Lost in space

Let’s take another look at the Globe and Mail redesign, five months on. In October, when I blogged on this topic, I said I liked the redesign but I no longer do. Will there be enough to read, I wondered? Maybe not. Ads matter more, I suggested. Got that right.

A good place to begin is with what I like. Specific writers continue to appeal. They know what they’re doing and can turn a phrase. Gary Mason on British Columbia, Christie Blatchford most of the time, Adam Radwanski all the time, Roy MacGregor on hockey, Patrick Martin on the Middle East, Judith Timson, and Ian Brown.

Report on Business, one of the main reasons I read the paper, has fallen into the mire. Janet McFarland’s piece this week on troubles with shareholder voting was a rare bit of thoughtful reporting on a topic no one else has covered. Boyd Erman’s item last week on activists about to tackle Manulife was shameful squib of speculative nonsense not even backed up by unnamed sources. Regrettably, there is more of the latter than the former.

The Saturday Style section has wondrous production values but little content. With six ad pages in the 24-page section, I can’t see how it makes money. Unless every manufacturer and clothing line pays to be in the full-page fashion shoots. Katrina Onstad’s column is the size of a front door. What gives?

On some spreads in the front section, the photo is larger than the news story. I know Editor John Stackhouse thinks readers will tire after 800 words, but blowing up one photo to the size of a 42-inch TV screen isn’t the answer to your print prayers.

Here’s the bottom line. I used to spend up to an hour reading The Globe. Now I’m done in 20 minutes. I sometimes don’t even get to it until the evening. I know, I know, my demographic is not their chosen audience. Trouble is, nobody I know under 45 reads The Globe. Moreover, the online version doesn’t get updated often enough to pull in the e-generation. So who is the target market?

For my money, The Toronto Star is doing a far better job. I gave up on the Star three years ago, but I’ve been drawn back by their local coverage, sports section, and the number of news stories they break. The Star knows who it is; The Globe has lost its way.

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