Tuesday, 5 September 2006

thelondonpaper V London Lite

thelondonpaper V London LiteThe big news item in London for the past few days is the "bloodbath" started on the city's pavements and stations between the two new free afternoon newspaper. On my left, London Lite, produced by the people (Associated Newspapers) behind the Evening Standard, the Metro and the, I think now defunct, Standard Lite. On my right, Thelondonpaper, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp's latest.

Yesterday was the launch of thelondonpaper, an event which had been preceeded in the past two weeks or so by a ad campaign on on bus stops around the capital. The ads features a the body of a black man or a woman in purple work clothes, holding a sign with a selection of slogans such as "We Live London", "Life Starts at 4.31" and the most interesting one from an LGBT perspective: "Wall Street - Old Compton Street".

Yesterday evening, was first day back at school for the Chorus and I dutyfully found myself on a bus crossing central London just after rush hour. I found a copy of London Lite on offer when getting on the bus, so that was easy. From my ventage point on the upper deck of the bus, I could see people dressed in purple every 100 metres distributing copies of thelondonpaper but I only got to glimpse at someone else's copy. I did not manage to get a copy myself until I found one abandoned on the bus home later that night. I was going to be able to see what the fuss was all about and compare the new offerings.

Before I go any further, I have to confess my long held contempt for the Associated Newspapers' set of publications. Writing the post is, partly, a way to vent this contempt. Those papers are now little more than tabloids with very little news in them and exhaustive (and exhausting) articles on who was wearing what at this or that premiere last night in the West End; all of this sprinkle with a few quirky news from some remote parts of the world. My regular encounters around town with the placards displaying the Standards' headlines, regularly leaves me fuming at their obviously sensationalism and even sometimes clear attempt at misguiding people. Let's just add that the word "chaos" seems to be one of the most frequently used words on these signs.

London Lite was therefore not given a headstart in my views. Its name, to be honest, is not help either; "lite" suggesting something without substance and of lower quality. On the day of the release of the new competition, they carried a full self promoting page title "London Lite, the capital's FIRST free evening paper" (there have been claims that the paper was rushed to appear before its competitor), which included testimonies of londoners (who had not seen the other paper yet) saying why they like "their newspaper" and an exert boasting that the paper with printed with ink that "WON'T rub off on our hands" (the paper's emphasis in both cases).

the winner: thelondonpaperOn the whole the paper looks messy with "boxes" and bits of information all over the place; it is also not easy to define what is about what. Their seems to be a lot of trash/celebrity stuff and little "serious" news, all of it with a sensationalist, crowd-scaring tone to them (terrorism, murders and David Cameron's £600,000 home conversion). Did I mention the bad, bland jokes on most pages?

thelondonpaper on the other hand has a much clearer, classier design and is divided into sections which make the information easy to recognise and classify. There seems to be much more news in it and of better quality. There is also some much less serious stuff however and I am certainly not saying that this paper is perfect. On the whole, the paper as almost a magazine feel to it and I do think that it will appeal to its target audience; the 18-34 yo London urbanite.

At the end of the day, though, I find that papers are a waste of time. I would much rather pick up a good book.

On the frontline of the free-for-all, Stephen Brook, The Guardian, August 28, 2006 (includes links to previous articles on the subject)

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  1. It's madness... where did all the people employed to hand out the damned papers appear from? What did they do before? I passed about twenty people trying to hand out papers on the King's Road last night before a truck delivering MORE of thelondonpaper almost killed me.

    Oh - and apparently I have to leave an anonymous comment because I made the mistake of moving to Blogger Beta.


  2. I would imagine they were (temp) agency staff, hired only for the day.

    The Guardian article linked to at the bottom of the post says that 400,000 copies had been printed for the big day.

    What is Blogger beta? Never heard of it.


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