Following Trinity Mirror Group’s decision to cease publication of the New Day, a mere 2 months after its launch to a £5m TV campaign fanfare, and 2m promotional print run, we reflect on some of the possible reasons why the New Day failed, and what it means for the media and advertising industry.
“People don’t buy physical newspapers anymore” – well yes, print circulation of daily newspapers has been gradually declining since around 2000, but there are still almost 7m copies of newspapers sold every day, and that number swells to 9m when you add in the free Evening Standard & Metro. Almost all of our daily newspapers have long historical legacies and even a relatively recent entrant to the marketplace, the i, was launched off the back of the Independent. It may be that whilst people do still buy physical newspapers, that the opportunity for a new launch, not specifically linked to another ‘sister’ paper, has passed.
“People don’t read the news anymore” – well, as above, the circulation figures suggest otherwise, however there are definitely trends appearing that generally people have less time for a full newspaper ‘experience’, than they used to, preferring more bitesize news snippets, on a rolling basis as served to them from rolling TV news channels, or social media/the internet. Overall it seems that attention spans are becoming shorter and that Millennials and Generation Z are far less likely to read a newspaper than older generations.
“It should have had a website” – Technically it does have a website, although one wonders why, given that the only page on it tells you that they’re a new newspaper, a fact that you must already be aware of by virtue of the fact that you’ve sought out their website... But yes, deliberately refusing to publish their content online seems to be a strange, stubborn, King Canute approach. Irrespective of the paywall v advertising funding model debate, not even opening yourself up to have that debate seems a little self-defeating.
“It only launched a tablet version a week before it closed” – With hindsight it seems bizarre that after 8 weeks it finally relented and launched a tablet version, a fact still proudly pinnedto the top of their twitter feed, just above confirmation that they’re preparing their last ever issue. It’s indicative of the seemingly scattergun strategy that’s probably meant that the New Day was doomed before it was even launched. Why not launch the iPad version at the start? And then why panic and brief in an app build? And then launch, with a promotional pricing offer, literally another week before your Publisher pulls the plug? A case of the left hand definitely not talking to the right hand we think...
“The New Day was crap” – it’s important that this blog remains objective, so all I’ll say is that I picked up issue 1, and nothing I saw in it compelled me to seek out issue 2. However, on the brief landing page on their website, they do seem to contradict themselves completely with their lead story on issue 1. “We’ll tell you everything you need to know and we won’t sensationalise or terrify you with the news.” – the cover headline was “STOLEN CHILDHOOD: This is Aidan. He’s five and looks after his mum... but who is looking after him”. Upon reading the story, one discovered that his 17 year old sister is looking after him, so arguably a fairly sensationalist approach to the story. They then say: “We promise to bring you balanced opinion - we won’t tell you what to think. And above all, we’ll try to be positive.” Well it felt like they were trying to tell me to think that there’s some sort of child-carer crisis that I should be aware of. Not a particularly positive message...
“They got the format wrong” – the launch of the i in 2010 has shown that arguably a new title launch could be successful, if the formula works properly. The i is bitesize news in a tabloid format at a low (20p) price and grew quickly up to a 300k circulation within a year of launch, targeting people who ‘don’t have time to read a newspaper’. Apparently the New Day’s target audience was ‘people who don’t buy newspapers’ – a bold target audience if ever there was one. Didn’t they stop to ponder why, in a market with 15 daily national newspapers to choose from already, these people don’t buy newspapers? Surely they didn’t think that their editorial was going to be so different, so excellent, so groundbreaking, that people who eschew the huge choice already on offer would suddenly run to their nearest newsagent armed with their 25p? Or 50p. Or whatever the cover price happened to be that day.
“There’s no space in the market for a ‘women’s paper’” – And following on from the previous point, it seems that the New Day has a huge identity crisis. It’s an apolitical, positive only, not telling us what to think, female-angled publication. Although they would never actually say it’s a female-angled publication, they just had an almost exclusively female authorship and lead on ‘celeb’ stories, with a very small sport section that wasn’t even on the back page (it was hidden on pages 18-19 and 26-27 (eh?) in the only issue I read). And this is where I struggle to understand the concept of ‘female news’. Isn’t ‘female news’ just news? Why wouldn’t women want to read about sport? Female sport participation and viewing has never been higher, or grown quicker. Did they think that women only want to read articles and opinions from other women? Or do they only want to read about issues which affect women? How, ironically, patronising.
Conclusion: It seems that just about anything that could go wrong with the New Day, did. From an unclear mission statement, to launching in print only, with a bizarre pricing strategy, to reacting and panicking and launching a tablet version, to targeting people who don’t buy newspapers, to mothballing the whole thing before it had a chance to ever develop, it was a car crash from day one. What does this mean for advertising and media? Not a lot. The main concepts that we know to be self evident still are: Quality/Popular editorial still sells. You have to make your content accessible in multiple formats. You have to know your audience. You have to have a robust sales strategy for both advertising and circulation. The New Day will disappear and be quickly forgotten, and Trinity Mirror will write it off as a cheap test that didn’t work out. No harm done. But what does it say about Trinity Mirror’s wider management/strategy, and will any other publishers consider launching any new print titles in the digital era? We suspect not.