I feel a bit like Charlie Bucket when he found the golden ticket. For unlike most of the Londoners I have come across this morning, I have a copy of the eagerly anticipated new London freesheet, The London Weekly.
However, the surprise that was to greet my eyes was arguably worse than a crowd of Oompa Loompas coming at me with machetes.
Desperately trying not to use language that even Gordon Ramsay would consider extreme, I can sum this new paper up: CRAP. CRAP. CRAP (yes, I am shouting). I am even going to use exclamation marks!!! And as a sub editor, I hate the damn things.
I can honestly say that I have never seen a publication so atrocious. My university paper was a million times more proficient and professional. Scrap that, this is a paper that makes the London Lite look like a collector’s edition. It’s made more mistakes than Tiger Woods and John Terry put together.
Seriously, I am struggling to know where to start: the mistakes on the front page; the cut-out that has white lines behind it; the startling grammatical and layout errors; stories that finish mid-sentence; orange headlines; centred capped-up headlines; chasms of white space big enough to play hide and seek in; an album review of an CD released in June 2009; the front page news story that continues on page 31; a phobia of paragraphs; food and drink news on page 8; news that is completely indistinguishable from advertorial.
Who are these jokers? Have they ever written a news story before or laid out a page? Sure, the printing is fine – it’s full colour, and boy, do they make use of it. Each page looks like a chameleon’s been run over on it by a forklift. I have seen enough orange to feel like I’ve been Tango-ed repeatedly and I’m only halfway through.
PrintWeek has covered the run-up to The London Weekly‘s launch before. We revealed that the jokers I mentioned earlier are in fact more formally known as the Global Publishing Group. According to this group, some 250,000 unlucky commuters in the capital will receive their copy today and tomorrow. I for one wish I hadn’t been one of them.
While it provided much belly-aching laughter at PrintWeek Towers, there is an odious unease underpinning this new launch.
As newspaper readers, we have seen standards drop in recent years. We’ve seen the arrival of the London Lite and thelondonpaper, and witnessed their demise. The Evening Standard has gone free and many other nationals have dropped pages, dropped staff and, in many instances, dropped quality.
The all-singing, all-dancing digital era arrived and print began to look like the ugly one at the party that no-one wants to dance with.
And with moves like this paper, can you really blame readers?
Papers like this don’t just herald the demise of print, they actually contribute to it. They reinforce the curmudgeonly, mouldy, stale image of static, out-of-date news. This paper could single-handedly turn many people away from the pleasures of reading printed news – me included – I rushed onto the internet as soon as I got into the office to see what other sensibly minded people made of this travesty, hoping to hear that it’s just a spoof.
This may well be the work of a team on a budget, but that’s no excuse. Working in publishing, we all face dwindling cashpots and have felt the unmistakably cold chill of redundancy’s breath on our necks when we go into the boardroom. Yet this only makes us work harder to keep the standards up – spelling mistakes, confusing layout, badly written old news stories – it’s plain lazy. In the reviews section, it promises to review five albums. There are only four.
According to the website, GPG plans to add three additional new titles by 2012, with Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham the next target cities.
Someone please start a Facebook group, chain themselves to a railing – do something. This kind of paper cannot be in existence in a country that prides itself on being the organ grinder of news.
On page ’04′, the soon-to-be shamefaced editor asks us ‘Got any news story?’ Well when you ask so eloquently…
The paper’s tagline is: ‘The light hearted paper for light hearted Londoners’.
Or perhaps that should read: ‘The light-on-news paper for down-hearted Londoners’?