March 26 will see the last ever issue of The Independent go to print, with the iconic daily being kept alive as an online-only newsbrand. This is not the first media brand to shift to a digital model in 2016, following in the footsteps of the BBC’s decision to move BBC Three online on February 16.
News of The Independent’s closure came with little surprise as the title had been on a downward spiral ever since the publisher switched its 70,000 bulk copies to sister title The i. With this apparent shift in focus, the circulation of The Independent was nudged into freefall, with a 70% decline since the launch of The i (182,412 – ABC Sept 2010 to 55,193 ABC Jan 2016).
Despite the apparent hard times for traditional media, Trinity Mirror is fighting the tide and launching The New Day on February 29. This launch has been in the making since the release of Trinity Mirror’s research piece Modal Britain, detailing the wants and needs of the middle 50% of the population.
This research has been the fuel for the project, and has dictated the shape of the paper – everything from its political bias to the pagination. This is a paper created entirely with the consumer in mind – the title will include only eight fixed ad sites, a decision to prioritise readers’ consumption rather than agreeing to a dynamic format in order to fulfil advertiser demand.
The New Day is also launching without an accompanying website, as the publisher seeks to focus on fulfilling unsatisfied consumer needs in print. It is, they say, a true publication for the open-minded, optimistic, but time-poor consumer, designed to be read cover to cover in 30 minutes.
News of the launch has been met with positive feedback, with many feeling that, with the right formula, there is no reason why a launch in print can’t be successful. You only need to look at 2010’s launch of The i for proof of this.
Just this week Dominic Mills of MediaTel referred to print as “the cockroach of media”, destined to thrive in the darker niches of media, satisfying specific needs of the minority, yet still in a position to bring revenue to publishers.
All the signs point towards a strong appetite for print across many demographics, with millions of people still buying a paper on a daily basis – so is print dead, or merely going through a forced digital evolution? ESI, the publisher of The Independent, clearly thinks that digital only newsbrands are the way forward, but Trinity Mirror is standing firm with the belief that there is still a place in the market for a fresh, thoroughly researched, modern print publication – only time will tell if this is a New Day for print.