MEDIA: BEHIND THE HYPE - Wade trails the Mirror in ongoing tabloid skirmish

Rebekah Wade's Sun failed to land the big scoops in her first year.

When Rebekah Wade was unveiled as the new editor of The Sun a year ago, the very least that was expected were racy scoops and campaigns that championed issues of importance to its readers.

Her reputation was built during her editorship of the News of the World, during which time she attempted to name and shame Britain's paedophiles in the wake of the murder of eight-year-old Sarah Payne and exposed Sophie Wessex's PR company for using its royal ties to win business.

So far, her time at The Sun has been less dramatic. Since January 2003, her accomplishments include backing the war on Iraq while the Daily Mirror took an unpopular anti-war stance, and being first to report on the "roasting at the Grosvenor House" involving Premiership footballers.

However, it was the Daily Mirror that had the big scoops of the year, including the Paul Burrell story and infiltrating Buckingham Palace with one of its reporters posing as a footman. The pressure is certainly on The Sun to respond and apparently Wade has been cracking the whip in an attempt to inspire its reporters to greater heights.

The Daily Mirror also appears to have put the brakes on its circulation decline with figures showing a 0.3 per cent dip between November and December, as The Sun dived by 3.34 per cent

Year on year the picture is different, The Sun is down 4.95 per cent against the Mirror's fall of 6.47 per cent. But this might be because of the price war started by Trinity Mirror when it relaunched the Daily Mirror in 2002 rather than a strong performance from Wade.

Paul Thomas, MindShare's press director, says: "The Sun is still a strong product, but its success is more about what the Mirror has done wrong than what The Sun has done right."

Wade's most significant achievement has been to inject some sensationalism back into the paper, according to Manning Gottlieb OMD's head of press, Mark Gallagher, who believes it was a "bit heavy" under the previous editor, David Yelland.

"Tonally it has returned to the core values of fun and gossip," he says.

Ian Clark, the director of advertising at News Group Newspapers, defends Wade, saying that not only is she getting close to readers - referring to the editorial think tank when readers were invited to stay in a caravan park for three days for £9.50 along with The Sun's editorial team - but that she understands the commercial side of newspapers.

"If Rebekah Wade can find an opportunity for commercial growth, she knows this can fund investment back into the paper," Clark says.

But it is for the "Bonkers Bruno" splash, when early editions (later withdrawn) mocked boxer Frank Bruno after he was admitted into a psychiatric hospital, that Wade's first year will be remembered. On this occasion the newspaper certainly misjudged the public's mood.

However, it is hard to judge an editorship of the market-leading daily red top after just 12 months. Wade, and some would argue her proprietor, Rupert Murdoch, still have some tough decisions to make. She followed Yelland, who famously steered The Sun to back Tony Blair's New Labour party in 1997, and took credit for deciding the result of the general election. But there is little clear indication, the odd swipe at Blair aside, of who the paper will back in the next election.

If anything, her editorship to date has been something of a disappointment.

Whether this is because expectations were too high or because the work she has put into the paper has yet to bear fruit remains to be seen.