.

"I appreciate the investigative journalism that keeps me informed about what is going on in my community," said Christian. "I follow the reports on the Buffalo school system, development in Buffalo and Erie County, the Holding Center, the NFTA police, security cameras, etc."

Crane praised the improved presentation: "The crisp clarity of The Buffalo News, in both text and photos, is remarkable."

Seibel liked the book reviews, movie reviews ("although I don't always agree!") and Colin Dabkowski's "art-world features."

Nickson hearkened back to a seventh-grade teacher who taught him to be an engaged, critical reader: "Thanks for helping me meet that standard by providing well-researched, vetted and edited stories and features."

He added: "Please keep fighting to produce the fine paper you put out. Some of us out here really depend upon it and enjoy it."

Many readers feel as if they are on a first-name basis with writers they like: investigative reporter Patrick Lakamp, education reporter Mary Pasciak, Washington columnist Doug Turner, Discount Diva Samantha Maziarz Christmann, the arts critics, business writer Jonathan Epstein, metro columnist Donn Esmonde and many others.

Others had suggestions: More balance on the editorial page, more business news for investors, more letters to the editor, more hard-hitting local news.

But all were passionate about their newspaper and its role in their lives. Many said The News compares favorably with papers they've read in other cities.

Shelby Deck, a self-described stay-at-home mother of two, put it this way: "Please know that there are other people out there. We'll call ourselves readers. Readers like me who begin every morning with The Paper. Every morning. Cover to cover. Local first."

Deck went on: "We're proud of a paper that takes risks, gets muddy and learns from mistakes, proud of an active community given public voice with issue-driven letters, emails and My View columns, and proud knowing when we travel that other papers in other cities never seem to stack up."

Some praised improvements in the paper. Others understood the resources and dedication it takes to produce good journalism.

In Gerri Kozlowski's words: "I appreciate the work that is involved in publishing a quality daily newspaper."

Some readers were downright funny.

"Coupons? The best part of your Sunday paper? That's almost as bad as saying my favorite part of the picnic was the ants!" wrote Joe Sexton.

And Kathleen Walsh Simonin described her attachment: "My family often comments about my obsession with the newspaper, which I will not discard until I have read it from cover to cover As a single woman, I take the paper to bed with me!"

The News is lucky to have such devoted readers, just as it is lucky to have a dedicated, talented staff -- the largest in Western New York media -- of writers, editors, photographers and designers.

In these tough times for newspapers, those are blessings that are worth counting -- and worth fighting for, as we intend to do.

Back to Christian for the last word: "I appreciate what you do and realize how much poorer we would be without The News holding people accountable."