Sunday, February 15, 2009

I love the Stranger and I hate it.

The Stranger is an immensely entertaining publication that I enjoy reading that can ocassionally produce some strong journalism. Slog can be a fascinating, frustrating, lively public forum of ideas, information, humor, stupidity and infantile dribble, (and I fully acknowledge that I contribute to both intellectual discussion and childish snarking and quipping...). But the Stranger and its staff are cursed by the fact that they're neither fish nor fowl. They want to be the popular, funny, snarky, witty, cool kids with the satire and the cursing and the mocking and the hip, "ain't we cool" street cred. They also seem to want to be serious journalists that report serious news and get treated with dignity and respect by their readers, the community and most importantly, their peers while serving as a valuable resource for the community. But is it possible to put out a publication that wants to be both "The Onion" and "The New York Times" simultaneously? That seems to be their goal, but they frequently and alternately succeed and fail at each endeavor. And the staff has a tendency to pout if they don't feel they're appreciated enough as journalists or humorists. And, I think a lot of people have the attitude that this schizophrenia is ok or normal or justified because after all, it's only a dumb alt weekly run by a bunch of stupid hippy/snarky/druggy/faggy kids, but the fact is, the Stranger is run/owned by men and women in their mid-forties and up, and only a handful of staffers are actually twentysomething kids. I think The Stranger is a great example of what the New Journalism COULD be, but I'm also thinking that if they want to really become leaders of the New Journalism movement and realize their potential, they're going to have to pick a direction and stick to other words, decide to be the witty, funny journal of entertainment and satire with an arts focus, (like The Onion's AV Club) or be a legitimate news organization that publishes factual, well-written and even witty reportage, (like, well, no one actually does that).

Oh and Dick Free Day is a pretty "funny" idea from a website where all but about two or three of it's writers frequently ARE dicks (I don't always love what they write but Jen Graves and Paul Constant are very seldom dickish or inspire it), or write things that very frequently and very intentionally incite dick like responses, (ECB and Savage).

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