Sunday, July 22, 2007

the worst major urban newspaper in the U.S.?

Can anybody name a worse major urban newspaper than my own area's San Diego Union-Tribune?

Granted, "major" is an evaluative phrase. But San Diego is currently the 8th largest city in the U.S., and the Union-Tribune is its only newspaper of any significance. So let's compare it, say, to any of the other most significant newspapers in the largest 20-25 cities in the U.S. Which newspapers might be worse?

I don't read this newspaper consistently during the week--what would be the point?--but I do see the occasional weekly edition. Mainly I pick it up on Sundays for some bits of local news that I could only otherwise get in the North County Times, a much smaller, more local publication of no note.

What are its "stand out" features? A front section of minimal news whose best features are articles about how the Republican party feels about California state government. World news reports are minimal and rarely front page. One consistent type of front page news presents surveys showing purported changes in the "values" of Americans; less Americans believe that marriage is a moral good, things like that.

The best sections, though by no means very good, are the local news sections. These are somewhat more balanced, although they usually retain an anti-government, pro-corporate stance if you read between the lines.

The absolute lowlight is the Insight section (that is, the Sunday opinion page). Pictures of Muslims baring their teeth above articles with titles like "This Enemy Will Stop At Nothing" are the norm. The one politically middle-of-the-road columnist in the section is Ruben Navarette Jr., and although he seems firmly against any lightening of the pressures on immigration issues, he's able to speak against the more virulent forms of San Diego area racism, The Minutemen and the like.

Actually, for awhile I enjoyed the small but readable Book section of the Tribune. But it's been eliminated, replaced with a 2-page Sunday book section in the arts page that typically reviews one historical novel and has several short paragraphs on the latest thrillers.

The Travel section is okay; it's the only remaining section that can actually be a pleasure to read. The Arts section has an okay article on local theater now and then. But finding those sections is easier said than done. Travel, for instance, is usually hidden between multiple sections advertising overpriced and shoddy local housing.

And that's it.

Are there other major urban newspapers out there that might give the Union-Tribune a run for its money?

1 comment:

Bartholemew said...

Sure, try the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Static circulation at 165,000 in a 2 million community, Page One with no local news, or mostly so; etc.