Following the announcement last week that London’s Evening Standard is to become a free paper, the Guardian’s director of digital content, Emily Bell, has an interesting piece in today’s Media Guardian supplement.
In it, she asks some poignant questions about the reasons behind the move and the effect this will have on London’s newspaper scene and the wider media industry. The main questions posed are:
– Will this spell the end for the London Lite?
– Will the Standard draw enough offline advertising to support the move?
– What will be the impact on the national dailies?
This last question is particularly interesting. As Emily states:
“At the moment the afternoon distribution of the Evening Standard means it does not fully compete with the national morning papers which have heavily biased metropolitan readerships (such as the Guardian and the Independent), and whilst many purchasers don’t value the Evening Standard in the way they would their own paid-for paper, the presence of something more than London Lite but less than the Times will begin to test the boundaries of the “enough” economy. In other words, a free Standard might be less good than your daily paper but is it “enough” to stop the daily purchase?”
In my mind, the growth of online news distribution will certainly lead to a position where commuters might conceivably forgo buying their daily paper in the morning and instead make do with online news consumption during the day, ending with a (free) evening paper for the commute home.
Whether the Standard will be able to capitalise on this is another question that will need to be answered, but it is certainly an interesting possible outcome.