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Freesheet wars in London

I see that competition between free papers is hotting up, with Associated adding another title to complement Metro, and News Group will be following suit. First off, why the ghastly names?: London Lite and Thelondonpaper (sic). I suspect there is also some positioning going on ahead of that man Livingstone's 'issues' with Associated and the value of the London Transport contract.

I got into the habit of reading newspapers a long time ago, and the standard ritual chez moi was to ask my Pa if I could look at The Times and the Sub Standard when he got home. It was a while before I paid much attention to The Times, and tended to focus on the cartoons and so forth in the Standard. Well, I was quite young. Since then, the idea of a morning without a newspaper fills me with horror, and despite having all of the resources of the net to hand, for me nothing beats a flick through the Telegraph first thing with the first coffee of the day.

Returning to the point, while I am a fan of the newspaper /form/, I am deeply unimpressed with the freesheets as they lack the identity of paid for papers - little or no opinion, no 'name' writers etc and with their reliance on wire reports end up rather like the turgid French regional press. I fear that the cannibalising of the paid for title market by these papers could end up making the traditional newspaper business model unviable. OK, if I want opinions there are an awful lot of bloggers out there, but equally well something is lost if I don't have the awareness that my ideological soul mates are reading the same columnists and so forth. This has already happened, to a degree, with television - with satellite, cable and the plethora of digital channels, the chances of a collective viewing experience beyond the likes of major sports events etc is much reduced. Not sure that my point really goes much beyond a vague existential melancholy.

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Blogger Ellee Seymour said... 6:57 pm

These freebies are governened by advertising revenues and distribution figures. Most of them end up in the bin along with the junk mail! Quality weekly papers with high editorial content are becomming a thing of the past in some areas, with one editor having to run 3 papers to save money as the internet increasingly becomes more popular as a source of news and advertising.  



Blogger Thomas Fuller said... 8:21 pm

Quite right, Ms S, freebie papers are the pits. They rather too nakedly remind us that newspapers exist for the purpose of making money: i.e. for selling ad-space. The editorial matter has to be included or readers won't turn the page.

Anyway I'm surprised that newspaper sales are holding up as well as they are, given the proliferation of columns by Phil Space and his cohorts. Probably there are lots of addicts out there like Mr Croydonian (and me) who continue for reasons of habit, comfort and sentiment. Trouble is, most of the stuff in the papers is bollocks, and self-censored bollocks, at that.  



Blogger Michael Hoskin said... 8:59 pm

While it seems churlish to complain about Metro as it is free, the content is depressing as it seems far too willing to reproduce pointless "surveys" commissioned by companies trying to publicise themselves. And the letters page is generally full of either childish irrelevancies written by bored office workers in junior positions or condescending right-on posturing from humourless student types, lecturing the rest of us who are much more intelligent and "tolerant" than they'll ever be.  



Blogger Croydonian said... 10:27 pm

Good point Mikey. If the future of the press is ten pages of sudoku puzzles, TV listings and reams of PR puff, God help us all.  



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