My 18 year old daughter started this blog because she has deep respect for the institution and mission of the Orlando Sentinel.
Please note what she wrote in one of her earliest posts:
"Despite how it may seem this blog is not a Sentinel slam party. We are not calling for the Sentinel to cease its existence, but rather to cease its existence as a shoddy paper. The things that are said in this blog are said in hopes of sharing frustration, calling out for change, and calling out the Orlando Sentinel (and its owners) on its current product in hopes that they will take a little notice of the city.
That said, all people posting here want very much to have a local paper and think it would a travesty for the city to be without one. But, we don't want just any scraps of newsprint to call itself our paper. The authors of this blog want a paper that cares about the community enough to investigate, cares about journalism enough to report real news and cares about the residents enough not to insult our intelligence with a tabloid-esque newspaper."
Having spent 22 years on the Sentinel staff I'm very passionate about the institution. So what I'm about to write is intended to help, not hurt.
During the past three years The Sentinel has lost many talented staffers, but it still has the ingredients to put out a good strong newspaper. That is not what they're giving readers today. They're feeding us crap and expecting us (the readers) to say it tastes delicious. It's not. It's crap!
But here is what the Sentinel leadership can do:
1. Lose the front-page ads, stickers and fold overs. They're cheesy and remind me of a really bad pennysaver. I assume those front page ads make money, but there are some things you don't do for money, such as make your daughter wear a micro mini and send her out to trick on The Trail.
2. Dial back on the celebrity gossip in the A section. I respect the financial need to reduce the newshole. So please don't waste that valuable real estate on celebrity news. If I want the latest on Tom and Katie I'll look at the Star while waiting in the checkout line at Publix.
3. Tone down the graphics. Please don't read that as me dissing Bonita (I've never worked directly with Bonita so I'm not qualified to criticize her). Good graphics and design certainly help tell an important story. But a story is about the reporting and the writing.
4. The Sentinel still has many great reporters who know this town. Get out of the way and let them do their jobs. Turn them loose, back them up and encourage them.
5. Make the Sentinel essential. Make it so smart people would not consider leaving the house in the morning until they have read The Sentinel.
6. Focus on the Sentinel's strong suit -- local news. I can find out about Iraq and Washington on MSNBC.com or CNN. Only the Sentinel is in a position to let me know what's happening at city hall or in Pine Castle.
For 24 years I counted on the Sentinel to help me learn about local candidates running for office. No other institution in Central Florida has the capacity to do that.
I'm depending on the Sentinel leadership to produce a newspaper that this community deserves. And we don't deserve crap.
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