Can you tell me: ‘Why do more people reach for the Star?’

NEWSPAPER circulation figures released recently showed the Daily Star sold on average 836,556 copies every day in October – that’s 139,553 more than the same month last year.

But while every other national daily continued to suffer from the malaise which has been affecting the newspaper industry, why is the Daily Star bucking the trend? I confess, despite being a trainee newspaper journalist at Cardiff’s School of Journalism, the Daily Star is one paper I’ve never been inclined to read, even for research purposes – and our library doesn’t subscribe to it either.

So when I pondered why this red top can viably claim to be Britain’s most successful newspaper, I browsed the online pages of the Star. Pages for Babes, Celebrity, Sport, Living, Fun, Jordan aka Katie Price. Okay, I made up the last one, but there just as well might be a dedicated section.

Following on from lectures given at JOMEC by Rory Cellan-Jones and Joanna Geary, when they told us how they have been using social networking sites to gather ideas and opinions from the public, I decided to try it out.

As you can see, it did not generate much of a response. And those who did, reacted as I suspected they would. But while being thankful for having friends who don’t part company with 25p for the Star, it had not provided me with a reason why 139,000 more people are buying it this year.

So, I changed tack. I created a Facebook group called ‘Musings for a Welsh journalism student‘, and invited everyone on my Friends list. So I tried again and started a discussion hoping this would yield more ideas and opinions from my friends and acquaintances. And as you can see it did.

Of 422 friends, 62 joined the group, and 3 responded to my question (that’s 15% joining the group and 5% participating in the discussion). Are those good statistics? I don’t know. But at least I’d succeeded on the second attempt.

The reasons provided: increased demand for gossip; dumbing down – obsession with entertainment over serious news; and more mockery of people who buy the Star. Okay, it is progress on “Pffftt” and “No bloody way! Hah”.

At 25p, the Star is the cheapest national newspaper. Other papers continue to increase the cover price, and yet see circulation tumble. And, as high-and-mighty as we may be at the content the Star publishes, they are clearly spot-on with their target audience. If people want more gossip, that’s what they get when they buy the Star. Can the same be said for the other nationals with regard their content and what their respective audiences demand?

  1. Really interesting post, and very well written. I’m not much of a Star reader – I tend to read The Sun each day instead – but I think a lot of it is down to cover price.

    As you said, it’s the cheapest daily, and I think a lot of people don’t draw much of a distinction between papers, or at least between the red-tops.

    This post is the first thing that has made me realise that if The Sun introduced paywalls I would probably end up turning to the Daily Star’s website each day!

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