Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The new page 1: BIG photos, soft features

Berkeley Daily Planet editor Becky O'Malley writes in her latest column that she's been talking to various friends at the Chronicle who have been discussing the Hearst-owned paper's future now that 100 of the paper's 400 newsroom jobs have been eliminated:
    One mentioned the general modus operandi of Hearst papers these days: no hard news at all on the front page because that might alienate the post-literate reader.

    The new Hearst style is BIG photos with soft features at the top of the front page, he said, and that certainly describes recent Chronicles. The universal target of horrified dinner table Chron critics was the day the big story over the fold was that women don’t really talk more than men, a psychological research result that had come out at least three days previously and surprised no one anyway. A close second was “It’s going to be hot tomorrow!” — and it wasn’t, by the way. No star reporters or brilliant editors are needed for front pages like these.
O'Malley isn't impressed at how MediaNews, which owns the rest of the paid dailies in the Bay Area, is covering news in her town:
    The news from the Berkeley City Council is now frequently supplied by one guy, a former gossip columnist who watches it on cable TV, and it’s often reprinted in several sister publications, for example, in the East Bay Daily Snooze, the “Berkeley” Voice (which with a different front page is also the Montclarion, the Albany Journal and many more), the Oakland Tribune, the Contra Costa Times, and even (why would they care?) the formerly excellent San Jose Mercury News. When the guy gets things wrong, as he sometimes does, his mistakes are amplified a thousand-fold by his corporate empire.

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