Friday, February 11, 2011

One Size Serves All The People

OC Weekly's web site is clunky and confusing, and it's not the only one. It was evidently designed by someone at parental unit company Village Voice Media, since the New Times site in Phoenix (a sister paper to the Weekly that broke Sheriff Joe Arpaio's endorsement of Richard Nixon) uses the same template. Reminds me of MLB teams sharing the same basic web design, which is also appalling. You'd expect lefties, at least, to struggle against corporate conformity.

Among the early editors of the Valley of the Sun's venerable alternative rag was a family friend named Daniel Ben-Horin (shown here), referred to in a comment under this 2007 post. Ben-Horin and my mother, Jean Sharley Taylor, worked together at the Arizona Republic in the late 1960s until conservative publisher Eugene Pulliam, Dan Quayle's celebrated relation, pitched a series of fits over the paper's centerward drift during the Nixon era. Daniel was fired, and my mother quit when Pulliam fired her editor, J. Edward Murray, who'd balked when Pulliam requisitioned the front page for a pro-Nixon editorial.

Daniel later founded CompuMentor, a Bay Area organization that distributes software to non-profits. My mother and I moved to LA, where she went to work for the LA Times -- and I ended up going to work for Richard Nixon in San Clemente.


MK said...

Fascinating story. Pushing to put an editorial on the front page is a big no-no. Always have to respect the wall, such as it is, between reporting and opinion. If a boss doesn't respect the standards of the professionals he hires, then there are big problems right there.

I wonder if the uniform web design for the alternative newspapers stems from budget constraints. Perhaps the company contracted on a one time basis with a web designer at one point and told associated newspapers "here's what we came up with for you." If the designer was a contractor rather than on staff, you'd have to pay him or her a lot more to come up with different designs for different sites (many more hours billed). Just a guess. I can't say it's very attractive or easy to navigate; show signs of age, too.

Fr. John said...

Thanks, MK. The way I heard it -- and this was just cocktail hour conversation, overheard by a 15-year-old -- is that Pulliam hired Murray because he honestly wanted the Republic to be a world-class daily ended up not being able to make the 100% commitment to news-pages independence. The day J. Edward Murray quit, my mother stood up in a meeting, said, "If there's no room for him on this paper, there's no room for me," and walked out.