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usa today's reputation as "Mc Paper" persists from the strength of the bandwagon, not from a legitimate analysis of its content. Much of the criticism is based on the "it has color, it must be evil" theory. Like Soul Asylum once said, nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd. I live in the New York City area, so arguments with the usa today subscription-bashers around here are likely to focus on a USA Today-vs.-New York Times competition. It amuses me when I am instantly deemed treasonous or illiterate for preferring Gannett's no-nonsense concoction.

This country has two tiers of local papers. First, there are a few biggies like the NY Times. Sure, that paper has some excellent stories - but it has fewer of them. Its international coverage is strong, the national coverage can be quite sharp but ignores a lot of things, and on local issues, it often gets beaten to a pulp by the tabloids.


I've occasionally read Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and LA Times, but can't comment as much about those. The second tier - the vast majority - are much more content-free. They have a couple of detailed town meeting stories, but most of the pages are filler - Dear Abby, recycled AP items. Sure, this is an economic decision - more material would mean hiring more reporters at the exorbitant sum of $15,000 a year.


But I digress. The talk-show parody "Night Stand With Dick Dietrich" referred to an in-depth, two-paragraph article in USA Today. Yes, the stories are short. Thus, in about 40-45 minutes, I can learn everything I need to know in the news. If a particular story fascinates me, there are many other resources for additional information - local papers, trade publications, Internet. Still, I keep my usa today subscription.


It's better to get a short blurb about every news, entertainment and business item than to read a paper with a few long articles that ignores everything else. In addition to the usual short articles, usa today clocks in with excellent enterprise stories that offer more detail and background.


Off the top of my head, two of the more impressive ones were about the real-life impact of de facto abortion bans, and an explanation of how arbitration as a substitute for courts is all the rage but often screws the little guy. Many Americans, including much of the so-called media elite, exhibit a provincialism that would make Slobodan Milosevic proud. Thus, they proclaim their local bar, their baseball team, their newspaper the best.


They don't give a damn about what's happening in, say, Iowa. For people who do have curiosity about other regions, the usa today is tops. I highly recommend a usa today subscription.











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