Friday, February 13, 2009

There's a USA Today growing inside my Hartford Courant

If you still read the print edition of the Hartford Courant, you've undoubtedly noticed something strange occurring six or eight pages into your A section.

As you flip past the half-page ads for Thermo-tite Windows, and the Hunting and Fishing Show (Are they printing these ads for free? Look at the size of them!) And as you browse past the vestigial remains of the Business Section, reporting on the vestigial remains of business and the economy, you suddenly find yourself in a through-the-looking glass world where the Beyond CT section brings you to a typographical wonderland, an offset funhouse, a bizarro-world version of what used to be as familiar as old newsprint.

WTF is happening?

Do our local editors really think this tawdry double-truck is easier to read because the pictures are bigger, the headlines bolder, the graphics more numerous and the kerning more dense? Do the corporate publishers really think that layout like a webpage, and stories shorter than a summer night in Murmansk will really attract younger readers who wouldn't know what to do with a newspaper if they were told to roll one up to kill a housefly.

These pages are ugly, and once again, insulting to the only people left reading this wisp that lands on the doorstep each morning, people like me.

What next? The newspaper delivery person waking me up to slap me every morning when the paper arrives?


Anonymous said...

Wow. Well said.

I started a lengthy response, but you said it all much better than I ever could. It just plain sucks.

We let the subscription lapse soon after it shrunk in physical dimensions the last time, and just started a new (deeply discounted) subscription about a month or so ago.

I don't think we'll ever do that again. It's all I can do to CTGLEAM it with CTDISGUST for 5 or 10 minutes a day.

It's a sad excuse for a paper, made even sadder by the memory of how good it used to be.


Steve Collins said...

Thanks for bringing this up. I know the Courant, like every paper, is struggling to save money but that two page spread is atrocious on so many levels.
It's one thing to standardize some inside personal business advice page. It's quite another to shovel the day's real news into a two-page Today's News For Simpletons.
I worry for the Courant. The people who own that paper are driving it into the ground.

steadyjohn said...

I saw the trend of the dumbing down of newspapers when my home town paper The Long Islander, founded by Walt Whitman by the way, went tabloid and stupid about 15 years ago. I haven't bought a newspaper in perhaps five years. I used to be addicted to the feel of newsprint in my hands; which forced me to buy the 15 pounds or so of NY Times every Sunday. Too bad about The Hartford Courant and The Long Islander; they're history. Fortunately I can still indulge my other passion, old houses; they are much more durable than newspapers.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ed,

I hope you turn your dismay at The Courant ( & The Middletown Press ) into a real newspaper for Middletown. You and the rest of the Eye Guys put more Middletown content into the mix in two days than The Courant does in a month.

Anonymous said...

The travisty that is the Courant goes beyond the BeyondCT section. More than ever, the paper now depends on day-old wire stories and reprints from other papers to fill in the spaces between the ads.

The updated Sunday CT Opinion section is an embarassment. No wonder Bill Curry said "Adios." Do we really need a half page devoted to the weekly "caption contest?" And I hope Cohen & Barreca get lots of money for doing their sad imitation of Aykroyd and Curtin from SNL's old Point/Counterpoint.

Unfortunately for us readers, the Courant, like many newspapers forced to make cutbacks, chose to keep the news that's freely available on the Web and drop the reporting most valuable to the community.

Thank goodness for Tom Condon and Colin McEnroe. Their insight, perspective and humor still give me a little something to look forward to when I open the paper.