Friday, March 27, 2009

Journalistic cavils

A guy who sends me stuff, guy who knows a thing or two about newspapers hisownsself, sends me a cogent blog post on redesigning newspapers as an exercise in futility. It was written by Joel Achenbach for the WaPo Web site. In part:
I am loathe to criticize the hard work of colleagues in this beleaguered newspaper industry, but it would seem to me … that they think newspapers no longer need words. … There's a vow to rid the paper of long and dense stories. But let me pose a question: Is there any evidence that any format change at any newspaper has made a difference in the bottom line?

The post was prompted by a redo of the Orlando paper. You can read the whole thing here, and it is worth reading. I am in complete agreement with all of it. One of my many quarrels with the Vicad these days is their pages filled with meaningless graphics wrapped around nine-inch stories. Sometimes a thousand words is worth more than a picture. Got a story about finance? Go to a stock photo site and lift a photo of a stack of $100 bills. Got a story about the Middle East? Go to a stock photo site and pick up a pic of a camel crossing a sand dune. Hackneyed is hackneyed, verbal or visual, and that is hackneyed. I would sooner read a 19th-Century paper that was a pure mass of solid eight-point type than try to find the real information on the frothy pages of a modern newspaper.

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