Basic princi[ples' are the key to success at Irish Daily Star

Paul Cooke and Karen Elliott House gave insights into their success

While most British nationals have continued to shed readers in the past year, delegates at the World Newspaper Congress heard of some success stories from elsewhere in the world.

Among them is the Irish Daily Star which has increased sales consistently for the last 16 years and now sells 112,000 a day.

Managing director Paul Cooke said circulation had increased by 17.3 per cent in the last four years, despite the cover price going up 24 per cent to €1.10 (73p).

He said: “The Star’s growth has been achieved by adhering to some basic and fundamental editorial and marketing principles. The Star is not a typical trivial sensationalist tabloid but a news-driven, sport-focused, entertaining family newspaper. The Star is perfectly in tune with the modern progressive Ireland of today as the newspaper’s profile matches exactly the social demographic profile of the country.”

Cooke said readers could be persuaded to pay above the market rate for their paper if they were getting value.

In 2002, the Star increased the cover price by 12.4 per cent but re-invested 56 per cent of the extra revenue in more pages. This included the launch of Star 7 magazine and the recruitment of high-profile sports columnists.

“Our key principles are: do not cheat the reader; consumers will pay more for value; if asking customers to pay more, always give something back,” said Cooke.

Karen Elliott House, publisher of the Wall Street Journal, told the congress that “constancy of purpose” was as important as the need for innovation.

She said: “For over 100 years, the Wall Street Journal has chronicled the rise and fall of business empires and individuals around the globe.

“The most striking historical conclusion from our century of journalism is that great businesses – those that endure and thrive in tempestuous times – have remarkably constant missions. The same is true of great publications. Similarly, the core values that fuel our business are notable not for change but for constancy. The business decisions we make at the Journal, in good times and bad, are driven by our core values, by a clear focus, and, also by a commitment to constant innovation.”

Chief among the core values were “quality, integrity and independence”, she said. “Quality means constant focus on accuracy. This means that the publication can have no agenda but the search for truth”.

The congress also heard that in 2003 German publisher Axel Springer launched a new tabloid called Fakt in Poland which became the country’s top-selling daily (circulation 536,000) in the space of two months.

Explaining his paper’s success editor Grzegorz Jankowski said: “It is popular, quick, modern, based on pictures, it surprises readers with ideas, it informs explicitly about the topic. It describes events and social phenomena in a simple and clear way. It is independent and friendly towards readers and helps them solve everyday problems.”

By Dominic Ponsford

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