Aside

The London free-for-all

The LondonPaper launched on Monday. I wasn’t in town to get the collectors’ first edition, but this is the collection of freebies I picked up yesterday.

TheLondonPaper (published by Rupert Murdoch’s News International) or London Lite (Associated – who also publish Daily Mail, London Evening Standard and existing free morning paper Metro) – which do you choose? If my bus ride home was anything to go by – people will read both.

It would be a lot easier (and cheaper for all concerned) if the evening newspapers could be distributed using the existing Metro ‘bins’ in the tube stations, although I understand for competition reasons this is not possible at the moment.

At first glance, both Lite and TheLondonPaper are heavily biased to entertainment / soft news. Both seem to target at an age group younger than the category that I fall into – perhaps 20-30 year-olds. TheLondonPaper seems to be a little more female-orientated with its use of colour. Both have vowed to ‘celebrate London’.

This all suits Associated very well, as neither paper will cut into the target readership of it’s paid-for Evening Standard. Its readership consists of Tory-voting, middle-aged bankers from Guildford, who rather fancy a romp with Allison Pearson. But at least the agenda of the new freebies is something positive. It moves away from the Standard’s "isn’t London crime-infested, full of illegal immigrants (and Ken Livingstone) and generally shit" agenda. Speaking of which, expect the GLA to switch its ad budget to TheLondonPaper asap.

More interesting is the fact that both papers are embracing (well, perhaps just tipping their hats to) ‘citizen journalism’. Ok,  so perhaps they do need some free copy to fill the pages (both papers are run on shoe-string staff numbers). Even with the best will in the world, a PA news feed and a few dodgy press releases does not a free newspaper make.

Or, just maybe, this is a tiny revolution in journalism:

In TheLondonTalk section of the TheLondonPaper it states:

This is your space: for your letters, your texts, your citizen columns. If you fancy your chance of becoming a TheLondonPaper columnist, email us 400 words on the subject of your choice.

Sorry, I don’t think contributors get paid.

London Lite has a couple of blogging sections, including SpiBlog  (readers’ showbiz goss) and TopofTheBlogs (content from reader-nominated blogs).

Frankly, I don’t think both papers will survive a year if they have to rely on distribution using human vendors with bright jackets. There’s a lot of them out there on the pavements at the moment. They need to get hold of the bins inside the tube stations – it’s far cheaper. Both papers will quickly aim to achieve reach, which will pull in the ads.

I sincerely hope TheLondonPaper wins the battle, mainly because I can’t stand the idea of giving Associated (home of the Daily Mail) my advertising ‘eye-balls’.

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