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Industry reaction: a first look at Trinity Mirror's 'trend-bucking' the New Day

Trinity Mirror's latest offering The New Day hit newspaper stands today (29 February), a paper which has been highly anticipated as the industry gave mixed reactions on the decision to launch a print edition when all around us print editions are closing or going free.

The Drum spoke to industry experts to find out initial reactions to The New Day this morning, advertising opportunities and whether the launch of a print publication in a digital age is a good idea after all.

Jamie Dunlop, head of publishing at Total Media

It was with anticipation that I grabbed my copy of New Day, a trend-bucking moment for Trinity Mirror as they look to harness the “big middle” audience between the Sun and the Guardian. With a free opening issue and a £5m marketing campaign, it is clear that this is not just a skirmish into the unknown for Trinity Mirror.

The paper itself is premised to be un-biased and a politically neutral view on the big issues of the day, a position once held by another national newspaper. On inspection it seems they are making a good stab at this. The articles are balanced with both sides of the given debate being given column inches. The editorial is made up of lots of opinions with Alison Phillips curating a host of different commentators not just the same journalists opinions. It’s shorts (40 pages) and sets out to inform and not bombard, they aim to do this by not repeating themselves on a daily basis, something that only time will confirm.

The layout is fresh and pretty easy to navigate, something that I have always respected The Week for. You know what you are getting and where to find it and I envisage this being the same. As an avid sportsman I was interested to see the sport section in the middle but then if you are going to break moulds why not go the whole hog.

From an advertisers point of view, it will be interesting to see how commercial and editorial approach the coming weeks and months and whether they work together in a harmonised way that achieves a number of business goals or falls into the segregated departments of old that many argue is an ongoing thorn in the side of the publisher industry.

It’s brave, it’s bold and it certainly wasn’t expected by even those within the industry. However there are few publishers out there who can say that they have mastered the perfect business model so why not give it a go - after all the 29th of February only comes round every 4 years.

Claudine Collins, managing director, MediaCom UK

My initial reaction when I heard about the launch was that they have to be mad. Launching a national newspaper, (and newspaper only) when paper circulations and readerships are on a downward trend is a brave move, but I really hope that it will pay off. They must believe there is a market as they are a plc and have put a lot of money behind it. It is as new and refreshing as it promised to be and I can’t stress enough how hard it is to judge on the first issue.

From the first issue, I agree it is very female biased appealing to women in their 40’s, but I think it is much more mass-market than mid-market.

I love the name of it, the white paper, and the fact that there are lots of pictures.

I really like the ‘for and against’ debate for most of the articles and am pleased the PM has contributed in the launch edition; it is supposed to be non-political and has managed to be this despite the PM writing for them.

The negatives are the price point – I think it will be a big struggle if it is over 20p an issue - and the positioning. It is supposed to be upbeat but the first two articles I read were about children being carers, and the thousands of people stranded as Macedonia closes its borders.

It feels quite bitty because much of it is frivolous (e.g. a picture of Perrie Edwards burning her hand and dogs in dresses) whilst other articles are very deep (e.g. the albino babies torn from their mothers arms and their limbs hacked off).

I reiterate it is always hard to lay a stake in the ground on day one as usually it takes a while to settle down.

In terms of building a loyal readership, I think that there is an opportunity for the readers to really feel an affiliation with this paper but in my humble opinion they are missing a trick. You could start online with a debating forum for all the ‘for and against’ articles they have written. Readers could then vote and discuss etc.

I know they are planning on doing that the following day via comments their readers have posted on Facebook, twitter or email, but maybe a community that debates issues online would give a better affinity with the paper.

Ed Bowsher, senior analyst, Share Radio

The decision to launch the ‘The New Day’ newspaper seems very strange. It doesn’t make sense to launch a new paper in a market that will probably be pretty much dead in ten years’ time. ‘The New Day’ doesn’t even have a website! So there’s no way I’d buy shares in Trinity Mirror right now.

Charlie Woodall, Partnerships Manager at OMD UK

Sympathetic to the strengths of online in the news market, The New Day’s focus on feature-led content is a logical approach. Allied with the ambition of reaching more women than men, this launch presents new opportunities for advertisers and could yet be an indication of the future for the wider print market in the digital-first age.

Rachel Bristow, director of partnerships, Sky Media

It is great to see this ambition from Trinity Mirror and the publishing market responding to changing consumer behaviours. I applaud Trinity Mirror and by launching a new news title, it is definitely swimming against the tide, but it’s worth trying. Within the medium there is constant movement, and this new launch is driven by expertise and research. With James Wildman’s background I’m sure that Trinity Mirror has looked at Television as an example of a medium that is thriving with innovation, investment and brilliant content at its heart.

Matthew Hook, managing director of Carat UK

All audiences and advertisers now operate in a predominantly digital media economy. It’s perfectly possible for an analogue paper product to succeed but much will depend on whether the content, the format and the distribution are well suited to the digital economy.

The New Day is clearly contemporary and different from what’s out there. It will need to continue to be as different as possible, to find unique content, maintain a fresh look and feel, and, ideally, distribution USPs, to have a chance of prospering. Even if it doesn’t fly in its exact form, Trinity Mirror will be learning a lot about the emerging media landscape that it couldn’t learn from iterating existing properties. This bravery is a requirement in a challenged market and both Trinity and the landscape as a whole should benefit.

What people will look for in a new newspaper is content that is concise, positive and trustworthy. They will look for a format low in advertising clutter and convenient to access – ideally low cost, accessible by mobile and easy to pick up before a journey. This is where the New Day could succeed. The established publisher brands have legacy but it is this loyal readership that actually make it difficult to change and adapt. The New Day, born in the modern world, must seize this opportunity.

Most publishers are looking for new revenue streams – typically from things like reader offers, events, data monetisation and so on. Still, the dominant forms of revenue are advertiser spend and cover price, roughly 50:50. I wouldn’t imagine Trinity Mirror is thinking far beyond this as a business model in the short term. They will also, of course, be looking to optimize cost and manage risk – but given the cost of the production and distribution infrastructure this probably isn’t quite as high a risk as one might think.

Newspapers aren’t necessarily doomed. However, the big challenge for all new editorial brands is to work out their role and business model in the digital economy. It’s fair to say this is pretty tricky. There is probably a baseline for how low print sales will go. Moments like the commute and the Sunday newspaper are likely to remain robust as long as the product itself can keep going at a high enough quality. For example, in the 30 years leading up to 1985, cinema viewing collapsed by 80%. That’s the kind of thing print is going through now. But since then, cinema viewing has increased by 65%, albeit from a much-reduced base. The game isn’t over. Some fresh thinking is required, but a few calculated risks like the New Day may begin to show where growth is going to come from.

Jessica Goodfellow

The Drum's media reporter covering everything from publishing, TV, social media, radio and technology.

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