The first copies of i, the Independent’…
The first copies of i, the Independent’s bold attempt to reinvigorate the newspaper market, hadn’t made it to Huddersfield this morning, although I did manage to pick up a copy in Leeds station. My first impression is that you can tell it’s aimed at younger people. The splash is a report on the squeeze on first time buyers might hook in young professionals, a bit boring, but certainly in the target range. True, it could have made the Independent proper (which led on a much more worthy story about the Christian diaspora from the Middle East) but it is the “ears” of the front page – the cells at the top of the page – where you get the first real sign that this is a “youth paper” in your hands. You can’t tell by looking at the publicity shot (on the right), but my copy presents the question Is Bert Gay? A reference to the sexuality of a character in Sesame Street. If this is what will get the youth reading newspapers again, then goodness knows what will help us.
The best thing you can say that it offers fantastic value for money. For 20p it is an absolute bargain. It costs less than a postage stamp. If it’s ever given away for free, as is sister title the London Evening Standard, it will take over the commuter market. The balance of stories, moreover, is about right: the correct amount of news and views; the business section afforded a generous five pages (surprisingly one more than the arts) and only sport feels a bit light, for a youthpaper.
It’s a shame that it isn’t bolder. Johann Hari may be young, but he already feels like he’s been around for ever, while the gossip pages plug Kasabian, Florence Welsh and Peter Mandelson. If i was a cutting edge, you’d struggle to slice bread with it. When the Independent first launched in the late eighties, it redefined the mold of national newpapers. It was actually the newspaper that made me want to get into journalism. This paper looks far too like its older sister, who sadly shed her boldness years ago. Which is a pity. The new paper could and should try to forge its own identity. Portugal (thanks @sofiadmateus) already has a newspaper called i (see right), it’s a shame that the UK version isn’t half as interesting in its presentation.