i and me

Yesterday The Independent launched a new newspaper, i. The easiest thing to say about i is that it’s Metro for people who don’t like Metro: words like ‘intelligent’ are scattered throughout its publicity. The front page headlines illustrate the balancing act the editorial team are taking on: ‘Is [Sesame Street’s] Bert gay?’ and ‘Mel [Gibson’s] Hell’ sandwich the main image about the UK’s housing crisis.

The layout is very busy: lots of images (dominated by celebrities but with a couple of unexpected and interesting pictures) and crucially lots of words as well. Big news stories are covered, perhaps it would be better to say ‘introduced’, in single paragraphs on ‘matrix’ pages for news, opinion, business, and sport. Other ways of digesting what’s going on include ‘Around the world in ten stories’ and ‘The news in 140 characters’. The TV section arranges shows by genre, which I like, and the crossword was manageable. It was concise, of course, but there was also a five-clue cryptic.

What matters more to me are the page-long opinion pieces: personal analysis and axe-grinding that you won’t find in Metro or the BBC News website, another potential rival. These are predictably centre-left: Johann Hari bemoaned the culture of corporate sponsorship in American politics that has neutered Barack Obama, and James Lawton cast his eye wistfully back to the days of the minimum wage football hero. Agree or disagree, at least there was something to make you think a bit more deeply.

If i is well distributed and stays at 20p I think I might become a regular customer. Will it eventually replace its full-sized parent, or serve as an introduction to a larger website? It will interesting to see. My main concern now is that I get so much of my news digested: can I still read a 2,000 word article unless I’ve written it myself? That would not be a good way to end up.