Some of you won’t have heard of New Day. It’s a UK newspaper that, get this, is written for non-newspaper buyers. You read that correctly. It’s a bit like creating a website targeted at people who don’t have internet access. And, speaking of websites – it made a decision not to have one.
Unsurprisingly, it’s been announced that after less than two months, the paper will cease publication.
Trinity Mirror were looking to reach daily sales of 200,000. It has settled at just 40,000. For a national daily newspaper in the UK – those are numbers that don’t work. To put that into some context, my local newspaper – The Courier sells over 45,000 copies a day.
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From what I’ve read this is the New Day concept in a nutshell.
We are time poor. People don’t have time to read lengthy newspaper articles. They need short, snappy more direct content. They need digestible content. Content they can dip into and out of easily. Content that ‘reflects’ their busy lives. And they need a different tone.
I agree with a lot of this. There’s no doubt that we are time poor. It’s why I read short stories rather than novels. And it’s why people who don’t usually read fiction have been reading my Daily 100 Word Stories. They can’t, or don’t want to make a commitment to something bigger. But did they go out and search for those stories? Did they go into a book shop or hop online to Amazon and find a book that offered them very short stories? No – they didn’t.
They found my stories online, mostly through social media. I filled a need they didn’t even know they had. My audience is finding me.
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The failure of New Day is hardly surprising. It was doomed from the start. I imagine they had tons of research and consumer insight. I’m guessing the research was manipulated or misinterpreted to tell them that it would work. In other words – they let the data tell them the story they wanted to hear. I’m sure the consumer insight told them the truth. It reinforced the fact that we are time poor. That’s not a difficult thing to do.
I worked a lot with research in my D.C. Thomson days and was heavily involved with some large consumer insight projects. The knowledge we gained was invaluable and helped inform strategy and tactics. But data always needs to be challenged. Assumptions need to be challenged. Because if you don’t – poor decisions will be made.
New Day is a spectacular example of poor decision making. They got the core facts right, but, crucially – they got the implementation wrong. A newspaper wasn’t right. Maybe a website or app delivering a new breed of journalism could have worked? Perhaps a bit like Medium. Possibly with a blend of traditional journalism and user generated content.
The World doesn’t need another newspaper. It does, though, need more creative and innovative journalism. And it needs more stories. If the likes of Trinity Mirror and the other newspaper publishers invested all the money they’ve pissed up the wall on projects like this on their CONTENT, JOURNALISM, PEOPLE, ADVERTISERS, and READERS – they’d be adding real value. They’d find their audience. They’d be relevant. Instead, though, they’re trapped in a mindset. Paralysed by the past. And they lack a connection with the realities of modern life.
I’ve worked recently on two projects that are insight based. I’ve enjoyed both of them because the organisations are committed to using data in the right way. In other words, they are using data to find the truth. That’s the takeaway from this somewhat rambling post – use the data you have to help you discover the truth. Use data to help you tell a better, more accurate story. Use data to understand your customers. Use data to learn. Use data to improve. And above all – interrogate your data AND your assumptions.
And for New Day – the truth was in the data. Unfortunately – it appears, they couldn’t handle the truth. They created a narrative around the data. And, they decided to take a gamble. A gamble that was never going to pay-off.
P.S. – Here’s a slightly more erudite article on the subject from Roy Greenslade at The Guardian.