Friday, October 23, 2009

WaPo Goes LoCo


So the new Local Living insert to the Washington Post came out yesterday. Basically, it combines the two Thursday inserts -- Home and Extra -- into one. Home includes the paper's gardening section. It has its pros and cons.

Pros:
- Love the tabloid format. Wish the whole paper made the leap to that sizing when it launched its news look this week. So much easier to read on Metro or the bus. Easier to store in my tote bag, spread out on the table while enjoying with a tea, etc.
- Like that all the columns from both previous versions were kept. I'd be really mad about losing the Animal Doctor, Dr Gridlock, Digging In, etc.
- Lots of color ink splashed about and actual white space used. Much less crampy feeling than the test of the "new" Post.

Cons:
- The cover design makes it look like an advertorial section, like the real estate sections of other papers. Many will throw it out without reading it. The ad banner across the bottom further cheapens it. It doesn't help that Long Windows does almost idenitical ad on the Washington Examiner.  Does the Post really want to invite those copycat comparisons?
- There are already layout glitches, Barbara Damrosch's header (at least in my MoCo edition) is completed botched and unreadable by some overprinting. Also, I see several places where a column header is missing or duplicated. I assume these kinks will be worked out.
- Section dividers looks like this: ///////////////////. Couldn't a more elegant or whimsical divider design have been used? This one just looks like a bad school newsletter done using Notepad.
- The black ink sketches of columnist look old-fashioned and just not friendly. Give us a nice, new color photo and would a half-smile kill anyone? What the sketches DO point out is how many older, white men write for the Post. Surprise!
- In their own words, it will cover "personal health and family matters." First, there already is a health section. Second, what the heck are "family matters?" Which ones of those two areas does gardening fall under? This phrase is bordering on insulting. You might as well have just said "women's issues" and "not important fluff" and be honest about the condescension.
- The "Going Out Guide" only covers what is in my county. For someone who lives within a few yards of the city border and less than a mile from another county, I find this ridiculous and arbitrary. Events in Derwood do not interest me, but events in College Park and Adams-Morgan do. I'm not asking for multiple editions broken down by what is close by to every single zip code, but at least acknowledge that most of us do not spend our lives within just one county's border and be more inclusive in "local" area event listings.

My Verdict: C-
What grade do you assign it?

And on a related note, the WaPo Garden Book is available to PostPoints members for just 500 points. Other PostPoints awards are 2,000 points for a $5 gift card. So by my calculations 25% of $5 is $1.50. Now THAT is a sale considering the cover price is $18.95 for this 1998 publication. I got mine at a used book store for maybe $2.50, but I still see it  for sale at local book stores full price. This makes me wonder if the Post is just clearing out their inventory or whether there is a new edition in the works making the old version soon obsolete.

2 comments:

Crystal said...

I was utterly unimpressed and disappointed when I got my issue on Thursday and found, to my dismay, that the Home & Garden section had been swallowed up into this new beast. Yes, many people will treat the "Living Insert" as a throwaway beause it looks like an advertisement insert. And my biggest fear is that the WP will eventually phase out coverage of Gardens/Gardening altogether.

WashingtonGardener said...

Crystal - I'm fearing the same. It has happened in so many other cities and at the recent Garden Writers meeting it was really disheartening to talk to all the former newspaper garden columnists :-(