Globe to Kick Sidekick Aside?

The Globe just sent out an email to people on its marketing list, linking to a web survey. They do this fairly regulalrly, so that’s not news unto itself. However, this survey deals with Sidekick. Namely, the future of it. As a longtime Sidekick hater, that’s news to me.

According to the survey, “The Boston Globe is considering two options for combining the content from ‘The Living/Arts’ and ‘Sidekick’ sections into one section on Mondays only.” The questions that follow basically ask people whether they like the “tall” layout, like the current Living/Arts, or the “wide” one, like Sidekick.

I’ve been baffled by Sidekick since it was introduced. And not because of the content. If anything, the content has improved over the last year. No, I’ve never understood why it existed at all.

It has TV listings, though TV coverage is in Living/Arts. It runs a good CD review spread on Tuesdays, covering discs that aren’t already in Living/Arts. It does events, but this became super-confusing, especially when the Globe was running Living/Arts, Sidekick and Calendar, all of which had events, at the same time.

So I’m glad to see someone over there is thinking about combining all this content into one slightly less baffling package. But making this change for Mondays only isn’t going far enough. If anything it makes everything even less comprehensible.

The next step should be to combine all Sidekick and Living/Arts content. Further, they should be combined into the “wide” sidekick format, and distributed in the paper and independently as a free (maybe weekly) stand-alone, to try to take a bite out of the local alt-weeklies in the ad and readership game.

Living/Arts has my favorite writers at the GlobeTy Burr and Wesley Morris on the movie beat, Matt Gilbert on TV, Mark Feeney on everything. Adopting the distro model of the local free alts and start leaving piles of the new section at T stations, cafes, bars and clubs, full of the sharp writing the Arts section generally has (not so much the Living section) could provide the Globe with an in with the younger readers that they’ve been looking for, and failing to get, for years.

Will they take advantage of the recent chaos to come up with an innovative solution, or will we Globe subscribers get another half-measure? Time will tell.

  • Boston Diamonds

    I agree completely. A standalone consolidated Sidekick/Living Arts publication with all of the information– tv, music, arts, events would be so much better than getting it a bit at a time here and there.

  • Ron Newman

    And while we’re at it, why is the Living/Arts section renamed to “Style & Arts” on Thursdays only?

  • JJ Reeves

    Because there’s apparently no connection between living and style… not when you’re running catasrophes like this:

  • gatsbys_girl

    I never drank the Kool Aid on Sidekick. It’s way too confusing to have so many different sections of the paper serving the same purpose, particularly when your readers are more distracted and less enthusiastic than ever.

  • Jeff Weekly

    Joe, I’m gonna kick you in the nuts! Sidekick compete with the alt weeklies?? Come on! First off, you need content worth reading and that’s where the argument ends. Alts provide readers with much more than comprehensive A&E coverage, they provide attitude and tone. Remember that? Hehe…The Globe can’t and won’t provide that. Nope. Fail.

  • Matt

    I dunno. I think that if the Sidekick got more decent writers and a good listings person on board, the idea of a free weekly section could be really cool. The Globe has the resources to pull it off, and sidekick has generally had good content lately. Conversely, some of the alt-weeklies (I’m specifically looking at YOU weekly dig…) have been dropping the ball right and left and turning away from providing good A&E coverage and turning into nothing but a vehicle to sell advertising. I remember when i first moved to Boston, the Dig was how i found out what CD’s were good, what shows to see and what movies to go to. Now, i flip to savage love, read that and toss it. Everyone who writes seems to be tripping over themselves trying to out-snark each other. Talk about FAIL. I’d welcome a publication that can provide solid A&E coverage.

  • Jeremiah

    Yeah, I dunno about the Dig anymore either… I mean, I wasn’t popular in high school either, but it’s seriously like they just gathered a bunch of really bitter art-schoolers in a room and tossed them a bunch of random Boston things and said “here, insult this”. It’s like they were straddling a fence between the Phoenix and Stuff at Night and would up with a gruesome injury that just made them pissed off about everything.

  • Brian

    An alt weekly that provides content worth reading? That WOULD be nice. Maybe I need to start buying the Village Voice.

  • Ron Newman

    So what’s going on now? First they got rid of Thursday Calendar, folding it into Sidekick. Next they combined the Wednesday Food and Living|Arts sections, calling the combined mishmash “Food & Arts”. Now they’ve eliminated Saturday Sidekick, moving its content into “Living & Arts”.

    Is there some grand scheme behind all these changes?