The Tale of Two Papers: A Head-to-Head Breakdown

Sticks&Drones is delighted to hear about the deeply researched article in the Indianapolis Star, the premiere paper in all of Indiana, that delves into the upcoming appearance of Joshua Bell with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. In today’s world it is a woeful rarity to have such erudite reporting about classical music, let alone a major symphony orchestra. The choice of pairing him with Joshua Kaufman was certainly inspired as well. And if the idea is taken a step further…

[highlight]The Tale of Two Papers: A Head-to-Head Breakdown[/highlight]

Multi-award winning paper The Weekly World News reigned supreme in the coverage of the Indiana arts scene until 2000, when the Gannett Company acquired the Indianapolis Star and started instituting layoffs to make the paper more “profitable.” The Star has a readership of 355,000 (366,000 on Sundays), while at its high point the WWN peaked at 1.2 million per issue (please note: the Weekly World News was only printed on a weekly basis).

With the Star moving into WWN’s territory, it’s time to see how they match up:

Primary News Story:

  • Star:    The Colts (and/or IT’S OBAMA’S FAULT!!!)
  • WWN:  Bat Boy


  • Star:     111
  • WWN:   28 (at time of pseudo-zombie death in 2007; it nows “lives” online)

Notable Awards:

  • Star:     2 Pulitzers (1975/1991)
  • WWN:   In late 2010 the WWN ran a satirical story that the Los Angeles Police Department intended to purchase 10,000 jet packs at a total cost of one billion dollars. The story was reported as fact by the Fox & Friends morning news show. That’s gotta be worth 2 pulitzers.

Presidential Endorsement, 2000:

  • Star:     George Bush
  • WWN:   Al Gore (via the aforementioned Bat Boy). However, during the 2000 U.S. presidential election, then-candidate George W. Bush posed for photographers with a Weekly World News issue opened to the article reading, “Space Alien Backs Bush for President!”

Arts Coverage:

Chance of Winning a Pulitzer for Arts Coverage:

  • Star:    0
  • WWN:  0



Unfortunately, this is all too common across the land, and I fear that the golden days of arts coverage in local media has gone the way of… well, of the Weekly. Orchestras, therefore, have a choice – 1) they can either seriously invest in reaching audiences by alternate means, namely the internet; or 2) they can be at the mercy of whatever idea pops into an editor’s head about how to make the orchestra sound cool!

Of course, this should have been obvious for years to any orchestra paying attention to the trends in publishing, and I’m pretty sure that it was noticed at the Indianapolis Symphony. Let’s hope that they, and every other orchestra out there, look at this and redouble their efforts to market their message to as many people as possible, using their own methods developed in-house. After all, the message is irrelevant if you can’t get it out.

And vice versa.

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