'The Sun' is the only paper to stand the heat of the slowdown

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The Independent Online

"It shines for all," boasted Benjamin Day of the original New York Sun, in 1838. Several revolutions later, Mr Day's successor in populism, Rebekah Wade of The Sun, is the only British editor who can plausibly make the same claim. Her title is now within 50,000 copies of overtaking its stablemate, the News of the World, as the country's biggest seller.

A decade of gravity-defying success is over for the Daily Mail. It achieved a small month-on-month circulation increase, but the only paper in recent times to compete with The Sun lost sales on the annual comparison. Only the latter sold more copies in July 2008 than in July 2007. Small wonder that the Mail's Paul Dacre has started to enthuse about the online service.

Print will not die, but newspapers now need good online journalism to complement their printed editions. Ofcom must curtail the BBC's use of the licence fee to subsidise internet news. This egregious example of market-distortion poses a grave threat to the diversity required to sustain British journalism.

In the quality market the Independent's new editor, Roger Alton, can take satisfaction in a sales rise of 0.56 per cent on the monthly comparison. The Times also prospered, aided by the appeal of its expanded Scottish edition.

Indigenous Scottish titles fared atrociously, with readers abandoning The Scotsman and The Herald. With proprietors who fail to understand their purpose, these historic papers have descended into dire mediocrity. In July The Scotsman sold just 49,422 copies a day.

Amid general gloom, those judged by Mr Justice Eady to have breached Max Mosley's right to personal privacy suffered no additional circulation damage. The Evening Standard must wait to gauge any impact on its recent good form of its humiliating apology to the Duke of Edinburgh.



Tim Luckhurst is professor of journalism at the University of Kent

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