The New European’s launch editor on bucking the trend in traditional media by rejecting antiquated political lines
Archant’s ‘pop-up’ newspaper ‘the New European’ hit newsstands today (8 July) and has seen the publisher seize the opportunity to fill a ‘Remain coverage gap’ by cutting through in what it calls the ‘failure of traditional newspapers to inform the public on the EU election’.
The launch of the newspaper comes at a time when many consumers are turned off by the ‘propaganda-style’ reporting around the state of the European Union and the ensuing referendum in the UK, with some even blaming such unbalanced reportage for the reason Brexit became a reality.
It is this ‘sense of dismay’ from 16 million Remain voters that the New European is hoping to tap into, with launch editor and chief content officer of Archant Matt Kelly saying consumers are “turned off” by traditional media “because it follows traditional political lines and I don’t think they are relevant anymore”.
“This is what I think is happening in society; it's not left versus right anymore, it's open versus closed. Expansive versus defensive. I think this is why politics is in such a tail spin, because it just doesn’t compute for them, nothing matches anymore. The Remain vote was right across the political spectrum, from far left to far right.
“There is nothing about old politics that makes sense anymore, and all of the daily newspapers in Britain are pretty well mapped into the old politics. So I don’t think that daily newspapers did a terrific job informing this country in the run up to the election. There is nothing there that feels like it is entirely aligned with the values of quite a big chunk of that 16 million.” Kelly added.
Are you hoping to affect change by launching this product?
“Not necessarily, it hasn’t got a manifesto, it doesn’t have an agenda, we are not campaigning for anything, we have clearly got a position which is that we think it is better to be part of a connected Europe. But we are not ramming politics down people’s throats, that is not what it is about, there are plenty of other places for that. This is about information and entertainment and a sense of belonging.”
How did you choose your writers?
"What I have been struck by throughout is this sense that people are fed up with expertise, something that one of the politicians said. I think that is utterly ridiculous and I think if ever we need people with expertise in their areas to be talking about complex matters then the time is now.
"So we have gone to look for experts in fields that we are interested in this week, in quite an eclectic mix of things from how well traditional media has served people of Britain - three people writing about that from very different angles, the technology industry and investment in entrepreneurship - we have got three people writing about that.
"We have also got European fashion [coverage], a PHD professor from Lancashire talking about how Liverpool is reborn thanks to the European Union and their funding and programs. We have got a spoken word poet talking about how millennials need to engage with the process. And lighter stuff about being European, like the greatest cafes in Paris, some features on the Tour de France. How football will be affected by coming out of the European Union. The first issue also features a poem by George Szirtes and a cartoon by Kerber and Black - the Private Eye and Daily Mirror cartoonists."
Feedback so far?
"We have had incredibly positive feedback. We have had people saying: ‘this is democracy why don’t you just accept it and shut up’. But equally my response is: ‘this is democracy and that means we can talk all we like’. I hope that the positivity that journalists and contributors have felt about this project is reflective of the positivity out there and if it is then we will do ok."
How have you managed to push the product to market so quickly?
"It is not much of a stretch, if you are used to producing daily newspapers you should be able to produce a weekly newspaper in 10 days. The challenge is designing it from scratch, organising the distribution, working out what the marketing is, organising the columnists, convincing people that it is a good thing to be part of because at the minute it is a bit of an abstract concept.
"From next week hopefully that will be easier because people will see how good it is and will want to be part of it. At the moment we are relying on contacts and friends and favours and people who are really proactive about trying to identify with the sense of being slightly disenfranchised by the European vote."
How will you market the newspaper?
"We are doing lots of PR. We have been quite successful in getting the message across and people are positive to that. We are also doing a lot of work on social media, using a tool called BrandWatch, which has helped us identify 200,000 people who have all attached themselves to Remain hashtags. We are distributing in areas that map the Remain vote. That is something that is fairly unique about this project - we know where our audience is and we know where it isn’t."