They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If that’s the case, The Cincinnati Enquirer’s 2003 gambit to get into the weekly paper game looked very flattering on us.
The Enquirer’s CiN Weekly was aimed at adults in their twenties and thirties, featuring arts and entertainment news from around the city, much like another paper you might be familiar with. But it also had key differences — no news coverage (that’s for grownups) and reviews that never took the kid gloves off. In more technical terms, the paper had something of an authenticity deficit, right down to its weird but somehow still corporate name. CiN Weekly is a befuddling title, but it’s worth noting that staffers originally wanted to call the thing Barge; as in river freight; as in uninvited.
We can’t beat up too much on CiN Weekly itself, though. The whole deal was part of a ham-fisted effort dreamed up by Gannett’s corporate bigwigs to grab from altweeklies some marketshare among coveted and mysterious young folks. The result was something akin to Time Magazine starting a zine about your local music scene. Gannett started similar publications in Louisville (Velocity) and Indianapolis (InTake).
The staff — many of whom were friends and colleagues of ours — did a good enough job under these circumstances to keep the thing going for six years. But it all went downhill in 2009, when Gannett dumped nearly all of CiN Weekly’s local staff and renamed the paper Metromix, an uninspiring clone of Gannett partner company Tribune Co.’s national network of entertainment websites.
Metromix wheezed its last dry breaths in 2012, when Gannett finally pulled the plug on its attempts to hang with the young folks. The take away? In this business, authenticity and honesty matter. It’s something worth remembering as Gannett continues to drive its best and brightest from its ranks with the latest downsizing scheme corporate suits have cooked up.