Sunday, October 31, 2004

The Daily Disappointment

I just don't understand The Daily Advertiser sometimes.

For those of you in different zip codes, The Daily Advertiser is the newspaper of my home base here in Lafayette, Louisiana. Despite writing for The Advocate, I always pick up The Advertiser. I don't know why. I guess I like its format, or maybe it's just lifelong habit. I also have friends that work there.

I have so many horror stories about mistakes, inconsistencies and just plain bad judgment over the years that I should open yet another new blog just to list them (I've related a few throughout recent Advertiser-related posts at timshel).

Where to start? A few years ago, the Advertiser ran a vehement apology for the content of a particular page in the previous day's issue. Ever the investigative (not to mention the pack-rat) type, I took out that day's paper. On the page was a full-page ad for a female sexual cream. It promised "Better and Longer-Lasting Orgasms!" Oh dear!! Somebody call the sex police! The kids might actually find out where they came from!

The precedent had been established around 1997. That year, the paper decided that, bowing to reader pressure, they would no longer run Doonesbury on the comics page. They said that the strip was too politically provocative in content, and therefore more appropriate for the editorials page. Of course, they didn't address the elephant in the room (or the page)--that Mallard Fillmore, the poorly-drawn strip higlighting a conservative-reporter duck and the most stereotypically stupid liberals in the world, was allowed to remain on the comics page. Ah, sweet double standard. They finally put both strips together on the editorial page after another round of letters from readers sick of the hypocrisy.

The latest kink in this frayed hose of hypersensitivity is The Advertiser's refusal to run Saturday's Doonesbury strip. They called it offensive, and instead ran a "classic" strip. But was it offensive? Read it for yourself:

Doonesbury 10/30/04 Posted by Hello

Even if that is offensive (and it very well might be to those who know nothing of Cheney's remark or those who can understand Doonesbury yet have never heard a curse word), it's not that far off from the salacious imagery offered by the new strip it did run, Saturday's Mallard Fillmore:

Mallard Fillmore 10/30/04 Posted by Hello

"Fat, Hairy Men in Women's Clothing," eh? Hmm...that's not offensive to the sensibilities of the average American! Why, that's more than words--that's a mental picture! Ewww...thanks a lot, Bruce!

Until The Daily Advertiser stops being so squeamish about what they run, and until they clean up obvious errors, I will continue to scratch my head and ask, "Why even bother?"


The Manning Report said...

I used to read the paper every chance I got, cause I like to read it. But now adays I don't because I realized that the paper is very outdated by the time its printed. I have actually read an article online 1 week and a week later finally it is printed in the Advertiser. The vermilion just makes me even more mad because their format sucks and it is extrememly outdated by the time it's printed.

Ian McGibboney said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ian McGibboney said...

When I wrote for The Daily Iberian, I would often see stories in The Advertiser that I had also covered. At those events, I would join a throng of veteran reporters (or at least those above my intern status). My stories, to my shock, were always much better. Why? Because their stuff seemed flat by design. Also, they'd turn major stories into filler blurbs. I don't understand it. Still, they do a good job at least much of the time. I can't be on too high of a horse.

As for The Vermilion, I unfortunately agree with you. In these online times, weekly newspapers are by design outdated; but what can you expect with a paper that, until this summer, had an EIGHT-DAY lead time? I remember when they institued that. What bullshit. But that's getting better now, particularly for me.

In the two-and-a-half years I've been writing the column there, they haven't had a single consistent design (as in, one that lasted more than a few months). They like to change solely for change's sake, and that's always risky. I'm particularly disappointed in the current design that is very inconsistent even within itself. For example, not all columnists have pictures (only the white guys, including myself, which bothers me); some columns have title headers and others don't; the bylines all suck in terms of design and alignment; the masthead (list of names) is incomplete and in a bizarre place on the page; they just switched to a bookish font, which drives me nuts; they run color ads inside, which leads to jarringly colored pages that make no sense among the black-and-white ones; the letters page shows no style whatsoever and is hard to read; the Sounding Off! section is reaching its nadir with inane questions (not as bad as it was a few years ago when someone asked, "How many letters are in the alphabet?" but so much worse than 1998 when the questions were about politics); unique, long-standing columns and features are now all but defunct (though to their credit they are being replaced now); the section headers are huge and not-at-all imaginative; and don't even get me started on the front page and its flag. Not that I've ever liked that design more than twice. I guess I should shut up while I still have a job there, huh? At least the current editorship is a bunch of (sometimes) cool people, especially the managing editor. He'd probably agree with me, if silently, on most of these points.

[Re-posted for clarity and omission]

The Manning Report said...

Well tomorrow the big day. I hope the democraps dont cheat to bad.

Ian McGibboney said...

I don't know about the democraps, but I don't hink the DEMOCRATS will cheat. I'll leave that to the Republicans and the Nader voters.