‘Hopefully it will do well,’ said my newsagent. ‘Only 20p.’
He was selling me the last of his five copies of i, the new newspaper launched by The Independent today.
As its proprietors proudly point out, i is the first newspaper to be launched in the UK for 25 years. Targeted at lapsed and current readers of quality papers, the digest-style title aims to combine ‘intelligence with brevity, and depth with speed of reading’. And cheapness – at 20p, it may well hit what its editor Simon Kelner called the ‘pricing sweet spot’ on this morning’s Today programme.
In look and feel, i is a cross between the Indy and a free London paper like Metro, with short articles presented in a brightly coloured format and comment from Indy stalwarts Deborah Ross and Johann Hari.
But the paper’s lightweight features make it difficult to see how the paper can succeed in realising its aim of pleasing readers of all ages. The first issue carries, along with a profile of Mel Gibson, a double-page health feature called ‘Think like a child’ which offers nuggets of wisdom like ‘Forget about being cool and learn to be spontaneous’.
It may be that the editorial thinking behind such content betrays a more ambitious aim of convincing a generation weened on digital media that a printed newspaper is still worth buying.