Tomorrow will be a significant day. It marks the end of the recently established New Day newspaper. When it was launched nine weeks ago I wondered whether there was something I hadn’t understood about the proposition it had. I thought I must have missed something important otherwise why would anyone launch a national newspaper in the current challenging environment?
As a former journalist, I have a love of the printed newspaper which seems increasingly quaint and old-fashioned. I want to believe that the newspaper will still be here in another 20, 30 or 40 years. Being able to physically hold a copy of a newspaper that has all the latest events and issues of the day is still comforting to me. But it is facing a hugely changing environment which is making it appear out-of-date.
In a world of instant news a national newspaper needs to have a strong readership and that means investing in promotion and ensuring you are providing what people want, or more importantly what your target demographic wants. People know what to expect when they pick up a copy of The Sun, the Daily Mail or The Times. Buying a newspaper is more likely to happen if you have connection to a title that has been around for many years. If a newspaper is going to arrive and try and compete it needs to be able to have something that people want and it needs to be able to promote itself massively so that people have a strong recall and recognition of what it is and what it does.
It appears that New Day had neither of those things. It wasn’t clear what it was about. It did seem to focus on features rather than news, and for many that is material that they will view through some digital mechanism. It also didn’t invest in extensive promotion throughout its first two months. As a result I can’t remember seeing it on many newsstands or in supermarkets and I struggled to find anyone who had bought a copy.
The demise of New Day is sad, particularly for all those staff employed to work on it, but not wholly unexpected. Our relationship with the printed word has changed significantly during the last 15 years. We need to take the best from the past and make sure we can fit it somewhere in the future.