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Column: We asked, you answered: Look for these puzzle, TV changes
Shannon Casas high res
Shannon Casas

I am one of those people who play Wordle. I didn’t pick it up right away, but pretty soon one of my co-workers had me a little more curious about all those gray, yellow and green squares people were sharing on social media.

Now, it’s become such a habit that the link will automatically pop up on my phone each morning — maybe my phone is too smart. 

The puzzle is a simple, daily ritual that challenges the brain but can also usually be completed in a couple of minutes or less. And I can beat my husband at it, which makes it very special — he beats me at all the other puzzles almost all of the time.

Wordle’s purchase by the New York Times may eventually bring some growing pains for Wordle players, but I was glad to see that if it was going to be acquired that it was by a newspaper. 

When it first came out, I immediately made the connection to the printed puzzles in the newspaper and the important habit that is for many print newspaper readers.

Which brings me to some growing pains with The Times’ puzzle content.

In a survey earlier this year, many of you let us know which of the print features were most important to you. Local news outpaced everything on the list, which is good since it’s where we devote the bulk of our efforts. But what we especially wanted to know was how many of you use puzzles like the Jumble or Sudoku or features like the TV guide information.

More than 1,000 of you answered the survey, and what we found is that individual puzzles we publish are used by somewhere between 15% and 20% of you on a weekly basis. While we’ve been publishing seven puzzles in two print editions, most of you use two of them.

The Jumble and Sudoku are most popular at my house, and my oldest might be getting the hang of that last one. He’s got a ways to go on his spelling skills before he’ll be solving any Jumbles.

If you love those puzzles, don’t worry, we are going to continue all of them and even add a few. We will not, however, be publishing seven in print starting next week. Each puzzle will instead be published in a regular daily schedule. You’ll be able to find the Tuesday Crossword in the Tuesday ePaper, the Wednesday Crossword in the Wednesday print edition, and so forth.

With limited print space, we hope you’ll agree that allowing more room for news content will be a better use of that space, while at the same time ePaper users will have more puzzles than they did previously. All subscribers have access to the ePaper as well as interactive puzzles at gainesvilletimes.com/puzzles. If you need to activate that access, please go to gainesvilletimes.com/register and check the box that you are already a subscriber. If you need help digitally activating your subscription or accessing your account, please call one of our customer service representatives at 770-532-1234.

Another big change will be the inclusion of a single TV guide page in the weekend print edition starting next week. 

I’ve had several conversations about the TV guide over the years that have made me chuckle. Not that long ago I spoke with a woman who seemed a bit perplexed why her husband couldn’t use the TV guide button on the remote, nevertheless, she had called on his behalf to ask about the printed TV guide. 

With streaming services like Netflix and Amazon, TV watching has changed dramatically for much of America — myself included. I couldn’t tell you when any of my favorite shows air on TV, but I will find those that do waiting for me in Hulu.

About 17% of you answered that you use the TV guide, and for those of you who do, we want to make that a better experience than what we currently offer — which is some days of TV guide in print and others not printed at all.

Instead, we will print one page in the weekend print edition that will include seven days of TV programming. We hope tearing out and setting aside that one page will be more convenient for you to plan your TV watching.

I know change is hard, and we’ve asked a lot of you over the past few years. I sincerely hope these changes will give most of our readers a better experience.

We will be trying out a few different new puzzles over the coming weeks, too. Please let us know what you think of those by emailing life@gainesvilletimes.com.

If you have general feedback on these features and did not take the survey earlier this year, it is still open and available for you to fill out at www.gainesvilletimes.com/survey2022.


Shannon Casas is editor in chief of The Times and a North Hall resident.