This week has been strange in a good way. The trains have not been delayed. I have, on most morning, caught my bus. And despite it being half term and a little more crowded that usual, parents have their broods in control. So I have had no qualms in that respect. What it did get me thinking about was newspapers.
I love newspapers, they are the perfect accompaniment to a transport journey. They ensure that even though you are bumped up against someone. Squashed in a space small enough that a mouse would hold a strike about conditions. And subject to a range of smells, you can escape into the world of news, sports and quizzes.
Yes the newspapers are great. But recently I have been noticing the emergence of more and more free magazines. And though I am no where near anything approaching an echo warrior, it has started me thinking about the waste of paper.
In the beginning
I remember when The Metro first came. It filled a gap that I hadn’t really noticed before. It meant that I didn’t have to feel like I was trying to be something I wasn’t by buying a broadsheet. It meant that slowly but surely those who bought those huge hunks of paper, that you couldn’t read unless it was folded up or you wanted to sacrifice your arm into someone’s face, reduced. And eventually those publications caught onto the obvious fact that papers should be commuter friendly.
Finally there was a paper that gave, sometimes questionable, but the vast majority of news in an accurate, presentable and everyday user friendly fashion. And on those days when I forgot to grab a paper because I was rushing, I felt its loss. I remember trying to read an article over someone’s shoulder, only for them to shuffle their paper and let me know that the paper though free was their paper.
But then came the age of the smart phone and though there are still plenty of papers to go around, the need for them has reduced.
Everyone has a smart phone. Even my parents who are not computer savvy. So everyone carries with the ability to not have to get a physical paper. I get that some people prefer not to read off their phones and I respect this. I do.
But what puzzles me is the new publications that have decided to go free. Why have they not just gone digital instead? They could even get people to pay for their magazine and give the app away for free to encourage people to use their phones, tablets and ebooks.
I am all for freedom of choice but by flooding transport with more and more new magazines or old ones which have decided to go free, they are killing the trees. And like I said I am no environmentalist, but I do remember when this happened before and it was not good.
The time of newspapers.
There was a time when there was more than just the Morning Metro and the afternoon Evening Standard. Along with them came The London Paper, The London Lite, and I am sure there was another one that I cannot remember.
I didn’t think anything of it until I went to visit a friend at the end of the Northern line one day. When the train emptied out, all that was left was a wave of papers, strewn across seats, dashed on the floors and as numerous as unattended ivy. It made me think of the utter waste of it all, and so when they all stopped, I was not displeased.
But now it seems to have started again. The other day I saw a new pointless magazine for tv listings…. It just worries me that in this day and age when the majority of people have a smartphone, we are continuing with hardcopies even though there is nothing wrong with a digital alternative.
And then there is Time Out…
Which quite strangely is trying to encourage people to take their physical magazine. They do this by charging for the equivalent app. It seems bonkers, especially as they give away other content for free on their website.
It’s all about choice though, right?
Yes, but there is nothing wrong with the people who run the papers trying to do their bit for the world by encouraging them to be read in a digital format.
As my mum says, ‘little drops of water make a mighty ocean’.