Media Lifeline: Evening Standard

Once seen as the definitive paper for Londoners, the Standard is now under fire from several freebies.

February 2002: Veronica Wadley (pictured) replaces Max Hastings as the editor of the Evening Standard. With the paper losing money, she makes 14 redundancies. Circulation also falls - 370,000 when she takes the editor's seat, it is down to 349,000 as the redundancies bite.

December 2004: With News International and Richard Desmond's Express Newspapers looking to launch a London evening freesheet, the Standard takes pre-emptive action by launching Standard Lite. There's speculation that the paid-for title's days might be numbered as a consequence - but, though Standard Lite's distribution is 75,000, initial figures show the Standard's circulation decline hasn't accelerated notably.

September 2005: In fact, its fortunes seem set to revive following its widely praised coverage of the London terrorist bombings in July, and that's followed by an editorial revamp, featuring an expanded business and finance section plus more lifestyle and entertainment features. However, the Metro Life supplement is dropped as display advertising revenues continue to be flat.

October 2006: Yet another revamp has lifted sales in May to 341,983, the best in a year, but by the autumn, sales of the paid-for paper are on the slide again - though the August price rise from 40p to 50p and the launch of News International's thelondonpaper haven't been as damaging as some observers had been predicting.

November 2006: The former Sunday Times marketing director Andrew Mullins (pictured) is named managing director of the Standard. He has a track record of promotional devices to boost sales but joins as October's circulation falls 14 per cent year on year to 281,915.

Fast forward ...

2008: Mullins announces a full-scale review of the Standard's future status. In recent months, its headline figures have been boosted by increasing numbers of bulks, and on a couple of days each month the title partners with an advertiser to fund a sponsored free giveaway of the paper across central London. Speculation mounts that it will now be merged with the increasingly successful London Lite.