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Paper Monitor

12:27 UK time, Monday, 23 April 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Fans of Metro (and the Independent) will be well versed in the wraparound cover – a device typically employed by advertisers seeking to lend a little extra oomph to a new product launch or a re-branding. Their impact used to lie in their rarity – although these days hardly a week seems to pass without a mobile phone operator or some such company buying up the front and back pages of a London freebie. (The Indy's penchant for wraparounds tends to be more earnest. While its rivals might devote a full front page to a major story – such as last week's Virginia Tech shootings – that's just a typical day at the Independent, so the wraparound is their way of turning the volume up to 11.)

Seldom, if ever, can Paper Monitor recall the Financial Times resorting to such base populist tactics… until today. The FT has pulled out the stops for a re-launch and in an example of the media's taste for self-reference its wraparound is actually an advertisement for itself, featuring its new tagline "We live in Financial Times". Paper Monitor is a tad confused – shouldn't its front page exclusive be advert enough? No matter.

The wrap in question features a Manhattan-esque vista of skyscrapers verging a waterfront, which, on second glance, reveals itself to be a composite of some of the world's tallest buildings. Subtext: farmers, dry-stone wallers and any other rural types – sling your hook. This paper is for those who stalk the fast lanes of international business. (Evolution rather than revolution - today's re-designed FT (below, right) looks not dissimilar to Fridays (left).)

ft203.gifBut there is at least one treat inside. Regular readers of Paper Monitor will know how much it relishes editors writing about their publications (cf Sarah Sands on the (short-lived) new guard at the Sunday Telegraph and Alan Rusbridger opining on the new Hamburger Guardian).

On page two of the wraparound, FT editor Lionel Barber, who, if names alone were ever to determine careers, presumably would be penning 1960s musicals about Dickensian London, provides a set up for the redesign. There's no iPod-style grand plan, as la Ms Sands, but at least one lip-smacking morsel for those who like to graze on amorphous statements about how the changing world affects our news consumption:

"In the late 19th century, the FT became the must-read for Britain's business elite. In the 21st century, we aim to be essential reading for a community of business and political leaders that, while scattered around the planet, is no less tightly knit."

Still reading? "[The new] sharper FT… improved, reorganised and refreshed, it's now even easier to find the information most relevant to you." So where's the sport then? Crammed into half a page towards the back, competing for space with the TV listings. If you want to know the result of yesterday's Aston Villa–Portsmouth tie, you'd best reach for a magnifying glass.

Paper Monitor can't help but think what that parody of modern management, Martin Lukes – whose spoof column weekly in the FT – would make of Mr Barber's musings. For its part, Paper Monitor will simply offer a polite "no comment".

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