Thirty Thousand Streets

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

London Lite

In another day, another age, a paper with the word light in the title may have been alluding to illumination, with it all it's attendant, noble, journalistic associations (bringing truth to light etc).

Not so Lite London, which can't even be bothered to spell light correctly, opting instead for the four letter variant beloved of soft drink marketeers, for this is lite as in light as air, as in air headed.

It's often said that war is if nothing else, a catalyst. Granted mostly for new ways of turning people into catfood, but hell, the Cold War gave rise to the internet, which is why you're reading this, so it can't be all bad. Also bear in mind please that at the minute, opium production in Afghanistan is exceeding that of the country pre the conflict that followed 9/11, so that's more heroin than we could reasonably be expected to consume. The brown's on the Taliban, kids!

We can but hope, therefore, that something good comes from the so called 'free paper wars', though it seems unlikely it'll have anything to do with journalism. indeed, the aphorism "The first causalty of war is the truth" seems far more apt judging from the weedy gauntlet Lite has thrown down into the arena.

For this paper trumpets its own inanity from the rooftops; this paper wears it's own witlessness like a cross-eyed badge of honour on it's sleeve.

Presumably aimed at a post-MTV demographic who judge information's value in terms of screen loading times, Lite delivers lashings of chicken McNugget sized prolefeed, with sick-burp celebrity soundbites and lavender coloured bulleted columns of lifestyle advice that are effervescently anodyne.

This paper doesn't just cater for people with limited attention spans, it wants to bomb attention spans back to the stone age (or further back, when we were all still fish).

I got a copy of all three free papers yesterday for comparison (well alright to read). In a Newsnight style roundup of the front page news here is what the three were saying:

Metro: "Britain's first war criminal"

thelondonpaper: "Shop your children says reid"

and, sigh

London Lite: "Harrow girl 'was killed for kitten'" (note use of inverted commas)

Hey? I'm sorry? Granted this is a very sad story – someone deeply odd kills someone young and much-loved, and female (and pretty), but this claptrap hardly does it any justice. Indeed, the opening paragraph throws this bold statement into immediate doubt, stating:

"The daughter of a Harrow schoolmaster may have been killed after a quarrel over a kitten, an inquest heard today"

So it's not actually clear whether this even was a kitten motivated killing, and even if it was, she wasn't killed for it, was she? Admit it Lite: You just wanted a headline that had the words 'girl', 'kitten' and 'killing' in it, and fortuitously, some handy alliteration in the second two. The only possible better headline would surely have been:

"Harrow girl was killed by kitten"

Though that would have been to good to be true.

Other big newsworthy events were Steve Irwin's funeral, and Kate Moss's £3 Million Top Shop Deal, though if you looked carefully enough, there were token articles on the Pope's recent Islam gaffe and John Reid's recent, um, Islam gaffe, wedged back to back between pictures of Paris Hilton and diarhettically watery lifestyle pieces. It'll be interesting to see if such kindred articles are hounded into similarly content themed half page ghettos in future editions of this rag.

Some of it is just badly concieved. Does anyone really care if the BBC's This Life is set to return? Even allowing for Lite's bubblegum content, this seems curiously irrelevant for today's readership. And I thought the review of the Biba fashion show hilariously innapropriate in format. Why give a fashion show that happened last night a star rating? It's not like it's something we can consume, even retrospectively, so why would we care? I might write in and suggest other things Lite could apply a star rating to, such as countries or major religions.

The most irritating features though are the self congratulatory "I Love Lite" roundels which are strewn amongst the pages, where members of the public offer up quotes as to why they 'love Lite', despite the fact it's only been in print for a fortnight or so.

"It's really colourful with a really vibrant feel about it"

burbles Marco Barbuti from Wanstead.

Even aside from the fact that the point-one-five of a second's worth of fame that having your photo printed in Lite grants is the only reason anyone participated in this, the use of Vox Pops in an attempt to validate a publication is doubly annoying because A: I'm already reading it so can make my own mind up, thanks, and B: heaping self praise on yourself by proxy in this manner is akin to masturbating in public with someone else's face grafted onto your genitals.

About all that Lite really has going for it compared to the Metro is it's claim on the cover that it is:


And I just hope that applies to other areas of the body as well, though I wouldn't say it's even up to task as toilet paper frankly, which is a shame as that would effectively cut out the effort of recycling this utterly superfluous rag into something more useful (Indeed my personal vote would have been for Lite never having changed state from oxygen producing trees in the first place, but there you have it).

There are just too many free papers being printed now. Yesterday on my way back home from Vauhall I practically had to burrow through drifts of the things just to get home, all the while dodging the purple-shirted gimps responsible for shifting their personal paper mountains onto the public. It's starting to get annoying already. Presumably they make their money off advertising revenue, but unlike say, Vice magazine which is reasonably exclusive and distributed through stores whose customer base is the advertiser's target market, it's approach seems as scatter-gun and wasteful as most direct mail (and a lot of it does seem to end up as rubbish, too).

I'm practically getting misty eyed as I reminisce over the good old days, when a copy of the Metro was a covetable thing on the work run in the morning; when acquisitive commuter eyes would scour carriages for any sign of the familiar blue masthead.*Sigh*

I am aware by the way that The Metro isn't all that good itself, just seemingly better than it's two new rivals without exerting any extra effort. There did seem to be more of these about too (though not as many as Lite) so maybe they're weighing in in response too. I've not really deleved into 'the london paper' vey much, but wheras Lite London is conspicuously bad, the london paper appears unremarkably indifferent, right down to it's all-lower-case-wannabe-the guardian logotype. So I won't bother to comment.

Anyway, if anyone can think of a good use for Lite London, let me know, as I personally can't see any, bar the aforementioned (recycling).


sigh9 said...

god -that's the best rant I've read in ages. brilliant.

I for one feel better now.

Of course if they had any sense they'd be printing shit like that rather than the immortal prose of Marco from Wanstead.


Zeno Cosini said...

It was a fucking brilliant rant.

I suggest we gather all the copies of London Lite and, with the help of an industrial-sized vat of wallpaper paste, use them to fashion a vast hollow swag-bellied papier mache effigy, which we then erect over Vauxhall Bridge. We allow it to dry and herd the entire London Lite editorial team into it and then set fire to the whole thing, dancing and singing pagan folk-hymns with lyrics like "The summer is a-going out, call hey, ho, the wheat is tall" while they bellow for mercy at the indifferent slate-grey London sky.

The Eyechild said...

Yeah I'd be up for that.

Peter Gasston said...

In these cases, you truly do get what you pay for.

Lord Bunty Chunk said...

The only flaw in Zeno's master plan is that in reality the staff of londonshite would have to be virgins, however as luck would have it: they are!

keefohd said...

hey tom, its keith your bros mate, sorry for butting in, i have nothing to add to the rant im afraid, as the free papers in denmark seem to be pretty good (and im only at the headline deciphering stage) just thought id let you know ive stopped being an anonomous browser/nosy bastard and actually registered, so now you know.

keep up the ranting!

The Eyechild said...

Easy Keith,

Good to hear from you bruv, hope Denmark's treating you ok.

My brother showed me that snowboarding video you edited of your trip to Chamonix.. good stuff.

Keep on rocking in the free world..

3.1 said...

Please tell me you have this illustration as a poster, because I love it.