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Paper Monitor

13:24 UK time, Tuesday, 5 May 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Sorry. It's the hardest word (eh, Silvio?). But how rare is it for a newspaper to run an entire advertising campaign apologising to millions of people for its perceived faults?
Unprecedented, says media commentator Roy Greenslade in the Guardian. While a sorry might be forthcoming over an error in a specific story - or for a series of untrue claims, such as the simultaneous apologies made to Madeleine McCann's parents - to beg pardon for one's general behaviour is another matter entirely.

A local London paper - recently bought by an ex-KGB man for £1, and with a new editor in the chair - today begins a charm offensive ahead of its relaunch on 11 May.

"SORRY" reads the Evening Standard banners plastered on buses and Tube carriages, apologising to Londoners for losing touch, taking them for granted, and being negative, complacent and predictable.

(Paper Monitor may appropriate one or two, for future deployment in the event of failing to get in sufficient teas, or misspelling a tweet, or arriving late due to non-specific travel delays.)

The campaign is the new editor's solution to that common problem - falling sales, lost readers - and seeks to make amends after market research showed just how all those potential readers out there view the paper. Ouch - the results must have made for an awkward newsroom debriefing. And the ex-editor, Veronica Wadley, may well flinch at the sight of any passing buses for the next few weeks.

Just how the relaunched paper will aim to be more positive remains to be seen. Its past incarnation was famously poisonous towards then-mayor Ken Livingstone. So will Boris Johnson suddenly find himself feted, local paper style?

Maybe not; but Greenslade reckons "Greig is determined to achieve a much more accommodating political and social tone than in Wadley's era."

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