TV listings: Useful to readers or not?

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By The Staff

In today’s rapidly evolving media landscape, news and information products constantly have to be evaluated, changed, updated, and, in some cases, abandoned.

Why?  Because the needs of readers are changing just as rapidly; a product that was highly read and utilized just a year or two ago, can become passé with a relatively minor advance in technology or a common shift in reader behavior.

The Los Alamos Monitor is engaged in just such an evaluation with our weekly entertainment/TV listings publication, Kaleidoscope.

The tabloid has been a regular in our Thursday edition for a number of years, but the Monitor has received mixed reviews recently in terms of the overall usefulness of this product in particular.

For one thing, the TV listings primarily serve only local cable customers. In this market, there are a considerable number of those who receive their TV signal via satellite, so those folks are left out in the cold if they want or need a printed guide.

Another consideration is that most systems offer on-screen program guides, rendering the printed listings of little or no use to many readers.

The newspaper’s dilemma involves trying to determine just how useful this weekly section is to its readers.

While the newspaper certainly plans to continue, and even expand, its coverage of local and regional entertainment regardless of what happens with the future of Kaleidoscope, the overriding mission for the Monitor is to create and produce news and information products that serve the needs of the majority of readers.

While it’s certain that Kaleidoscope does have some core of a readership following, what isn’t so clear is whether the product really serves the needs of most readers.

If not, then does it make any sense, particularly from an environmental perspective, for the newspaper to keep producing the section? As Kermit the frog once said, “It ain’t easy being green.”

But in reality, the Monitor could redirect its energy and resources to develop a more robust venue for entertainment, travel and weekend activities if it did not have to build that information around the rigid set grids of TV listings. From a design and presentation standpoint, the TV listing grids constrain what the Monitor can produce for its readers.

The Monitor needs to hear from you in terms of the future direction for this product.

Do you use Kaleidoscope primarily for the TV listings, or do you check it out for entertainment news?

Do you read Kaleidoscope for entertainment news and TV listings or do you not read it at all?

With a better understanding of how readers use Kaleidoscope, the Monitor will be in a much better position to better serve the majority of its readers. Your input on this topic is important, so send your thoughts in an e-mail to TV@lamonitor.com.

This is also the featured question in an online poll at lamonitor.com, so either way or both, let us know what you think.