Alt Together Now

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In another sign that the "alternative weekly" newspaper format is about as fresh as Grandpa's cologne, the longtime hated rivals at the New Times chain and Village Voice Media have merged, regulators willing, with the NT cookie-cutters seizing control of Norman Mailer's creaky ship.

This will trigger some amusing political gymnastics, as union shops merge with Labor-free zones, and smart-ass "radical centrists" make nice with the earnest lefty graybeards they've been mocking all these years, but you can expect the most entertaining reactions to come from cranktastic San Francisco Bay Guardian poobah Bruce Brugmann, who is quoted by Howard Kurtz as saying the New Times will export its "desert libertarianism on the rocks, with sprigs of neocon politics."

More links over at L.A. Observed.

NEXT: Liberation Biology Reviewed

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  1. With Connecticut’s Hartford and New Haven Advocate trying hard to appeal to the young and stupid, the only decent alternative paper left in the region is the Boston Phoenix and it’s Providence cousin.

  2. Media consolidation is great. Otherwise good, big newspapers will suffer competition from “radicals” and union shops and confused readers could be mislead into thinking these things are acceptable in a modern business context.

    When we have fewer media voices, it is much easier to keep ppl from thinking the wrong things. So good that the private sector can accomplish these advantages without help (and hopefully also without hindrance) from the gov’t.

  3. Gee golly — if only I had some means of accessing information besides my city’s daily paper and weekly tabloid. Market failure at work again!

  4. The NYT is libertarian, eh? That explains their love of eminent domain.
    Alt weeklies can have interesting stuff, but let’s not shit ourselves that most people pick them up for any reason beyond the kinky personal ads. No one wants to read 5,000 word screeds on some obscure action of the city council.

  5. Gee golly — if only I had some means of accessing information besides my city’s daily paper and weekly tabloid. Market failure at work again!

    I wouldn’t worry, Stevo. It looks like the re-education has been successful in your case.

  6. “regulators willing”

    The mommy society continues apace.

  7. New Times
    New York Times

    I’m not an expert on the New York journalism scene, but I don’t think anyone would consider the NYT as a snarky alt-weekly. In context it is clear that the New Times is something totally different from the NYT.

  8. Eh. It’s been pretty obvious that the Village Fishwrap has been “on the rocks” in a totally different sense for quite a while. No matter how they tried to spin it, you don’t suddenly go over to an all-ad-supported format because things are working really well for you. NYC doesn’t really have any good competition in that area, though – the New York Press was good for a while, but they’ve been heading downhill too.

  9. What I love about Washington DC’s City Paper is how it tries to place itself as some ‘voice of the people’ opposing the rapid yuppification of the city, all the while being chock full of ads for the sort of luxury goods/services that will only be consumed by the urban yuppies. Talk about self-hatred…

    At least the personals are entertaining, particularly the “other” category.

  10. With Connecticut’s Hartford and New Haven Advocate trying hard to appeal to the young and stupid, the only decent alternative paper left in the region is the Boston Phoenix and it’s Providence cousin.

    Are you serious? The Phoenix’s pedantic writing is so mainstream boilerplate leftish hackery that its competing with the nutty marxist campus newspapers for who can concoct the more ridiculous bu$hitler conspiracy theories and selectively sample gov’t-granted monopolies as “examples of the failures of the market”. Citing the figures of a 1918 influenza pandemic, without accounting for modern advances in medicine and public health, as reason for “why you should be scared of avian flu” is more yellow than cutting-edge.

    And then, the Phoenix Media Communications Group has been a nasty little regional monopoly for quite some time, in and of itself. Ask Joe Bonni, founder of Phoenix competitor The Weekly Dig, how he knows. He heard the anguished calls of sponsors telling him the Phoenix threatened to blacklist them from their promotions in papers and on their radio stations, how they saw Phoenix vans taking Dig newspapers and boxes when they would drop off their own copies, and how they fudged their circulation numbers to look better against the strong competition coming from the upstarts.

