Monday, January 28, 2008

How to insult your readers and lose them?

The 'Sinking Sunday Star-Times' is an issue I have covered many times before. But yesterday's editorial attacking 'the right' raises the matter once more.

My argument is that the paper is so left-leaning that its stance causes the paper to lose many readers, particularly the better off readers that its advertisers will love.

I'm not arguing that the paper should become a cheerleader for ACT/National, but such a stance would probably be more in line with the middle New Zealand that tends to favour broadsheets, just as the 'working class' tend to go for tabloids.

In recent years, under its current editor Cate Brett, sales and readership of the broadsheet have been lost by the ten thousand.

True, papers the world over have been losing sales by the bucketload as readers and advertisers flee to the web, and perhaps we don't have the time any more to sit and read the paper like we used to.

But the Sunday Star-Times has done pretty badly, with John Drinnan at the NZ Herald last year describing the sales plunge early last year as 'severe.'

Now, this weekend, the paper lost ACT supporting Lindsay Mitchell after an editorial over a smacking referedum doubted ACT supporters and others could be decent.

The views of 300,000 seeking a referedm can hardly be so contemptuously and I recall there were huge majorities that opposed the smacking bill. Can the paper be so out of tune with , what was it, 80% or more of New Zealand, who opposed the act?

I am sure Cate Brett and Fairfax executives will not tremble over the loss of one reader but under Brett the Star-Times has lost so many more readers like her.

Rather than be representative of a broad cross-section of New Zealand, is the SST just an echo for the Grey Lynn left?

In competitive markets, being in touch with your readers is seen as the pre-requisite for success as well as survival.

Something is amiss here and for the sake of the paper's own survival and profitability the paper needs to assess its editorial stance, especially when its 'liberalism' seems so out of touch with New Zealand and the paper's beloved Labour Party and Clark are lagging so well behind in the polls.

I would hope that the paper's Wellington-based bosses are aware of the problem.

But what about those at Fairfax HQ in Darling Harbour, Sydney?

Shouldn't they be told? Are you listening Captain Kirk?

In the meantime, I expect fresh sales/circulation figures will be due out next month.

I await them with interest.


Sean said...

Yep, it was a shocker of an editorial. Poor choice of words. The editor should have slept on it before publishing.
Many blogs have commented on it. Surprised Lindsay Mitchell even had a subscription to start with!

scrubone said...

They also made a silly mistake, as I point out on my own post Family First didn't start till 2006.

Anonymous said...

I only buy it because I refuse to buy the Herald after the number they did on John Banks et al in the 2004 local body elections. I am left with no choice now. Great aye!


Sean said...

Gooner - 2004?! Man you hold a grudge. They have _somewhat_ redeemed themselves in the past six months. Even senior Labour politicians are whinging at the Herald.

And by the way, aren't you an author here? If so, why don't you have a Blogger/Google login? What's this 'Anonymous' nonsense?

And finally, what happened to your 2007 new year resolution to sign off comments & posts in your real name? Which I won't repeat in case that resolution has been recanted!

Okay one more point. Ashley Cole continues to spiral downwards since leaving Arsenal. Latest is that he cheated on his wife with a hairdresser! And she's going to tell all in one of FFM favourite Brit tabloids!!! (FFM - maybe she will be on a page 3, if not been already!)

Monty said...

i cancelled my subscription about this time last year for the same reason - I was overjoyed when they rang me to ask why I had cancelled - I told them that I was sick to death of the extreme left wing editorial and left wing bias.

Sean said...

Monty - nice. It's not often you get the satisfaction of an opportunity to explain why you canceled a service.


Oh yes Sean, the tabloids lapped up Ashley Cole and his fling.
Ytrouble is, I have been out of the Uk for so long, that I haven't heard of many celebrities and soccer stars that grave the tabloids.
It's enough keeping up with who is who in Westminster.

Gooner said...

Sean, I am just lazy with the sign-offs.

Anyone who leaves the Arse is automatically doomed. I see we have drawn Man U in the 5th round of the FA Cup, away. Interesting tie that will be.