Battle lines drawn for Fleet Street's finest - Media - News - The Independent

Battle lines drawn for Fleet Street's finest

Forget the Ashes, this autumn could see one of the bitterest newspaper circulation wars for years

This time it's the most important autumn for years. It usually is. New initiatives are being taken. There has been activity in the transfer market. No paper has changed ownership over the past year; there has been only one high-profile change of editor, Dominic Lawson replaced by Sarah Sands at The Sunday Telegraph; no paper changed size. A quiet year. Only it wasn't; it was ferociously competitive. It usually is.

As we look forward, it is again the serious end of the national daily market that grabs attention. The Sun retains leadership at the tabloid end, out of sight of the once dominant Mirror. In the mid market, the Daily Mail can disregard the once-mighty Express, now so lacking the flair of its rival and selling a third as many copies.

But at the former broadsheet end of the spectrum, sales decline is not a given (see Independent and Times). For nearly two years, since the dramatic launch of the compact Independent, soon followed by The Times, competition has been fierce and format debate intense. Now we are about to go through another burst of innovation, as The Guardian relaunches a week tomorrow in midway, smaller than broadsheet, bigger than tabloid, format. (The size is called Berliner and the typefaceis called Egyptian - I doubt Daily Mail readers would tolerate such foreign intrusion.)

We will consider the success or failure of this radical change - to a newspaper that has been losing sales - when it appears. The rival editors, knowing it is coming, have had to determine whether a response is needed. Whatever they do, it will never be described as a response, always as "a planned series of developments to the paper to provide a better product for readers".

It has been the style of The Times's reflective editor, Robert Thomson, to develop his compact paper progressively. Two important things are happening at this start of the editorial year. The second section of the paper is being revamped and the price is going up.

T2 is becoming Times2 - that should get them rushing to the news stands. The redesigned supplement will provide "knowledge for the knowing", I read, which shows the marketing people have not lost their touch. They describe their audience as The Times's "renaissance readers". Which is one way of describing the women readers they are so keen to attract.

It is more than 10 years since the serious newspapers competed from the same price base, but tomorrow Times, Guardian and Telegraph will cost 60p (The Independent is 5p more). For years rivals have cried foul over Rupert Murdoch's so-called price war with his rivals. Now we will be able to see the effect of the level playing field.

Not that it is ever as simple as that. The Telegraph's version of price cutting, which continues and allows The Times to say that it sells more full-price copies than its rivals, is selling cut-price copies through a voucher system. And, of course, sales figures are distorted by the "bulks", the copies we pick up for free in our hotels and on the train.

The Independent has brought back Helen Fielding and Bridget Jones, and says it has further plans under wraps. Much has been made of the Telegraph taking 36-year-old Will Lewis from The Sunday Times as its city editor, and developments to that area of its coverage will follow. Although The Telegraph is still not downsizing - I think wisely - it is changing quite radically.

Martin Newland, its editor, has the reputation of being a man preoccupied with news, always the core strength of his newspaper. Yet in recent weeks, without fanfare or talk of redesign or relaunch, I have found it a very different product. The content is ever frothier, more lavishly presented with large colour pictures. I know they are trying to bury their association with the Cheltenham colonels but I do wonder what their solidly conservative middle-class audience makes of a page on "Swazi king has his pick of 50,000 virgins", many of them pictured not over-clothed. Or of the huge front-page billing for Victoria Beckham talking about her reading habits. Or successive home news pages, in colour, on Jools Holland's wedding and Michael Owen's transfer. Things are not as they were.

Look out for many more opportunities to increase your DVD collection or download some more tracks. Look for a surge in TV advertising. Once again it is gloves off for the new season. It is as competitive as an Ashes series.

Peter Cole is professor of journalism at the University of Sheffield

News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Director of Programming and Industry Engagement

£40k - £50k depending on experience: Sheffield Doc/Fest: Sheffield Doc/Fest is...

Resourcer / Junior Recruiter

£15-20k (DOE) + Benefits / Bonus: Guru Careers: Joining as a Resourcer / Juni...

Head of Design & UX / UX Architect

£55 - 70k: Guru Careers: Head of Design & UX / UX Architect is needed to join ...

Media and Entertainment Lawyer - City

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - A specialist opportunity with ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week