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BEST REASON NOT TO OVERHAUL YOUR MEDIA PRODUCT Minneapolis 2006 - Star Tribune

Star Tribune

Star Tribune

425 Portland Ave. S.

Minneapolis, MN 55488

612-673-4647

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In the cattier circles in local media—which is to say, pretty much everyone in local media—the redesign of the Star Tribune has been the object of nearly constant guffaws since its launch this fall. As the state's leading news organ, of course, the Strib has always been on the receiving end of a lot of criticism, some fair, some unfair. Like most major dailies, the Strib employs its share of talented reporters, good writers, and total hacks; institutionally, its chief "bias"—the Red Star trope nothwithstanding—is to appease whoever is complaining the loudest at the moment. Ergo the hiring of veteran non-journalist Katherine Kersten. But this is all digression. To both media types and casual readers, the new-look Strib begs this question: What's worse—the new website or the new paper? Certainly, there are problems with the latter. The stories are shorter, "soft" news is getting way too much play, and the graphics people seem to have defenestrated the editors. Ugly, but understandable in terms of the demographic panic that is sweeping the newspaper industry. But the redesigned website is a mystery. Pre-redesign, the Strib offered readers a highly functional, easy to navigate website. The new incarnation is a nightmare. Some stories are impossible to locate. Others linger on the front page for days. It is, in short, a textbook study in what happens when too many middle managers have too much time on their hands: They bollux up a perfectly good thing for no apparent reason other than to appear busy.

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