PAGE THREE, Daily Fail, Friday (Mediocre Grauniad) — From Monday week, the London Evening Standard will compete with freesheet London Lite by paying readers to take the wretched thing.
“Sustaining a paid-for afternoon newspaper had its challenges even when we were trying to bribe people with chocolate bars or umbrellas or just quietly give it away free unofficially,” said managing director Andrew Mullins. “Paying people to take a quality newspaper with large scale and reach should transform our commercial fortunes. What we lose on each copy, we’ll make up in volume. OI, GARÇON! MORE COKE AND HOOKERS OVER HERE, TOUTE SUITE S’IL VOUS PLAÎT, MATE! Did we mention our boss is a lunatic Russian billionaire trying to buy respectability?”
“The important thing is to speak to your audience,” said editor Georgie Grieg. “After a day at work, actual sentences just go straight over the head of the typical office worker. So we’ll print fifteen full-colour pages of celebrity cleavages, ten of completely bullshit science stories that are actually marketing press releases, twice as many Sudokus as the Lite and a daily cartoon of a dog turd speaking entirely in asterisked-out swearing. And maybe a bit of news for light relief. I can’t see how anyone wouldn’t accept money to be seen in public holding that!”
The move will raise fresh speculation about the future of afternoon free newspaper London Lite, much of whose editorial content is supplied by the Standard. The Lite managed to avoid the London Paper trap of good graphic design and a decent cartoon, having instead taken the care to look like something that would permanently stain your fingers grey even when printed on good quality paper. In a “truth in journalism” initiative, the new Standard will be printed on toilet paper using actual faeces.