"i is all you need" declared the new paper from the Independent on its first day of publication yesterday. This "reads oddly," believes the Guardian's Roy Greenslade, given that it arrives alongside the Independent itself. He described it as a "sort of upmarket Metro, or even a British-style USA Today."
Its introduction by editor Simon Kelner declared that "it's your essential daily briefing... and at a much more affordable price than a cappuccino."
The 56-page paper has a front page filled with pictures and headlines, and the rest of its sections are colour-coded, red for news, blue for views, grey for features, pink for business, green for sport and light blue for TV. Pages 2 and 3 are devoted to a 'news matrix,' and the following pages to short news stories.
"Views" follows, hosting 'The Opinion Matrix,' with comments from around the world, a long column by one of the Independent's star journalists Johann Hari, which also appeared in the Independent's Viewspaper. The TV guide is followed by a double page spread on Mel Gibson, taken from the Independent's Tuesday Essay. A few pages of art features and reviews are next, and business then seven pages of sport, both of which also include 'matrixes' bring the paper to the end.
The BBC's Torin Douglas believes that sports fans might be happy to take i instead of the Independent, as it has seven sports pages compared to the ten in the original paper, but readers who care about politics and the arts are less likely to do so as there are fewer views and reviews.
Meanwhile the Independent has toned down its use of colour and overall looks a little more serious and respectable. Although much of the content is recognisably the same, the two papers led with different stories on i's first day - the Independent with a Robert Fisk story on Christians leaving the Middle East and i with "The housing crisis of Coalition Britain." Apart from its size, i "in every other way looks distinct" from the Independent, said the Financial Times, which also noted that uniquely, the masthead has been replaced by a vertical column down the left-hand side.
The fact that the new newspaper somewhat resembles the free daily Metro is a problem, said Greenslade. "Will people rushing to work take the trouble to stop and pay 20p for it rather than pick up their free Metro?" Press Gazette, however, sees i as "clearly a much weightier product than free daily Metro"
The other "obvious problem" that he highlights is one that faces the whole industry: can younger people be won back by print when they are used to reading news online?