Free news here!

Free news here!
: I’ve been reading our new, free newspaper, am New York.

So has Aaron Bailey. He went on a starvation media diet of reading only am New York for a week. It’s a brilliant send-up of a silly product that, I fear, doesn’t deserve the attention. But enjoy Aaron’s ink deprivation anyway.

Some of the free newspapers around the world are good. Metro, in various cities, is OK and they’re coming to town next [update: now it’s on hold]. When I was last in Sweden, people were reading the free papers everywhere (and I acted like I could). Concept OK.

But this effort from Tribune Company [no “the,” never a “the,” I learned that when I worked there — no “the” before Tribune Company; no comma between Time and Inc.; these are the things that matter in big media] is liter than lite; it’s liter than air.

It’s badly executed. Its lead stories for two days were nonnews put there only because one of the rag’s two staff reporters wrote them: “Bank heists surge” and “Cyber cafe caper.” No sense of impact. No sense of news. Yawn.

The inside is filled with hacked-up wire copy, limp efforts at entertainment news, editorials quoted from other papers (why do they think New Yorkers — that is, New York Cityers — care what Buffalo thinks?), and an ad enticing you to get a job giving away am New York for $135 a week guaranteed: “get PAID to have FUN and MEET PEOPLE!” … who will all think you are a homeless loser.

So the execution is bad but that’s not the real problem. No, the problem is that the hapless demi-editors at am New York are executing a paper without a vision.

As Aaron lampoons it, they seem to think that this is a paper aimed at young people: “In the 15 minutes from Bleeker to 33rd Street, I’ve become an informed and intelligent 20-something ready to go tackle the world’s problems.”

Well, the first problem is that this venture is essentially insulting. As a wise friend used to say, if you start with the demographic instead of the product (as in, “let’s make a paper for these kids today, who don’t seem to read papers”), you’ll fail, for you will end up pandering or condescending or insulting. If, instead, you start with an exciting vision for a product that happens to attract a demographic, once known as an audience, then you will succeed.

am New York doesn’t try to do anything new. It only tries to do it short. And I like short; I hate long for wasting my time; short is my friend. But short is not enough.

: I tried to suggest that a post-Internet newspaper could look like here.

Or I’ll make another suggestion: am New York should take The Week and turn it into The Day.

New York has too much great media. I’d welcome a paper that acknowledges that news is a commodity — so it gets through that quickly and efficiently — and then goes through all of the best and worst of New York media for me to find the smartest and the dumbest reporting… find the wettest gossip… save me the aggravation and summarize what Maureen Dowd is trying to say in a sentence… print just the last graph of the lead editorial from the NY Times each day (that’s what I read)… quote the great weblogs….

In fact, that’s what I want: a New York media weblog on paper. But where are the links, you ask? They’re online. I return from my subway-ride read and go to am New York on the web (which doesn’t seem to exist now) and click away. That would be new and I’ll just bet it would attrack the demographic, audience, young people readers they want.