Something I learned early on as the editor of a newspaper was that loyal readers of the print comics and TV listings take those features seriously.
Both longtime staples of print newspapers can be destination reading for people, meaning it’s the first or second thing they turn to when they start looking over the day’s new edition.
And when you mess with either one in the slightest way, you’ll hear from readers with questions and possibly a few complaints.
With as much change as we’ve experienced in our industry since I started this job nearly 12 years ago, the sanctity of comics and TV listings remains for a decent-sized chunk of our print and e-edition readers.
With that in mind, we weighed carefully a couple of recent moves related to these two products.
A couple of weeks ago, in a move that helps us improve efficiency and matches content with a popular standing section, we relocated our weekly TV listing grids from a Sunday section to the back portion of our Thursday Go! entertainment section.
We ran a front-page article in a Sunday paper about this at the end of March, and have had a series of in-house ads about the move.
Nonetheless, I have heard from a couple of readers asking where the TV grids went. The answer is the Go! section on Thursdays, including today’s edition. If you have a friend or family member who still prefers the printed TV listings and has expressed bewilderment at why they they’ve been missing this month of Sundays, please share the word.
Another change I want to highlight comes in the daily (Tuesday-Saturday) comics page lineup. Joe Quirk’s Crayon Diary has come to an end in The Citizen after a nice run of several years. We’ve started running a replacement, Arlo & Janis by Jimmy Johnson, but that’s not necessarily the permanent choice. Over the next few weeks, we’ll run a small batch of multiple strips with the hopes of getting some feedback from our comics readers.
So check them out. They will be in the top slot on the page. And then please give me a ring or send an email with your thoughts, and after a while, we’ll see if a consensus favorite emerges.
Last week I offered my take on the controversy over Sinclair Broadcasting’s move to have its anchors around the country read a scripted message that insinuated the mainstream free press — other than Sinclair — engages in pushing dangerous fake news and bias.
I explained my position that this move does a grave disservice to the journalists forced to read these scripts.
A day after that column, the Syracuse Press Club Board of Directors put out a statement that I’d like to share here:
Many of our club members and members of the audience we serve have remarked on the Deadspin video compilation published last week, which shows Sinclair broadcasters, including some journalists from the Central New York market, reading a corporate promo on "fake news."
The Syracuse Press Club shares many of the concerns vocalized by members of our community. However, we would also like to extend a message of support to our members. It is our understanding that many journalists featured in the video compilation read the promo under duress. We don't pretend to have all the facts on how each broadcaster at each affiliate came to read the Sinclair promo, but we do understand the pressures of the industry and restraints built into broadcasters' contracts.
We want all members of the CNY press corps to know the Syracuse Press Club is here to support you and to support the award-winning local journalism you produce every year.
Each journalist must be responsible and accountable for every news item he or she publishes. We urge all of our members to take this precious responsibility seriously, in every aspect of the work we all do. However, we believe the root problem of this controversy is not the anchors and reporters across the country who read the message. Instead, this falls on the executives at Sinclair who deprived local journalists of airtime and a say in their own newscasts, effectively calling into question their hard-earned credibility with their audiences in the process.
Our mission at the Syracuse Press Club is to stand for local journalism. We believe that the public is best served when members of the local press who understand the communities they cover make local decisions about content local readers need.
We see the conglomeration and concentration in ownership of news media, particularly as it relates to Sinclair, as part of a disturbing trend in journalism that suppresses local voices and news stories in favor of recycled content that toes the line of corporate propaganda.
In today's media environment, we surely don't need vague statements that question the integrity and hard work of legitimate news organizations - we need more resources to pursue local stories, more airtime and column inches for local voices and, more importantly, we need to stand together in our pursuit of the truth.