A regular tube trip home from LSE to where I live used to last about 25 minutes. It would begin with a struggle to find a place to sit. Once this was accomplished, I would reach behind me to grab the first of two newspapers I usually manage to “read” on such a regular trip home. Come the end of the trip home, I felt ill-informed about current political affairs but well-equipped to carry a conversation about the latest star scandal or wardrobe malfunction (a term I learned from one of these papers).
Seems like I will need to look for something else to do for half of my journey home soon. Thelondonpaper, one of the two free evening newspapers forced onto politely offered to you about three and a half times on the way to the tube station, will be terminated. As you can read here, it’s been loss making for a while and since Rupert Murdoch, CEO of News Corp. and owner of thelondonpaper, is currently rethinking everything he gives out for free (especially online content), it should come as no surprise that the days of the paper are counted.
Gains and losses
What can we say about the end of thelondonpaper? I guess I will be fine and just start taking a book on the tube again. But as much as lovers of quality journalism may despise freesheet-style reporting, it can be quite entertaining at times and it definitely goes well with my brain activity at late evening hours. Looking at pictures of stars making a total fool of themselves in some London club works just fine. Sometimes I read the caption if I want to know who they are.
Greenpeace and all other environmentalist must be rejoicing though. A random Google search revealed that freesheets are responsible for about 24% of all street waste in London’s West End. So one free newspaper less will safe a few thousand trees a year and safe the tube workers some of the trouble of freeing the stations and trains from the papers’ remains.
From a business point of view, there are some questions left about why thelondpaper wasn’t doing so well and if the freesheet business model is actually sustainable – if not in a metropolitan city like London, where else? I know it’s getting boring to point to the economic crisis as the source of all evil at the moment, but it surely affects the advertising market. Then again, others would say advertising budgets are generally shifting from print to online. In any case, it will be interesting to see if some other publisher tries to enter the market now or if the remaining two papers (Metro in the morning and London Light in the afternoon) will soon meet the same fate that thelondonpaper met.