A caller today commented on the Sunday Page A1 centerpiece about natural gas pipeline safety.

"This is the reason I look to newspapers," she said. "This is the kind of reporting that I know isn't maybe that attention-grabbing like a car crash or something, but it's important and vital. Please, please urge your editors to continue to do these kinds of articles and leave the sports and the fluff to the inside pages."

I hear these sorts of comments often. She's right that long, serious stories about subjects such as utility regulation aren't necessarily water-cooler talk. It doesn't surprise me that they don't often show up on the "most read" or "most commented" lists on the site.

But they are indeed the kind of journalism that self-professed news hounds expect out of serious newsrooms. And I'm with those who think they should be the backbone of a newspaper's strategy.