By Alistair Smout
LONDON (Reuters) – A new “pop-up” newspaper aimed at the 48 percent of Britons who voted unsuccessfully to stay in the European Union hit the news stands on Friday aiming to cater for what it called their sense of dismay and anger.
“The New European,” costing two pounds ($2.65) a copy, will appear weekly for the next three Fridays, mostly in areas that voted to stay in the EU in June’s referendum such as London, Liverpool and Manchester.
Whether it continues any longer than that will depend on sales. Publishers Archant said that after the fourth issue, “every week’s sale will be a referendum on the next”.
The first edition features a brightly colored front page carrying trailers for the paper’s contributors alongside a large cartoon while editor Matt Kelly writes inside of the shock he says many pro-EU voters felt at the referendum result.
“Walking in London the day after the vote was like walking through the world’s biggest funeral parlor,” he said in an introductory leader. “Everywhere the sense of bereavement was palpable.”
The paper features articles from journalists across Europe including Tanit Koch, editor of Germany’s Bild, and Wolfgang Blau, former journalist for the Guardian and Germany’s weekly Die Zeit.
The New European is, appropriately, 48 pages long and its publishers say it is the quickest newspaper launch in British history.
“If ever there was a gap in the market, with a constituency for a newspaper, it’s today, and there’s over 16 million of them,” Kelly told Reuters.
In all, 200,000 copies of the first edition have been printed, a quarter of them in Manchester.
A straw poll in Shoreditch, east London, on Friday morning found the paper was stocked by most newsagents and supermarkets, but some complained that the price was too high and they had received too many copies. Early sales had been slow, they said.
Commuter Nick Georgiou, 33, works in London and voted to stay in the EU. Despite this, he was not sure he would pay for the new newspaper.
“To be honest I think any newspaper just wouldn’t be worth two quid (pounds) regardless of the content. I think you can get everything online,” he told Reuters.
But retail worker Catherine Dash, 20, liked the paper’s style and colors.”I don’t think it’s worth two pounds,” she said, “but it would be worth it for people who voted ‘In’ to know what other people are feeling so they’re not on their own.”
POP BACK DOWN
The print newspaper industry has been in decline in recent years, with the Independent newspaper going online-only in March after nearly 30 years in print, and publisher Trinity Mirror closing its “New Day” title in May just two months after it was launched.
Kelly said that the pop-up model for print journalism could provide an answer to the challenge of digital but added that if sales prove disappointing the publishers were “quite prepared to pop back down, when the moment has passed”.
He also argued that two pounds a week is good value, even if consumer spending is hit by the Brexit vote, given the climate of political turbulence that the referendum had provoked.
“The value you get from any newspaper is extraordinary. Belts will get tightened, confidence will dip,” he said. “But there’s never been a more important time to be informed intelligently about why this is all happening.”
(Additional reporting by Emily Roe; editing by Stephen Addison)