Monday, May 4, 2009

Shoehorn Journalism

If you want to read a heated discussion of what people are whispering about the Orlando Sentinel redesign, its layoffs and what the future holds, visit Charles Apple's blog at

Some folks have been going at it hammer and tong for several days about the goings on at the Orlando Sentinel. They are mostly taking visuals guru Bonita Burton to task for what some say is "callousness" in handling recent newspaper changes and layoffs. Others are beating up on Nick Masuda, a senior designer, for "sucking up" to Burton. And if that's not enough for you, the commentators have resurrected the ghost of Oxycontin. It's that bad.

It's good stuff, as gossip goes. Only a few people have gone on the record, including Burton (I think), Masuda and former Orlando Sentinel AME Sean Holton, who defended the copy desk against allegations that it fouled up Oxycontin.

There's discussion of templates as the future look of the Sentinel and other Tribune papers. That's why the copy desks have been gutted. Copy will flow directly from reporters' heads directly onto the page. Did anyone say stream of consciousness? I doubt we will discover the new William Faulkner.

It's obvious that the new owners have little taste or respect for journalism or the personality and uniqueness of the cities in which the newspapers are based. This is now a one-size-fits-all approach.

I've got one thought about all this: One-size-fits-all didn't work for pantyhose, guys. What makes Tribune honchos think it will work for newspapers?


rknil said...

The idea that copy desks should be gutted because of one flawed series is ludicrous.

That being said, I was generally disappointed in both the quality of writing that often was submitted and the frequency of fellow deskers catching substantial mistakes. Too often, the philosophy seemed to be: "Let's ignore this crappy content; it's too hard to fix that stuff. Design is what we should spend most of the shift doing."

Very weak.

Anonymous said...

to imply that templates are a mistake is a huge error. they do not erode creativity, but offer a way to manage time so that the most important stories command full attention while everyday stuff is just flowed into a design. the web is full of plug and play - this is the norm and the paper is just too stodgy to know what is happening.
man, it is like 1986 in that newsroom. old ideas, depressing atmosphere, dated thinking.
sorry. it is just awful there.

Anonymous said...

Newsrooms in 1986 were pretty exciting places. We can only dream that level of journalism will ever exist again at the Sentinel.