Rising Sun - Why the UK's newest Sunday paper is important for us all
- 21 Feb
So, it appears that we are about to welcome a new national newspaper – The Sun on Sunday, which launches this weekend. Rupert Murdoch has travelled to the UK to personally oversee its launch and is pulling out all the stops. Only recently, he promised that it was ‘coming soon’ and now it’s almost here.
It’s the first launch of a national newspaper in the UK since 1990, when The Independent on Sunday was introduced. Some would argue that it’s not really a new launch at all, but merely a rebrand of The News of the World, which News International shut last year in the aftermath of the phone hacking scandal.
Will The Sun on Sunday really just be The News of the World with another name? The answer is probably ‘yes’. How different can it be? In any case, most of the journalists are the same ones that worked on The News of the World. Have people had enough time to forgive and forget what happened to trigger the end of The News of the World? I doubt it. Will advertisers want to be associated with the publication? Only time will tell.
Murdoch believes there is a gap in the market and says that readers are begging him to launch the title. He will have certainly looked at the numbers and will have saved money in certain areas – newspapers operate on much smaller staffing levels than previously.
The world has, of course, changed dramatically since The Sun launched in the 1960s. Then, if somebody wanted to read topical, lively, celebrity-focused news, they’d turn to The Sun. The Sun remains the UK’s top selling national paper, but, along with all the other nationals, its circulation has dropped considerably since the beginning of this century.
Today, there are people who read all of their daily news online – on computers, tablets and smartphones. Newspapers no longer hold their central role as the source of news: Twitter, Facebook and blogs vie for pole position. Celebrities now don't have to depend on a small number of newspapers to massage their egos – their huge PR machines churn out content which turns up on numerous websites and news portals across the globe. And while celebrities are busy producing their own content, clued-up corporates are doing the same - producing content, through blogging and articles, to improve their SEO rankings and keep their names in front of potential customers.
Whether one is a fan of tabloid newspapers or not, the launch of The Sun on Sunday - and any other major news title for that matter - is an undeniably good thing. Serious reporting will be the casualty if newspapers fail.
Over the years, journalists have been applauded for exposing corruption, injustice and suffering. At the end of the day, in theory at least, their job is to find the truth. The industry has severely blotted it's copybook over phone hacking, but if newspapers do fail and we are left with self generated content produced purely for promotional reasons, we will surely be left not knowing what to believe. Cynicism will prevail.
This is something that companies need to take onboard. Those that are producing content should be applauded – but it has to be well-written and relevant. Poorly crafted, puffy, self-promotional pieces will be discarded with the same disdain as celebrity gossip and do nothing to build respect and trust. Conversely, content that adds value and is independently assessed and accepted as news by a journalist has instant credibility. Businesses should consider engaging a journalist to help them present their news and opinions correctly.
How The Sun on Sunday fairs once Mr Murdoch has gone home remains to be seen, but I predict that, if you want a copy of the first edition, you should get up early to make sure you get one.