Static: Wednesday, September 1, 2004
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
A No-Star Performance

“Do I look fat?’’ the Fort Worth Star-Telegram asked in a playful headline above the masthead of Monday’s Aug. 23 paper — a colorful tease to a health feature on the week-late rollout of the daily’s extreme makeover. Well, no, darlin’, you don’t look fat. You look positively bulimic — perhaps understandably. We’d be sticking a finger down our own throat if we looked as starved for news as your front page does these days. Executive Editor Jim Witt’s re-do for busy readers recalls a sexist maxim uttered by a long-dead editor: A story should be like a woman’s dress — long enough to cover the subject, short enough to keep it interesting. Static’s not sure the Star-Telegram is getting it right on either count. The front page, which on Mondays is merely an index to the paper’s contents, is crisp and colorful but busier than the lone stud on a mare farm. And only the most empty-headed of busy readers could possibly get their fill of news from a front page of blurbs and briefs.

What Static did get its fill of, however, was BEING YELLED AT. WHEN EVERYTHING IS IN 3-INCH-HIGH LETTERS, HOW CAN YOU TELL WHAT’S REALLY IMPORTANT?!! When you start using the end-of-the-world type sizes for a lousy baseball story, what are you going to use the next time there’s truly earthshaking news? Not that the Star-T editors, at this stage, could necessarily recognize such news. Where did they play the full story of the suggested demolition of the CIA? Inside.

The Star-T covers and section fronts now remind Static of web sites, full of maddening pop-ups, flashing teasers, scrolling ads, competing for every nanosecond of the reader’s attention span. No, wait, that’s not quite it. It’s more like in Minority Report, when Tom Cruise, wearing an Asian guy’s eyeballs, enters a futuristic mall. He’s bombarded by automated sales-Sirens wooing him by name. Mr. Yakamoto, want to buy a frying pan? Yoo-hoo, Mr. Yakamoto — you’ll love our new spacesuits. HEY BUDDY — READ THIS HEADLINE. NO, JUST THE HEADLINE. AND NOW THIS ONE. ...

After a week’s worth of Star-Lite, the paper’s “reader advocate,’’ David House, said Monday’s dizzy front pages “baffled me as it baffled some readers.’’ In a time when readers need newspapers more than ever to help them navigate the daily tsunami of news, “baffled” is not a good thing.

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