The launch of free newspaper Metro’s New York edition yesterday was commented on some places, for example here. It might seem as a tough task for a Swedish newspaper to establish itself in New York, and it probably will be. But I wouldn’t underestimate these people, they have proved that they are able to challenge monopolistic and oligopolistic markets before. Metro was born with the help of Jan Stenbeck, a man (sadly passed away last year) who among other things introduced commercial TV in Sweden via its channel TV3 in the 80’s.
B.L Ochman comments: “It’ll be harder to get the target audience to actually read the paper. Young people don’t ignore newspapers because they cost 50 cents or a dollar. They ignore them because they prefer to get their news online or on TV. They want to skip the ads and they only want to follow news topics that affect them personally.” I respectfully disagree.
Having seen the development of Metro live, I moved to Stockholm in 1995 when it was launched, I admit I was skeptical at first. The short summaries of news agency material are not news, was a common reaction. But Metro found a niche that it exploited successfully. The “metrofication” of news has just accelerated since then and a lot of people who previously didn’t read papers, now read Metro. Since the birth of internet, people are more and more getting used to not paying for information which has paved the way for free newspapers. And since it is handed out in the subway, you might as well take one. It’s designed to last as long as your subway ride and why not grab a paper instead of trying not to look at the guy in the seat in front of you?
Another trend is what Trendsetters call “time compression”. People get more and more stressed and try to fit in more things in their lives. No one has time to watch TV movies or follow long TV series anymore, they’re too busy. Speed dating is just another example. The quote from Ellen DeGeneres: “I’m late for yoga, hurry” brilliantly illustrates how our lives are metroficated, cut up in small shallow pieces.
Depth is out. Speed is in. Metro fits right into that picture. Whether New Yorkers agree is yet to be seen, but I can’t see why it should be any different from London, Paris or HongKong.