Deconstructing Big Earl

Look the Pulp isn't infallible. Everybody who reads this thing knows a good deal of it is done on the fly. Like the intrigue of deadline writing, it sometimes produces gold and sometimes all that comes up is dust. The post directly below isn't really either, but it could have stood to have more context, as a commenter noted in attack form.

The truth is that I should have hit this community news issue at the Sun-Sentinel a while back. But, as I said in my response to Muckluks, when I took the Christmas holiday, I really took a holiday. So I missed Earl Maucker's Christmas Eve column on the changes in the community news. The column is notable on many levels, foremost perhaps because it's a perfect example of corporate BS, starting with the lede:

"As we turn the corner into 2007, we have a number of content changes planned for your South Florida Sun-Sentinel that we believe will play to our strength -- local news.

In 2007, you will find more of it in the Sun-Sentinel and on our Web site, Sun-Sentinel.com.

In survey after survey, focus group after focus group, and conversation after conversation, we hear the same message: Local news is what you want and need."

I'm down with that. But then Maucker does the old bait-and-

switch. Instead of local news, he writes about how the newspaper is going to put at least a half-page of briefs in the Local section six days a week. Unfortunately, that's not news. It's press releases, schlock, schedules, whatever.

Maucker also shares with us that that the Sunday community news section will be expanded. But Maucker also tells us: "Because our new focus will be to make timelier content available every day, we will no longer publish separate Community News sections on Fridays, and in South Broward (south of I-595) on Wednesdays."

So this is indeed a cost-cutting move. And it's ingenious: At the same time the newspaper is adding briefs to the Local section -- which is supposed to be the meat of the newspaper -- it's cutting the news hole. And guess who is providing the briefs? Why, the Sentinel-owned Forum Group community newspapers. You know, those things that wind up on your driveway whether you want them or not. See, it's a way of reusing -- remember that word? -- the shallow material that runs in the throwaway papers in the big publication. And ultimately, the move could allow cuts to the Sentinel reporting staff. That's called synergy.

And how does Maucker sell it? Under the headline: "More local news planned for 2007."


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