I would put it this way: with a large x-height, and with open counters, newspaper type has to lack certain features that suggest grace and delicacy. That does not mean that it cannot be designed with aesthetics strongly in mind; that does not mean that it cannot be beautiful in some respects.
But when you combine those deficiencies with a need to be very familiar and comfortable to a wide range of ordinary readers, it is likely that the resulting face will not be all that interesting to those whose primary interest is aesthetic and not practical.
I would not call Melior ugly; but then, I would not call Corona ugly either, and yet I can understand that some might feel that way. However, of late, the technical requirements of newspapers have changed, as they're now being printed by offset lithography instead of by stereotype, and that has reduced the problem.