The New York Times recently profiled the British newspaper The New Day, which just entered the UK’s competitive media market. What makes the paper different is their aversion to, well, digital. The Times notes:
What it doesn’t have is a website. Or an app. Or really much of a digital presence at all.
The article continues to point out that many publishers have “accepted as gospel that the future is digital” and that The New Day’s move is undeniably curious. The newspaper has Facebook and Twitter accounts – where they publish previews of the broadsheet- but that’s it.
Theoretically, the argument could be made that newspapers might follow the same path as eBooks: digital will catch fire, and then slowly reach an equilibrium with traditional print works. Newspapers, like eBooks, have a charming, traditional, tactile sensibility that other analog media lack.
But the news, and therefore newspapers, are simply too ephemeral to be given the same gravitas as a print book.
The New Day’s strategy, however amusing, is not the stuff a sustainable business is made of. One could make the argument that if they were social media-only, they might have found a niche that allowed them to break news (and keep distribution costs at zero while monetizing through sponsored posts or ads). But they are saddled with an expensive printing and distribution operation that will obviously affect profitability.
As I wrote the other day about The Economist’s digital efforts:
The media landscape is really changing, and it’s fascinating to see more traditional publishers embrace digital in different ways: The Washington Post has gone all-in on Facebook Instant Articles, The New York Times now has a Virtual Reality department, and the Financial Times produces dozens of videos every month.
Is the future of news VR? Snapchat? Digital sandwich boards? It’s hard to say. But one thing is for certain: It seems unlikely that The New Day will last very long in its current iteration.