By Rob Scherf
Last week on these humble pages Alan Cho, our own Entertainment Editor, lambasted CanWest’s new daily magazine Dose, calling it a “smug,” “flimsy” publication. Cho called Dose (and its editorship) out on perpetuating the negative trend in the news media toward less meaningful content and less relevance for the readership. “News,” we are told, “should serve as… a watchdog for those needing to be watched.”
For those who have somehow been able to avoid CanWest’s garishly clad street teams over the last couple weeks, let’s catch up: Dose is a free daily national paper, targeting the elusive 18-34 demographic with a provocative juxtaposition of news, human interest, factoids and review. Stories seldom run over 200 words, and every one is stacked with a sense of urgency which beckons the reader to race through each issue, rather than read it.
Dose’s main draw, and Cho’s main criticism, is the paper’s creampuff content aesthetic. In the world of Dose, nothing is too serious to warrant more than a half-page story; no events seem to have any social, political or economic impact worth examining. Because Dose is built for speed of consumption with everything else secondary, it’s wholly accurate to say, as Cho does, that the paper sees its readership as “videogame playing, ADD-addled… needing sound bites to be force-fed to them.” The real question is, aren’t we?
Focus-grouped to death or not, Dose’s voice really does flow into the ears of our generation. Growing up with MTV, Google and other Internet newsfeeds has taught us to appreciate facts without context, and for many of us having a daily fix of jumbled information deliberately distilled down to its most important bits–some informative, some entertaining, some deliriously vapid–feels more at home than the other dailies available in Calgary. After all, can we consider the Calgary Herald’s forty-plus pages of Pope coverage upon his death, or the Sun’s perpetual barrage of social ignorance to be closer to the collective consciousness of our age group?
We can utilize printed media to explore and elaborate issues; take a trip down to your local news shop and look way in the back on the dustier racks to get an idea of the good work that’s always being done. In-depth criticism isn’t the goal or ascription of Dose or any of Calgary’s other dailies. Instead their job is to inform and entertain and if that’s the objective, why can’t we just accept Dose as the most shamelessly entertaining and quasi-informative publication out there?