Journalists like to think people buy the newspaper solely to read our fine prose. But one week on our reader representative desk – a rotating requirement of every member of the TNT newsroom – is all it takes to disabuse a journalist of that notion.
Mess up the crossword puzzle or the weather forecast and dozens of readers complain to the reader rep. Another small but ardent group of readers takes the paper at least in part for the television schedules. A significant error in the TV grids draws hundreds of calls.
Yet, we also know that fewer and fewer of our readers use the TV grids.
Because of that, we decided last year to deliver the Sunday South Sound TV book only to households in Pierce County that wanted it. TV book subscribers pay an additional 25 cents a week, which helps to pay for the content and newsprint. It also pays carriers who must keep track of which customers get a book and which ones don’t.
The book is included in all newsstand copies and in outlying areas where we have agreements with other newspaper carriers who choose not to manage that additional burden. About 35 percent of our Sunday papers include a TV book.
For the past year and a half, we’ve published a basic, 16-page book – a grids-only mass of black type topped by a single photograph that runs on the cover. It has left some readers wanting.
We’ve decided to do better beginning today.
Please take a programming pause to open today’s paper and pull out the new South Sound TV book tucked inside. It has a big number “32” on the cover, because that’s how many pages it contains – double the size of the old book.
We’re including it in every subscriber’s paper today and for the next two weeks so you can try it out and decide if you’d like to have it delivered every week for 50 cents. That’s an increase from our previous price, but far less than the cost of a weekly television magazine.
Here are the new features in the additional 16 pages:
• 24-hour scheduling grids. Previously, we gave readers a single grid for weekday daytime programs. They had to flip back to it Tuesday through Friday, and many didn’t like that. Now readers can start in the front of the book and work their way back with individual grids for every day and night.
• Color bars that highlight types of content. Sports programs are in green, children’s programs in pink, movies in blue and best bets in orange. It’s easier to find the kind of shows you’re looking for.
• This week’s sports. A day-by-day planner for live sports programming, plus a player profile and sports trivia quiz.
• This week’s movies. A description of movies airing that week, alphabetically listed, complete with starring actors and ratings.
• Fun and games: A crossword puzzle, word search and celebrity trivia quiz.
• A full-color cover story. Plus a celebrity Q&A, critic’s picks, mini profiles and Classic Best Bets, a day-by-day listing of the best reruns – all in color.
We think the new content will appeal even to readers who use on-screen viewing guides but have a keen interest in TV.
So, here’s how you get it:
• If you currently get South Sound TV and want to get the bigger, better version, do nothing. We’ll automatically upgrade you. Subscribers in outlying areas also will be automatically upgraded.
• If you want to add delivery of South Sound TV to your subscription, call 1-800-289-8711.
• If you buy your Sunday paper at a newsstand and want the improved TV book, you’ll have to become a subscriber. Newsstand copies will continue to get the smaller, grids-only version. (Subscribing also is cheaper and eliminates that pesky drive to the store.) Subscribe by calling 1-800-289-8711.
We’ll let you decide.
Try the book for three weeks. If it’s not for you, we understand. We’ll continue to publish prime time grids in the daily paper.
If you want to opt in, you must call by the end of the month to add South Sound TV to your subscription for next year.
Karen Peterson: 253-597-8434 firstname.lastname@example.org