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Month: September 2003

Broadsheet to Tabloid – at last

Finally. For years I’ve wanted broadsheet content in a tabloid format. Several papers have dipped their toes in the water by doing tabloid format second sections, but The Independent has gone the whole hog and launched a tabloid sized edition of the paper, with all the content of the traditional format. It’s still selling the broadsheet version, too, and you can only get the tabloid version within the M25, but it’s a start. The broadsheet format is deeply inconvenient to read at anything but a desk. The art of commuter origami, where one folds one’s paper again and again to make it readable on a crowded train is much in evidence every morning. Why has it taken so long for an upmarket paper to venture into the tabloid format? Snobbery.

For readers not familiar with the UK newspaper market, it has four tiers. The bottom feeders are tabloids like the Star and the Sport, which are essentially pictures of semi-naked women with the occasional new story hidden under a breast. The next step up are the mass marker tabloids – The Sun and The Mirror – which are low-brow and sensationalist. Then, there’s the middle-market, middle-aged and middle-brow papers, the Daily Mail and the Express. These are the papers of the affluent and comfortable middle class. Then, finally, you have the broadsheets or “qualities”: The Telegraph, The Times, The Guardian and The Independent.

Many broadsheet readers are snobby about the tabloid format, simply because it’s associated with more downmarket content. That’s one of the reasons that the other papers have held off doing it. However, The Indy, as the lowest-selling of the quality dailies, doesn’t have much to lose and plenty to gain. The fact that it’s restricting distribution to the Greater London area initially suggest that the publisher knows the most enthusiasm audience well – the beleaguered London commuter. How long, I wonder, before other broadsheets follow the Indy‘s lead?


I’ve just had my first comment spam. Finally, I’ve made it.

I’ve deleted the message, though. Those who are undersized in that department should just work on their other pleasure-giving skills.

House prices

Patrick Crozier outlines his manifesto for becoming London Mayor on Samizdata.

David Sucher on City Comforts Blog makes a rather baffling assertation that house prices aren’t too high in the minds of the owners. Speaking as a London property owner, I’d just like to say “property prices are too high”.

Sucher says this:

It’s an interesting approach except for one little thing: few who currently own property would agree that “Property is too expensive.” Quite the contrary. Assuming that Londoners and Seattleites have similar values, which judging by the British blogs I read, they do — I suspect that most property-owners think values (not “prices,” thank you) are “about right” if not a tad low.

Where does all the money go?

Iain Murray does his normal spot-on job of identifying the key fact in a story, by highlighting the news that the number of admin staff in the NHS has risen faster than the number of medical staff under Labour, published in The Telegraph today.

I have some experience of the NHS because someone I know very well works for it. (I’m being intentionally vague, as I don’t have their permission to give details.) I am full of admiration for front line medical staff in the NHS, who do a fantastic job for little money in the face of increasing public stupidity, hostility and probably several other things ending with “idity”. I have no time at all for the proliferating and self-replicating breed we call the NHS manager, whom seem to exist solely to further their own positions, careers, financial bounty and sense of self-importance. These people are slowly bleeding our cash out of the heath services we need.

Now, I’m sure there are good, efficient and committed NHS managers out there, but they’re in the minority. The rest, like far too many professional managers, put money before people and spend more time justifying their own existence than actually helping the front line staff. This is the fallacy that most managers subscribe to: that they exist to tell others what to do. No. They exist to make life easier for the people who are actually doing the work. It’s a pity that they’ve forgotten this.

Mr Blair, please stop giving my money to these parasites.

Handbags at Dawn

The Guardian‘s Online Blog continues to be one of my favourite reads over coffee in the morning. Partially, I read it for the technology news, but mostly I read it for the comments. Take this recent post by well-known Mac-sceptic Jack Schofield. Based on Jack’s use of the word “eventually” in reference to technology finding its way into Macs, Charles Arthur, who writes for The Independent, leaped into the comments section to defend Apple. Jack responded predictably. Go, check it out.

IT journalists, don’t you love ’em?

Quiet during the storm

Both of my regular readers have probably noticed how quiet I’ve been of late. The reason is simple: I’ve been pretty damn busy getting the first issue of GRID done. We should finally go to press tomorrow. Hurrah!

If you’re all very lucky and well-behaved, I’ll get back to blogging over the weekend. In the meantime, those looking for interesting thoughts on the built environment might like to check out Brian’s post here. Those looking for something on journalism might like to read Mr Pollard’s response to one of The Guardian‘s frequent snark attacks.

Back to the page proofs…

Sheffield Photos

Some images grabbed in Sheffield while killing time before catching a train. Not quite what I expected of the former industrial city…

Sheffield - winter roof Sheffield - water
Sheffield - square Sheffield - sculpture Sheffield - relaxing guy Sheffield - winter gardens

Click on the thumbnails for larger images