It seems that Croydon’s 140-year-old local newspaper, the recently re-titled Brothel Advertiser, is to go free from next week.
The local rag, whose weekly sale fell to as little as 14,532 this June, will next week have a print run of 70,000 copies and be available through free distribution to households.
According to sources in the newspaper industry, this includes people living as far south as Chipstead, an area not even covered by the Sadvertiser‘s journalists.
The move was announced in a somewhat garbled (no surprise there) item so discreetly placed on page 2 of this week’s edition that many might miss it.
Written in a hideous “newspaper speak”, with horrible phrases such as “pagination will also increase” (to most of us, that means there’ll be more pages), it includes a quote from the paper’s hard-working editor Andy Worden.
He says that “Advertisers have … been telling us that they want the paper to reach more people.” No shit, Sherlock!
Clearly, the ever dwindling weekly sale of the paper, which has continued despite an expensive re-design earlier this year, is increasingly unsustainable for the paper’s owners. Perhaps no one in management has considered that the sales fall (down from about 18,000 just two years ago) might have something to do with the paper and its website being piss poor too often. “Our passionate reporters and photographers work very hard to produce a paper we are very proud of,” wordy Worden says.
Now they appear to be looking to the model of the Evening Standard, which has seen its ad revenue pick up since it became a freebie (at least in central London). The Sadvertiser going down the free route could be its last chance commercially.
Effectively, it’s an admission that even at just 60p a week, people are not prepared to pay for the Sadvertiser any longer.
The newspaper will still be available to buy at newsagents, though how long that lasts only time will tell.
It all means that there will now be up to three free papers thrust through many residents’ letter boxes each week, the others being the Croydon Guardian and the Croydon Post (which is from the Sadvertiser stable), plus the Council’s own version of reality once a month or so.
Of course, being a free newspaper – or, indeed, a free-to-access website such as Inside Croydon – doesn’t necessarily make the journalism contained therein automatically cheap and nasty. In a contrary sort of way, the paid-for Sadvertiser has proved that you can get cheap and ghastly journalism even in a paid-for.
But it is rare that free newspapers, with just revenue from advertisers to rely upon, invest as strongly in their journalism as paid-for titles. Free papers may also, over time, develop a more subservient position with their advertisers.
Let’s hope, at least, that Croydon Council gets paid a levy by the Sadvertiser owners for all the extra land-fill they will be creating each week, as they foist their unwanted newspaper on local residents.
It is not clear whether, with its increased circulation, the Sadvertiser will be increasing its ad rates for the borough’s illegal brothels and massage parlours which continue to appear in its pages.
- To see how the Sadvertiser followed Inside Croydon‘s lead on the local angle of this week’s Pakistan cricket betting scandal, click here, and here (for Wordy Worden’s later version).
- This week’s Sadvertiser has a decent feature interview with future England rugby captain – and Croydon boy – Chris Robshaw. The Sadvertiser has never previously reported on Robshaw, who was interviewed by Inside Croydon when on tour in New Zealand this summer. Just a coincidence, surely…