Closing one paper and opening another

BY THE time this edition of Magill is likely to get into most readers hands, the announcement of the launch of yet another Irish newspaper will probably be made. Hugh McLaughlin, the man who made and broke Creation, the man who co-made the Sunday World and who made and almost broke The Sunday Tribune is the man who will make the Daily News, a-new morning paper.

But with the launch of the Daily News there may also come the quiet demise of The Sunday Tribune which has been a drain on McLaughlin's ebbing resources to the tune of well in excess of £20,000 per week. It is Clear that Mcl.aughlin has lost interest in and commitment to the Sunday paper, having failed to persuade anybody to either take over the paper or to come in on partnerrship basis.

Prospects for The Sunday Triibune depend entirely on it being financed by complete outsiders, who would simply pay Mclaughhlin something - probably nominal - for the title. These prosspects may not be entirely hopeeless, for with the transfer of a large number of its present staff to the daily paper and the ditchhing of its debts - McLaughlin will have to continue to shoulder these, come what may - it might be possible to persuade financiers to back the paper.

The fate of The Sunday Triibune will be decided in the next month and by then either it will have ceased publication or its ownership will be entirely diffferent.

The editor of the Daily News will be Jim Farrelly, who has been deputy and news editor of The Sunday Tribune and a former reporter with the Irish Indepenndent. Farrelly is very much more Mcl.aughlin's type of journalist ðracy, hardnosed and, when neccessary, "creative" - than anyone more attuned to the quality jourrnalism which The Sunday Tribune espoused.

Campbell Spray, formerly feaatures editor of The Irish Press, has been recruited in an execu tive editorial capacity. Darragh MeeDonald, one of the best investiigative journalists around, has gone over from The Sunday Tribune, and John McAleese, formerly the EEC correspondent of RTE comes in as news editor.

Eamon Dunphy will be the only journalist currently with The Sunday Tribune who will both reemain with the Sunday paper and write for the daily.

Paul Dempsey, formerly of Player Wills, joins the Daily News as marketing director but McLauughlin has not yet solved his overall managerial problems for no mannaging director has been appointed at the time of going to press.

The new paper will be launchhed in September and will be aimed at the lower end of the market. Given Mclaughlin's pride in the success of the Sunday World, it will presumably be very much modelled on that publication, with t1ashy colour photographs of attractive girls in varying deegrees of attire.

Its objective will be to chip away at the lower market side of the Irish Independent readership and eat significantly into the sales of the British tabloids - The Daily Mail, The Daily Mirror, 771e Sun and The Star, which between them sell well over 200,000 in Ireland each day.

The Daily News will aim at a sales figure of around 120,000 right from the beginning and all the research evidence available. suggests that there is a clear niche in the Irish morning newspaper market for such a publication. The problems with the paper arc likely to be considerable however.

The main ones are likely to be the following:

* cash. Mclaughlin's remammg fortune from the Sunday World killing - still estimated at around £lm. may not just be enough to carry the paper for the initial launch period. Cost per issue is likely to be around £16,000 per day at least. His anticipated sales revenue can be no more t~n £8,000, which leaves £8,000 to be got from advertising per day (£2.5m per year. Given the state of the advertising industry at present this kind of money is just not around.

* agreement with the NUJ. No such agreement has yet been ironned out and there is a wide gap to be bridged on manning levels. This could hold up the venture for several months.

* printing facilities. The plant at Sandy ford, which McLaughlin bought and is now the property of the Smurfit organisation is fine for printing a weekly paper and in theory has the eapaci ty to do a quality job on a daily paper. But the plant is old and the maintennance on it is high and there arc grave doubts that it could bear the daily grind of printing the Daily News.

* staffing. While there is a clear gap in the market, it can be done only with the right people. MeeLaughlin may find this very diffiicult, especially as he will find it hard to persuadefhe best people to leave secure jobs in Indepenndent Newspapers or The Irish Press for something which has a lot of credibility doubts about it.

Whatever happens, McLaughhlin's irrepressible energy can only be admired. Instead of being dissillusioned by his failure to find a replacement partner for The Sunnday Tribune once Smurfits left he has bounced back with a venngeance. Whether running even at his pace can keep him ahead of the posse remains however to be seen.