John A. Winters
We can't please everyone
by JOHN WINTERS
I recently had quite a pleasant email exchange with a spry and delightful young 81-year-old.
At first, she was not happy and let me and former reporter and columnist Alex McRae know it.
As Miss “J” said to Alex, with a copy to me, “I heard from a reliable source that you will no longer have regular columns in the Times-Herald, just “guest columns.” Consequently, when my subscription expires May 16, 2013, I will not now or ever be a subscriber again. The only reason I EVER subscribed was because I loved and looked forward to your column most every day. When it began to appear just on Sunday, I was more than a little disappointed. Now, if what I hear is true, I have had it with this rag.”
The start of a beautiful relationship. And so I had to respond. And here it is in part:
“I have worked with Alex since I have been here and consider him a great reporter and even better columnist.
“Alex has decided to retire. He will be missed. But he’s an old fart who constantly complains about his creaking knees and having to walk up the stairs. And when it was suggested he use the elevator, he starts ranting about how many people die in two-story elevator accidents and the thing is too slow anyway and somehow Obama is involved.
“I will miss giving him the myriad of prescriptions he has to take every day and constantly forgets. We do get worried at times when he starts talking to the newspaper or wanders off. He does not know, but we put a monitoring bracelet on him. He thinks it’s a new watch.
“Alex will continue to write his Sunday column, which he has done since I’ve been here and I understand started about the time Moses got the Ten Commandments.
“I’m glad you enjoy the rag. It is very good for windows. You can also wrap fish, roll it up and train your dog, cover you bird cage or use it to protect your floors when you paint. If you have no pets and hate to paint, you can also make a cool hat.
“Things are changing. Give us a chance.”
Things went better after that.
And speaking of things, things are changing here at your newspaper.
Starting Wednesday, we will launch a redesign of the newspaper. Don’t panic. Change, especially in this case, is good.
The staff has worked long and hard to create a new look that is more eye-catching and easier to read. Consider it a fresh coat of paint.
We are making other changes as well based on the recent reader survey that more than 450 participated in. We don’t pretend to have all the answers or know what you, our readers, want. And that’s why we did the survey. We can guess or we can rely on you.
And no, not everyone is going to like everything we do. We are going to get rid of the stock page. The vast majority of readers said they don’t even look at it. The same goes for the TV guide, although that will be down the road. Again, a huge majority said they have never looked at it, and with the online TV guides available now, we can’t even offer everything anyway. Instead, we will be offering a prime time lineup for all the days of the week. That change will occur in a few weeks.
We are going to focus more attention on local entertainment and feature stories on businesses and local residents — far and away what most readers want more of. And we are going to continue to tweak and pinch and ponder and rework the newspaper as we move forward. Change is an ever changing thing, and we will continue to work as hard as possible to provide you with the best newspaper we can.
As to Miss J, turns out she likes my columns too. So she’s promised to continue getting the Sunday paper at least to read Alex’s and my columns. Although she wants a bigger type size.
So do I. But bigger type size means less news, sports and features. Like I said, we can’t please everyone on every thing.
(John A. Winters is general manager of The Newnan Times-Herald. Follow his adventures at justflipthedog.com. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)