Corrections or additions?
This column was prepared for the March 19, 2003 edition of U.S. 1
Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Richard K. Rein: Critiquing the Competition
Journalism 101, Community Newspapers, gathers for the
fourth and final lecture of the spring term. We have discussed what
an editor looks for in a story, how he or she constructs a single
issue, and what factors should be considered in evaluating a
viewed over several weeks or months. Last week we put U.S. 1 under
the microscope and gave it an A overall, with a few points off for
being a little too predictable and falling a little short of its
Fun" alter ego.
This week we conclude with mini-reviews of the rest of papers in our
area. Our position is anything but impartial, and our impressions
are just that, impressions, not scientific data. But the same could
be said of any number of theater critics who have worked at various
papers over the years. It doesn’t stop them and it won’t stop us.
that come from a rare city that has two competing daily newspapers.
Recalling last week’s column, in which we noted that newspapers often
have nicknames, we have to report that the Trentonian is still the
Trash-tonian in many minds. Sex, crime, and scandal are the mainstays
of the editorial content of the Trentonian, but the formula seems
to be losing ground just as surely as blue collar workers are being
replaced by computer nerds.
Meanwhile the Trentonian duels with its considerably larger
known years ago as Trenton’s Fine. In fact the old Trenton Evening
Times has given up both the evening and the Trenton part of its title
(more insulting to the city of Trenton, in my view, than Trenton State
College changing its name to College of New Jersey). But to its
the Times of Trenton (as I refer to it) has maintained a decent amount
of municipal and sports coverage. The Times’s lead sports columnist,
Harvey Yavener, has more institutional memory than all the other
writers at all the other papers combined.
Both papers have their weaknesses. The Trentonian, which never shies
away from controversy, nonetheless fills its editorial page with
phoned-in comments from readers — the comments often seem, well,
phone-y. And the Trenton Times now charges by the word for obituaries.
My guess is that some good stories are missed because the survivors
do not want to be bothered by another bill.
produces a dozen different community newspapers through central New
Jersey. Its flagship paper in Princeton has an awkward frequency:
It’s semi-weekly, published Tuesdays and Fridays. It also has an
coverage area: Princeton Borough and Township, Montgomery, and West
Windsor (and a little of Plainsboro). Nonetheless it delivers a
amount of municipal and sports news.
The Package includes an arts and entertainment section called Time
Off, which many readers consider the most valuable part of the paper
and which is rivaled only by U.S. 1’s own Preview section. It also
has a biweekly (that’s every other week) business tabloid called the
Princeton Business Journal that seems to drain business coverage from
the regular publication. So why do they publish it? As a stalking
horse ready to move in when and if U.S. 1 falters — that’s my
high visibility and expensive look, the free circulation Town Topics
is the paper that has dominated Princeton Borough and Township for
many years. Two years ago the founding family sold the half-century
old weekly to an ad sales representative and her husband, backed by
a few other investors and architect Robert Hillier.
To the credit of the new owners, they have resisted the obvious
to redesign the entire publication. On the other hand they recently
wrote a long piece about Bob Hillier without even acknowledging his
involvement with the paper — not a sign of journalistic savvy.
And after the President’s Day blizzard Town Topics failed to get its
issue out until Thursday.
started this free biweekly publication ("a driveway paper,"
as some derisively call it) in 2000, after two prior incarnations
of a community paper there went out of business. Despite the obvious
business challenge to this endeavor, I give the new paper high marks
for coverage of school sports and people and for previewing worthwhile
Its municipal coverage would be more consistent if the paper came
out once a week. In the meantime the paper deserves credit for
from taking sides in the vociferous battles that have been waged in
this outwardly placid suburban environment. In the beginning some
of us at U.S. 1 worried that our little sister would be nothing more
than a collection of bake sale stories. We even gave it a nickname:
The WW-P Snooze. But in fact the paper has not yet covered a single
bake sale. My prediction: The Snooze is a sleeper, and when it fully
awakens it may surprise some people.
Corrections or additions?
This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com
— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.