"Humor is mankind's greatest blessing." — Mark Twain
Newspaper pages and news website screens can be filled with content that stirs unpleasant emotions. Much of what constitutes news can make us sad, angry, frustrated, worried or some combination of these and more.
But the content that newspapers provide does not start and end with the day's hardest news stories. We also aim to provide material that makes you feel happy, inspired, hopeful, empowered.
And just as an article, photo or video that makes the reader cry is a powerful piece of journalism, so too is content that can bring out laughter.
One of the ways many newspapers try to do this is via comic strips. For some readers, the comics page is a destination for every reading session. And for the most ardent comic readers, loyalty to (and sometimes hatred of) certain strips is a true passion.
Whether you're a casual comics readers or a true connoisseur, it's almost a guarantee that a newspaper comics page or section will feature some you love and some you could do without. One of an editor's tasks is to try to find a diverse lineup that best serves our entire readership.
People are also reading…
To help with that endeavor, the good folks at our corporate parent offices have put together an online comics survey that's going to be collecting opinions from readers of The Citizen and dozens of other newspapers around the country about comic strips.
Some of you may have already received an email from us about this survey, and all readers will probably see some more promotion of it over the next week or so. The survey runs for the next 10 days (as of Feb. 17) and can take a few minutes if you really know what you like. It can also take you much longer if you'd like to browse through about 100 different comic strips that are being evaluated.
The format asks you choose your favorite strip within seven different categories: seniors, animals, families, children, panels, workplace and classics. To take part, you do need to provide some basic information as part of a "voter registration" process, but that data will allow us to better understand what the results mean to our individual markets.
I'd love to have many of our readers take part in this survey. To find it, direct your internet browser to auburnpub.com/comics, which will give you a link to a page with the survey itself.
After the survey period is over and the data has been analyzed, we expect to make some changes based on the information. The result should be comics pages that are funnier and more engaging.
In these times in which humor is so needed, that would be a good thing.
Best of the Region time
Another reader interactivity opportunity on the horizon is The Citizen's annual Best of the Region survey.
This popular section seeks reader input on what they view as the best businesses, organizations and other service providers in our area. There are dozens of categories, and each year our advertising department tallies hundreds of ballots from readers with the top finishers honored in a special section.
The voting stage kicks off this weekend. You'll find the Best of the Region ballot printed in the Sunday, Feb. 19, and Wednesday, Feb. 22, print editions of The Citizen, and there wll also be a 2017 online ballot at auburnpub.com/bestoftheregion starting Sunday.