Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Pulling Jupiter Out of Orbit...

From James Lileks (who is visiting San Diego) in his Bleat of April 8th, talking about the San Diego newspaper (surely the Union-Tribune):

... I ordered something chickeny and opened the papers.

The papers suck. Pardon the language, but for heaven’s sake, the papers sucked. The papers sucked hard enough to pull Jupiter out of orbit. I had gotten used to the underwhelmingly ordinary Arizona paper, but the LA Times and the San Diego paper were a new level of sucktitudinousness. The SD paper was like a slab of Sominex pounded into thin folded sheets, and I don’t know if it was the lead story – “Sweeping Regulatory Powers Sought,” or something equally deadly – or the cookie-cutter design, but man, that thing was dull; when I finished I felt like I’d put 50 cents into a soda machine, got nothing, and realized I didn’t really want any soda anyway. On to the LA Times, which surprised me – I have almost no experience with the paper, except its reputation, which surely was exaggerated. Well. I blew through it quickly, and when I was finished the only impression it left was astonishment that a market that large had such a weightless, arid, aimless paper. It has the typeface of a better paper, but that’s about it. I finished both before I was halfway through my Ironed Chicken Sandwich – really, it was so thin, that’s probably how they cooked it – and I spent the rest of my time reading the internet on my iPhone.

I wandered down the street to a coffee shop, had some ice cream, and finished my news reading on the iPhone.

If I’d never had one of those “you know, newspaper might be in trouble” moments, that would have been it. Actually, that morning I’d spent a solid half hour at the airport with the Wall Street Journal, which was and is a great paper. Why? Four things: Diversity of subject matter, a focus on subjects not easily given to ideological slants, quantity of stories, and lively writing.
“The papers sucked hard enough to pull Jupiter out of orbit.” Mr. Lileks, there's a reason why your readers love you...