Static: Wednesday, October 22, 2003
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Looks: 10; Reads: 3

About a year and a half ago, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram went through one of those navel-gazing things where they asked focus groups (yecchh) to critique the paper’s appearance, and then they did a redesign. Well, the focus groups must have had bad eyesight and an aversion to reading. Because lately, the front page and section fronts have begun to look like the innards of a pretty coffee table book about, well, nothing. (Either that or they’re trying out the Weekly’s magazine-cover style.)

A recent Sunday front page included a photo about half the size of a normal tv screen for a story about televangelists — and little else. On some days the entire front page has held only two stories plus a great big picture and a few teasers. (Sometimes there are sports scores, too, but you can usually count on them being partly obscured by the stick-on coupon.) Death tolls in Iraq, the latest nuclear crisis — those are safely tucked inside. Then there are the Life & Arts section fronts — whole covers devoted to nothing but an illustration for the main story.

Some reporters inside this new fortress of photojournalism believe the change may have to do with Executive Editor Jim Witt’s direction. Witt was riding herd over the evening paper one day in the 1980s when a garbage-grubbing poodle got shot by an angry, bow-hunting homeowner. The next day’s S-T front page including a near-life-size photo of the poodle, with what looked like an arrow through its head. Staffers couldn’t decide whether to die laughing or from embarrassment.

This time around, the honchos seem to think that their readers don’t really want to read, just look at the pretty pictures. Sorry, but that’s what tv is for. The S-T has some fine writers who occasionally tackle meaty local issues, not to mention all the national and international news for which the dailies should be a main source. Give ’em the front page, fer crying out loud.

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