Apparently sorry can be the hardest word to say.

Not in my recent experience. I have found myself saying "sorry" repeatedly for a blunder I made this week.

A week ago we changed our daily puzzle page, and we now share it with the NZ Herald, as well as several regional papers.

This was a group-wide decision, quite common within companies that own multiple branches, or, in our case, newspapers.


However, after a steady flow of complaints from readers who buy both papers, and want different puzzles, my regional parochialism took over and I decided to publish a new page with different puzzles to the Herald.

Well, if the first change caused a wave of complaints, my blunder caused a tsunami.

Readers were annoyed. Staff were annoyed with me for annoying readers.

An irate Scotsman from Onerahi sounded like he was about to leap in the car and hunt me down.

Puzzles form part of our daily routine. In one reader's case, they were part of his rehabilitation after he had a bad stroke - the brain exercise helped him regain his vocabulary.

Within an hour on Wednesday I knew I had made a mistake and began apologising to the callers and promising that we would not publish the offending page again.

So we are now back to the slightly less unpopular puzzle page that we share with the NZ Herald.

I am sorry this has upset people who read both papers. I understand why.

This change was a commercial decision, and we have provided feedback to the decision makers and will continue to lobby on behalf of our readers for a different page.

However, the financial saving to our business created by sharing a puzzle page is significant.

And when it comes to trimming jobs or changing puzzles, to keep our business and industry viable, then we are going to lean towards changing the puzzles.

Just not too frequently, I hope.