Tuesday, February 28, 2006
In recent years, newspapers have tried numerous tricks to tempt customers into buying them. They have changed shape, redesigned themselves, and added pages of something called "lifestyle", which is a feminine way of saying "insecurity". They once offered bingo, now it is sudoku. For a while, they gave away compact discs, but now DVDs seem to be the bribe of choice. In Scotland, the problem is acute, and the papers here have fallen back onto nationalism - most memorably in the form of the "free mince" once offered by the Sunday Scot.
As an enthusiastic reader of newspapers - albeit one who indulges his habit in the public library - I have witnessed all of this with a heart as weary as my fingertips are inky. Papers have become creatures of marketing rather than news, and their opinion columns have eschewed reason in favour of sensationalism.
But finally, amidst all of the experiments with formats, comes an innovation of which I approve. The Independent on Sunday, having already enjoyed considerable success in its new tabloid shape, is experimenting with a new style; printing its pages on small cakes. The edition I tried tasted quite similar to one of Mr Kipling's French Fancies, and was infinitely preferable to the competition. I once tried to eat the Sunday Times, and found it quite indigestible, especially the motoring section.