The print advertising market has been shrinking for years as people turn to their smartphones to snack on news.
Figures from Group M show that adspend across national and regional papers has fallen from £3.5 billion to £2 billion since 2008.
The planned closure of The Independent in print later this month has added to the sense of gloom, and trading figures from Trinity Mirror, published on Monday, show that 2015 print ad revenues fell by 13 per cent year on year.
Yet when newspaper executives met for their trade body Newsworks’ annual conference on Tuesday, the mood was guardedly upbeat.
This week’s launch by Trinity Mirror of The New Day, the first standalone paid-for national newspaper title to debut in 30 years, has raised morale because it shows that some publishers see scope for growth – if they offer readers something new in the age of mobile and social.
As Alison Phillips, the editor of The New Day, says, no-one wants to read the same headlines twice. Instead, she believes in-depth content is the way to grab new readers.
The first few editions of the paper, which is aimed at a more female, mid-market audience than its stablemate the Daily Mirror, have have not impressed everyone, with features on subjects such as Europe, bullying and Cheryl Fernandez-Versini.
Yet there just might be an untapped market. Trinity Mirror estimates that there are about one million people who have stopped buying print newspapers over the past two years and argues that this is the proposition to bring them back.
Other publishers can point to the success of i, which launched in 2010, and free-sheets such as Metro, City AM and the London Evening Standard as proof that it is possible to grow in a declining market.
The Daily Star also found new readers when it slashed its coverprice from 40p to 20p and boosted circulation by more than 7 per cent, without a marked impact on The Sun and the Daily Mirror.
Trinity Mirror believes a coverprice still matters and does not want to rely on advertising alone. The New Day will sell for 50p, between i at 40p and the Mirror at 60p and the Daily Mail at 65p.
Vanessa Clifford, deputy chief executive, Newsworks:
"It’s being created and curated in a new way for a new audience, and I believe this will mean a new audience – one that doesn’t buy a print title. Although not always fashionable and trickier to measure than other media, print ads do work."
Richard Cox, co-founder, The Village Communications:
"It’s great to see innovation in a sector seeing some decline. The New Day could really shake things up and attract women readers from the Mail, i and the Mirror itself. It may even open up a market to lapsed magazine and newspaper readers."
Tim Radcliffe, head of publishing and radio trading, Amplifi:
"As a new publication with a cost-effective entry point, they can pull in advertisers that have traditionally felt excluded from a mid-market audience based on price. Holding them will be all about the editorial and the audience delivery."
Jo Blake, head of publishing and out-of-home, Havas Media Group:
"It is launching into a challenging market that lost £121 million in ad revenue last year. That said, it is a brave move by Trinity Mirror, as one of its biggest challenges is to get consumers back into buying print media from a retailer. No mean feat!"