The newspaper wars kicked off today as The Gazette’s Indy killer, FreshInk, hit the stands.
The paper was conceived just a few weeks ago, and the folks responsible for putting it together had to work against tight, demanding deadlines.
Originally titled “Ink”, then re-titled “FreeG” (groan!!!) and finally FreshInk, it’s a perfectly acceptable first effort – but it’s so pedestrian, so yawn-inducing, and so … well, such a typical product of hack journalism that, unless it’s improved dramatically, The Independent will have nothing to worry about.
The good: The G’s sales team did its job. Of 20 pages, 12 are devoted to ads – a healthy 60-40 ratio. In addition, many of the ads are from advertisers who, to the best of my knowledge, have seldom appeared in The Independent, including Renewal by Anderson, Jan-Pro, Phil Long and Broyhill Furniture.
There’s a healthy classified section, and good events listings. One obvious omission: no movie times!
Ads are fine – you can’t publish a free newspaper without them. But let’s look at design and content, because that’s where the paper stumbles badly.
The front page is – there’s no other way to put this – boring, trite and pedestrian. There’s nothing fresh, original or eye-grabbing about it.
Inside, the content is dull at best, with a few stories from the AP wire and a couple of nothingburger “local” stories. The center photo spread, which should be sprightly, interesting and fun is duller than Grandma’s photo album of her trip to Yellowstone during 1963.
The pics are arranged just like Grandma’s album, but focused around the the theme of “Children’s Day.” And when, pray tell, was “Children’s Day?” Maybe May 2- or maybe Feb. 28, 2006 – the date on one of the file photos The Gazette dumped in to the spread.
Faults notwithstanding, FreshInk could be a “contenda.” Suggestions:
1. Hire a graphic designer.
2. Hire a couple of young, energetic reporters whose brains haven’t been fried by years of laboring in the Vale of Mordor (aka, a daily newspaper).
3. De-Gazettify the content – make FreshInk a real, stand-alone newspaper with original reporting, lively graphics and a sense of fun.
But for now, it doesn’t feel fresh at all – more like a tired rerun.
Think “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”… wasn’t that a TV show back when Grandma and Grandpa went to Yellowstone?
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