Archive for Hartford Courant

ALL THE NEW THAT FITS

Posted in The News with tags , , , , on September 29, 2008 by Adam Sapiro

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THE “sleeker, smarter” Hartford Courant hit the stands yesterday (and probably stayed there all day). Having worked at the fatter, dumber Courant for 10 years, I suppose I should have checked it out, but even morbid curiosity couldn’t get me to do so.

Luckily, courant.com has a link right at the top of the front page so I could Learn More About The New Hartford Courant. Click and you’re treated to a three-minute promotional piece aired by sister channel Fox 61 (which, like the Courant, is owned by the Tribune Co.) about “The NEW Hartford Courant.” And wouldn’t you know it — they’re really excited about it!

Turns out the NEW Courant is “edgy”! (Too bad “edgy” hasn’t been edgy for about 10 years). I learned that the NEW Courant uses a new font that “really bolds up the design”! Well said!

The NEW Courant is “stacked with fresh new features.” And it will be “easier to read”! The paper’s storied history of “insightful writing and in-depth coverage” will continue! Well, I’m sold!

And so are the Fox 61 anchorbots, who seem particularly excited about the groundbreaking vertical “letterhead.” Best of all, the anchor dude tells us, the weekday papers will have “less pages so the readers can get their news quickly!” Yeah, all those pages of news were really standing in the way of my getting the news.

If you don’t feel like watching the Fox 61 video, you can simply read the accompanying error-filled transcription, which looks more like a copy editing test (if newspapers were still hiring copy editors.)

OK, OK, maybe I’ll check out the new Courant one of these days. I’ll just have to bold myself up first.

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–30–

Posted in Life, The News with tags , on September 12, 2008 by Adam Sapiro

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Update

IT looks like I’m gonna have to turn elsewhere for unedited reader-submitted “news” stories, day-old national wire articles, inaccurate weather forecasts and big photos of kids taking advantage of the unseasonably warm weather.

Yep, my Hartford Courant has finally stopped coming. Now I just hope the bills stop coming, too.

RE-COURANT NIGHTMARE

Posted in Life, The News with tags , on September 9, 2008 by Adam Sapiro

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IMAGINE you just went through a horrible breakup and your ex keeps showing up every morning on your front lawn, waiting for you to come out of the house. You’d freak out, right?

Welcome to my world. That’s been my problem every day since I ended my long-term relationship with The Hartford Courant back in May. When I quit my job, I walked out the door and didn’t turn back — it was a clean break, I thought. Yet every morning I wake up to an ugly reminder of our doomed relationship.

In happier times, getting the Courant for free was one of the best perks of the job. OK, it was the only one, but still…

When I quit, I figured the paper would stop coming. Yet four months later, it still arrives every morning. The only difference? Every couple weeks, I get a bill or a phone call, usually with a warning that if I don’t pay up now, the paper will stop coming. I ignore them all, and guess what? The paper just keeps on coming. And coming. I think it’s just kinda mocking me now.

As much as I’d love to send my money to The Courant, I never actually subscribed to the paper — turns out the paper subscribed me, without my permission, a few weeks after I quit my job and my free employee subscription ended. Guess The Courant needs every last person for its circulation figures these days.

Of course it could all stop tomorrow: I got another phone call from the paper today, and the automated voice warned me that my subscription would end Wednesday morning “for nonpayment” if I didn’t call back and settle up. Yeah, I’ll get right on that…

So, I’m curious to see what happens tomorrow: Am I rid of my ex for good, or will she be there in the morning as always?

To be continued…

THE WARNING PAPER

Posted in The News with tags , , , , on September 8, 2008 by Adam Sapiro

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WHEN Hurricane Gustav failed to wipe New Orleans off the face of the earth once and for all last week, I got the sense the news media were kinda ticked off. Like, ‘OK, we played up this sucker and not much happened, so now we gotta find some new threat to dwell on.’

This “day after” was not the kind of “Day After” the media enjoy. The front page of my old paper, The Hartford Courant (which seems to be on the verge of being wiped off the face of the earth itself), had a blaring, “war-is-declared”-size headline that alerted everyone that New Orleans’ levees held! Somehow I get the sense that that’s not the story of catastrophe the media were hoping for, after days of tracking Gustav’s path of destruction and practically salivating over the possibility of a Katrina: Part II. (Just a couple days ago, the New York Times published a piece headlined “Gustav Was No Katrina, but Next Time …” Ah, newspapers love those ominous ellipses.)

The same thing happened with Y2K (remember that phantom shitstorm?) After years — yes, years — of dire warnings in the media, nothing happened as our clocks ticked from 1999 to 2000. No planes falling from the sky, no bank collapses, no water shortages, no riots in the streets, no two thousand zero zero party over oops out of time. (The lack of disaster pissed off the Courant’s editor at the time, I was told.)

The media hate when bullets are dodged, because it makes it that much harder to scare readers and viewers the next time doom and gloom loom. Years ago, newspapers stopped being “papers of record” and became fortune tellers, predicting events rather than recording them for posterity. Because papers rarely break stories any more in this world of round-the-clock cable news, they like to focus on what could happen. And if that just so happens to scare the shit out of us, all the better.

Which is why no strong breeze in the Caribbean goes unnoticed, why no case of bird flu or West Nile virus goes unreported, why no snippet of al-Qaida footage goes unplayed. They’re all threats! They could kill us all! We need to buy duct tape! It’s a story we can’t afford to miss!

Unfortunately for us, though, disasters are rarely foreseen (Nostradamus notwithstanding). Katrina, 9/11, earthquakes, the Minneapolis bridge collapse, the tsunami, the space shuttle explosions, the Virginia Tech shootings, wildfires, the “Speed Racer” movie — they all happened without warning.

Unfortunately for the news media, these true disasters happen too rarely — there’s a lot of time and space to fill up in the meantime, so they try to hold onto their audience with dire predictions of the next disaster. Which explains all the “could it happen here?” stories, all the “could we survive the big one?” stories. (Makes you wonder — how come they didn’t warn us about the disaster in Iraq?)

Yes, our news media are extremely valuable in times of real disaster — ironically, they can bring a sense of calm and community in the darkest of days. So then why must they scare us the rest of the time? I guess they figure that if they warn us about enough potential disasters, sooner or later they’ll be right.

I’m not holding my breath. Well, actually I am, but that’s only because I don’t want to get SARS.