Thursday, October 20, 2005

True or faux

A local daily newspaper publishes a "faux" alternative weekly, coreweekly, and this week's edition has naked young people on the cover. That's guaranteed to help circulation. I heard last week's issue, the cover of which featured the cleavage of Essen Haus beer girls, went like hotcakes. But will Madison readers eventually get bored of these covers? There may be naked people up front, but inside is -- well, not naked people.
Music makes the people come together

Be sure to pick up today's Isthmus, which includes our annual Madison Music Project insert. You may recall that for last year's supplement I moderated a roundtable discussion of singers. The new edition finds me leading another roundtable; in this one rappers talk about the state of Madison hip-hop. Read it online here. (But do grab the paper edition, because in it is a big picture of my smiling face.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

For the record

If you've followed Plamegate, you already know about the revelation that New York Times reporter Judith Miller has a notebook in which -- tipped off by someone, but the Pulitzer-winning journalist supposedly can't recall who -- she wrote the name of the wife of Joe Wilson, the former diplomat whose criticism of the Bush administration started the whole ghastly affair. Except that for some reason, although the woman's name is Valerie Plame, Miller wrote Valerie Flame.

All I can say is, if a drag perfomer does not soon emerge with that stage name, I will be mighty disappointed.

Monday, October 17, 2005


A pall hangs over the daily newspaper business. Circulation is down, the cost of newsprint is up, and about the only thing everyone can agree on is that the demise of the daily printed newspaper is a matter of when, not if. And so at least one daily is doing some soul-searching: The Washington Post's Frank Ahrens recently hosted an online discussion about these problems and how to address them. The transcript is here, and it's a fine read for anyone who cares about newspapers.

I think the dailies' trouble is that they are edited to serve a general audience, so a newspaper like the Post has not only world-class political analysis but also "Barney Google." The trouble with this model is that increasingly, there is no such thing as a general audience, which is why there are a zillion cable channels to fit every entertainment fetish and ideological purview.

Interestingly, when a reader asks what the Post can do to survive the shakeout, Ahrens responds: "It seems to me that it might take on the character of what a newsweekly like Time is now -- longer pieces, more analysis, maybe projects, big displays of graphics and photos that wouldn't look as good on the Web."

Yes, that description sounds like Time -- but doesn't it also sounds like alternative newsweeklies? Did I just read in The Washington Post (OK, that to survive, daily newspapers need to be more like alternative weekly newspapers?