Trinity boss says readers didn't switch
Fox: ‘I have no regrets over launching New Day’
Trinity Mirror chief executive Simon Fox last night admitted it may have been “unrealistic” to launch a new daily paper earlier this year but said he had no regrets about doing it.
New Day was launched in February to supplement its stable of titles including the Daily Recore and Daily Mirror, and aimed to capture 200,000 readers, but it closed after just nine weeks.
The last edition of New Day appeared on 6 May with sales below 40,000 and continuing to fall. It was said to have a break even figure of 100,000.
At the time of the launch Mr Fox claimed there was a gap in the market for a paper that would adopt a more optimistic and politically neutral tone. The 40-page daily paper, initially priced at 25p, was selling for 50p, and was aimed primarily at women.
Critics said it was not adequately marketed, although £5 million was invested in promoting it.
Last night Mr Fox blamed the readers of other titles for not following through with their stated intention to switch from rival papers.
Speaking at a business dinner in Edinburgh, he said: “There was a lot about New Day I liked.
“Those people who said they hated the Daily Mail would not switch. It was quite clear we could not get to the readership we planned.
“Maybe it was unrealistic. No, I do not regret doing it.”
“There is no doubt we are in the eye of the storm in news publishing. Every aspect of the industry is changing,” he told Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce members at the Balmoral Hotel.
He said that in the past journalists and media companies were the only means of distributing news. “Now everyone has a smartphone and is a news gatherer,” he said, referring to recent events in Turkey and Nice where the public revealed the first reports and images.
“The major news events are increasingly captured by citizen journalists. The role of the traditional journalist has been disrupted.
“In the old days we invested millions in distributing news. That is not relevant any more. In today’s world, access to any number of social media platforms is the way to distribute news.”
He said the change had not only affected news, but also the advertising industry. “We once owned the classified sections, but then Auto Trader, Right Move and eBay came along and the business model was again disrupted.”
He also referred to the arrival of “newcomers” in the form of stand alone news websites.
Trinity Mirror was responding by investing in new content which was less gloomy and more user-friendly such as guides to golf and tourism. Fundamentally, the “core competency” of the media was to “tell stories”, but these also had to change.
“We realised that we were presenting an unrelenting diet of bad news. But readers told us they want to feel good about themselves and their towns, and advertisers also prefer it,” he said, pointing to an image behind him of a night-lit Liverpool that looked like Hong Kong.
There was also greater investment in what he called “data journalism”: providing local information on the weather, traffic, and so on.
“We are making ourselves essential to the communities we serve.”
He predicted “fewer daily newspapers over the next ten years” but he said printed papers had life left in them.
“There are those who think there is no value in print at all. I do not believe that.”