The Daily Post has been killed off. Not just the newsprint edition but the online version too. Most newspapers that are shutdown live on in some sort of digital format, so does this signal a new and even more worrying trend for newspapers?Last Week Trinity Mirror stated: “The Post was a wonderful and much loved old lady who had simply come to the end of her natural life.” You can’t disagree with the fact its printed version was ready to be laid to rest even though the newspaper offered an alternative view to the tabloid frenzy of other publications and has seen many inspiring journalists pass through its ranks.
Someone, somewhere within Trinity Mirror decided on drastic action. For in the summer the website was revamped and a new daily app for smartphones was launched. Here’s what editor Mark Thomas said just a few months ago: “The new digital publication is a very exciting step for us, keeping our brand at the cutting edge of the news industry in our third century of publication.
“We have expanded our award-winning business team to deliver a richness and depth of business coverage that I think will be unrivalled in any regional city.”
That sounded like paving the way for an end to newsprint but it certainly didn’t sound the death of the brand.
So what’s going on here? I was quite surprised by the fact that the Daily Post daily e-newsletter had a roster of seven business journalists. I doubt some national papers have a team that big. When Trinity Mirror bought the Manchester Evening news it reduced the business team from five to three and that has a circulation of 75,000 not 5.000 like the Post.
More than that, the Post was asking subscribers to pay £9.99 for its app. Come on, in the era of freebies that isn’t going whet anyone’s appetite.
So either TM was throwing everything bar kitchen sink at the Daily Post or saddling it with a wage bill and a cost that wouldn’t have been viable in a million years.
And the closure announcement was accompanied by a statement that no journalists are going to lose their jobs. What a talented business team is going to do for the Liverpool Echo remains to be seen.
What we have to ask is whether the demise of the Daily Post online signals the second phase of the digital revolution; namely the disappearance of online brands because they too are not paying? This is quite possible. Murdoch abandoned his ipad-only newspaper while AOL is about to ditch 300 of its 900 patch.com community news sites in the States.
It may not be that drastic yet. Trinity Mirror may feel that cities with both morning and evening titles are superfluous in the current circumstances.
What is absolutely clear is that losing traditional newsprint readers is not really the issue; papers are built on a foundation of advertising and that is continuing to drain away both because of competition and the fact some businesses prefer spending on SEO . Also Theresa May has argued that local BBC news websites are killing local papers.
However the disappearance of a publication like the Post means business no longer has a voice in the city and one of the best business teams around has been dissolved.
Instead anyone interested in business news can look forward to soundbites in the Echo or online Newsletters. Hardly in-depth coverage.
Talking of the Echo, there are many grumblings of discontent about its front page emphasis on crime, drugs and guns. I can see what is happening; this is punch in the guts journalism, an attempt to grab people’s attention with shock tactics. What happens when that doesn’t work though…we’ll have to wait and see.
*Barry Turnbull is a former Daily Post business journalist.