CanWest.... it's like cancer?

CanWest is at it again. This time, it's news that they'll be launching Dose, a free daily targetting youth in five major Canadian cities.

Terrible name aside, how CanWest has the money to do this befuddles Boy Reporter. After all, the National Post, CanWest's flagship paper can barely pay its freelancers and are cutting back drastically (this tip from a friend who freelances for them regularly).

With the addition of Dose, a city like Vancouver will now have up to four papers all owned by the same company, making the city's newsstands more crowded but also leading to headlines that might resemble something like this:

The National Post: Terrorists strike Toronto, kill 59
Vancouver Sun: Terrorists kill 59 in Toronto
The Province: Terror in Toronto
Dose: 59 whacked in T-Dot

I could yak on here about the concentration of media ownership and a lack of diversity in voices, but I won't. What's more important is what this'll mean for Canada's beleagured newspaper industry. Everyone says that young people aren't reading papers anymore, is this the way to get them back?

Papers targetting the youth market have been around for a little while now. Chicago's Hollinger (for all those not steeped in Canada media history, Hollinger is Conrad Black's company and used to own the Post, Vancouver Sun, Winnipeg Free Press, et al) owned Sun-Times puts out RedStreak and its competitor the Tribune puts out RedEye. Neither paper seems particularly groundbreaking, almost like Maxim/People/InStyle in newspaper form. Media watchers hated the magazine, but it's still around, so they must be doing something right.

So will Dose take off? I hope not. I hope it falls flat on its face but if it doesn't the Aspers may have just reopened the newspaper wars in Canada. At least the Globe and Post fights of the late '90s led to some positive changes and decent journalism. I can't see Dose doing anything like that.

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