OPINION: Today may be gone but it shall not be forgotten

The law of the jungle that is Fleet Street means that the Today newspaper, which has suffered from a combination of stagnating sales and a 50 per cent increase in newsprint costs, is no more.

The law of the jungle that is Fleet Street means that the Today

newspaper, which has suffered from a combination of stagnating sales and

a 50 per cent increase in newsprint costs, is no more.



However, its legacy will live on in a number of ways. There are many

managers, editorial staff, proprietors and advertisers who have cause to

be grateful to Today. For, although the paper was always a lame duck, it

established a whole new era in print publishing. The Independent, for

example, owes its existence directly to Today because it proved that a

would-be national newspaper proprietor could raise the money for an

independent launch.



And, ironically, considering it was he who decided to shut the paper

down last Friday, Rupert Murdoch owes Today a huge debt of gratitude.

For it was Today that broke the union stranglehold on production and

paved the way for him to move to Wapping and launch multi-sectioned

papers with on-the-run colour. Going further back, the entire magazine

market owes a debt to Today’s founder, Eddie Shah, who demonstrated that

new technology could be introduced into a hostile union climate, thus

changing the whole economic base of publishing. Where he led, countless

publishers followed.



But sentiment does not sell papers, and now the battle for Today’s

readers has commenced. The Daily Mail, as you would expect, was quick

off the mark with a special offer and, by last Friday, it was already

running a radio campaign. But will Today’s Labour-inclined readers go to

Tory papers such as the Mail? Or will they be lost to the newspaper

market altogether?



Curiously, though, it may be in the political arena where the shockwaves

will be most felt. Today’s last edition carried a four-page ad urging

its readers to switch to the Sun. On the front page was a piece by Tony

Blair endorsing the Sun - as clear a statement as you can get that the

Sun has gone Labour.



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