The Sun-Sentinel, in its quest to become the cotton candy of journalism (sugary, fleetingly pleasing, and devoid of all substance), took a giant step in that direction this weekend: colors.
Now the section fronts have color schemes, rather than the old black and white. For the local section, it's aqua (this is an ocean community after all), for business, it's green (clever -- that's the color of money), for travel, it's blue (as in the wild yonder), and so on.
There were other smaller changes, too, including giant, often inexplicable graphics and such. Executive Editor Earl Maucker wrote a column about it Sunday, explaining that
he'd made the changes "to help readers navigate through the newspaper."
He also said he wanted to make it more "reader-friendly with boxes, breakouts and graphics, to make stories more accessible, especially for the hurried reader."
It's all about enhancing the "reading experience," he tells us, and making the newspaper brighter and bolder.
Former Sentinel writing coach John DeGroot, an occasional Pulp contributor and ardent critic of his old newspaper, had a different take: "What we have here is the product of countless minds and millions of dollars worth of equipment doing their best to create better looking skin for their low-grade baloney."
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My problem is that the skin really doesn't look better and that the "reading experience" isn't easier, it's more difficult. It's hard to know where to start reading anymore and if you start with the graphics and boxes, you're only going to get confused. But all those bells and whistles should help mask the lack of substance in the newspaper, though.
Actually, my theory is the Sentinel, by making its product a chaotic bunch of colors and graphics, is only making it easier to camouflage the advertisements that are creeping ever more prevalently onto fronts. Started with business, now you're starting to see it in Sports and other sections.
Let's see, it looks like H. Wayne Huizenga already owns the business section, with the incessant Nova Southeastern University ads promoting the H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business. Thankfully, there was no ad on the day that the Sentinel promoted -- I mean wrote about -- Huizenga being inducted to the Automotive Hall of Fame. The headline under a huge bust-like photograph of the billionaire and famed civic vampire: "Ford, Firestone ... Huizenga."
It's getting bad, folks. I'm telling you.