Friday 6th of May marked the last day of The New Day newspaper, launched just nine weeks earlier. This is hardly surprising. Decline in newspaper circulation has been precipitated by readers switching to online sources for their news, which are largely free. For what reason, then, was this venture undertaken? Why did somebody see a new day dawning in print media as it enters its twilight?
The New Day website sets out the paper’s mission statement. The paper aimed to be short, optimistic and politically neutral. It is here where the paper’s thinking becomes clear. The New Day spotted a gap in the market: a mid-market paper that offers an alternative for those put off by the sensationalism and partisan anger of The Daily Mail.
But wait, The Daily Mail is the market leader in this space. Anger, a firm viewpoint, and sensationalism has found a greater appetite with the newspaper reading public for The Daily Mail than its more reserved rivals. When most people want to read a rant, offering a non-committal neutral response is not going to win you legions of readers.
Notably The Independent, which holds no allegiance to any political party, has also run into difficulty recently and called it a day on its print edition, while partisan broadsheets like The Telegraph and The Guardian continue with daily production. The New Day’s commitment to neutrality prevented it from inspiring a tribal group of committed readers who felt that the paper was their political Bible.
The New Day also took a daring approach in choosing to be features led. Sometimes being unique is not a good thing, and this experiment did not attract a mass audience.
Another challenge that The New Day faced was its attempt to be the ideal paper for those rushed for time, the perfect commuters’ paper able to be read in one quick sitting. Here The New Day was pitting itself against Metro, the paper with the third highest circulation in the UK, which is all importantly free. At 50p this was a contest The New Day was never going to win.
It seems the New Day’s optimism extended to its business model. It got one thing right though, with a lifespan of just over two months, it certainly was a short read.