London’s latest free newspaper will launch next month. Snipe is a fortnightly arts and listings newspaper that will be available in selected bars, restaurants, clubs and shops from May 15, with an initial print run of around 10,000 – although this is set to rise. The website launches on Friday April 15.
Don’t worry though, London Weekly it most certainly ain’t.
Snipe‘s founder, Darren Atwater, is a Canadian and small newspaper nut with considerable editorial experience in his native Vancouver. We met up a couple of months ago and he explained that he was basing Snipe on the free community papers that are available in most US cities. This is a concept that has always impressed me. These independent enterprises survive through classified and small-business advertising and at their best can be tremendous, vital local newspapers with a real grip on what is going on in their city. In some cases, they are the glue that holds a city’s diverse scenes together, with passion and knowledge of their subjects married to a genuinely independent and non-commercial spirit. Yes, websites can cover this sort of ground – see the excellent Londonist, for example – but there is still nothing better than print for making a real, concrete imprint on a city.
I have often wondered why London has never produced an answer to a paper like the Austin Chronicle, an essential alternative newspaper that is free, useful, cool, politically engaged, culturally confident, intelligent and easy t0 find. Atwater wondered the same, and then decided to do something about it.
London has had some terrible experience with free newspapers recently, but this is something different altogether, an enterprise that all London-based lovers of arts and newspapers should get behind.