Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Will Joe Hutchinson Ruin The Times With HIs Terrible Type Faces?

There may be a race between potential buyers (rescuers) of the L.A. Times and Joe Hutchinson, the ditzy "creative editor" who is bidding to ruin the newspaper with his terrible type faces.

On a day that the Chicago Tribune has a story saying that would-be buyers of Tribune assets, such as its newspapers, TV stations and the Chicago Cubs, have been asked to come forward with tentative offers by the end of the month, the Times appears in its new design, with the cheap tabloid-looking type faces apparently inspired by Hutchinson.

This fellow has done more harm since being foisted on the Times by the Tribune Co. than possibly anyone else, and that is saying a lot, because they have sent the paper an assortment of hucksters, along with some pretty good people, like John Carroll, Dean Baquet, John Puerner and, as it ultimately turned out, Jeffrey Johnson. Most of the good guys are now gone.

The one possible saving grace of the new design is the move of the editorial pages to the main news section, and Andres Martinez, Nick Goldberg and others on those pages did their best, and it was quite good, to explain what they are doing, in Monday's paper.

To their credit, they publish a number of critical letters from readers of the Times on the new design in today's letter's column.

Even if the editorial pages do look good in their new position, that does not balance the fact that the news hole in Section A has been further reduced in these first days since the design was introduced.

Foolishly, the editors have retained the space-wasting two summary pages at the beginning of the section, when one would do very nicely.

But the worst part of the new design is the type faces, which see the poor type faces often used in Calendar moved onto Page 1. This badly cheapens the newspaper.

Can nothing, at this point, save the Times?

Only a new, more sensible owner. His or her first step should be to retire Hutchinson.

The Tribune story this morning talks mainly about bids from outsiders to Los Angeles, and doesn't mention the Los Angelenos who have expressed interest in buying the paper. But this might have been because of selective editing in Chicago.

Meanwhile, my son-in-law forwards today an article in Slate which reflects its old editor, the newspaper-hating Michael Kinsley's, point of view that newspapers do not really perform much of a useful public service.

It all goes to show that when Jeff Johnson fired Kinsley as editorial page editor, he should have slipped him a long-lasting sedative at the same time.

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