I believe readers still want the latest news when they pay for a newspaper and even when they pick one up for free. That, it seems, is not the view of Stefano Hatfield, the man chosen to edit News International’s new freebie, thelondonpaper.
He is quoted in Media Guardian today saying their model is the internet rather than a “19th century newspaper model”. That means a single edition each day as multiple editions are a “pre-internet idea”.
This may simply be part of the phoney war of words as Associated Newspapers London Lite dummy run on Friday had two editions. Clearly there are two views on this issue.
And the idea that serving up old news like dishes of cold potatoes does not matter, because readers are getting their breaking news from the internet, radio and TV, is gaining ground. It is behind the rush of regional evenings to morning publication which I commented on earlier this month.
Radio and TV, long before the internet, started the move towards more comment, background and analysis in newspapers. That is entirely right but, for the moment, newspapers still have a role in giving readers the latest news.
The divergence of approach between the London evening freesheets which is emerging may let us see how the readers see this issue when the papers go head-to-head. If you really want the lastest news the best bet may be to print-out The Guardian’s G24 before leaving work, although that will seem like a nasty case of transferring the costs to the reader (or employers who are likely to put a ban on it, if everyone starts doing it).