In London newsrooms and bars where journalists drink, rumours persist that Alexander Lebedev, the Russian oligarch who owns a majority stake in the London Evening Standard, is close to clinching a deal to buy the Independent and Independent on Sunday.  If he does buy the titles, it is thought that he may make the Independent a free newspaper. The Guardian asked me to write about what Lebedev ownership and free distribution might mean. You can read my piece here.  



 Someone posted an interesting comment beneath your article, Tim.

"I have noticed how all of a sudden (since the Evening Standard became a free newspaper) it has become obsessed with the very lowest common denominators (sex and titillation) and has very little to say on the actual news... in fact about 50% of the articles could loosely be termed advertisements for products, and the rest have descended into polemicism (sic) without the vaguely (sic) deep (all be it rather right wing for my taste) analysis." (Username: Imogen Black)

There is every possibility that the decline, according to this critic, in the fabric of the articles that appear in the Evening Standard (ES) is intentional.

'Lowering standards' of the now free ES could be vital to the survival of journalism that costs. Now that The Times costs £1 (as does the Independent), we could see a trend developing between what journalism people are willing to pay for. If Imogen Black's scepticism is correct, that the ES reports mainly on sex and celebrity, then  it is only understandable why Lebedev would want to purchase the Independent: As long as the free newspapers fail to provide a broader range of journalism (not necessarily provide 'better quality' journalism), the newspapers that cost a pound a day will begin to return to former glory as people hunt effortlessly for the news they need to know.

(That being said, the above hypothesis is only applicable to those without an internet connection/whilst at least one main news proprietor isn’t charging for online content)


Alexander Lebedev and the Independent