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Sunday Late Nite: See You in the Funny Papers, OmbudsAndy

Ombudsman Andrew Alexander lets down serious Washington Post readers with an entire column devoted to the huge flap generated by the decision to drop "Judge Parker" from the print version of the funny papers. Yeah, I know, "Judge Parker."

 This is the important issue your Ombudsman chose to tackle this week. Deep in Debbie Howell territory, OmbudsAndy writes about WaPo readers who took the shrinkage of the stock tables and the elimination of Book World in stride:

But when some comics were recently removed from the newspaper, they revolted. The focus of their anger was the strip "Judge Parker," which was sentenced to appear only online.

Hundreds of readers demanded a reprieve. It’s been granted. The judge will be back on the bench in Monday’s paper.

The reversal came after a debate among top editors and marketing experts. Readership surveys had shown "Judge Parker" at the low end of popularity among more than 40 Post comics. Thus, it was one of six moved from the newspaper to The Post’s Web site as part of a broad effort to save space and cut costs. 

Yeah, I know, "Judge Parker."  But popularity and intensity are not the same thing:

When the global economy is foundering, Somali pirates are seizing cargo ships and North Korea is ousting U.N. nuclear inspectors, it might seem hard to fathom how readers could get so agitated over a comic strip. But The Post received more than 750 calls, e-mails and letters about "Judge Parker" in recent weeks — far more than on any other topic.

And after a week when the Washington Post gave its op-ed page over to a bunch of retired 20th century officers to spew falsehoods about gays and lesbians in the military, when George Will typed an entire column about "Demon Denim," when another WaPo op-ed columnist joined the Bush Legacy Reunion in Dallas, and when the Post’s exclusive about the Obamas’ dog got scooped (and then the Washington media became consumed by the "intrigue" of whether Barack Obama broke his promise to get a rescue dog!) — was there really nothing worth ombudsing about but the funny papers?

Post editors deserve credit for reversing course. Acknowledging reader sentiment wins allegiance when The Post is trying hard to retain its audience. "If the readers feel very strongly, we want to be responsive," said [Executive Editor Marcus] Brauchli. 

About the funny papers. 

And we were off to such a swell start.

{photo by krossbow}

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