Tuesday, September 20, 2005

MEDIA CRITICAL

Whatever Somerville’s Davis Square T stop is saying about newspapers, it isn’t good. There’s a row of forlorn, neglected news boxes there for The Wall Street Journal, New York Times and USA Today, unfilled, unused and informative in an utterly unintended way.

One thing being said is actually quite clear. In the window of the abandoned USA Today box sits that paper’s bastard child — the Metro, which followed USA Today’s path of bright color and short stories even as USA Today walked off toward more serious journalism. But with newspapers struggling for market share against a gargantuan number of competitors in various media, those in the journalism business must do what they can to make it to better Times. USA Today has arrived, more or less, but the Metro does what it must to survive. It’s not Metro’s fault that desperation, garish makeup and spending a short, efficient time together feels more like whoring than a relationship.

This creates resentment among those who feel the papers, heavy on entertainment coverage and light on substance, pander. So while the majority has voted with their dollars to let newspaper vendors surrender the Davis boxes to decay, an angry minority has written in opposition.

“Metro” is scribbled out. The proper name of the publication, apparently, is “The Idiot Paper for People Who Move Their Lips When They Read.”

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

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eric said...

Geeeze...saves him info from Africa?

Anyway...this is kind of what the sports daily went through in the early 1990s. They distributed through the WSJ, who doesn't do weekends properly, and got clobbbbbbbbered.

But I defend both WSJ and UST, despite their non-weekend publishing.

Anonymous said...

Maybe big newspapers don't sell in Davis because people are about to be packed onto trains where there is not even enough room to hold up a little paperback book to read.

Maybe they're all getting the NYT on Audible and listening to it on the iPod because there's no room to hold a paper during commuting hours.

MEP (3 year veteran of the Davis commute)

Scape7 said...

I can't begin to guess what's going on in the Davis T stop, nor do I have the time right now to do actual reporting and figure out the cause of this malign neglect. Newspaper sales thrive just one stop away, at Porter, which features a daily newsstand setup (a guy selling all the New York and Boston papers) as well as traditional, and well-tended, newspaper vending machines.

So I'm not sure if the crowded-commute suggestion is the answer, although I'm pretty sure the Davis situation has nothing to do with weekend sales.

And does The Wall Street Journal need defending?

wrecking_ball said...

I think that slogan on the USA Today box has actually been there since USA Today was featured in it, and I haven't lived in Davis Square for 6 years, so that's definitely been there for a while. So, just to clarify: I think USA Today is really The Paper for People Who Move Their Lips When They Read. And the Metro? Well, that's The Paper For People Who Leave Their Trash Behind On Trains.

Scape7 said...

Gee, six years ... you'd think USA Today could have been using that box somewhere all this time. Now it's beyond repair, I'd think. Now it's public art.

wrecking_ball said...

Speaking of public art, I think it's worth noting that all three paper boxes, abandoned though they may be, are placed so that they don't obscure the art tiles on the wall.

And you know, on closer inspection, the graffiti seems to be applied to that box specifically to correspond to the Metro that's behind the glass. So maybe I saw the same slogan somewhere on another USA Today box.

Scape7 said...

So, like, you're trying to say that I'm right and you're wrong.

What a buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuurn.

You're burned, Wrecking Ball. Buuuuuuuuuuuuurned.

wrecking_ball said...

Whew, it took me a while to get through that. I have to move my lips when I read, and all those Us took some effort. Hey, I have no problem admitting when I'm wrong. Just ask anyone...

And, uh, you realize you're now heckling in the comments section of your own blog, right?

eric said...

Hey, I've been a big defender of USA Today for 15 years, and it's one of several papers that I pay for everyday. But I have been impressed with how much longer the writing has become lately...all on topic. My McBurger may be getting smaller, but my McPaper is getting larger the last couple of years.

e

eric said...

p.s. Wrecking Ball: The last thought of your last post was pretty funny.

Scape7 said...

Yes, I realize I'm heckling in the comments section of my own blog, but I was a little punchy when I wrote that.

Now that I'm looking back on it, I think I would have taken out two to four "U"s per "burn" before pushing the button to login and publish. It's a fine line.