The Blog Squad

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Prepare to Have Your World Rocked

Local geologists are predicting what they term a "significant seismic event" in the metro Richmond area on June 5. Oddly, the "event" will not originate underground but on the ground, the second that thousands of copies of the Richmond Times-Dispatch hit the driveways.

You see, next Tuesday, the paper will unveil changes to virtually every section of the paper.

It's instructive to remember what has happened every time the paper has tried to make the slightest changes in the past. Surely, the obituary section was overflowing last year in the weeks after some changes were made to it with the old people who just keeled over from the shock. At that time, the paper changed the typeface of the death notices, along with the way the listings were presented. Naturally, there was a great hue and cry and the paper retreated somewhat from the changes. There have been similar uproars over the placement of comics, changes to the TV listings and the Weekend section. Nobody ever seems to get up in arms about news coverage.

Nevertheless, the T-D is bravely jumping feet first with changes Senior Editor Rick Thornton called "subtle" in a piece on Sunday, May 20. You can almost hear the whole building over there holding their breath and trying to convince Old Richmond this next wave of change is nothing to worry about. "You may look at the newspaper June 5 and think, 'There's something a little different here, but I can't quite put my finger on it.' That's the goal," Thornton writes. An admirable goal, indeed, but when you then list 16 bulleted items of changes in a town with a reputation for regarding change as a proper and good thing only when it applies to undergarments and smoke detector batteries, you have to expect a little backlash.

It will be interesting to see how much sticks and how much the paper is forced to back down on. I will also be watching closely to see if there is an increase in canned content (oh, to be rid of "Today in History!" Really? Ted McGinley from Happy Days? His birthday is history?) I'm also curious to see where coverage of the arts is headed.

Tune in Tuesday. And let's get ready to rumble.

—Janet Giampietro


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