I was both surprised and impressed when The New European launched how it reached the news stand at my local supermarket. But mostly I thought that in launching two weeks after the Brexit vote it arrived too late for the actual fight.
In fact it was only planned for a four week run (a plan which its low production values seemed to confirm), but clearly sales confirmed there was a real (if highly niche) appetite for much more. Design has gotten slicker, but print costs are still low.
Four years later, while it may have missed the fight for Europe, but it still going strong, and is being floated off from Archant (a huge player in the regional press in England) after bought out by its present management and their investors.
This fascinating write up at the Nieman Lab blog at Harvard University (H/T David) includes an interview with Gavin Reilly, the new executive chair of the title, who explains his ideas for expanding its circulation to Europe.
Joshua Benson at the Nieman Lab offers four critical insights to anyone thinking about launching a new print paper:
…it’d probably look a lot like The New European.
First, it’d be weekly (or monthly!) rather than daily. Printing daily only highlights how much better digital is at distributing of-the-moment news; printing weekly optimizes for content with a little more shelf life and gives you better delivery options.
Second, it would be targeted at a very specific, very passionate niche audience and not be shy about taking its side. (It’s too late now, but I thought that an anti-Trump weekly print newspaper might have had a chance in the United States the past four years.) That passion is critical to both gaining subscribers and unlocking other brand-driven streams of revenue like events. It helps if your niche is, like The New European’s, is relatively well off.
Third, it’d be produced on the cheap. The New European’s production budget is just £6,500 an issue (about $8,900 American). As part of Archant, it could piggyback on its back-office operations, printing, and distribution. Its full-time staff is just three people.
And fourth, its ambitions would be realistic. To benefit from its niche audience’s passion, The New European must also accept the cap that niche imposes on its growth. One imagines Mark Thompson and Lionel Barber aren’t expecting their investments here to generate ungodly intergenerational wealth. Tech investors chase scale; outlets like The New European know their scale will always be modest.
Hmmm… Feels a bit like the Politico model, which originally began online and grew a print arm to distribute largely in downtown DC to begin with. It sounds like an awfully big adventure. And, certainly, some food for thought.
Photo by enzoabramo is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty