What’s In the Weeklies? Week of May 14

Welcome, once again, to another installment of What’s In the Weeklies?, where we take a look at Louisville’s two major weekly newspapers, so you don’t have to. Last week Velocity pulled off a surprising upset, but can they repeat? Read on, dear reader!

Velocity May 14

Velocity Weekly, May 14, 2008 issue:

  • Cover Story: Left of the Dial 8 points (for reasons way too complicated to go into here, we’ll say that while we agree with major points of Peter Berkowitz‘s take on WFPK‘s bland playlist, we’re still sort of ambivalent about it — that said, this is the type of cultural criticism that should be in any decent weekly paper)
  • Cover Art: -1 (bearded “hipster” — check. metrosexual — check. black dude — check. “cool mom” — check. this cover couldn’t be any worse if it tried)
  • Additional News: N/A 0 points
  • Additional Features: Rich, thin women have it all; Howard Fineman Q&A 2 points (if the Fineman Q&A isn’t particularly insightful, Lauren Titus’s column is downright insipid)
  • Opinion: This Week’s Winners and Losers 2 points (more My Morning Jacket boosterism — as if they need it)
  • Additional Music Coverage: Tantric profile 5 points (we couldn’t care less about this band, but that said, this is a well-written, if unrevealing, profile)
  • Food/Drink Coverage: The Grape Leaf review, Shenanigan’s in the Bar Hopper 5 points (it doesn’t make a lot of sense to tout a restaurant as providing “two [dinners] for $30” on your cover, then bury the caveat that “If you want to stay under $30, you need to work as a team or choose from a few menu items, mostly vegetarian” in your review)

Overall Score: 21 points

LEO May 14

LEO Weekly, May 14, 2008 issue:

Overall Score: 36 points

There you have it, LEO triumphs yet again, though Velocity‘s cover story was at least a good effort. However, considering Kentucky’s primary is next Tuesday and — more importantly — it actually matters this year, the lack of any political coverage in Velocity besides a rather weak Q&A with Newsweek writer Howard Fineman was disappointing (though not surprising given Velocity‘s primary role as an ad revenue generator).

As always, please feel free to comment! Especially as regards stuff we don’t cover in the weeklies, such as theater and film coverage.

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6 Responses to “What’s In the Weeklies? Week of May 14”

  1. anonymous Says:

    Velocity doesn’t cover the Metro Council because its sister publication, The Courier-Journal, already does. When Velocity started, I seem to remember reading an interview with the editor where he explained that. Your criticism is misguided, or, worse, intentionally misleading. It is like criticizing Lebron James because he can’t a curveball.

  2. anonymous Says:

    Velocity doesn’t cover the Metro Council because its sister publication, The Courier-Journal, already does. When Velocity started, I seem to remember reading an interview with the editor where he explained that. Your criticism is misguided, or, worse, intentionally misleading. It is like criticizing Lebron James because he can’t hit a curveball.

  3. stateofthecommonwealth Says:

    Thanks, anonymous commenter, for your comments, though I have to say I’m a little baffled by them.

    For starters, we’ve always stated here that What’s In the Weeklies? is by definition arbitrary and unfair when it comes to its ranking system (or more accurately, lack of a rating system). We rate each issue of both LEO and Velocity based on what we’ve read in those publications — though yes, sometimes what’s not in them does influence our arbitrary rankings as well.

    Secondly, please re-read this week’s installment. Nowhere in it will you find criticism of Velocity for not covering the Metro Council. But that sounds like a great idea, so perhaps we’ll take it into consideration for the next installment! Surely the patrons of such fine establishments as Felt and Coyote’s would like to read about the goings-on of their local government in-between pics of half-naked co-eds, no?

    Thirdly, we’re pretty sure your IP is associated with a computer at the Courier-Journal. Does Gannett actually pay people to comment anonymously on blogs? If so, can you hook us up with such a fine gig?

    And lastly, when Lebron James wore a Yankees hat during the playoffs last year, we decided he’s fair game for any criticism, no matter how ridiculous. And yeah, he’s lousy at the plate (as are we).

    Again, thanks for your comment. If you don’t like what we’re doing, feel free to not read it!

  4. People ask me about this sometimes — whether LEO and Velocity are in direct competition. It’s an interesting question. Many people will tell you the two pubs are not the same thing, and in fact are actively attempting to be two very different things. I agree with that assessment on its face.

    However, LEO and Velocity are direct competitors for the same small pool of advertising dollars in Louisville. That’s why you’ve watched LEO drop in size since Velocity came along. It’s quite difficult for a small operation like ours to compete with a weekly that is little more than a corporate strategy to claim our market share — especially as they’ve undercharged while being bailed out by Gannett for it. It’s a shrewd strategy, and it has obviously created a lot of resentment. I’m not whining about it. This is a fact of the matter. We’re a 20-some person shop competing with the largest newspaper chain in the country.

    I happen to loathe Velocity for that very reason, although I don’t think its mission is to dumb down local discourse. Its mission is to take the money LEO has proved a weekly can make here, and it’s cheaper to fill a paper with mostly bullshit than with actual reported content. So the dumbing down thing is an aftereffect of a shrewd corporate strategy to take our money. The aftereffect of that is to put us out of business. We are not unique. This is happening across the country.

    In terms of editorial competition, I can share that we see ourselves in direct competition with the Courier Journal, although we obviously do something quite different than they do. When I’m working a story, it’s in the back of my mind to beat the CJ to it.

    And finally, I’m sending this from a LEO IP address, because I’m the managing editor here. Anonymous comments are ridiculous. Be an adult. If you have an opinion, stand by it and be prepared to argue it.

  5. stateofthecommonwealth Says:

    Stephen, thank you for your comments. I suppose I should make it more clear that while What’s In the Weeklies? is a direct comparison between the two papers (which I agree aren’t that similar), another unstated purpose of the column is to also judge both papers by standards I’ve perceived from reading other weekly newspapers in the rest of the country (full disclosure: in the past I wrote a couple freelance music reviews for the Baltimore City Paper and one review for the Seattle Weekly; currently I’m not freelancing). As someone who left Louisville for nearly 15 years and only recently returned, I’m looking at both papers through the lens of someone who read the Chicago Reader, New City, the Village Voice, and New York Press, as well as other weeklies. Perhaps it’s unfair to hold papers in Louisville to those standards, though I would argue that if we truly want to have a “World-Class City,” we need world-class reporting (and that includes party reporting, I suppose).

  6. I agree completely, and urge you and every reader to hold LEO accountable to the same standards as weeklies in bigger cities. Louisville will never put away its inferiority complex if it continues to accept mediocrity as quality. The ultimate goal of criticism is, of course, to elevate. Or at least it should be.

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