Feb 062008
Authors: Griffin Faust

Purpose: The following claim was uncovered at the Utne Reader website: “Utne Reader/and Utne.com/are digests of independent ideas and alternative culture. Not right, not left, but forward thinking.”

The magazine is liberal; its main priorities are the environment, social justice and liberal-slanted politics. I appreciate the wide range of topics and ideas covered, but false pretenses taint the decent intentions of leftist writers in this magazine.

Audience: Those concerned with world politics would find plenty to read within, although almost all feature articles are confined to an American scope.

Features: The global coverage was limited to two attractive essays; one being an interview-style profile about a Zimbabwean graphic artist named Chaz Maviyane-Davies. The other commendation article gave me an informed sense of Mumbai’s educational system. The articles are brief, but suggest areas for further coverage.

I thought the cover article “Atomic Dreams” was original and poignant for the moment, especially as the nation is scrutinizing the presidential candidates. It talked in depth about the pros and cons of nuclear power, a non-carbon form of energy not often considered since the horrible Chernobyl accident.

Kudos: Utne Reader accomplishes an individual flair in its presentation and promotion of underdog publications. The magazine has its own definitive reportage in that the bulk of articles are reprints from a variety of lesser-known publications.

I think that the use of ‘chapters’ aid in skimming the magazine for what kind of issues one wants; mindful living, short fiction, big policy, abroad issues, etc.

Draw Backs: At times Utne Reader can be too biased and pushes all sense of complexity out of the equation. I agree with nearly all the issues pursued, but at times was made to feel lectured. This is a tightly-wound magazine with a preachy tone, especially when it comes to ecology, disguised as an open-minded, Mental Floss-style magazine.

Bottom Line: A bi-monthly crash course on what’s crunched in mostly environmental policy today. Good use of ‘chapter’ device for better navigation and quick media reviews. All articles are timely, yet I know I won’t be retiring this issue to the recycle bin anytime soon, as they can be read again for future enjoyment.

Staff writer Griffin Faust can be reached at verve@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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