Just picked up my City Weekly at
Grounds for Coffee in Ogden. Regarding the redesign: 1. It seems to me
you folks have reduced type size somewhat. I don’t recall the type on
your columns being this small.
And running type over that grim hospitalcorridor mustard-yellow backing makes the paper still more difficult to read. It really lowers the contrast between the type and the backing page. The small type is difficult enough to read comfortably and rapidly now. Reducing the contrast to “highlight” makes it even more difficult.
2. Features: Where is This Modern World? Surely, you have not dropped that.
3. Features: have you dropped “Lake Effect?” Sorry if you have. I read it every week. As for Ask a Mexican, I used to read it regularly; then I began to notice that it seemed I’d read every new entry before, and usually several times before. They all began to seem like the same column, reheated. I began reading it only intermittently, and stopped a while ago. It was funny, informative, hip the first hundred times. Isn’t any more.
events listings: I used to read the one full page that used to be your
“24-Seven” events calendar. It was one of the first things I turned to
every week. The entries were short, often pithy or funny, or both. I
read the page and listings, start to finish, for the good writing and
along the way, learned of events I would not normally have known about,
and I sometimes drove down from Ogden to take them in. I thought (and
think) it was a mistake when you went to The Essentials format.
The writing wasn’t nearly as good; I rarely made it through the longer write-ups of events I wasn’t much interested in to begin with and the short listings below were just that: listings with no comment. You took a clever, well-written, easy-to-use feature and gutted it.
New features: Rant Control. Holly Mullen called it “a bit of first
amendment right up your grill” [“Hail the Handoff,” Editor’s Note, Jan.
22, City Weekly]. No, it isn’t. If this is the level of what’s
going to be there down the road, I’ll start skipping it, too. Though I
agree with its sentiments entirely, it’s the sort of mundane, runof-the-mill blog entry I can find on half a dozen public-affairs blogs.
6. Expanded features—food columns. Ted Scheffler is one of the reasons—Mullen is another, as is your theater critic and your True TV critic and This Modern World—I made it a point to pick up a copy of CW every week. But I’m not sure the addition of very small Review Bites and Our Critics Picks bits add much, if anything.
One month in, you’ll have served up, at this rate, 36 quick plugs for lunch counters, donut shops, cafes and the like. Over a year, 108 of them. Who the hell will remember them? Maybe it will generate a little more advertising for you, but it’s not likely to be of much use over time to readers.
7. Overall, Ms. Mullen, the new format is less clean, more cluttered, less user friendly and harder to read. Making the first-rate investigative journalism CW does—best in the state, in my opinion— harder to read seems to me not a wise thing to do. And that, it seems, is what you have done. What were you guys thinking?
RoBERt A. BECkER Ogden
Editor’s note: With this issue, we have increased the type size. As for “This Modern World,” it remains on the Letters page, as always. Thanks for the comment.