Readers speak out on crossword puzzles

I’ve worked at four daily newspapers across this beautiful country. I’ve endured plenty of ups and downs and heard many a cross word from readers.

Absolutely nothing fires up our customers more than comics, horoscopes, TV listings and, of course, puzzles.

I’ve witnessed many of my former bosses getting slammed by readers when they dared change their daily lineup of comics, or when they pulled a long-time favorite column or puzzle.

And despite on-the-job training across five decades, I’ve now found myself squarely in the cross-hairs.

Why? Because we changed the crossword puzzle at the CDT!

Many of our readers have told me that was a big mistake.

Here’s how we got here:

Our parent company, McClatchy, owns about 30 newspapers across the country. It has been working for a couple of years on a strategy to streamline puzzle pages for all of its newspaper markets — which makes sense on multiple fronts. We were given a choice of two puzzles — neither of them our longtime provider L.A. Times.

Would it be New York Times or Universal? Initially, we decided to go with Universal.

Which, of course, was universally hated — by at least 99.9 percent of the seemingly 999,999 readers who weighed in.

OK, so it wasn’t that many calls and emails that we received. But it was enough to make us think twice.

Many folks who wrote or called said the Universal puzzle was too easy. A couple of readers, on the other hand, said it was too difficult. One Facebook writer wondered who the jerk — though he used a different word — was who made the decision.

I understand why people are worked up. It’s because they love their newspaper. Some of them only subscribe, they said, because of the crossword puzzle. While I think there are lots of great reasons to read our content — whether in the paper or online or on Facebook — I respect that the crossword puzzle is just as great a reason to read as any.

Thankfully, we make changes around here in pencil, not ink. We value your feedback and are not afraid to reverse changes when appropriate and possible.

In my first year we’ve made many changes, from the ways we cover the news to how and when we present it.

One of the coolest changes we made recently was the upgrade of our e-edition, an electronic replica of our print newspaper. If you haven’t tried it in the past, or since the upgrade, I’d urge you to do so at centredaily.com/e-edition/.

And we have more exciting changes ahead, which I’ll tell you about in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear what you think about our crossword puzzle via email at jboogert@centredaily.com. Please put crossword puzzle in the subject line and I’ll track your responses and feedback (in pencil).

Together we’ll find the right solution.