    Still, this is all a tempest in a teacup. I imagine most people do read the phoenix for its club listings (which are rapidly getting outpaced by internet lists that can find stuff a lot quicker than reading 6pt font on a broadsheet) and yes kinky ads than its blowing-the-lid-off the street repaving scandal.

  11. No one reads the paper anymore.

  12. Are you serious? The Phoenix’s pedantic writing is so mainstream boilerplate leftish hackery . . .

    Yikes. Where is Franklin Bruno when ya need him?

  13. Rafuzo: I never read the front section of the Phoenix. I usually skip to Adult, which get’s its own glorious section.
    The arts section of the Phoenix usually has a wide mix of stuff, and tends not to try to be hip. They also cover a lot of comic books, and not just indie slice-of-life junk either.
    As for club listings, I find a lot of shows listed in the Phoenix and the Advocate that do not show up on line until weeks later. This is especially true of smaller venues that post thier shows months in advance.
    I keep a pretty hefty list of New England venue sites on my Links page, and its disheartening how infrequentky they are updated.

  14. JDM,

    The only paper I read regularly is Le Figaro – online.

    Basically if you are going to learn about what is going on in the world you can’t depend on media to do that for you (and you never could). Of course, all the handwringing about media consolidation also ignores the fact that less and less people use any traditional media service.

  15. Of course, all the handwringing about media consolidation also ignores the fact that less and less people use any traditional media service.

    Yeah, this does indeed make media consolidation somewhat less suspect than oil company consolidation or healthcare consolidation. However, the had wringers wring hands here because the ill effects of the consolidation should be more apparent to people than the behind-the-scenes stuff that goes on in less publically visible industries. Sometimes you don’t get to pick your battles as much as you would like.

  16. Wait — Hakluyt, are you the triumphant return of Gary Gunnels/Jean Bart?

  17. I didn’t know anyone ever actually read the articles in those rags. I mean really, if they just printed the local band listing, movie times, personals and prostitution ads and nothing else would anyone notice? I don’t think so.

  18. I didn’t know anyone ever actually read the articles in those rags. I mean really, if they just printed the local band listings, movie times, personals and prostitution ads and nothing else would anyone notice? I don’t think so.

  19. I didn’t know anyone ever actually read the articles in those rags. I mean really, if they just printed the local band listing, movie times, personals and prostitution ads and nothing else would anyone notice? I don’t think so.

  20. As someone who works with several former New Haven Advocate writers, I can attest to the slow death of the Advocate. But by the same token, since the New Haven Register’s gone to mostly wire reports and cheesy local coverage with conservative leanings, it’s the only good thing left in town.

  21. The Dallas Observer prints about the only worthwhile political news in town.

    Their breakdown of the extortion/protection racket being run by the Dallas PD has been just first-rate.

    And, by weight, at least half their weekly tabloid is hooker ads. In the buckle of the Bible Belt, yet.

  22. RC Dean,

    I have spent most of my life in the bible belt and I have never met anyone who read anything in a local alt weekly, other than hooker ads, night club and movie listings and personals. If not for the revenue from the hooker ads, I don’t see how any of them could stay in business.

  23. Uh, Dave W, you ever see that Palmolive commercial? You know, the one with “you’re soaking in it”?

    Anyway, I like the SF Weekly. Matt Smith does some good dissection of local city gov’t, when he’s not fucking up same, some good music scene articles, occasionally a good cover story about something odd but interesting.

    Fuck the Bay Guardian.

  24. Everybody knows that DO jumped the shark when McNear left. As tragic as Meltzer’s departure from SD Reader.

  25. There’s a local alt paper here in Colorado Springs called, of all things, “The Independent.” It’s the most fiercly dogmatic fishwrap I’ve ever seen.

  26. Continuing on my previous post, Welch’s column seems to give a good metaview of the state of Alt publishing today.

  27. the triumphant return of Gary Gunnels/Jean Bart?

    I thought we all knew that, just like we all now know from photographic evidence that Jennifer is a man.

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