(Slipping) Evening Standards

13 07 2009

renaissancechambara flickr

I think it’s a sad time we’re living in when something – once the symbol of London pride and the mark of a bowler-hatted gentleman – is visibly crumbling before us.

I’ve seen them selling the paper for 10p at Paddington Station, i’ve seen them bribe us to purchase with a free Oyster Card or ruck-sack, i even picked up a free copy when it was relaunched – But this evening it was being handed out gratis because it just hadn’t been sold. The vendor, stood at his umbrellaed metal box, distributed freely from a 3ft pile of unwanted Standards.

Its demise, its slippery slope, is actually its own doing.  The Evening Standard was originally owned by Associated News, who were also responsible for the London Lite and the Metro – both of which are freesheets.  In effect it cannabalised itself. So desperate to compete with News International’s freesheet – The London Paper – it drove any potential readers of evening news towards its own celebrity-stuffed freepages.

Interesting to note is that the London Lite was at first called the Standard Lite – though combining something so formal with content so brash is akin to an MP dating a Cheeky Girl (and we know that doesn’t last long)

Earlier this year the Evening Standard was sold to Russian Oligarch Alexander Lebedev for a ‘nominal fee’.  I’m not quite sure why he bought it.  (An article in the Times Online said that the paper was losing between £10 and £20 million per year)

And of course it was losing money – Why would we pay 50 pence for the paper when we can read the same stories in tomorrow’s London Lite?  (or yesterday on the internet?)

Fittingly, even the stories within today’s Standard spell out our disdain for expenditure. 

Page 3 – The 15-year-old who’s a city sensation for saying what teenagers really think

“The teenager’s verdict that tomorrow’s consumer may be using more media but is increasingly unwilling to pay for it has been seen as confirming doubts raised this weekend at the conference” 

Page 30 – Unpaid London – Wealthy Londoners feeling the pinch are refusing to pay their bills

“Now Londoners…either don’t pay their bills or reduce the fees on principle.”

And with pirated films available at the click of a mouse, freegans liberating the bins for an evening meal, it seems that we don’t really need to pay for much these days.

TV licenses are no longer required if you watch your shows online, car clubs offer free driving and clothes can be swapped at a swishing party.

On TV last night (actually the iplayer from Friday) i watched Dame Vivienne Westwood telling us NOT to spend money on clothes.  Quite odd, considering this woman makes her money from us buying her clothes.  Instead, she says, we are to wrap a particularly nice table cloth around ourselves and thus become individual.

Sadly i’m unable to afford a tablecloth in this current economic climate, instead i’ll be crafting myself an alluring smock from the well-thumbed pages of the Evening Standard.



Photo of Evening Standard poster by renaissancechambara on Flickr.com




One response

14 07 2009
Robin Block

Great post Nat,

I picked up a copy of the ‘free; Evening Standard last night on my way home. I was deeply unimpressed… I’ll be very surprised if it lasts another year.

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