Monday, July 14, 2008

Lie and shut up those complainers

* This is a memo sent by Steve Doyle to Orlando Sentinel editors and other staffers who are receiving calls from readers. How's this for customer service?


Below you will find a Q&A we have created for your use in dealing with readers/subscribers who may call or write about the redesigned Sentinel.
This document deals only with the changes that will occur on June 22.
Subsequent changes in the newspaper will call for a revised version, which we shall develop and circulate, too.
Dana Eagles will be the point person for a complainer who MUST speak with someone else.We also are developing a special e-mail box. That address will be forthcoming.
If you field and process complaints, please compile them into a tally and send it to Dana and me.
So please look this over, and if you have any questions, let me know.You should also feel free to share this with any coworker you think needs to see it.


Steven Doyle 

Associate Managing Editor/Content Development 

Orlando Sentinel and 

Redesign Q&A for telephone personnel:

Where’ s the Good Living section?
Good Living no longer exists as a weekly section. Some parts of it – the entertainment parts, such as the restaurant review and the Books page, and Dear Abby – have moved inwith the Travel content in a new section for leisure activities called “Travel & Arts.”

Where are Doonesbury and Mallard Filmore (comics on the Other Views page)?

We have redesigned that page and moved the comics into the daily Features package. They appear in The Law & You today (Monday) and will be in Health & Fitness, Cooking & Eating, Style & Trends and Home Fix-Up through the week. On Saturday they will be published inside Local News.

All days
Why did you change the name of (pick one) Local & State, Sports, Central Florida Business?
We altered the names to reflect more clearly the content of each of those sections.

Why are there so many short stories in the paper?
Readers have told us they want our help in presenting some news stories – not all of them – in forms that will help them find information more quickly. You’ll see a variety of these approaches, some of them more visual than others.

Why are you “dumbing down” the paper?
We aren’t “dumbing down” the paper. In fact, we are trying to make it smarter – and make you smarter in the process. We are including more information in easier-to-digest formats that help readers. Something may be more visual or shorter, but it may be smarter to handle the information that way.

Your paper is nothing but photos and graphics and soft stuff.
Our goal was to make the paper more visually appealing, help readers find quickly they information they want and to create energy and easier-to-sort information.

Why did you do this?
Readers are busy and get their news in lots of formats. We want to explain the straightforward stories in simpler terms. We also want to showcase a grater variety of voices.

Why are you putting columnists on Page A1?
That’s part of introducing new voices. Readers like columns, and when one of our writers has an issue that we think is of high interest, we’ll either reference that column from the front page or even start the column itself out there. Mike Thomas, Scott Maxwell, Beth Kassab, Mike Bianchi and David Whitley are only a few of the writers whose work might appear there.

Are you abandoning running in-depth stories?
Not at all. Exclusive, investigative and watchdog journalism – serving readers by informing them about our communities – are still the hallmarks of the newspaper. You will likely see more of that; not less.

Why are there so many local stories on your front page?
World and national news belongs there.Page A1 is for the best stories of the day, and local news is the newspaper’s franchise.Readers tell us that local news is the No. 1 reason they read the paper, and Page A1 should represent the most important and the most interesting of the local news report each day. National and world stories will appear there, but they also sometimes will be there with a local perspective on them.

Why are the Editorial and Opinion pages different?
Some of the change there was just to offer a freshened presentation of opinion. But more readers’ letters and comments are being added to broaden the voices represented.

Why are you putting blogs in the paper?
I thought they were for the Internet.You’re right that blogs are a key part of today’s news distribution on the Web, and the Sentinel staff provides /// blogs every day on Much of that material has not found its way into the paper, so by publishing blog excerpts and comments daily, readers get to see new material they might have missed.

Do you really think this is going to help declining circulation and readership?
The Sentinel’s circulation is rising, and it serves its largest audience ever. In fact, combined with, the Sentinel reaches 1.3 million Central Floridians each week, more than any other newspaper in the state.

How can I comment to the editors?
We have asset up an e-mail box to receive your questions and comments. You can write in at An editor will review what you have to say and respond as necessary.


Anonymous said...

Readers are busy and get their news in lots of formats. We want to explain the straightforward stories in simpler terms. We also want to showcase a grater variety of voices.

GRATER (?!) variety..Oh, well, Steve Doyle, who needs copy editors (sigh)

Anonymous said...

I'm proud of the work we're still managing to do at the Sentinel with a lot fewer people. There are still dedicated journalists working hard to put the paper out. And some of us believe in the changes that have been made.

It's easy to sit outside and judge what's going on inside the Sentinel walls. The newspaper business is dying, and so far I've not seen any suggestions here on how to save it. Because people don't want just the news!

Will a redesign save the Sentinel? Not likely. But it's a step in the right direction.

So why not stop focusing on the old days? They're gone.

Anonymous said...

yes, the old days are gone, along with a lot of talented editors and reporters.
You know what I am tired of? Folks assuming that older journalists don't embrace technology. We do. But I choose to believe we can still have technology and make a difference in the community.

Right now, the Sentinel isn't providing anything you can't find elsewhere online for free.

For real change, end the print operation now, and go to strictly online delivery. Invest those funds in your product : talented reporters and editors.

Oh, I spent more than 3 decades in journalism and still have many younger friends in the biz. I do see inside "the walls."

Anonymous said...

i just saw a real copy of the redesigned Sentinel (after only viewing JPGs online), for the first time seeing the paper in a few years, and have to say I was shocked at how skimpy it seemed. make the front pages as flashy as you want with big color banners but when there seems to be NOTHING on inside pages, the readers will notice. and flee. too bad.

rknil said...

"Will a redesign save the Sentinel? Not likely. But it's a step in the right direction."

But it's not. It hasn't worked for any newspaper -- ever. Only crazy people keep trying the same failed tactics again and again, thinking they'll work.

And they say they'll do "more" watchdog stories. I wonder when that will happen. And will they have sensational headlines like "Fear of Air" or whatever nonsense was on the redesign template?