It’s Sunday morning in Pasadena and my newspaper is sitting on the front lawn, untouched, while I write this story. The sprinklers went off this morning and I’m certain the paper is completely soaked. The delivery person (they don’t make ‘paper boys’ anymore) usually wraps the Times in plastic for just this reason. However, my experience has been that the bags leak just enough that my paper will have turned into a wet mass of newsprint dipped in black ink by the time I get to it.
It’s time for me to proclaimed something that I’ve been feeling for years: I hate the Sunday paper!!! And it’s not just because of the sprinkler thing.
For years now the Times editors have been tinkering with the format of their newspaper, hoping to attract more readers while simultaneously offering advertisers new formats. The result? The Sunday LA Times has turned into a fracking scavenger hunt!
Allow me to elaborate on a few of the things about the Sunday LA Times that drive me crazy:
- The Calendar section(s). This section used to be required reading. They lost me when they switched from the tabloid format to the full-sized paper format. Now they’ve actually made it worse by breaking the Calendar into multiple sections. Last week Kassia says “there’s something about Richard Thompson in today’s Calendar section”. I’m sorry, you’ll have to be more specific. Was that Calendar I, II, or III? Worse yet, like buildings in Japan, the sections are not filed sequentially. If there’s a way to make this section less usable I’m sure the Times editors are hard at work trying to figure it out.
- The Comics section(s). If the complete and utter destruction of the Calendar section wasn’t enough, we also have Comics I and Comics II. What the hell is that all about? I have this vague idea that one section is supposed to be more “family safe” than the other, but in reality it’s all about having another section to wrap those stupid quarter page ads around. For some reason when I’m searching for the comics I can never find the one I want to read. For the past month Comics I (or maybe it’s Comics II, I can’t be sure) has been missing from our paper. Or maybe it’s in there somewhere and I just don’t have the patience to dig it out.
- The Business section is MIA. And if it’s not the Business section, it’s the Sports section. Yet for some reason I never have any trouble finding that new Women’s Health section. The problem is the major sections of the paper are wrapped up in form fitting advertisements that disguise the whole section as advertising. It’s like peeling an onion to get to the actual news. I guess the assumption is that readers will happily dig through auto advertisements while looking for the Sports, because, hey, men buy trucks. Here’s a news flash for the editors of the Times: If I were in the market for a new automobile the LA Times is the LAST place I’d be looking (actually that may be a news flash for all of the auto dealers who buy those ads).
- The Classified section. Who places these ads? Do these people not know about Craig’s List? Will someone please tell them, because they’re killing a lot of trees for no good reason.
I could go on, but it’s Mothers Day and for some reason I’m expected to be a good son. My time for ranting about the Sunday paper is limited.
I just want to add that it’s the 21st century and we live in a search engine powered information society. When news happens we want to know about it right away. Hunting for day old news printed on soggy paper is for cavemen.
The newspaper business is in trouble because I’m not the only person who feels this way. A few years back the Washington Post did a focus group to find out why the paper’s circulation was dropping in the all-important 18-34 year old demographic. Participants indicated they wouldn’t take a subscription to the Post even if it was free. The reason: They didn’t like the idea of old newspapers piling up in their houses.