Friday, October 5, 2007

Shakeup at the Weekly Dig

I've been reading Boston's Weekly Dig for a few years now, and always enjoyed it, to a great extent because of its lack of the Boston Phoenix's notorious Ivory Tower stuffiness. So it's with a bit of confusion taht I write about the firing of editor Michael Brodeur after eight months on the job. While, according to the local media blogs, it was a highly unpopular move with the staff, I'm not so sure his firing was actually a bad thing.

In the comments of one blog entry on the matter, Dig contributor Lissa Harris said that Brodeur had removed a lot of "extraneous junk" (my words) from the paper, and I find myself wondering -- does she not understand the concept that "content is king"? While I consistently like what the Dig does do, it oftentimes seems like they don't really do enough. A weekly David Thorpe column, while utterly awesome in its snarky majesty, still does not make up for no more than half a page of record reviews. The Dig's movie coverage, somewhat light at the best of times, does not even measure up to that of the Improper Bostonian (whose editor, Dig "Media Farm" stalkee Veronica Chao, has now coincidentally gone to the Boston Globe at around the same time as Brodeur's ouster -- maybe the Improper can go back to some of the investigative journalism it used to do?). And the "Department of Commerce" section, once consisting of several pages of interesting and cockeyed looks at current retail tchotchkes, is now a single page, more picture than text. (And then there's the glossy covers, which were received about as well as April's drastic redesign on, and the debacle surrounding syndicated incomprehensible possibly-gossip columnist Cintra Wilson.)

I suspect there's quite a bit more to the story than the publisher, Jeff Lawrence, has said, and it sounds like a staffing train wreck in progress. I hope Lawrence can right the ship, though, and get the Dig off its diet and fill it out with top-notch content.

And regarding the Phoenix: Tom and Christine are a cough drop when you want a roll of Thin Mints. Can we get some decent sex/relationship writing back in the rag without pilfering Dan Savage from the Dig again? Even Barstool Sports does it better than the Phoenix. (And while you're at it, can you go down the hall to Stuff@night, get Booty Call back in print, and have Jeannie Greeley stop with the navelgazing or find a different beat? She's a great writer, but she comes off more like a sober Caroline Knapp than a lesbian Emily Pepper.)