Media: PR experts give verdict on Indy's i

The Independent's new bite-sized newspaper i claims to be the first quality daily paper to be launched in Britain for 25 years. The paper, which launched last week, has certainly got the media and PR industry talking. But in a market where newspaper circulation and advertising revenues are falling, is it a wise move?

The paper's aim to tempt lapsed readers back into the newspaper habit seems a sensible proposition.

'Our research has found that lots of readers find quality newspapers daunting because in their daily lives they are too busy to read them, but they still yearn for their values and ethos. So we have produced a quality newspaper in digest,' says Simon Kelner, i's editor-in-chief, who last week apppointed Stefano Hatfield, former editor of thelondonpaper, as executive editor of The Independent, with 'special responsibility' for i.

Kelner says no news story will be longer than 400 words. Seventy Seven PR's managing partner Alan Twigg says these digestible sections provide PROs with plenty of opportunities. But the new paper faces two key challenges. One is to avoid cannibalising its bigger sister and the other is to ensure it is significantly different from the freesheets that people can see the value in the 20p cover price.

'It's unashamedly light and colourful, and has the look and feel of a freesheet,' says GallieGodfrey co-founder Jim Godfrey. 'There are lots of opportunities for lifestyle PROs. The test will be whether, among its commuter readers, i starts eating into the Metro's circulation.'

The design has split opinion in the PR industry. As 3 Monkeys' head of consumer Tristan Pineiro says: 'i is the first newspaper launched in the internet age and it is laid out like a website. It is highly visual, so for PROs there are great opportunities for good infographics and charts.'

But Biss Lancaster board director Andrew Robinson believes that while it is a brave move, the design makes it confusing and fussy for readers to consume. 'It appears to lack visual direction, which is a problem in terms of establishing editorial priorities for the reader,' he says.

Robinson also dislikes this bite-size approach to news: 'It is an odd direction in which to go. Online news services should be left to cover the news, while newspapers should focus on depth and quality of coverage.'

Maintaining quality will be the key factor of success, believes Twigg: 'My only worry is its ability to keep up the weightier pieces in this format. It would be wrong to slip into Metro's scan and skip territory.'

But, Pineiro argues, this format is perfect to read on an iPad or tablet computer.

As David Kuczora, Clive Reeves Public Relations account manager, says: 'The experience of reading the paper on my commute certainly beats flicking through the Metro or squinting at my iPhone screen.'

QUICK FACTS

Circulation: First audited figures for i will be known in December. MD Andrew Mullins said the aim is to sell 200,000 copies a day in six months' time

Price: 20p

Published: Monday-Friday

Contact: 020 7005 2000

News: Oliver Duff

Features: Lisa Markwell

Comment: Katherine Butler

Arts: David Lister

Sport: Matt Gatward

Business: David Prosser

A MINUTE WITH ... SIMON KELNER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, I AND THE INDEPENDENT

- How will i differ from freesheets?

When you see the paper, you will see there is a clear point of differentiation. It is a quality paid-for newspaper. i is not competing with freesheets - it is in a new sector.

- Will the new paper damage The Independent's circulation?

The Independent and i are in two segments of the market. They will be attractive to different types of people.

- Describe your readership?

i is a paper for quality paper readers who may have fallen out of the market over the past few years because they lead busy lives. They want a digestible, accessible, desirable product. i is targeted at people of all ages, but clearly is more desirable for metropolitan commuters and will probably have a younger age profile.

- Will there be any unique content?

Copy is largely from The Independent, but there will be more entertainment, consumer issues and lifestyle features.

- What are you looking for from PROs?

Anything that livens up the pages. If it is relevant to readers of i, we would be interested.

- What is the best way of contacting the journalists?

Speak to the individual desks. i is run by the same editorial team as The Independent.

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