Wednesday, September 19, 2007

'Free newspapers ... the future of print'

"Surveying the global newspaper market, it is increasingly plausible to imagine free newspapers as the future of print," writes Tim Luckhurst, a journalism professor at the UK's University of Kent, in an opinion piece in The Independent (of London). He goes on to discuss the growth of free dailies in Spain, Israel and London. Some points worth noting here:
    • Associated Newspapers' London Lite and Rupert Murdoch's thelondonpaper are locked in a battle that neither can win, says former Daily Express editor Richard Addis, who nonetheless plans to join the fray with an upmarket daily provisionally named The Day. "It is a bloody, long-term battle. Each product does its job well. On its own, either would be a good business. But they can't survive together."

    • London Lite had an average daily readership of 745,000 in the January-June period this year, while thelondonpaper had 713,000, Luckhurst notes, citing National Readership Survey figures. "Not bad for two titles that only appeared last year," he says.

    • "When you take a European-wide view, you can really see the value of free media," says Mark Soutar, former editor of the men's magazine FHM who is launching a free men's lifestyle weekly called ShortList. "There is a big age factor: readers over 40 associate free with cheapness and poor quality; readers under 35 have been conditioned by the internet to understand you can get high quality without paying for it."