#oneaday 31: A Free Press?

Last weekend we had a trip to the wonderful town of Southwold on the Suffolk coast. I actually intend to blog about the wonders of this beautiful place later in the #oneaday series, but after dinner at The Swan on Sunday night, we retired to the sitting room to have a nightcap and read the newspapers in front of a roaring fire.  It was a chance to read the physical papers, something I am doing less and less nowadays given the presence of my iPhone and the Apps that help me keep up to date with the news, whether it is via the BBC, Guardian, Telegraph or indeed The Onion. All these Apps offer a free daily service(although The Guardian did cost a one off £2.49 – incredible value all things considered), but the prospect of actually reading old fashioned newsprint was mildly exciting. I almost felt wistful.

Thumbing through a copy of The Daily Mail is always fun, provided someone else has paid for it. I always liked The Sunday Times even if I did pay for it, and part 1 of their ‘Top 500 Apps in the World’ immediately caught my eye. I always love these advertising slogans that claim to be ‘The World’s Favourite Airline’ or ‘The Greatest Place in the World’. British Airways used that approach for years, I am not sure if they still do us it, but after pissing off their customers and staff with a series of strikes, I assume that they have quietly buried that slogan along the way.

Back to The Sunday Times,  it turns out that this headline ‘Top 500 Apps in the World’ referred to the fact that The Sunday Times has according to their copy ‘ found the 500 apps (sic) that will make your life easier, better and much more fun’. The guide broke Apps down into a number of categories – social networking, news, business, sport, cars, games, fashion & beauty, shopping & weddings, food, drink, reference, personal finance and babies & families. It also points out for readers to look out for Sunday Times ‘star’ Apps, presumably the star indicating  the better ones, in the opinion of the writer.

It has to be said many of the Apps I love are in the 1st part of the guide. I presume many more will be in part 2, due out today, which I will not bother with having seen part 1.  Facebok, Instagram, Skype, Tweetdeck, BBC News (although very buggy is great for content), LinkedIN, Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, Redlaser, Wikipedia, World Factbook are all there. No Guardian, or Telegraph and Daily Mail for that matter  though (not that I am a Mail fan). Which is a shame. But we do have The Sunday Times, unsurprisingly and deservedly as the content is amazing, and The Times both starred and wait for it, wait for it…..

The Sun and The News of the World. Yep, they are in there – amongst 12 other peers in the NEWS section.  Here’s the write up:-

iPad – The Sun – free for he 1st month or trial edition for NoW

‘The iPad edition of The Sun is a brisk read that serves up the best of the print and digital worlds; a faithful reproduction of the paper, neatly navigated by scrolling thumbnails of pages, with a iEdition that breaks stories into categories and displays them as plain text, like a website. Innovations include a 360-degree pictures of Page 3 girls every Monday. The NoW plays to its strengths: agenda- setting exclusives and glamorous photography. The primary draw is likely to be video clips of celebs and politicians doing things they shouldn’t. Subsequent editions are £1.19 each.’

The writer at least has a sense of humour and I assume that he or she is under company orders. Given that News of the World, The Sun, The Times & The Sunday Times (as well as The Wall Street Journal) are all owned by the same group, headed by Rupert Murdoch, he or she probably did not have any choice as to whether these Apps should or should not be included. No one ever said the press is free,  until the internet came along that is. Many media Apps are free, but for some companies and publishers, Apps will be paid for. Time will judge if all of us readers have a free press or not.

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