Problem-solving is one of the most interesting facets of being an editor. At times it's like working on a jigsaw puzzle without any picture to go by.
How can you spread four full-time reporters over six days? How can you fit 20 gallons of news into a 10-gallon newshole? How can you create a new section for the newspaper without increasing expenses or decreasing space for other things?
Sometimes you hit on a great plan and all the pieces fall into place and things go like clockwork. Other times it's like trying to put a square peg into a round hole. If you hit it hard enough with a hammer you can get it in there but it's not a comfortable fit.
Readers have been increasingly asking for more local news coverage in the U-B. We are excited that we've been able to deliver with stories devoted to this coverage up 8.4 percent so far this year. However, with a finite amount of resources, we had to pull from somewhere to make this happen and several comics that had increased in price to the point they were no longer affordable were eliminated.
When faced with this kind of a problem the decision can seem simple, but the results aren't always as clear cut. Reference the aforementioned hammer.
But sometimes when you start looking for solutions to one problem, you find you might be able to kill two birds with one stone.
The lament from readers who missed their favorite comics brought our attention back to this page. It also served to renew a call from some readers to move Dear Abby away from a page that attracts young eyes. Dear Abby often deals with very adult situations that may not be appropriate for youngsters.
As we grappled with this concern, it was as if a light bulb went on. If we moved Dear Abby to another location there would be space on the comics page we would need to fill. Would it be possible to bring back two of the comics we dropped?
While there would be an increase in our costs for adding two more comics it would be worth it if it helped solve two problems: Adding to reader satisfaction with the comics and providing a comfort level for parents who felt they had to censor the page of Dear Abby before letting their children have it.
So, Dear Abby will have a new home on the last inside page of the front section of the paper on a daily basis. And we are going to leave it up to the readers to decide which two comics return.
We will run a ballot in this space for the next two weeks. You can vote for two strips. Your choices are Garfield, For Better or Worse, Frank & Ernest, Wizard of Id, Hagar the Horrible or The Born Loser.
We will not accept photocopied ballots, but you can vote as many times as you want. So if you feel strongly about one or two of these comics, grab your newspaper every day, cut out the ballot, mark your choices and mail it to the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, Comics Survey, P.O. Box 1358, Walla Walla, WA 99362. Or drop them off at our office at the corner of First Avenue and Poplar Street.
Rick Doyle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 526-8306.