This morning, I read the special 8 page pullout outlining the “new features” and the editor’s comments on it. I’m less than impressed and – even with 3 cups of coffee – still un-enthused.
Here’s a short list of the major innovations we’ll see next week and my view on them:
- Lileks off Sunday, moved to every other day. A good thing. Since I don’t think he’s very good and I get the Sunday paper, this is perfect
- “Variety” renamed “Source”, “Signature”, “Stupid”, “Sucks”
- Masthead, now with more serifs, wider columns, more bullets, easier to skim. As an ex-graphic designer I can confidently say they spent too much money on the logo redesign and their new skin.
- Oh, and something about writers having the same stories online as in the printed piece. That’s a good thing. Hopefully this will give reporters the opportunity to publish more interesting articles, in varying degrees of depth. You know, the whole ‘go niche’ / ‘long tail’ thing.
Now that I’m done shredding the redesign, here’s a couple of actual innovations I’d like to see from newspaper land:
- Customized dead-tree edition: only the sections I want from the columnists I like. In my world, I’d be without the Sports, Travel, and Classifieds. This means fewer pages printed, fewer pages delivered, and fewer pages recycled.
- Provide access to archives for free online.
- Write above a 4th grade level. I’d like that very much.
- Include URLs in the newspaper edition to continue the story online. Links to the story itself, the reporter’s sources, and competitive coverage. This means embracing and acknowledging the internet exists. (That’s where younger – and older – readers are going)
Until then, the Star Tribune is simply re-arranging the deck chairs of a sinking industry. Giving someone with a few dollars a huge opportunity to redesign the industry…not just the paper.