May 27 2011
There’s something very strange going on…
In all the years I’ve NEVER seen anything like this.
For advertisers the daily paper draws business as powerfully as ever…we’ve asked them so that’s how I know.
Five million people read the paper every day – AMPS says so, and that’s how I know.
Readers’ entries stream into our competitions – 60 000 or 70 000 at a time. We count them so that’s how I know.
Readers’ letters flood in here as well …about 1 000 a day! Once again: we count them and that’s how I know.
SunPower works its familiar magic- one mention of a problem in our columns, and its fixed!
Even the total of our Facebook friends leaps ahead as though we were a (smallish) rock band…
The point is that the Daily Sun is rocking and rolling as a good tabloid is supposed to.
Except for one thing…
Sales are apparently going down.
As the end if the second quarter of this year our ABCs stand at a bit over 400 000 sales a day.
In terms of actual cash sales (as opposed to giveaways and discounts as most of the others do) that’s still three times more than the closest daily competition…
But its still down from what it was this time last year.
So what is going ON here?
How can these figures go down invisibly, as it were?
The short answer is: They cannot…at least not that I can figure out.
This has now been going on for a year.
Even more puzzling, this time last year the sales figures apparently started to go down in equal-sized bumps every month!
It was like a perfectly-even descending staircase.
Repetitive and perfectly-even descending staircases are man or machine-made…they do not occur as a consequence of the forces of nature, or the market.
I think the much derided publishing system which was installed here – not by Daily Sun but by the distributors – had started to gibber.
And that, by no co-incidence, also started a year ago…in perfect tie-up with when the new system was installed.
It’s still gibbering.
This system seems cock-eyed.
It affected every title it touched.
And – hallelujah – it’s now going to be replaced by another system altogether!
That will take time.
In the meantime we’ve been hunting high and low for possible other reasons.
Are our former regular buyers just passing the paper by?
Not according to the reports of the men and women on the streets who sell Daily and Sunday Suns…and they would know because sales are their business…copy sales are how they make a living.
Are our letter boxes choked with messages saying Your Paper Will Not Darken My House Again?
Are people contacting TK Khumalo – the nation’s best-known editor – to tell him: We are offended and will no more buy the Sun?
But it is true that with a million people out of work since the World Cup, 90 percent of newspaper circulations have dropped.
Also, less people are commuting now- because they have no jobs- and the Daily Sun is a classic commuter’s paper.
So is it a money thing?
Perhaps, in part.
But most of all I think this is the work of a short-pants publishing system caught in a grown-up, long-pants world.
And, in consequence of things we are doing right now, I think it will start coming right.
We must just be resolute.
As Bambi’s mummy said to the little bokkie while sheltering him from a blizzard: This winter too shall pass…
Deon du Plessis