A few minor changes

Published 5:59 pm Saturday, January 31, 2009

You might have noticed that the T.V. listings no longer appear in our newspaper. It wasn’t omitted by accident. In fact, it was my decision to no longer publish daily television schedules.

The simple explanation for the change is that we felt the grid lacked relevance to our readers, and we needed to reduce some unneeded expenses, thus deciding to eliminate the daily grid.

Let me talk first about the relevance of the T.V. Grid in our newspaper. There was a time when many newspapers published complete television listings full of commentaries about movies and shows. A few years ago, those guides in smaller community newspapers started losing their appeal and profitability. As a result, most went to a standing grid in the daily edition, which was minimized substantially to capture only the afternoon listings.

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For us, we’ve come to the conclusion that most of our readers have other means to determine what to watch on television, instead of turning to our newspaper. With the advent of digital guides on satellite and cable television, it’s safe to say that most people go there first to find out what comes on after the six o’clock news.

In support of this reasoning, we’ve received only about five telephone calls after one week of not publishing our television grid. Compared to our 11,700 newspapers distributed daily, that number is minimal. Though it will be an adjustment for those readers who will have to find another means of finding out what’s on, eliminating the grid allows us to run more news in that space, along with more advertising that is relevant to our readers.

As for the unneeded expense, it’s no secret that the economy is affecting most every business. Our newspaper hasn’t been immune to such effects. However, we’ve taken pride in operating our newspaper at an efficient level, which has put us in a better position to handle such economic situations than others who might have more “fat to trim.”

There aren’t massive layoffs coming to our newspaper, partly because we don’t have massive payrolls. There are, though, tough decisions that all business managers and owners must make. We’ve gone through an evaluation of our people and our products and have identified a few ways to save money so we can continue to operate at a level our community can support.

I think the changes in our printed edition will be minimal. We will cease publishing the daily Sudoku puzzle, crossword puzzle and bridge feature. We will replace those with weekly puzzles and features. There may be a couple days of the week where our page count is reduced.

But we’ll continue to focus on providing local news and advertisements that our readers have told us they are interested in, and we will continue to strive for daily improvement.

If you have questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to call me at 934-9611.