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.