The [Wednesday] Papers
The debate last night took a lot out of me. How lame was that? Tom Brokaw sifted through audience questions and those were the ones he chose? Could we please just keep asking the same questions over and over again? You might as well have had animatronic candidates there for all the time that was wasted.
Why no hard questions on the pork-stuffed bailout bill? Why no trying to settle Ayers and Keating once and for all? Why no questions of either candidate for their failures to campaign with the dignified tone each promised? Plenty to ask.
Between the dispiriting effects of last night and some Internet connectivity problems this morning, as well as other pressing business, I just don't have it in me to turn out a Papers column today.
But you can occupy yourself - and please do - with our Mystery Debate Theater coverage over at Division Street. It's a pretty good one. Feel free to comment over there.
And among our offerings today, I'd like to introduce Fantasy Fix, our new football and basketball fantasy sports column, which will be brought to you weekly by Dan O'Shea.
The Papers will return tomorrow.
The [Tuesday] Papers
* Dane Placko in the Best Interview Ever of a Cubs fan.
* Rick Kaempfer's second thoughts about raising his children to be Cubs fans.
* Our very own Ricky O'Donnell in the season's final White Sox Report: "It could be much worse. We could be the Cubs."
When I first saw a prototype, I thought it looked like Crain's. Then when the paper came out I thought it looked like Crain's meets RedEye.
But after spending a week now with the new paper, there is no doubt in my mind that this is a vast improvement. I expected a colorful and more dynamic appearance, but what I've been seeing every day is bolder than I thought it would be - including the fact that the paper is doing a nice job of pointing readers to the Internet in sensible ways, which is a rarity.
Could I find things to criticize? Sure. Some pages are way too busy. Sometimes, design-wise, the ads and editorial have seemed to blend together too seamlessly. The paper is obviously smaller. And in some ways some design elements remind me of the look some mid-size papers have long had; the look is not exactly elegant and mighty.
On the other hand, large photos and an engaging appearance convey the feeling that, you know, the paper actually cares about what it is telling you. The biggest missing ingredient in the DNA of the old Tribune was always passion, enthusiasm, even a point-of-view (which is not the same thing as bias). The new Trib seems to have at least a little bit of those things.
Bigger photos and headlines and more graphic presentations can be a dumbing down, but they don't have to be, and in fact I think that - if done smartly - it's the right way to go. A paper should be a mix of presentations, not a collection of the same stories written with the same hackneyed formulas.
I have the early instinctual sense that new ways of presentation will also stoke new ways of thinking among reporters in terms of what is news and how it can be conveyed.
Plus, the columns of Eric Zorn and Mary Schmich are buried in the back now.
The true test will be if the staff can maintain its creative energy after its initial burst and, even more so, how and where the real hard-core reporting work fits in - be it investigative projects or beat work or anything else that demands time and space.
I'm also uncertain about the ability to attract new readers to the paper; I'm of the view that it's too late for print editions of the paper to re-establish the habit among the young 'uns. But for the first time I will say that maybe inroads could be made with the right kind of marketing push and whatever methods may be used to get this kind of paper in their hands for a few test spins.
In any case, for those of us who still read the print version, it's a much more enjoyable experience.
I suspect Alan Mutter's pals are just, you know, bitter old fogeys.
For all we know, Michael Cooke, editor-in-chief of the Sun-Times, called in a thousand times while on a bender.
Robb Montgomery, a former Sun-Times designer who was the man behind the late, lamented Red Streak, has a round-up of other reactions.
Plus, David Greising's column is apparently back and Q is dead, or at least has morphed into a new section called Smart.
Ferdy's Film Festival
Today's Ferdy blurb:
Beautiful takes the dilemma faced by beautiful young women in a society that disrespects women at a very basic level and turns out a less graphic version of slasher porn. Kim Eun-yeong (Cha Su-yeon), the lovely victim in Beautiful, is no match for the gawkers and stalkers she tries unsuccessfully to evade. "Beauty is destiny," someone says to Eun-yeong. According to this movie, being a beautiful woman means being reduced to a raving crone who is destroyed without any reason or poignancy. The director and screenwriter would rather let Detective Kim call the shots and force her fate on her like a second, more deadly rape. Eun-yeong's allure seems more that of a sorceress than a fresh-faced young woman, and we all know what happens to witches.
Here's the trailer:
Q: What would you say the problems of press coverage are, then?
Posted on October 8, 2008
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