Pick up any newspaper, and chances are you'll find some reference to television - most likely listings of programs that will be on the tube that day or the next.
When TV first came on the scene, there were dire predictions that this would be the end of newspapers. Fortunately for us - and for society in general - the predictions proved false. Although some newspapers still look on television as The Enemy and provide minimal coverage, for the most part newspapers consider this a lifestyle area - as much as movies, consumer issues, food and social problems - and one worthy of covering in detail.And newspapers are a leading source of information about television.
A survey commissioned by TV Data, a company that supplies computerized TV listings to newspapers, found that 68 percent of American adults refer to their local newspaper for information about what to watch on television.
The survey, conducted by the Roper Organization, found that 40 percent of adults regularly read both daily TV listings in newspapers and weekend supplements.
Another 19 percent use only the supplement weekend magazines; 9 percent use only the daily listings.
As a comparison, 38 percent of those surveyed said they rely on TV Guide for television listings; while 24 percent said they use guides distributed by their cable television companies.
The survey found that Americans 19 to 29 are less likely to refer to newspaper listings or TV supplements than the average American adult, while both the 30-44 and the 45-59 age groups are more likely than adults of other ages to use newspaper TV listings and supplements.
Also, better educated adults tend to rely on newspaper listings and supplements for TV information, while those less educated tend to rely on TV Guide.
According to the survey, TV Guide readers are also likely to be newspaper users - consuming all the television information they can find.
However, covering TV and providing listings and supplements is a lot more complicated for newspapers these days than it used to be. Cable television has had a major impact.
When the Today section was created a dozen or so years ago, the Deseret News had a full-time staff member who spent most of his time compiling - and typing up every day - logs, or schedules, of the local channels. (That was in addition to the television coverage Howard Pearson provided.) Of course, he had only the three networks and two PBS stations to deal with.
Today, more than 30 different local and national channels are available to cable subscribers. Joseph Walker now provides our commentary and has to track not only the local and the network stations but follow all the cable offerings as well.
And today, our listings logs come in on the computer from the Tribune Media Service, which contacts all the stations and compiles the weekly schedules.
And while this is more economical and efficient, it does present a couple of challenges. One is the lead time involved. Due to printing and advertising schedules, our weekend TV magazine supplement, called "TV Week" and included with the Sunday paper, is printed nearly a week ahead of time - and material is sent to the printer as much as 10 days before.
While we make every effort to ensure accurate logs at the time they leave ouroffice, the channels have 10 days in which to make changes - and they often do. We update and correct the daily schedules, but the 19 percent who rely only on the "TV Week" supplement may miss those changes. We know nothing is more aggravating than setting the VCR to pick up a program and have something else on.
We try to make our logs as user-friendly as possible, including prime-time grids (those graph-like charts listing programs from 7 to 11 p.m.) for a quick look at what is on, as well as providing as much detail as we can in the more complete daily log. But another problem is space.
Providing complete coverage for those 30-plus stations takes a lot of room - more than is available in our "TV Week" supplement. So we have to choose the channels that the most cable subscribers receive. And when there is heavy advertising in the section, we sometimes have to eliminate features and/or early morning hours of programming.
A few examples: To keep our log, or schedule, manageable such cable channels as Cinemax, The Nashville Network and MTV are not included. For one thing, different areas in Utah and even within Salt Lake County are served by different cable companies or get a varying mix of channels. Most cannot even subscribe to some pay cable channels, like Cinemax. TNN and MTV have schedules that generally remain the same day to day and week to week, with content variations. And in some areas MTV isn't offered while another music channel, VH1, is.
But certain channels aren't listed mostly because something has to give somewhere,
We appreciate the patience of our readers when changes have to occur.
We also enjoy hearing from you as to what is important in our TV coverage. Drop us a note anytime.