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10/12/2006

State of the UK online newspaper nation

 

 Peter Preston's column this week for the Observer gives a pretty good overview of the UK national newspaper scene - concentrating not just on the continuing decline in print sales but on their fortunes online.

Then the Guardian, Times, Telegraph, Sun and Mail dominate the field. The Mirror is still Britain's third-biggest selling daily, but on the web it only rates around number eight for UK usage (with a unique audience of 452,000 online, less than a quarter of the Guardian's top-dog total, and under half of the Sun's 1.02 million). So why not - for once - plough in some cash as the rivals have done and renovate the national titles' rather bog standard sites? Why not make a leap of faith?

Unhappily, though, faith is just the ingredient we're talking about - as some at Trinity, and further afield, begin to fear. The dread word that haunts these ABCs is migration. Simply: if we give our readers, real and potential, a wonderful free service on the internet, why should they ever buy the paper again? More relevantly, why should they trudge out to a newsstand on some wet November day if they can find their morning fixes snug at home?

It's the sort of thinking he is attacking that will sink the Mirror (and the Independent?) as national media brands.

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