Saturday, October 4, 2008

The "new" Hartford Courant, a week in

After some fairly harsh words early in the week, I think it's only fair that I offer my feelings about the "new" Hartford Courant a week into its publication.

While it's still filled with "condensed" stories and a noticeable drop in copy inches, I found that as the week went on, there seemed to be more content. From the point of view of a Middletown resident, the fact that there was a shooting in town, and another contentious meeting about the Army Reserve Training Center, meant that I got to see some local news in the Connecticut news section.

On Thursday, I was very pleased with the newly rejiggered Cal section. Some work had begun before the re-do, but the features on musicians, and especially the new book column by resurrected literary columnist Carole Goldberg, and the new Arts column by Roger Catlin (whose prodigious writing talent has always seemed wasted on TV alone), are welcome additions. What's more, the actual layout of the listings makes it easier to find things.

The selection of old and new columnists in news, editorial, living and sports seems to bear up well. Every one of the columnists is a first-rate writer, and so far, the Courant seems not have diluted their point of view. Still, I wonder that with each of the columnists also having to maintain a daily blog, whether, in the end, it will sap energy from their print pieces.

The front page appears to favor some more actual news, and less graphic content, which is good, but certainly not up to the standards of the old front page.

There's still a lot to complain about. The front page layout is laugable. The Reader Speak commentary, as abstracted, seems to be without basis, most of the time - this feature gives the commenters far more legitimacy than most of them seem to deserve. The loss of separate regional news sections is glaring and a disappointment. The absence of op-eds is regretable. And the encapsulated newpieces are enough to drive a reader to a new source that respects national and international news.

I haven't cancelled my subscription yet, but just in a week's time, I have found myself less likely to be sure I've grabbed and read the paper before I leave the house in the morning.


Anonymous said...

I too really miss the OpEd Page. I guess that's why we need blogs.
I've also noticed a lot of the columns seem to have a snide, scarcastic tone which I hadn't noticed in the past. Maybe that's just a function of my age. (I'm even older than you, Ed.)

Anonymous said...

Hi Ed,

This is more of a question than a comment.

How do find that the new Courant format affects your accessing

I had some habits built up so that certain stories in the paper paper drove me to the website. Given that I am spending less time with the paper copy of the Courant, I am finding that I am spending less time on also.

Has there been a broken symbiosis between the two versions for you?

Ed McKeon said...

I have always much preferred the print version of the paper, and have only read the online version, regularly, on Wednesday morning when my early morning radio show prevents me from getting the paper. I also read it when I'm on the road in a distant city. As for the web version, I frequently find it damnably hard to find stories and columns I know are there. That's not the case for me with the New York Times. And now with all the encapsulated stories, I think that search will be more difficult. I don't really understand why the print version seems to drive people to the web - is it an invitation to ready people to abandon print and paper?

CT Bob said...

It looks like they've unceremoniously dumped the "Excerpts from the State Blogs" section, too.

To be honest, I wasn't entirely pleased with their selection of my articles that they reprinted, nor the editing they sometimes did. If I had been allowed any input at all on what articles to include, I'm sure I would have chosen some different ones. I was surprised at some of the articles they overlooked. Then again, I'm a terrible judge of my own work, so they probably sucked anyway.

But it was kind of fun for a while to see some of my inane rants printed in Connecticut's premiere newspaper. Oh well, I guess it's back to obscurity for me.