You howled, we … listened

We asked for your thoughts about changes in the comics and features we have been publishing in our print edition — and, brother and sister, you gave them to us.

In nearly 400 emails and dozens of phone calls (we cut off counting as of noon New Year’s Eve), you told us you were “shocked,” “angry,” “disgusted” and “incredulous” that we would drop things you enjoyed.

And those were some of the nicer comments.

OK, OK. It’s a New Year and our vow is to listen better. (We’d like to be kinder as well, but that’s for another column).

While we (the editorial “we” just feels more comfortable in this perilous situation … wonder why?) have made some significant additions, and subtractions, we are going to continue, starting today, the popular New York Times crossword puzzle and the “Doonesbury” comic strip — the two items the majority of responders told us they simply can’t do without.

Here’s some background on why the somewhat extensive changes to our comics page and daily puzzles and features page came about.

It should be no surprise that the Sentinel, along with most other newspapers, is increasingly transitioning to digital platforms: our mobile apps and web site primarily. Younger (pretty much everyone younger than the age of 40) audiences get their news and information online — a reality we long ago recognized as one we could either embrace or … else.

What that has meant, and is meaning, for Sentinel readers is more consolidation of non-local content. This includes items we purchase from syndicates, including comics, puzzles, advice columns and other features.

With our news staff spending more of its efforts on producing and editing local content for multiple platforms — print and digital — we have fewer resources for the features we get from national, or syndicated, sources. Our company — aptly named Digital First Media — has asked each individual newspaper to work together in consolidating this content, as well as the production of non-local print pages and online presentations.

That’s why the comics changed. Our news team worked with other teams in our Northern California group to come up with a new menu of consolidated comics and features. Doonesbury had been carried by most in their Opinion sections, so that’s why it was eliminated from the daily comics page. Most, if not all, other papers in the group carried only one crossword puzzle, not two, as the Sentinel has been doing. (We also run an “easier” puzzle that readers also have told us they don’t want to lose.)

But Sentinel readers want both puzzles and so, both puzzles it will be.

The support for Doonesbury — the venerable strip by Garry Trudeau — was easy to understand in a liberal, politically connected area such as Santa Cruz County. Most newspapers run the comic on the Opinion pages. We weren’t — but did add the popular, if controversial, local comic by DeCinzo onto that page most days of the week.

Now we’ll add Doonesbury to our Opinion page, starting Wednesday, Jan. 1.

The New York Times crossword will run starting  Wednesday in our Classified ads section, where you will be able to find it Mondays through Saturdays. The Sunday New York Times puzzle will continue to run in our Features section.

We’ll also continue to run the daily “Best Bets” feature about local events we think you might enjoy. You’ll be able to find it on the second page of our local news “Extra” section.

We’d also like to wish you a Happy New Year — and have our own 2014 hope you’ll get used to the other changes, with new comics including “Mister Boffo,” “Wumo,” “Take the Tinkersons,” “Little Dog Lost,” “Luann,” “Tundra,” “Six Chix,” and “Mother Goose and Grimm.” We’d also like you to enjoy, and monitor, our new puzzles and features page, “Your Daily Break,” which has a new advice column by Washington Post columnist Carolyn Hax, along with “Sodoku,” “Celebrity Cipher,” “7 Little Words,” the daily horoscope, our TV listings and the “other” crossword puzzle.

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