Media: Weekend week in, week out

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The Independent Online
The Daily Mail's new Weekend magazine last Saturday completed the frenetic revamp of Saturday and Sunday papers over the past few weeks. I had to go out for a copy: my newsagent had put the Guardian Weekend inside the Mail. It must get awfully confusing for newsagents.

It's hard to believe that only a few years ago the industry was debating whether Saturday papers and magazines would make the Sundays semi-redundant. I suspect an early result may be some circulation drops, with fewer people buying more than one Sunday paper. The time and space all these sections consume can be overwhelming.

Here are the new runners in the Uncommitted Readers Chase:

Daily Express (32p) Saturday Review: 40-page pot-pourri; seven- day television guide; travel, motoring, interiors, human-interest features; and out-of-place 'USA Today' by Peter Hitchens. Lacks character and doesn't use colour on fashion page.

Daily Mail (32p) Weekend: shares one odd failing with the Express - no index. But plenty of space for gardening and cookery; and the television guide's selection of a Family Choice for each day will set a trend. Its back feature is a highly intimate questionnaire, this week with an RSC actress. They may run out of interviewees willing to answer questions such as 'How often do you make love?' and 'What do you like to do immediately after making love?'; mind you, the RSC has plenty more actresses.

Times (40p) Saturday: new 32- page tabloid television guide, Vision, doesn't help reader in a hurry by putting an ad rather than Saturday's television on its back page. Good idea to have specialists, including your science and sports correspondents, picking highlights.

Mail on Sunday (65p) Night and Day: the biggest disappointment; basically, usual set of arts pages fronted by a tired-looking feature ('Who really shot Kennedy?'). What is too often forgotten in the rush for youth-culture coverage and topical tricks is that arts pages live or die by their critics. The Mail on Sunday has few, if any, great ones.

Observer (90p): its new sections don't yet look comfortable. Putting sport in tabloid form - the only quality paper to do so - could be a mistake. Picture potential is diminished, and the front page can cover only one fixture. The arts Review has good writers, but should have avoided getting the page number wrong for the one feature it plugged on the front. Television is oddly placed in the new Life section, which is beginning to work: consumer-based, testing everything from puddings to pheremones; quietly eccentric.

Independent on Sunday ( pounds 1): playing to strengths by expanding much-imitated Sunday Review. New sports section, broadsheet, puts emphasis on quality writing (last week Gordon Burn on snooker). Changing the successful tabloid business section into a broadsheet seems a little perverse.