A newspaper for today?

The Independent launches i today, its new daily newspaper “designed for people with busy, modern lives”. But regardless of who it’s aimed at, what is it for, exactly?

The Independent launches i today, its new daily newspaper “designed for people with busy, modern lives”. But regardless of who it’s aimed at, what is it for, exactly?

In championing i (and yes, it’s already getting the blood up squinting at all the lowercase “i”s that dot this post), editor-in-chief Simon Kelner claims the 20p title is “the first quality daily paper to be launched in Britain for 25 years” and that it is “colourful and accessible, concise and intelligent.”

It is all these things, in part, but it also desperately wants to be heavyweight within the confines of a “lite” delivery. And the results are confusing.

On first look, the pages are very busy, with ubiquitous splashes of colour making the uniformity of black and white newsprint now seem even more like a distant memory. There are also small boxes of text and tabs everywhere, that are more familiar to the design of news online.

The point being that i’s content is intended to be consumed in a small amout of time. The News Matrix (shown below, with an inexplicable picture of Jeremy Clarkson) thus provides 15 stories over a spread; each a mere 40-word paragraph.

So from this opening spread it very quickly feels like a freesheet.

And perhaps this isn’t surprising given that Alexander Lebedev, the owner of The Independent and Independent on Sunday since March, famously turned The Evening Standard into a giveaway when he acquired it last year.

But does i really offer a quick-fix version of The Independent? There are opinion pieces for sure, but with news pages that segue a story on whether Bert from Sesame Street is actually gay with a smaller piece on the re-examination of the Nazi foreign ministry, it’s much nearer Metro territory than it thinks.

The more successful sections are, unsurprisingly, the ones devoid of boisterous advertising.

A Health spread, despite some ugly pull quotes, at least gives the impression that there’s a more in-depth feature to be read, whereas the tiny reviews in the “i arts” section offer little of substance, no matter how rushed your commute might be.

The Business section seems to offer the most coherence design-wise, however, perhaps because it only features two ads over its five pages.

But in trying to create a reading experience that fits in with the pace of contemporary life, it seems that i, for now, merely adds more confusion to it.

We’ll keep an, um, eye on how the paper looks over the next few months. In the face of ever-growing news consumption online and via mobile apps, it will be interesting to see just how digestable this Independent Lite really is.

  • Seems to me like a paper mock-up of a forthcoming iPad app ;0

  • Reads like a Metro, but it seems some effort has been put into well produced layouts, like the tv listings for instance appears well organised.

    Would have thought it would still be free though, especially as they are being sold on the same stands as Freesheets/Evening Standard/Sport and so on…

  • I’m not sure what they were trying to achieve here, It just seems like an effort to make some extra advertising cash in an industry that is suffering greatly. The design and journalism seems to lack the sophistication that I would associate with a ‘quality’ daily. To me -now I could be wrong- this is the sort of publication you’d buy, read and never buy again.

    A looker not a player.

    Any chance of making these images clickable? It’d be nice to see higher res versions?

  • Have just looked at it -don’t think it is the answer to just shorten/simplify news! Nothing to read.

  • See no point in these papers! What with other newspaper freebies, the internet and the TV to get news and information there is no need for them.

  • Bold move. Time will tell.

  • I love it. It’s a smarter version of The Metro, and as such is imminently readable, entertaining and also fulfilling. Worth 20p for sure!

  • another victim for my wood burner..

  • richard

    i cant believe theyre using Soho (i think thats Soho..) which was a blatant rip off of the Guardian egyptian. egyptians really are the new serifs.. or sans.. or whatever.
    Anyway..Even if its not Soho, to place it typographically so near to the Guardian is really dumb. they need to stand out not fit in, strikes me a a real missed opportunity to innovate and challenge the conventions of what a daily publication can be.
    That said, its not bad. in the same way as the londonpaper wasnt bad (of which structurally and editorially it owes quite a big debt). just not as ambitious as it should have been.

  • Yes he is gay. Concise and intelligent? No.

  • Good that The Independent are trying something different! Better layout’s than the metro! I think this will improve in time once it has achieved it’s target market…

  • mark

    My very concise market research (me) has lead me to believe that a more positive move would have been to lose the news section completely and just have opinion pages and reviews. Personally all the latest news finds me rather than me pursuing it (the BBC is my homepage, I have the radio on and a Twitter feed). By the time I get round to reading a newspaper it’s telling me stuff I already know – half the time the researched demographic (again, me) flicks straight to analysis, comment and reviews.

    …and make the front cover more like a magazine (illustrated, less busy) than a newspaper – people will be more excited about paying just 20p for a magazine than paying 20p for something that looks like a free newspaper.

  • john

    I love great blogs like this one…

  • Marcio Folha

    There is a portuguese newspaper, launched in May 2009, with the same name and concept. The end result seems to be a bit different.

    > http://www.ionline.pt/
    > http://www.flickr.com/photos/inoflickr

  • Scott

    looks like a condensed guardian

  • Mark Batley

    First impressions. Its very snippity and good for short train journeys eg. Liverpool Street to Hackney. Better than the Metro in terms of style and content. Editorially coherent but you still need a ‘real’ newspaper as well. It needs to grow. Could be even bolder and daring. Its good to see that people are still trying to create something new, rather than the other way round.

  • New business solutions don’t work. Trust me.

    Putting ‘Is Bert gay?’ on the cover though – there’s an easy poster campaign off that thought.

    Could have been job done and a nice Xmas party for everyone.

  • Mark

    Nicer looking than the metro, content seemed marginally better.The type seems just fractionally too light or small to be easy to read. I wouldn’t pay 20p for it. They were trying to give it away free at lunchtime, no one was taking it.

  • Wade

    Looks kinda like a British version of USA Today to me…

  • Surely just a vehicle for The Independent to enter the market at a lower price point no?

  • I wasn’t really a fan at all. The weather pages (not shown here) had some awful ‘try hard’ colourful cityscape images.

  • Luis

    It´s a little strange, to launch a new newspaper with the same name and very similar to the awarded “i”, a awarded portuguese newspaper. In the last year has won more than 40 awards including “the best european newspaper award”.


  • sunnydayout

    Check out Lebedev’s video on the theme of “i”: http://www.alebedev.org/videos/50.html

  • I think its great to see a new printed newspaper. Great to see the demand for print which gives an alternative to online papers and articles.

  • As an Independent reader I have high hopes for i. It’ll be interesting to see how it settles into its daily routine and how it will cope with being a light but serious read.

    I think the Evening Standard has improved under Lebedev’s ownership, so things are promising for the newbie.

    On an unrelated note, the third image (the one with the random Clarkson) highlights one of my personal pet hates – the bastardisation and Americanisation of the ENGLISH language. I’m talking of course about the Plusnet ad. ‘Our broadband won’t be beat on price’ – whoever wrote that should be beaten until they surrender and promise to use correct grammar in the future.

    This is in the same ‘left school with no GCSE’s’ stable as Apple’s ‘Think Different’. Apple, at least, have the excuse of being American. Plusnet (British, as far as I am aware) don’t have such a luxury.

  • Helen

    Doesn’t look like a stand-alone title, more like a supplement you would get with a Sunday newspaper…would be great if it was free

  • I really like the modern design and layout and surely this must cost more than 20p to print. I guess all the advertising covers many of the costs but at that price, I’m sure it will be a success.

  • I think it would work well for small journeys as said but as a newspaper I don’t think they will really break out

  • MTD Training

    Does anyone have any stats to say if it is more successful than the larger one?

    Would really be interested to see from a marketing point of view what the customer satisfaction ratings were before and after, advertising spend etc

    Anyone got any figures?