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Archive for October, 2015

We’re in Day Two of The Kansas City Star’s redesigned website and print edition, and I thought you might be interested in getting some “expert opinions” on the changes. So, yesterday and today I sent emails to several former Star staffers, seeking their observations.

Here’s what the former insiders had to say…I will add the opinions of others, if I receive any, and I would like to get your observations. So, comment away.

Kevin Murphy, Metro Desk:

Web: I am still a print guy, but I like the redesign of the website better than I do the remade newspaper itself. The Star banner at top gives the home web page a newspaper look, and I like that a lot of headlines show up on the screen immediately without having to scroll down.

Print: The section fronts look like shoppers in a way, with the italic headings — Sports Daily, Chow Town, etc. The type face of the copy is unnecessarily large, especially in classifieds and makes for a smaller news hole. It’s encouraging to read that the paper will stress investigative work plus breaking news and beat reporting. Do they have enough reporters to do that?

Gene Meyer, Business Desk

Web: The new format looks a lot cleaner on the web. But the content seems thin. The Star was the slowest of five sources I checked to run the announcement that the Plaza was up for sale and didn’t add anything TV stations didn’t already have.
Print: The new format is going to take some getting used to. My initial impression of the print product is that it reminded me of the old Weekly Reader, the recap of each week’s news events prepared for elementary and junior high schools. About as deep and reasoned as some  of those old Ed Herlihy newsreels they used to show at movies when I was a kid. The waist-up portraits of the local columnists got me, too. We junked those shortly after I joined the old Kansas City Times staff in 1983.
Screen shot 2015-10-01 at 1.45.49 PM

Karen Brown, Editorial Page

Print: They may have finally lost me as a diehard subscriber. More air (white space) and less news. Who needs or wants that? I lived through many “redesigns,” and not one of them contributed to increased circulation or readership. I know many people now get the majority of their news online — I’m one of them — but for people who still want something of a print version, this latest iteration of The Star is even farther away than the last one.

Mike Rice, Metro Desk

Web: I think they’re just polishing a turd. Sure, they’re going to put a great piece of journalism like Laura Bauer’s story (“Saving Govi”) on the first day, but what comes after a week or two? I hate the pay wall and the pop-up ads. And most of all how there is no indication from the headlines whether it is a local or national story. For instance, you see a headline that says “Man Bites Dog.” You think, hmmm, that’s interesting — where did this sick puppy commit this act? Olathe, Northland, my neighborhood. You click it, and once you maneuver the story around the pay wall, you find that this happened in Florida!

Print: I cancelled my subscription to The Star after they laid me off and never renewed. I buy the print edition on occasion and am both amazed and depressed by how small it is.

Julius Karash, Business Desk

Web: I think the site looks better and is more compelling, and the electronic version of the print edition (E-Star) is easier to navigate on my laptop now. The website’s search mechanism seems to be improved but still needs work. To test it, I requested a search for the oldest Dave Helling byline and was presented with an item, “GOP Site Selection Committee Arrives,” which the website says is “about 174 years old.”  

Print: I am pleasantly surprised to see that there is still a business section. I like the additional subheads on news stories to help readers seeking quick summaries, but I question the value of publishing long, in-depth news features on weekdays. (Note: Julius stopped taking the print edition recently after experiencing delivery problems at his downtown residence.)

**

As Karen Brown noted, those of us who worked at The Star many years went through several redesigns, and it always took me at least a few weeks to get used to the changes.

Here are my initial, major observations of the redesign:

— The front page of the print edition contains just two stories a day, instead of three or four. Lame.

—  The ridiculously small amount of national and international news in both the print edition and on the website is not changing. Embarrassing.

— The larger type face is good, especially for the older readers, who comprise the vast majority of print-edition readership. One thumb up.

Finally, here are the opinions of the two women I live with:

Patty: “It looks like a small-town newspaper.”

Brooks: “It looks like they’re turning it into a picture book…You can quote me.”

Ah, the kid knows the lingo. Warms my soul.

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