The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has been running a series on the history of comic strips in newspapers this week. Today’s focus is on the 70’s (but there are links to all of the week’s stories on the page).
The whole series wraps up Sunday with a vote on both currently published and potential candidates comics for that newspaper. Presumably this might lead to some changes to their comics pages. Why do newspapers use this approach to determining what comics to publish? How odd would it be if television ran a few sample shows and than held an Internet poll to determine which shows to run that season. On the other hand, I suppose some television channels might have better programming if they tried that approach.
Television has ratings, which are a more accurate measure of what show is preferred over what other show than straight newspaper sales. In a sense, TV doesn’t need additional polls, because they already get that feedback.
I’ve actually been witness to several polls by newspapers for changing comics on pages. Because the paper doesn’t get much feedback on the comics page – unless something is wrong with it – on a regular basis, the editorial staff usually decides to run a poll of some kind with test strips of choices before picking replacements.
There have been fiascos where Beetle Bailey was replaced… only to be brought back by a flood of hate mail directed “at the idiot who does the comic page.”
Having worked in newspapers, I’ve heard the tales of horror when something goes wrong. Spelling errors and ad goofs go unnoticed. Mess up the crossword puzzle, Ann Landers or the comics, watch out. The phone will ring off the hook for days.
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