The Austin American Statesman has undergone yet another redesign (number 50 in a series of 500, collect them all!). This reworking, like all of the previous redesigns, has managed to take something that was already bad and make it even worse. I swear, not one of these makeovers have been an improvement.
The font size appears to have shrunk and that's not just these 56-year-old eyeballs talking. There's an inordinate amount of white space and the stats in the sports page are next to impossible to read. Hand me that electron microscope so I can check out the box scores! New header photos of the columnists take up too much space and most of them are not flattering to the subjects.
And don't get me started on the mistakes. There's at least one error per day somewhere in the Statesman, sometimes on the front page. If you're reading a section of the paper that's error free, just keep reading. I guarantee you'll find one sooner or later. The physical size and shape of the paper have been reduced and I swear the newsprint itself seems thinner and cheaper. If the folks at the Statesman are trying to drive readers online, they're doing a damn good job of it.
More than once I've considered cancelling my subscription or just not renewing when the notice comes due. But I have yet to do so despite my gripes. Why? It's simple.
I've read the Statesman as a printed-on-paper publication for most of my adult life. It's part of my daily routine. It's comforting to step outside my house in the morning and find the paper waiting for me at the end of the driveway. I scan the headlines while I eat my breakfast, then read the sports section and life/arts while I enjoy my morning cup of coffee. I do this almost every day and have done so for many, many years.
Full disclosure: back in the mid-90s, I freelanced for the Statesman for a few years and it was a richly rewarding experience. I met and interviewed many interesting people, wrote a variety of stories and worked with good editors. It was a fun time.
Print newspapers will disappear in my lifetime. I have no doubt of that. But until they do and as long as the Statesman is offering a print version, I'm going to support it. I still have that choice. I still have that option. When it's all online and/or digital only, that choice, that tradition, that habit is gone (or at least radically changed).
I can gripe all I want to about the paper. I've paid for that privilege and I'll continue to do so.