London Lite and thelondonpaper went head-to-head today. Arriving from the country, I left Liverpool Street station to get copies. The streets were thick with people handing out Associated Newspaper’s London Lite. But where did I get thelondonpaper?
I had to walk 150 yards from the station before I found a copy thrown down on a step. Inside and outside the station sellers of the Standard, now 50p, were far from busy and there were large piles of unopened bundles.And why at 6pm was the Standard selling different editions inside and outside? Very confusing.
At South Quay, the end of my journey, there was two distributors, one from each paper. A little further on, outside the offices of The Independent, a smiling young man was encouraging passers-by to take copies of thelondonpaper.
The papers themselves. The two freebies had the same lead — the death of crocodile hunter Steve Irwin. Some sense in that as it was the most searched for story on Technorati when I left Suffolk in the mid-afternoon.
London Lite was definitely more newsy with a sharper intro on the lead: “Crocodile hunter Steve Irwin was killed today — stung in the heart by a stingray.” Thelondonpaper had the rather pedestrian: “Daredevil TV crocodile hunter Steve Irwin was killed by a stingray today while filming off his native Australia.”
On the Pete Doherty court appearance story these were the intros:
Thelondonpaper: Junkie rock star Pete Doherty was spared jailed (sic) today — but told by a judge to stay clean or else face prison.
LondonLite: Pop star Pete Doherty walked free from court today — after a judge said she loved his new single.
The Murdoch offering lived up to the promise of having shorter items but went for some pretty predictable stuff. Barnsbury has been identified as the home of a new breed of super-yuppie, we learn, again. And there was one of those ever popular street fashion features. There was more celeb stuff. It seems to have a clearer view of its target audience but it could be too narrow.
The average reader will not be bringing a journalist’s eye to the content. The listing will probably be as important as anything to many readers and here was a surprise. Thelondonpaper had just five pages which looked as if they had been spaced-out to fill, while London Lite had seven pages covering a wider spectrum of tastes.
Both papers are bound to improve but which will win the war is anyone’s guess. It will probably have as much to do with the efficiency of distribution and advertising sales as with content.