Monday, February 15, 2010

Where's the outrage?

Since Cindy's story on Friday I've been wondering when we might see a Courier editorial on the City talking about charging for customarily 'free' public services like the library and public parks and trails.

They're not free, of course. Our taxes pay for them. Now the City, or at least certain Council members, would charge us again to use them.

The free public library in particular is an American tradition that speaks loudly of our commitment to open government, education, free thought and responsible citizenship. I would think a newspaper editor, of all people, would understand the implications of making access to public information more difficult based on economic class, and say something about it. Something loud.

Format changes

Last week's revamp of the Courier's online offerings are overall very positive, I think.

The sleeker dCourier pages eliminate lots of clutter, fluff and advertising and look more professional, though I would like to see somewhat larger headlines to help distinguish the stories from one another. The home page is still a mess, trying to cram too much in, but it's easy to bypass.

I'm having fun with the new site, which brings back online pages as printed, following a long hiatus. The navigation and zoom work smoothly and much more quickly than the old version. Zooming in to read takes a little getting used to, as the zoom feature is maybe a little too sensitive to mouse movement, but you get the knack after a while. I'd only ask for a second zoom level for those of us who try to avoid getting too close to the monitor.

On the comments feature, I have to say that "requiring" first and last names, but disclaiming (above it, in red!) that you can use a pseudonym sort of defeats the purpose. Registering commenters with real names will lead to fewer but more responsible comments. You might also consider giving registered commenters pride of place and putting anonymous comments lower, or maybe a larger typeface for registered comments.

Here's a cookie for the IT department. Now marketing gets the challenge of making money on it.

One thing, though: The narrower pages of today's papers make the six-column format hard for readers. The lines are just too short. Go to five and you'll make it easier for your readers and have more interesting layout choices in the bargain.

U.S. debt will keep growing even with economic recovery

I guess the editors missed me over the past week, so to lure me back to my desk, they gave me this great big Monday-morning present, guaranteed to piss me off. They ran a politically charged opinion piece as news.

But wait, there's more. Having chosen this AP op-ed by Tom Raum for a box on 6A, they cut it on both the hard copy and dCourier to eliminate what little balancing information Raum used in favor of the Obama administration. (Sorry, cutting an outside story on the Website, where there is literally no space limitation, is just wrong.) Here's the original story in full.

I can understand it when subtle propaganda works its way into news stories. People often write from unexamined assumptions about the world and don't realize it. But this is far from subtle. The assertions of fact without references, the assertions of other people's motivations, the use of obvious opinions as facts all mark this clearly as an opinion piece. No editor could miss it. This was not a mistake, folks.