The newspapers to have gone furthest downmarket over the last decade are arguably The Mirror and The Times. But the People’s Paper began the great leap back upward on September 11. Is the Top People’s Paper now about to go into reverse too?
It has spent most of its Rupert Murdoch years and a great deal of his money broadening its appeal (as the euphemism goes) and broadening its price differential to match. Under five very different editors, it has not succeeded in bestriding its market as Murdoch’s three other UK titles bestride their markets.
But is he likely to abandon his dream of The Times as his fourth colossus? Hardly.
All it has to do is outclass its competitors.
Be newsier than the Telegraph. More entertaining than The Guardian. Less maverick than The Independent. And as much a business world must-read as the FT.
The alternative is to refine its target to making a profit from quality readership at quality cover price and quality ad-rates.
We are told that editor Peter Stothard’s departure is not sudden. But it does seem odd that he should have embarked on a controversial rejig a week before announcing he is stepping down after 10 years.
We shall see how many issues it takes the new editor to award Business pride of place at the expense of the ad-starved Sport section and the tabloid T2.
And, indeed, how many issues it takes to restore the celebrated obituaries cast by Stothard into a Bermuda Triangle between Sport and Business.
The Mail bites back
Those dreading any outbreak of peace between Express and Mail will have been reassured by the latter’s Rich Report last Sunday. It ranked Richard Desmond at 152, compared with the 8th position accorded by his own paper’s Rich List.
The Mail on Sunday put Desmond’s worth at a mere £200m, compared with the £1.2bn declared by his Sunday Express. It also highlighted the cash inflow from his skinmags and his Fantasy Channel (whose offerings he instructs "The World’s Greatest Newspaper" to list each day: 1.55 Cute girls caught unawares, 2.55 Dante’s Dick).
We await the Mail’s counter to the Express’s Power List, which rated Desmond 16th (with Lord Rothermere at 205) and proclaimed his "high-level contacts in Westminster and Buckingham Palace".