"Get yourself a proper paper! Proper newspapers here for 50p!" shouts the man selling the Evening Standard outside Euston station. With the recent release of both Standard-offshoot London Lite and new kid on the block thelondonpaper, and distributors on every major street corner and office thoroughfare, the evening newspaper wars are well underway.
Because there's only a London Lite seller on my particular office route, I often take it, though I do frequently hanker after the beautifully-designed and stupidly-named thelondonpaper, a shrewd cross between the Guardian and Funday Times, with an interactive bent (you can vote off columnists you don’t like) and fun colours (purple! green! other colours!). But when I’m taking a different route through town, I often get both, which is probably deeply annoying for the sales and circulation department of both organs.
Last night I discovered that my friend Rick gets not one, but four free papers a day – he picks up both the aforementioned newbies in the evening, a Metro for the tube in the morning and City AM, a free rag for city business types. He apparently goes for the latter because he feels sorry for the largely-ignored vendors, and gets worried they might feel discouraged. And well they might, facing such fierce competition.
The content of both new freesheets is so very superficial (celebs, gossip, silly news stories), one can't help thinking that if they got any 'liter' (perhaps with the launch of London Very Lite or thelondonpaperlite), they'd probably consist of the words ‘YOU ARE IDIOT’ printed in large letters in the centre of a plain white sheet. Maybe then you’d want a proper paper.