A regional publisher’s ‘pop-up’ newspaper which was originally slated to last just four editions has marked its first anniversary in print today.
The New European was launched by Archant in the last year’s EU referendum to cater for the 48pc who voted to remain in the union.
At the time, the Norfolk-based publisher said it would initally run for four issues, with subsequent print runs being decided by reader interest.
But with most national dailies continuing to campaign loudly for ‘hard Brexit,’ the niche title was able to carve out a distinctive place in the market with a base sale of around 20,000.
Priced £2, the bulk of its revenues come from newsstand sales and subscriptions, although print advertising revenues are said to be growing.
Said Matt: “I think there are two main reasons. One is that it was launched in an incredibly short space of time – so we didn’t have time to talk ourselves out of a good idea.
“The second point is that it was absolutely clear who our audience was. We were able to say it’s the paper for the 48 per cent and everybody knew whether it was for them or not.
“I you ask me now is the New European a great success, if I was being really hard on myself I would say it’s an abject failure because my target audience was 16m strong and if I can only sell 20-25,000 copies each week then my God I’m really missing a trick.
“But I think having absolute clarity about who it was for was very handy for us from the off.”
Throughout its first year the The New European has been notable for its striking front pages. Here are some of Matt’s favourites together with his comments on each.
Says Matt: “This was our first issue, on sale less than a fortnight after the vote. I fancied a Charlie Hebdo style cartoon on the cover – something I should have taken more trouble to explain to my boss – I meant aesthetically rather than their deliberately provocative style – who went very pale when I told him. When I heard, two weeks later, that this issue had sold more than 40,000 copies, i performed a rather awkward but joyous jig on the Embankment. We were on to something. “
Says Matt: “Perhaps of all the covers we’ve done, this is the one I am most proud of. I published it knowing it would almost certainly cost us sales, as it is such a desperately pitiful image. The design is a pastiche of a Spanish Civil War poster. The original version featured a dead child from Madrid under a sky of German Condor Legion bomber planes. Our cover featured a real photograph of a dead child who had been bombed in Aleppo by Russian fighter jets. Many people thought the headline had been borrowed from a Manic Street Preachers song, but in fact they themselves took the line from the original Spanish poster. As it happens this issue sold rather well, affirming to me that The New Europeans audience care deeply about many things beyond Brexit.”
Says Matt: “Another top seller and also our most shared front page on social media. But the idea (which we made clear in the paper) was not original. A decade earlier, someone had done a similar treatment of a certain Tony Blair! This had subsequently been copied with Trump by a Vancouver-based mag called Adbusters. What goes around, comes around. This was also the week I appeared on Any Questions on BBCRadio4 – Jonathan Dimbleby described the cover and the artful placement of the barcode and got a great laugh from the respectable Durham audience which I took as a good signal that we had not been too offensive! “
Says Matt: “The original idea for this cover was for the Number 10 on the Downing Street door to say “idiots” in response to the voters who had secured Theresa May have a thumping great majority. But as the votes came in on edition day, we turned tack and used the insult against the Prime Minister herself, adding a “bloody” for good measure. As with all really great front pages, it works not because it’s clever but because it summed up, very accurately, the nation’s feelings towards the Prime Minister that week.”