I was at the main branch of the Worcester Public Library on Friday afternoon, and swung by the corner where the free papers are to pick up my bi-weekly fix of ICT. Not five feet away was a free, print edition of the Worcester edition of TelegramTowns…and I smelled the potential for comparison.
Category 1: Inner-City Issues
On page 3, In City Times featured an op-ed called “Living next door to the PIP homeless shelter (or: Pipped Out!)” by Ronald L. O’Clair. Pull quote: “I have seen most everything and I have also heard most everything, when in the wee hours in the morning.”
However, I think a better pull quote would have been: “You have no idea of what it is like to be falsely accused of a crime you did not commit, and then have no one to believe you when you tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God.” Exactly the kind of gritty InCity Voice you’ve come to expect.
On the front page, TelegramTowns featured an article about the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Good, informative article about a social service agency in Green Island that I’d been meaning to visit.
This is a tie. The O’Clair piece gave a good description of what it’s like to live near the PIP Shelter, but needed an editor to bring focus; the ReStore article tackled an area (Green Island/Canal District) that the ICT is a touch obsessed with.
Category 2: Animal Rights
The In City Times featured two press-release-y articles from PETA, and one additional press release-y article (originally from their website) about Southwick’s Zoo.
TelegramTowns featured an article about pit bulls (and their owners) who’d be affected by the proposed ordinance. (Disclaimer: the article was written by friend-of-the-blog/former distant neighbor Steve Foskett, so I should probably just recuse myself now.)
Advantage: TelegramTowns. I’m all about the pit bulls, and I prefer to see some original reporting to recycled PETA news items.
Category 3: Local Color
InCity Times featured not one but two pieces by Bill Coleman: an article celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Worcester Senior Center, and a review/hagiography of Squire’s restaurant. Added bonus: the article on the Senior Center repeatedly refers to the former city manager as Jeff ‘Milford.’
TelegramTowns quotes Nat Needle in an article.
Advantage: InCity Times. They also included a topless picture of Gary Rosen from one of the male swimsuit issues from a few years’ back. Be thankful I decided not to include pictures in this post.
Category 4: Quality of Contributions
InCity Times’ guest columnist was Matt Wexler, who wrote a column called “Men: Your bathing suits – and how to fill them!” (which I thought was going to bring me flashbacks of Sean Connery in red hotpants in Zardoz; yes, that was a link to a blog called “Wry and Ginger” — Sid McKeen, feel free to sue!)
Anyway — back to the Wexler column. It was ostensibly a satirical column about how a man should(n’t) dress in the summer, but Wexler kept referring to greasy white T-shirts, pot bellies and Speedos, and the picture accompanying the column was the aforementioned topless Gary Rosen. To which I think all of us can say, “What did Gary Rosen do to deserve a column like this next to a picture of his?”
ICT also had an InCity Voices column written by Justine Washere, a young vegetarian who works at McDonald’s, called (of course) “I’m lovin’ it!” This is one of those ICT pieces that just screams for an editor: does the author feel any sort of vegetarian guilt for working at McD’s? What skills (besides getting annoying customers out as quickly as possible) does McD’s teach? We never really find out.
Advantage: TelegramTowns. The spelling tends to be more accurate as well.
Category 5: Overall Layout
Well, the InCity Times is what it is. I like that there’s always a photo included from the Worcester Historical Museum’s EB Luce Collection. The pet peeve of my life is surprisingly not the spelling but the fact that the WARL ad never identifies whether the animal in question is a dog, cat, or guinea pig. There’s a bit of blue accent color on the front and back pages.
Most — if not all — of the pictures in TelegramTowns are in color, as are some of the ads. They’ve got a much better events calendar than ICT, and they also feature the municipal meetings for the week. I’m a bit finicky when it comes to print layout, but TT isn’t bad.
Advantage: TelegramTowns. You had me at “Historical Commission Meeting, 5:30 p.m. City Hall.”
I really wanted to hate TelegramTowns, but it’s actually a great alternative to a paper like ICT. (Not WoMag; I think TT is by its nature more limited in scope.) I prefer to read things online, but this is a paper I’d actually pick up a hardcopy of; I think the layout makes me more likely to read certain articles that I would have otherwise passed by.
This is not to say that ICT is without its charms. Ultimately, though, TT is more than a one-person show and can do more (editing, ad sales, etc.) than one person alone. I’m not sure what the advertising cost is (compared to ICT) but I think it’ll be interesting to see what happens between the two publications over the next year.