What to cut or keep is always a tough call

What to cut or keep is always a tough call

SINGAPORE - I grew up reading the comics pages in The Straits Times and I understand the sense of loss that readers felt when The Straits Times reduced the number of comic strips in the paper from Sept 1.

Some readers thought that we had made the cuts to make room for advertisements; others thought that we were trying to cut costs. A few readers accused us of losing our sense of humour.

It is true that newsprint is expensive and newspaper space is finite, while editorial demands keep growing. Life! is the features section of the paper that covers the arts, entertainment and lifestyle and these sectors have grown tremendously in the past 10 years.

To cite a few examples, there were an estimated 37 local theatre productions in 2001. Last year, the number swelled to about 70, keeping Corrie Tan, our main theatre reviewer, very busy indeed.

Music lovers used to count themselves lucky if a big pop star swung by once in a while to play here. This year, the big-name acts who would be performing or have performed in Singapore include Tony Bennett, Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Metallica, Robert Plant, Jay Chou, Mayday and Girls' Generation.

The rich cultural and lifestyle pickings mean that every day, we have to make decisions about what to put into the paper and what to leave out.

The Life! editorial team receives scores of requests every day from newsmakers and organisers to cover an event, interview someone or review a performance or exhibition. We do not - it is impossible anyway - cover everything.

In deciding what to cover, we look at the newsworthiness, the relevance and the "entertainment" value of any proposed story.

This competition for space is not only among stories with a Singapore origin. The Straits Times is not a parochial paper and Life! also publishes wire stories on cultural and lifestyle events and trends overseas.

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