Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Trib's Imitation of CW Not Flattering

Posted By on January 18, 2012, 3:16 PM

"There is no new thing under the sun." If I worked for the Trib, I might try to convince you I made that up myself, but most know it as a 2,000-year-old truism from Ecclesiastes. ---

Since nothing is new under the sun, perhaps we should turn the other cheek and forgive The Salt Lake Tribune its trespasses, for stealing so many of City Weekly's column concepts. Or in the spirit of the Old Testament, perhaps we could arrange to cut off their editors' hands in the public square for such thievery.

Or we could take a 21st-century approach and just blog about it.

A recent appropriation is Civics Central, which resembles City Weekly's Citizen Revolt, a column about civic engagement that we've published for the past three years or so.

Also in recent months, the Trib's Three Questions video attempts to replicate the tone and Q&A concept of our long-running Five Spot.

Previously, the Trib's The Thumb copied City Weekly's popular Hits & Misses; the Trib also subscribed to News of the Weird to match City Weekly's News Quirks. Once we started running Personals in our classifieds, so did the Tribune.

In publishing its "faux" weekly Now in Salt Lake, it could be argued the Trib is trying to steal the alt-weekly concept that is City Weekly. After the Trib woke up from its Rip Van Winkle slumber and realized it needed younger readers to replace those who weren't re-upping their subscriptions, the Trib's weak response is a light-as-air tabloid/Website catering to fashionista- and nightclub-crazed young'uns.

Publications like Now are called "faux" weeklies because they only pretend to be alternative to the mainstream press. Not only does Now not provide a unique voice, it often republishes content that has already appeared in the Trib.

Now in Salt Lake recently rebranded itself as an "edition of The Salt Lake Tribune." At the same time, it rather brazenly got in bed with the Salt Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau to utilize the CVB's listings program on its Website. The CVB is a nonprofit that receives government funding for an event-listings database shared by multiple state and county entities. As part of the partnership, the Tribune/NowSalt Lake's Website now displays the CVB's logo and link on listings for restaurants, clubs and other venues that happen to be members of the CVB.

So, for stories that the Trib publishes reporting on the ZAP tax or the visitors bureau, will the editors now disclose the paper's partnership? These types of alliances -- while nothing new under the sun -- undermine the Trib's claim to be Utah's independent voice.

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Jerre Wroble

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