Malmsten will speak at the Congress session entitled “Print's prospects in tomorrow's publishing ecosystem.”
WAN-IFRA: What is your target market?
MALMSTEN: We define our target readers as mobile and open-minded Europeans. For these people, "Europe" is a practical part of their everyday lives. Some of them belong to the 15 million people in the EU who live in another European country than their own, others regularly cross borders for work or leisure. And the younger "Erasmus generation" of course also forms part of our target readership.
We don't expect people to read the European Daily because they feel so "European". It is more a matter of lifestyle: if your everyday context is one of Europe rather than a single country, the European Daily can provide you with a European perspective on news and analysis that is more relevant than a narrow national point of view.
WAN-IFRA: In this era of social media, smartphones, and so on, what makes paper continue to be a viable medium for news?
MALMSTEN: At its core, the European Daily is an authoritative source for quality news and analysis from a European perspective as well as a platform for pan-European debate. And in that sense, we are platform-agnostic. We simply want to be available through the channels that our readers value. That certainly means a strong digital offering with tablet applications, a strong social media presence and so on. But we also know that there is a large part of our potential readership that prefers print – out of habit or because of the reading experience and convenience that if offers. Also, for our market segment, that of international daily newspapers, print advertising – and print in general for that matter – is still performing well as a revenue source.
WAN-IFRA: What are the distribution challenges facing your newspaper, and how do you intend to meet them?
MALMSTEN: As mentioned, we want the European Daily to be as widely available as possible – in print, but also across all major digital channels and platforms. Given the current landscape and stages of development, the digital distribution actually poses more questions, choices and challenges than that of print. Print distribution, even pan-European, has been around for, and evolved over, a long period of time. Working with a network of international and national distributors, we can make a print edition readily available in all major metropolitan areas across Europe.
Digitally, we have to choose not only on what platforms to be available (iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows, etc.) but also in what form. Should we go for native apps, with the possibilities and revenue model it entails, or should we go the HTML5 route – or maybe a combination? What should we charge for? How do we make sure that we reach both the business travellers with more money than time and the Erasmus students who might be in the opposite situation? How do we offer our advertisers the best exposure while not ruining the reading experience and presentation of the editorial content?
We have our answers, but I think people often tend to forget the "new" distribution challenges that digital technologies – and in particular technologies still in fast and constant development – have brought with them. Print and print-based distribution have, after all, been refined for centuries.
WAN-IFRA: In the early 1990s, Robert Maxwell started a paper called The European, initially intended for daily publication but then launched as a weekly, and it later folded in 1998. What lessons have you learned from that earlier publication? And, in your view, is a daily paper a better business proposition than a weekly one?
MALMSTEN: You are absolutely right that the publication that has so far been closest to targeting a general European readership in English was The European. Within its first six months, The European reached a print circulation of 226,000, with 60,000 in France alone – proving that even in the early 1990s there was an appetite and a large market for European news in English. We have spoken with over 20 people involved in The European – ranging from publishers and editors in chief to advertising sales executives and journalists – and we have learned a lot. Our findings about The European have almost exclusively been encouraging. In a nutshell, the title struggled with a high cost structure and constantly changing management and editorial direction (it changed editors almost once a year during its eight-year life). It might also have been slightly ahead of its time in terms of English language penetration and people's general relationship with Europe.
As you mention, The European was initially intended to be a daily but was launched as a weekly. When we set out to develop the European Daily, one of the key things we felt was missing was the daily reference for general news, from a European perspective. This daily reference is partly where we saw, and still see, a glaring gap. There are a number of good weeklies – the Economist being the most obvious example – so from a market perspective the daily reference is at the core of what we are. The daily pace is also what enables us to provide a relevant platform for debate, another key aspect of the European Daily.