Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Crap Times

It's been a couple of weeks now since the once venerable and later venial Captital Times abandoned it's six day-a-week format to become an "on-line" news source. It's online presence is forgettable at best. It has broken no new ground for web news and is out shined by several other local sources like WISC-TV's Channel 3000.
The daily paper has been replaced by two tabloid sized editions distributed through the execrable Wisconsin State Journal and certainly they are more interesting than the web version. Wednesday's version is the front page section and it really seems to have coalesced all that had made the old version a weak imitation of the early Cap Times. Feature stories fleshed out by page sized pictures, a few local sports stories, and the most vapid call-in and letters-to-the-editor section imaginable make up the bulk of the paper and even John Nichols, usually a reliable editorialist, phones it in. They even brought the embarrassing "Human Cost of the Iraq War" box with it's listing of Iraqi casualties at 87'800. Only off by a factor of 10.
Surprisingly, the Thursday feature section is a far better production. It's had mostly interesting, well written articles by staff members. They seem to have sifted out those that were interesting and got rid of the worst of the old paper. I'd hoped that they would cut loose the amazingly unappetising Michael Muckian (if I never read "choice of starch" again it will be a better world) but at least he only reviews wine and beer. Samara Kalk-Derby is a far better writer and has a better feel for restaurant reviewing.
All in all the new format has a somewhat broader range than it's obvious competitor, The Isthmus, but Isthmus has had a better track record of late in doing real reporting. It'll be fun to see what shakes out.