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.