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Friday, October 02, 2009

"Very courageous, Mr Lebedev"

I remember the days when there were two evening newspapers in London. I think I'm right in saying that the Evening News, unlike the Evening Standard, published on a Saturday which meant that if you were leaving the West End after six on that day you would get the football results printed in a stop-press column on the front. The News disappeared years ago and now, in a move that nobody appears to have seen coming, Alexander Lebedev has announced that the Evening Standard is going to be free. Of all the times to make this move, this is by far the oddest. Not even the most cockeyed optimist thinks the advertising recession is going to stop any time soon and there are those who think that we may have seen the end of the kind of advertising that traditionally financed newspapers and magazines. It appears that Lebedev is saying goodbye to circulation revenue of £15m a year in the hope that by doubling his circulation he can make it up in advertising. That's as good a working definition of an optimist as I've seen in a long while.