Monday, May 10, 2010

Newspapers and TV: An uneasy co-existence

This post was published in the Post Register May 11, 2010.

“I don’t know about you. I really don’t.”

This was part of an anonymous call on my voice mail this morning, one of hundreds we received about the lack of a TV Times section in Sunday’s edition. It was one of the nicer ones.

This was what we like to call a “test drop” – we drop a feature (often it’s a comic or columnist) without notice and gauge the reaction. So, first things first – the TV section will not only be back next Sunday, but we’ll be printing this week’s section tonight and putting it in Tuesday’s Post Register. And, now, for the second thing: What were we thinking?

We’ve been providing a TV section of one sort or another for a long time, and for that time – decades – it’s always been a money loser for us. Of course, we provide a lot of information that doesn’t directly earn money for us, so that’s not the only issue here.

The other issue – and it pains me a little to admit this – is that the Post Register’s main competition for advertising and local information is: You guessed, it, TV. While it’s a healthy and generally friendly competition that we are winning, it’s still a little irksome to us that we provide a service that benefits our competitors while costing us real money. It’s a great deal for the local TV stations and cable and satellite providers, and we don’t blame them a bit for taking full advantage of it.

When it’s all said and done, however, even that issue pales in comparison to what matters most – what do our readers want and expect? On that score, you’ve made it very clear. You want the TV Times back.

As I write this late Monday morning, we’ve had more than 1,000 calls taking us to task for our “test drop.” Most of the calls are reasonably polite, while others are, well, less so. You’ve told us in no uncertain terms that the TV Times is part of what you expect in the Post Register, so it’s back.

We apologize to those of you whose routines have been seriously disrupted by our experiment. We’re grateful that we’re an important part of your life and we’re really sorry for not meeting your expectations on this one.

Some of you who called wanted to know who the dummy was who decided to give this test a try. I did it. So, don’t blame the nice folks who have been taking your calls. I did it, and I’m bringing the section back. Now.

Oh, and to our friends in the TV business: You're welcome.

UPDATE: By the end of the day Monday, we'd received nearly 2,000 calls. In my 30 years in the business, I've never seen nearly so many calls on a single issue.

No comments:

Post a Comment