Thursday, November 12, 2009

Find the Feature

Published in CJR Online - - 11/11/09

By Steve Daley

To: All Hands

From: The Executive Editor

RE: The Redesign

The continuing controversy over the (size of the weather map; the shuttering of the Book section; the fight in the newsroom) should not diminish our excitement over the ongoing redesign of the newspaper.

We are moving ahead with a sweeping redesign that (comes at a critical juncture and decision point for the health and survival of our paper; finds new ways to highlight our differentiated content while creating new efficiencies; spells an end to Times New Roman as a font).

There is much to report on the progress of the redesign, but first a couple of housekeeping matters:

After protracted internal discussions, we have determined that those filling the “Comment” sections in our online edition (must be brought to justice; must limit their use of body-part references; must stop calling our reporters and columnists “douche bags”).

Unless the blogosphere gets really upset, those commenting on our online content will now be required to (identify themselves by something other than a screen name; seek psychological counseling; learn to spell).

A last word about the weather map. It’s true we have reversed our decision to (reduce the size of the map to something resembling a baseball card; tell our readers to get their damn pollen counts online; give readers less and tell them it’s more).

As you know, we originally trimmed the weather map (to make space for a house ad; to enhance the reader’s navigation experience; to expand our “Twitter Roundup” feature).

Out of respect for our readers, who are always (aging and cranky; our editorial true north; consistently unwilling to embrace our strategic vision), we (brought the old map back, better than ever; totally caved; responded in a way that provides our readers with new products that serve them well).

For the seventh time in 20 years, we have moved “Doonesbury” (from the comics page to the editorial page; from the editorial page to the comics page; from the editorial page to the feature section, right below the gossip column).

The comics page has been revamped and the comics in 2009 are now (microscopic; about as funny as Timothy Geithner; basically knockoffs from “The Far Side,” “Shoe” and “Calvin & Hobbes”).

Finally, the issue of copy editors.

It is true that as the right sizing has gone forward over the last two years or so, a number of veteran copy editors were (reassigned to work on the publisher’s lakeside estate; exiled to strip-mall bureaus out where the buses don’t run; given MapQuest information for finding the community college).

We miss them and we honor their years of service.

Yes, we were upset when (First Lady Michelle Obama was misidentified as talk show host Tyra Banks; we reported that the Administration is considering sending 40,00 combat troops to Albania; our Daylight Savings Time, spring forward, fall back clock thing was off by seven months).

But to make the sacrifices that are necessary as shift our focus to a digital platform, we must (lower our expectations; move forward toward a bright and economically healthy future; get with the program or get the hell out). Your job is your perk, people.

Sure, it’s a work in progress, but I think you’ll agree that the redesign has (enhanced the product in ways that will improve both usage and commerce; solved all the problems created by last year’s redesign; bought a lot more yellow boxes and exclamation points into the editorial mix).

Later this afternoon we hope everyone will join us for coffee and ice cream (by the elevators; near the former ombudsman’s office; in the area where the movie critic, the art critic and the TV critic used to sit).

We’ll be (discussing the end of the ESOP plan; chatting with Jayson Blair on newsroom ethics; reporting on progress being made with taking whole the thing nonprofit, just like NPR).

Hope to see you all there.