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Eye candy: praising the new Herald--updated!

Just got my hands on one now, and here's my reaction: never mind Joe Fitzgerald's moanings--the new, outsourced, Chicopee-printed Herald looks about 100 percent better than its predecessor.

If you have today's and yesterday's Heralds handy, put the two side by side. Tuesday's Herald has vivid color and crisp images throughout. Even Ron Borges' headshot looks good! Monday's Herald, meanwhile, looks fuzzy and washed out, and has a Page Three that's truly miserable (sorry, Jacob Phillips).

Yeah, the new Herald is quite a bit smaller. That's reasonable, since the paper doesn't have enough reporters and columnists to do justice to the older, bigger format.

In short: well done.

UPDATE: And yet... As the Herald's failure to get last night's Red Sox playoff victory into its first edition indicates, there are still a few bugs in the system. Given how important sports coverage is to the Herald's viability, this had better be an opening-night anomaly rather than a portent of things to come.

So what say you, Herald editor Kevin Convey? "In the early going," Convey said a few minutes ago, "we're being extremely conservative about our press times and deadlines to make sure we get the paper out on the street. As time goes by, I expect that our ability to put complete information in more papers will increase to a considerable degree."

Convey also explained how the new, smaller format's going to affect the editorial product. "Two things are going to happen," he said. "The first thing is that we're making stories shorter. The page counts and story counts are the same as they were in the earlier paper; there are 3 or 4 stories per page, and there aren't any fewer pages. But the pages themselves are smaller, and the stories are going to get a few inches shorter in most cases."

"As needed," he continued, "we're going to squeeze some of the AP stuff out of the paper. That'll be our release point. We've already canned a few comics and trimmed up the TV grid."

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