The End of the New Day
Somewhat ironically, earlier this month we learned of the news that the newspaper with the slogan “Life is short, let’s live it well” was to close after a very short life indeed. After just 9 weeks in print, Trinity Mirror’s most recent venture, the New Day, announced its last issue would be Friday 6th May, due to poor sales.
The first new national daily newspaper for 30 years, the New Day targeted a time-poor female audience who “do not usually buy newspapers”, hoping to win back an audience of tabloid readers who have disappeared over the last few years. It could be argued that in this statement their business model was fundamentally flawed – they were targeting an audience no longer accustomed to buying newspapers.
The closure of the paper came just weeks after the last print issue of the Independent was published, and is another symptom of the declining sales of print newspapers. The end of the printing of one of Britain’s established newspapers in the midst of declining sales should have perhaps signalled the likelihood of failure for the New Day project. Speaking on the closure of the paper, New Day marketing director Zoe Harris argued there was a sense of “Printism” at play, with people getting carried away with “talking down about print”. However, Trinity Mirror’s Chief Executive, Simon Fox, said that “getting readers who have lapsed out of print to come back to the market was harder than anticipated”.
Some have commentated that the New Day raised prices too early before they had the chance to really build up their readership; the first edition was free, the paper was then 25p, before being raised to 50p after a few weeks. The small-newspaper landscape is a competitive one, with the Metro and Evening Standard both free, and the widely read i priced at 40p.
A healthy media landscape is rooted in pluralism and a diversity of sources, and it is therefore a shame to see failure of any new publication. Was the concept of the New Day a bit too similar to the well-established i? Or did the challenging print landscape make it impossible for the New Day to make its mark? Whatever the reason behind it, nobody seemed to be blown away by the title, and this was reflected in its sales. With so much free content available online, people have come to expect a lot more than what the New Day could offer for 50p.
It will be interesting to see over the next couple of years whether any news publications will brave the plunge of going for print, given the rapid demise of the New Day and the end of the Independent, or whether all efforts and investments will go into digital from here on in.
Even there though, change is afoot – with the Guardian beginning to invest in ways to generate revenue from online readers via its membership scheme, we could be witnessing the next significant shift in digital news consumption since British papers split on the paywall vs free content philosophy.