I read an interesting article on the BBC website yesterday concerning the Metro newspaper , which celebrates its 10 year anniversary this week. Copies of the metro can now be found in most of Britain’s urban centres, 30 cities and towns across the UK and Ireland.
The article looked at the rise and success of the free newspaper and pointed out that the Metro is now seen as creating an entirely new readership of newspapers. This new demographic have been called ‘Urbanite’. The managing director of Associated newspapers who run the paper explained that the term is used to describe their readers who are aged between 18 and 44 in the ABC bracket, white-collar workers.
Now being aged 33, living in London, and in a white-collar job, I would have to say that I to am part of this demographic, and I do read the Metro on a reasonably regular basis on the way to work. But there were some points about this ‘urbanite’ group that made me think that firstly I’m not a true urbanite according to their description, and secondly I’m not sure I want to be part of this new demographic.
According to the Metro’s own research ‘Urbanites’ are ‘young and cool’ …well I think I can still pull that off occasionally. ‘cash rich’ that’ definitely not me, not in this economic climate! And ‘time poor’ yeah I can relate to that. They then go on to say that this group pick up the Metro for convenience and that they enjoy the Metro, as it just provides the facts without telling them how to think.
I enjoy reading the Metro on my way to work as its an easy read where nothing is too taxing which is what you sometimes want at 8:30 in the morning, but half the time I end up reading stories that I either read the day before or saw on TV, its all yesterday’s news. Where I differ from the demographic is that amazingly I still like to actually go out and spend money on newspapers despite the rise in the free press. I don’t necessary believe that by reading national newspapers they are telling me how to think, but I do like to read things that not only inform me, but sometimes challenge me, make me agree wholeheartedly with things or make me disagree totally.
Last week meeting up with a friend after work, she asked me why I still insist on buying the London Evening Standard when there are other free evening London papers. I thought it’s because I’ve always bought the Standard and I have some weird sense of loyalty, but also because there are columnists and journalists who I like to read, who have interesting things to say, or who have a point of view.
This is something you don’t really get with the Metro, as there is no real opinion or analysis, and as a social commentator, Peter York said in the article; by reading the Metro its readers don’t have any political convictions. For me this all sounds very bland and middle of the road. Sometimes there’s nothing wrong with that, but I’m a bit concerned if you have this growing demographic of people who are quite happy with this. Peter York went on to say that Metro readers just want a good life, enjoy city living and drink in All Bar One! All Bar One says it all. Safe, nice, and all very middle of the road!
At the end of the article, I had to agree with Peter York again when he went onto say that he thinks the increase in availability of free stuff is damaging, in the same way that getting music for nothing has devalued the experience of hearing music, free newspapers mean that more people do not think about the quality of the information that they are receiving.