In an industry obsessing over Facebook Instant Articles, Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages, short form video, bots, virtual reality and millennials’ use of Snapchat, *breathes* Trinity Mirror’s announcement of a new print newspaper, The New Day, seemed… a move in the wrong direction?
Then, taking into account everything I’ve ever learned about the fundamental need for journalism to serve the reader – I was perplexed when the paper was said to be aimed at people who don’t like newspapers.
But experimentation is what will save journalism, to use the tired old trope. And maybe a print newspaper, whose only online presence lives on social media, is so unlikely, so disruptive, it could actually work.
Life is short…
As you’ll have probably heard, it didn’t. The goal had been to sell more than 200,000 a day but it ended up selling closer to 30,000.
The New Day published its last issue yesterday, two months after it started. ‘Life is short,’ the newspaper’s tagline began.
I thought it was a bad product. Flicking through its pages, you’d think the editors weren’t in the business of selling newspapers.
Print can be revitalised. The best newspapers are undeniably relevant to their readers. Every page drags you in by the collar and provokes a range of emotional responses – disgust, amusement, joy. You can’t just inform – everyone else is doing that on multiple platforms.
The New Day failed to be relevant to readers.
But I’m inclined to join Guardian media columnist Roy Greenslade and point the finger at Trinity Mirror’s CEO, Simon Fox.
Says Greenslade: ‘The very fact that the newspaper was launched on the cheap was a large part of the reason for its failure.
‘It was a toe-in-the-water, rather than a full-hearted, experiment. It was bold in its concept and timid in its execution. And while we’re at it, note the big difference between boldness and foolhardiness.’
The people at the top must take ultimate blame. It was a bold experiment, something Trinity Mirror is known for after the projects of Ampp3d, UsVsTh3m and Mirror Row Zed. But the New Day project lacked ambition and hunger. Without those things, it was doomed to failure.