On the far side of Alice’s looking-glass — as I remember — very little seemed to be of its proper size. In its proper scale. There were a very big rabbit and a small walrus. There were two child twins who were adult size. As well: some enormous teacups. And playing cards that made sleight-of-hand prohibitive. Nothing was the right size. And a great deal that had been sustaining — on a daily basis — in Alice’s life wasn’t there at all. I read an essay recently on the power of scale in art. In it was the assertion: “We measure our physical selves against what we see.” I would add: “… and read.”
I feel that way when I read The Salt Lake Tribune. Its national news is like Tweedledum and Tweedledee: bulky but without substance. And vague. If not dumb, it’s dim. Like a distant echo. Or phantom limb. I know it’s there, but it seems unattached. I’ve encountered it the day or night before already, on NPR, PBS, CBS or any number of the other BSs. Why is my local paper serving me lukewarm, washed-out global tea-cakes? Talk about Alice’s Tea Party! So, in the present Tribune, the national news is too big. Too frontal. Too look-alike. A single page of pithy summaries would do.
Much of local news seems to scale — the size it should be. Isn’t that the way on the Other Side of the Looking Glass: local news that’s substantive, dimensional, close, asking me to pay attention and, even personally, respond. Sports, especially, seems right-sized. These are our teams! Our talented athletes. Our aspiring coaches. And they’re all being allowed, in the hands of good and informed sports journalists, to step forward and assume a presence in our lives. We follow the sports news in serious, engaged ways — ways in which we don’t follow The Tribune’s reheated national news.
Local happenings approach the size and dimensions they should. Sometimes Tribune local reporters shine the light and — doing so — step, with some courage, into the darkness as well. Investigate. Offer, sometimes tentatively, the results of their investigations. These reporters almost always have the urge to enlighten and to enter the darkness regardless of the consequences.
If national news hulks in too simian a way in the current Salt Lake Tribune, The Mix section is anemic and frail. It’s like a patient on life support in a distant and outlying clinic. Its life has all but been forgotten. We read a decent share of film reviews and some modestly good television reviews. Here and there, there’s a restaurant review. But theater, dance, art exhibits, concert artists, music are all, at best, memories of a former Tribune.
Yes, the life of a locality such as our own thrives on its teams. And those are being covered. But the life of a locality also — and perhaps more deeply — thrives on and moves into the state’s future through the life of its artists: its theaters, its galleries, museums, dance companies, eateries. This is why I originally subscribed to The Trib: to make important local choices. Which dance/play/Thai restaurant I should best give my time to.
A disproportionate Salt Lake Tribune — like the present hunchbacked edition — discourages my attending to the growth of the shifting and emerging life of my chosen state and city. And it discourages my continued reading of this once-fine newspaper.
David Kranes is a playwright, fiction writer and writing mentor living with his wife, Carol, in Salt Lake City.