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November 12, 2008

'An Anvil Under Each Arm'

David Hirschman's Q&A with Dan Savage in mediabistro today is more about sex writing than anything else; it certainly isn't about arts journalism. But Savage's praise of alt-weeklies and criticism of dailies bear thinking about:

I think alt-weeklies have more and more of a role to play -- particularly as dailies continue to try and swim around with an anvil under each arm. One anvil is objectivity and the other is "family newspaper." Alt-weeklies have the luxury of publishing writing by adults, to adults, and for adults. And that's a real advantage. It's a style advantage, it's an attitudinal advantage, and it's also an urban advantage.

The dailies here in Seattle we call the "donuts" because they write to the suburbs and they don't write for the city, or advocate for the city. Their worldview and their attitudes are suburban, because that's who they think their subscribers are. People pile up in cities not because they don't like yards, but because they want to get laid. People want to be where other people are, and we've always advocated for good urban values.

Alt-weeklies are really just about advocacy journalism and truth-telling, and they engage in arguments and throw bombs in the way that daily papers can't allow themselves to. I mean, daily newspapers all need to put "fuck" in a headline above the fold one day -- it'll solve all their problems. That's my prescription. And then in one fell swoop they'll get rid of all those 80-year-old subscribers who won't let them drop "Blondie." Catering to the 80-year-olds? Where's that getting newspapers? Making sure there's nothing in your paper that's inappropriate for an eighty-year-old to read?

November 12, 2008 8:50 AM | | Comments (0)

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