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Death of the New Day

The first part of The New Day’s front page slogan, “Life is short…”, has proved horribly prophetic. A mere 49 days old, it has closed – making it the shortest lived national newspaper ever.

I can’t say I’m surprised. Much of the copy has been shockingly dull. Columns in Thursday’s penultimate issue included one woman describing why she moved to the countryside and a stay-at-home dad talking about taking his two daughters to the library.

Seriously? Are they really the two most interesting people they could find to talk to in this extraordinarily vibrant city?

Another page ran a debate on Madonna. Should she dress her age or not? with the shamelessly predictable headline: ‘Someone tell her to grow up.’ Compare this to The Pool’s brilliantly original piece on Madonna being the victim of sexism and ageism by the white, middle-aged men that mostly run the media. I know which piece I’d rather read.

And this from a Female editor, Alison Phillips, boasting a 70% staff of women. Phillips said at the paper’s launch: “I wanted to create a different product and I wanted to recruit people who are like the target readers, women in their 40s, normal people, people enjoying a modern family life.’

In fact ‘normal’ was said to be her driving editorial force. The section of society she wanted to appeal to. But what’s exciting about normal? Who wants to read something about being normal? Who wants to think of themselves as being normal?

Apparently, not many. The truth is that in a brutally competitive market the only hope of attracting new readers is with original, sophisticated, controversial, racy stories. The very antithesis of normal.

And Phillips fatally underestimated the female audience she wanted to target. For not one of them is normal. They are unique, smart, feisty, judgemental but emotional too. There are so, so many ways to tap into this fantastic rich seam of women – the brutal truth is they just didn’t do it cleverly enough.

There were logistical errors to. The launch was lacklustre to say the least and there was initial confusion about how much it would cost. At first it was free, then 25p before settling at 50p.

And who’s going to pay 50p for this oh-so-normal product when the far superior Metro is for free?

 Written by Lisa Carter, partner at PR firm Bell Pottinger and head of lifestyle. Formerly an editor of the Daily Mail’s Femail department and assistant editor at The Sun.

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