Londonist vs. the Freesheets

Is the Londonist more relevant than London’s freesheets, the London Lite and thelondonpaper to ordinary Londoners?

When you’re commuting home after a hard day at work, you’ll probably have in your hands a copy of the London Lite and the londonpaper, and you’ll probably be scanning their pages to see the day’s London news. These are, in times of current financial stability, the sorts of newspapers who you would imagine would be under threat due to the amount of advertising that lies within their grubby pages.

Bu they both seem to be doing better than ever:the londonpaper has a circulation of 500,949, with the London Lite coming in with 400,547 according to the ABCs. The Londonist in contrast gets 6,000 unique users per day.

But who gets the better deal? Do readers of freesheets get more news about London than those who read the Londonist? And, is it relevant to them?

By the sheer space that the two freesheets can afford to news stories, volume wise, yes. But, are the stories that are reported on really what Londoners want to be reading? Is the celeb gossip an integral part of what makes London London, and do we really want to be looking to pictures of various celebs gratuitously spending their way through the recession, falling out of nightclubs at whatever time in the morning, whilst the rest of us struggle to pay our bills?

It looks like it.

What the freesheets provide us with is nothing more than escapism on an unbelieveably high level. There are funnies, news bites from around the world and yet more celebrity pictures.

To demonstrate this, here’s a quick breakdown of the types of story from the londonpaper and the London Lite from Monday 20th April:

News – 20 *including 5 nibs taken from the nationals
Celebrity gossip – 13 * not including pictures with captions
PR led news – 2 *including surveys and business news
Funnies – 3
PR features – 9 *including product pieces
Features – 2

London Lite
News – 18
Celebrity gossip – 13
PR led news – 14
Funnies – 0
PR Features – 6
News features – 2
Features – 0

I have taken a classical approach tpo categorising these, including business news announcements as PR led as they’ll have been taken directly from a press release. I have omitted the TV, music, art, horoscopes, letters and sports pages from this quick and dirty study.

It should of course be re-iterated this is one day out of 365 and may be an unfair reflection on the breakdown of these newspapers on the whole. What astonishes me is that there are almost as many stories dedicated to celebs as there are real news – is that what we want on the way home from work?

News – 3
Celebrity gossip – 1
PR led news – 2
Funnies – 0
PR Features – 0
News features – 0
Features – 4

With the Londonist, the stories are told in a serious yet light hearted and genial manner, and what’s more, these are often topics that the freesheets fail to pick up, for example the Campaign To Save Hitchcock’s Old Cinematic Haunt wasn’t reported by either freesheet.

I see Londonist as being the first port of call if I want toknow what the vibe of the city is, and how people on the street are reacting to events around them, which makes it, to me, invaluable.

What I’m asking then, is if you were to introduce someone who’d never been to London to the city’s culture, would you refer them to a free newspaper, or the Londonist blog, or another? Or do you see the Londonist as being complimentary to the freesheets?

I’d love to know your thoughts.


2 thoughts on “Londonist vs. the Freesheets

  1. Pingback: 4 Quick Fire Questions: the Londonist « The Seldom Seen Kid

  2. Pingback: The Londonist is Five! « The Seldom Seen Kid

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