Colour conundrum: will Mirror end red-top status?
There is a real split at The Mirror over whether the paper should drop its red masthead for one that will mark it out from The Sun and Daily Star.
For every one of the staff in favour of the change there is another arguing that it would be a huge mistake.
Editor Piers Morgan agreed that opinion was evenly split but claimed there had been no decision and the debate was still in progress. The proposal could include the Sunday Mirror or there might be a dual masthead for the daily, keeping it red-top on Saturdays.
"We are considering a number of things to capitalise on the momentum we have created for ourselves and one of those is to see how we can differentiate ourselves from The Sun and the Star," he said.
Several times in the past few years The Mirror has dropped its red masthead with only a little adverse feedback, said Morgan. When the paper dropped the word ‘Daily’, Morgan was warned it would have a cataclysmic effect – in fact only one complaint was received.
"I can’t believe regular Mirror readers would stop reading us because of the colour of the masthead, but there are issues about recognisability on the news-stand, especially for older readers. In the past 15 to 20 years, I think a red masthead has become synonymous with something downmarket and derogatory."
Red is also seen as indicating The Mirror’s support for Labour and Morgan contends the paper has moved more towards an independent viewpoint.
He does not see the proposed change as a surrender to The Sun in the mass-market field.
"In my view, that war was over when we won the [What the Papers Say] newspaper of the year award," he stated. "In terms of the content, we are much more in tune with the Daily Mail – longer reads, more serious stories."
Joe Sinyor, chief executive, newspapers, at Trinity Mirror, is reviewing strategy for the national newspapers and will announce his decisions in a month’s time. It is unlikely he will bring in a change in the masthead without the approval of Morgan.
"It’s a big call and maybe we will stay red," Morgan said.
By Jean Morgan