The power of the puzzle p.

By: Lynn Feigenbaum The power of the puzzle p.

MOST NEWSPAPER EDITORS take for granted the crossword puzzle that runs somewhere in the back of their paper.
Big mistake. Readers may forgive you if you lose a front-page jump or run a photo upside down. But leave out puzzle clues or put in the wrong solution and your phones will ring off the hook.
I know. As public editor at the Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk, I hear from readers daily. Recently, 35 of them threatened to send us to puzzle purgatory because we messed up clues to a Monday morning crossword puzzle.
Puzzles are important to readers and thus to newspapers. If you don't believe me, check out the syndicates ? most if not all offer a daily and weekend crossword puzzle.
The Editor & Publisher Syndicate Section lists 83 different crossword puzzles for newspapers or magazines ? and that doesn't include other puzzles and word games.
Even with my affinity for puzzling, I underestimated the interest. The lesson came home to me last year when, as features editor, I decided to drop the Cryptoquip to make more space for comics.
At the last minute, I had qualms. So I set aside one of the usual daily offerings and substituted a homemade cryptogram that looked like the real McCoy.
In cryptocode, I asked readers whether they cared about keeping the puzzle and provided an audiotex phone number for them to call.
I expected 20, maybe 30 calls. There were more than 2,000. The message was loud and clear.


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