Monday, April 04, 2005

don't give a dose to the one you love most (with apologies to shel silverstein)

Another month, another freebie newspaper. Today's entry into the newsbox sweepstakes is Dose, CanWest Global's attempt to hook twentysomethings.

I fell out of my chair looking at the paper's "About Us" page, which neatly sums up everything wrong with it. Tell me this doesn't sound like a cry against the man written by somebody funded by him:

There is a lot of crap out there and we realiuzed there was nothing that was relevant so we said screw it, we are going to create a new source of information for our peers.

Or at least severely dumbed-down information for their peers. Forced hipness is a rare beast to pull off well - we'll see if CanWest can do it.

(I should fess up that I've spent most of the weekend listening to the CD version of Al Franken's Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, so my media crap-detector is running higher than usual).

Design-wise, it resembles a messy headline-news channel, down to the "ticker" (in today's issue, a stream of quotes from the deceased pontiff runs atop each page). Little boxes everywhere, most short stubs of stories that direct you to the Dose website, which I suspect the publishers hope you check once you reach the office. I decided to check one of the "Home" page links, a teaser about Robert Mugabe. It led to a Reuters story, with all proper names in bold caps. It might work if the names were web links, but they aren't, so it looks like a primer teaching children to read. Guess that's the audience they expect.

The paper promises to bring you "everything that matters". Only the coverage of the death of the Pope fits this criteria, unless oral sex for grade 9s or a page on potential dates for Prince William are big events in your life. Most of the sports page is filled with a chart treating snack foods like teams in the NCAA tourney. Kind of cute, but not that funny. Outside of the Pope and a centrespread asking 150 people what their ambition was, the largest-size story is a photograph of spring shoes that could be mistaken for a shoe store ad.

Guess I'm either a young grump or I'm starting to fall outside the target demo advertisers want to go after. They say the target audience is 18-34, but I'd replace the 3 with a 2.

Here's an interesting take on the whole free tabloid phenomenon from The Tyee. - JB

No comments: