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Column: Turn to revamped section for things to do around town

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We have been on the GO! for a month now. I hope you are enjoying reading our revamped Thursday entertainment section and wanted to give you some behind-the-scenes background on the changes that were implemented Aug. 7.

The rebranding of our weekly entertainment guide, the section formerly known as ZONE, gave us a chance to rethink how readers define “places to go and things to do.” In doing so, we have expanded the definition of entertainment and are now giving readers a wider range of information on a timely basis that fits with their free-time interests.

Early in my newspaper career, these sections were often branded as Arts & Entertainment. Those sections from the 1970s and 1980s may have been a little more highbrow, focusing on the fine arts, symphony concerts and other theatrical stage performances.

Over the past couple of decades, however, newspaper editors decided these sections needed to be edgier in order to attract younger readers. They were not going to be your grandfather’s entertainment sections any longer, and so a new breed of them were born.

The Republic introduced ZONE, which published each Thursday. It had the prerequisite catchy name, lively design and looked to be even more fun that its predecessors.

And it was.

I wasn’t around for the creation of ZONE, and I’m not even sure what the name was supposed to suggest — other than something new and fun.

But we’re now in the 2010s, and readers and editors are both looking for the next big thing.

And, guess what, people in search of something fun to do don’t want to be backed into a corner of choosing just among the fine arts, symphony concerts and local theater.

Those types of events may still be the staples of the local entertainment scene, but a growing number of residents are interested in other types of activities to serve as free-time diversions.

Health and fitness for one. Working out and exercising is fun for a growing number of health-conscious people, especially in Columbus. Working out makes you feel and look better and can be a way to interact with others who have like interests.

Educational programs — self-improvement or otherwise. The Bartholomew County Public Library comes up with new ones all of the time, as it also looks to attract a new audience and meet the needs and interests of local people.

And then there’s the catch-all Miscellaneous category. Where else would you list an appearance by the cast of “Duck Dynasty,” for example?

The name GO! is an action word, and all types of activities qualify as places to go and things to do.

Besides the content, we have introduced more personality in the GO! section, with weekly picks from features editor Jenny Elig and features writer Brian Blair. They provide one or two tips each on Page 2 of the double-page GO Guide each week. Complementing those two columnists, we are continuing the Best Bet column on the opposite page, written by on-air personalities from White River Broadcasting, our local media partner.

But what’s really fun about GO! is that you never know what surprise may be waiting for you next time Thursday comes around.

I hope you are enjoying the new GO! If you have suggestions on ways to make it even better, let us know. I welcome your feedback.

And feel free to reach out to lifestyles editor Jenny Elig, who coordinates our content plan, at 812-379-5671 or by email at

Tom Jekel is editor of The Republic. His column appears each Sunday. You may reach him by phone at 379-5665 or by email at

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