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schencka
Lord Forgive Me for My Hyperbole and Sarcastic Personal Voice

I sent this e-mail to a few people at my local newspaper, the publisher included. Truly, their printers are a joke compared to the Arizona Daily Star (of Tucson), the Omaha World-Herald (Warold-Harold?), and especially the Des Moines Register.

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Dear Sirs and Madames,

Since I am from Iowa, I know the results when a newspaper (The Des Moines Register) updates its printer quality: crisper text, better resolution for photographs, and a message of professionalism from the journalist to the reader.

Look at page one of June 14's Twin Cities and West section. I've seen better visual layout from high school newspapers, and my Hewlett-Packard printer bought in 2001 prints more clearly. In the lower right, there is a photo showing "Bent gusset plates on the Interstate 35W bridge." Now, I spent a couple minutes looking at this photo, and since the photo is so small and the picture quality turned the picture into an undifferentiated green splotch, I wasted my time because I could see no bent plates. If anything, this photo was to the detriment of Mr. Kaszuba's reporting. Having a date on the photo (barely readable) didn't help, either.

Next, in the middle of the page, we see a large photo of two children enjoying opening day of the Star Wars exhibit at the Science Museum. The children are clearly seen, as is their caretaker in the foreground taking a picture. But look to the left and right edges of the photo: all I see is an undifferentiated black wall filling more than half of the photo (if both sides are combined).

Most importantly, the Star Wars display is also dark and difficult to see. Obviously, this picture taken by Ms. Jones Schneider is meant to promote the Star Wars display for parents and children; if this is so, why not take a photo of a storm trooper or something more easily recognizable as part of Star Wars? The display pictured looks more like something from Robocop than Star Wars.

At the top of the page, Marlin Levison took a good shot of a small memorial after a murder in South Minneapolis. But with the Star-Tribune's low print quality, the foreground turns into the same orange/red/brown color.

I've complained about the Star-Tribune's woeful print quality before. Perhaps it will take advertiser complaints for the cost-cutting Star-Tribune to update its printers. On the aforementioned page, look at the "HDNA" visual in the lower left -- that's supposed to be the colors of the rainbow? That's just how I'd want my crystal-clear HDTVs advertised: as if they're dim and out of focus.

Day after day of reading my Star-Tribune, I always find a picture or text where I'm squinting and getting frustrated at the newspaper's visual quality, or lack thereof. It's embarrassing. I'm sure your visual layouts look good on the computers before they're printed, but the Star-Tribune needs to create visual layouts under the assumption that their printers may be one of the worst for a major-market newspaper in the United States.

Now, Jim Gehrz of the Star-Tribune won the 2004 National Journalism Award for photojournalism. I simply ask that the printed product does justice to your photojournalists' work.

Sincerely,

Adam Schenck 
 
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