the last three weeks have seen a free newspaper blitz during the commuting hours of the downtown core – promotions for the regular papers (the province, the sun) are all well and good, but what has spurred the whole rush is the introduction of two new free news dailies aimed at the “younger” market (that would be gen-x and under) – the metro and 24 hours. supposedly i would fit into this market, given that 32 is apparently considered within the target range for these rags – but if so, i would like to know why i’m being spoken to like a 12-year old?
both the metro and 24 hours contain news stories pared down into an infotainment format, with all journalistic pretenses removed (including the very basic standard of spelling and grammar). it’s not like the average canadian newspaper holds these standards very high in the first place…. but come one – page two of the first edition of 24 hours boasts an article (with photos of supermodels) titled “sexy: more than skin deep” while page six amounts to nothing more than an advertisement for condos in the downtown core. almost every news story is simply pulled off the reuters newswire (tip to editor – learn how to spell reuters) and there is almost no local substance beyond the advertisements.
it seems these new freebies are a product of corporate worries that younger readers aren’t buying newspapers. while it may be true the purchasing of newspapers is on the decline, i believe the introduction of these dailies misses the mark entirely and fails to recognize that those of the computer-saavy generation tend to get our information primarily online. the reality is, if i want reuters news stories, i will just go to the website or to another news aggregate such as google and select from the topics i am interested in rather participate in the cutting of old-growth forests to get material more expediently tranferred via digital media. it’s a shame to see more environmental destruction (and more clutter on our urban streets) with no actual purpose beyond making the rich men more money.
so no, i don’t want a free newspaper – i want good journalism free of advertising even if it means paying a nominal sum – but i guess i don’t fit into the sterotypical target market, so who would listen to me?
(an interesting side-note is that glen clark, former ndp-premier of bc is the president of the pattison-owned 24-hours which may explain why ndp-apologist bill tieleman has got a column in the new daily… after all, he was clark’s campaign advisor for many years. now clark and tieleman cozying up with staunch socred-turned-liberal jim pattison? ick.)