Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel Editor's 'Answer' to Web Challenge

Sometimes watching the MSM grapple with the challenges of web journalism can produce some quite funny results. Such was the case with the editor, Earl Maucker, of my hometown newspaper, the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, as he attempted to explain how his newspaper was dealing with that newfangled thing called the Internet. In his reponse to the question on how the Internet has affected the newspaper business, Maucker provides a pollyannaish response with Web offers new visual dimension:

Instead of focusing primarily on the written word, along with photographs and graphics, as seen in our traditional printed products, we now offer a wide array of video, animated graphics and detailed data bases online to accompany our stories.

Our newest entry into this world is animated editorial cartoons done by our cartoonist Chan Lowe, but I'll get to that in a moment.

How about if we get to Chan Lowe's animated editorial cartoons right now, Earl? Just one look at Lowe's artificially animated cartoon made me burst out laughing, and not because of the intended content of the cartoon itself. The laughter came from the incredibly pathetic attempt to animate what is supposed to be a static cartoon. I'm not privy to Chan Lowe's inner thoughts but my guess is that he absolutely HATES the ridiculous animations you are forcing upon his cartoons. Maucker continues on excitedly describing the window dressing he is adding to the Sun-Sentinel to meet the challenge of the Web:

No area has been more impacted than visual journalism, where the addition of animation and video has opened new vistas to our staff and our online audiences.

Talented journalists in our graphics department, for instance, have been enhancing charts, graphs and other elements through audio and visual techniques that make the material truly interactive.

Graphics! Why that's just the thing to answer the challenge of the Web and the plunging newspaper circulations that Maucker carefully avoids in his pep talk. But wait! There is an exciting new feature in the Sun-Sentinel to take advantage of that Internet thingie:

To take advantage of the web capabilities, our editorial page editors created "The Slant", a blob devoted to opinion and commentary that goes well beyond what we offer on our printed editorial and commentary pages.

"Blob?" It seems like a typo but is it really? I've seen "The Slant" and it is indeed a formless boring blob. Perhaps this is why the Sun-Sentinel editors are hiding it from the readers since you can't even find a direct link to it from the front page. Maucker goes on to describe the new blob via his editorial page editor:

The guiding philosophy behind The Slant, says Editorial Page Editor Antonio Fins, is to give our readers more than just an electronic copy of what is available in the paper.

So what is the story at the very top of The Slant blob that is "more than just an electronic copy of what is available in the paper? It is Florida braces for another special session which breathlessly reports:

 Don't be surprised to see Democrats in the Florida Senate push for some re-evaluation of tax cuts and sales tax exemptions to help lawmakers close a yawning budget shortfall that right now is around $1.1 billion.

Yawning is right. But, hey, this is more than just an electronic copy of what is available in the newspaper. I mean, this story adds some sort of new dimension way beyond what can be offered in mere print...according to Maucker. Finally Maucker returns to the subject dear to him---the cartoon animation shtick as explained by Antonio Fins:

 "We didn't settle for simply posting Chan's editorial cartoons. Instead, we've chosen to take advantage of the Internet's capability by putting motion into them, giving Chan a chance to be even more creative."

Yup! The Slant "blob" and animating static editorial cartoons with unintentionally hilarious results are going to somehow save the Sun-Sentinel from the Internet onslaught. Thanks for the humor, Earl, and for a comedy encore permit me to present that Chad Lowe animated cartoon again.


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