Monday, August 24, 2009

The face of the free press

So Mr Murdoch has sounded the first bugle in what looks set to be the mass retreat from the sordid and frankly degrading mire of London's freesheet wars. Okay so I am getting a bit ahead of myself here: after all it's only theLondonpaper that's actually being canned, with the equally-derisory London Lite(weight) showing no sign of running out of steam just yet. But it's surely just a matter of time before that too is consigned to the fish and chip shop of history. After all, they were only ever vanity projects, two playground bullies trying to outdo each other in plumbing new journalistic depths, while proving that no matter what the more optimistic politicians may say, celebrity still matters. So the media landscape shifts once more. But just as significant for London's commuters could be the disappearance of the freesheet hawker, a hardy breed of pest that has gamely stalked the streets of the capital since the appallingly trashy comic books entered circulation around the time I started this blog.

I am prepared to admit that I may be being a little blinkered here, but it seems to me as if the freesheet hawkers do get an easier ride of it than their counterparts the chuggers. But I certainly always make the effort to make eye contact, and respond to having one of the ghastly things shoved in my face with a polite "No thank you." Is everyone so nice to them? Perhaps not, but there's none of that forced cheerfulness which the chuggers feel they have to display. Not for the freesheet hawker the extravagant gesture or the waving arms. No, the freesheet hawker mantains a sullen disposition, hugging his (or her) arms to his chest and firing a curt imprecation at each would-be customer as he juts a folder paper towards the hurrying figure. You get the feeling that the freesheet hawker really doesn't care whether the figure takes the paper or not - accept his offering and he will have one less to dispose of, but reject him and it is of no matter, there will soon be others to take your place. The freesheet hawkers are indifferent to you. To them, you are just a face in a crowd.

I for one intend to admire them while I still can.

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