A Critical Overview of The Stranger
It is a truism of American life—more unkind souls might call it a "cliché"—that you get what you pay for. Even China, that Red Communist rat bastard hellhole, has its own version: "Yi fen qian, yi fen huo," meaning "One cent gives you one cent's worth." Does that seem obvious? So be it. Nobody ever got kicked out of the daily newspaper business for being too obvious.
Here is what I was trying to tell you, as I prattled on in the previous para: In mid-March, the Seattle Times will launch a new digital-subscription plan (or "paywall," as bloggers, liberals, and malcontents call it) for users of Seattletimes.com. We fully expect this plan to return our paper to its golden years of the very early 21st century, when we endorsed George W. Bush for president and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer was slowly rotting to death. And we would like other local news organizations—including The Stranger—to join us behind a paywall. This plan only works if the Seattle Times' content isn't easily replaced by other local outlets, you see.
Here is why The Stranger should join the Seattle Times in charging four dollars a week for access to its website: While your content is not as impartial or as drained of any sort of voice as the Seattle Times, it may still garner some readership. Consider ANNA MINARD's piece about GMO food, which was not interlaced with enough commentary from the food industry to warrant a truly balanced stance but is mostly legible. Or DOMINIC HOLDEN's screed about pedestrian rights, which flagrantly ignores the War on Cars perpetuated by Seattle's Mayor-in-Name-Only but mostly is not constructed from sentence fragments. Neither of these stories is ready for prime time, true, but enough readers might confuse them for "journalism" to pull profitable "traffic," as they say on the information superhighway, away from Seattletimes.com.
The problem gets worse when you consider arts coverage. As executive editor, I was shocked to recently discover that the Seattle Times still publishes arts criticism at all, but The Stranger's robust arts reportage—JEN GRAVES speaking with the new waterfront public art manager, Eric Fredericksen; DOMINIC HOLDEN with an opera review; PAUL CONSTANT on a new book by Gavin Newsom (as well as four local sandwich restaurants); EMILY NOKES's review of a new musical, in addition to a long interview about a new music festival; and many film reviews—definitely detracts from our occasional, uninspiring gloss over a book, movie, or dining establishment.
True, The Stranger's reviews lean toward the vulgar and are often semi-readable at best, but most internet "readers" are also simpletons who cannot hold one coherent thought for more than two minutes at a time. As we ask the imbeciles of the internet to support quality journalism in the Northwest, we promise to be more focused than ever on serving Seattle through unbiased journalism, as we did when we endorsed Rob McKenna for governor and then bought ads in our own publication to support him as a candidate. We hope The Stranger, and West Seattle Blog, and Crosscut, and all the rest, will agree to join us in our panning for digital gold.