Sun on Sunday: new 'readers' champion' to deal with complaints
News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch has claimed a launch day circulation of more than three million for the first edition of the Sun on Sunday.
Murdoch, who has been in London for the past week to oversee the launch, said on Twitter: "Reports early, but new Sun edition sold three million." On Friday, he had said he would be happy with substantially above two million.
Further sales estimates should be known later today, following a competitive Sunday in the newspaper market when most of the red-top tabloids dropped their price to 50p.
The first real test of the Sun on Sunday's success will be after a full month on the newsstands, when the March figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations are published in mid-April.
The Sun on Sunday launched with a pledge to readers to "abide by the values of decency", with the setting up of a new "readers' champion" to deal with complaints.
In a leader article yesterday, the paper said: "News International closed our sister paper the News of the World over the phone hacking scandal. Since then some of our own journalists have been arrested, though not charged, over allegations of payments to public officials for stories. We believe those individuals are innocent until proven guilty. It has been a sobering experience for our entire industry.
"But it is vital to remember that The Sun has been responsible for some truly outstanding, award-winning investigative and campaigning public interest journalism."
It added: "Over two generations The Sun has forged a bond of trust with you, our readers. As we launch the seven-day Sun, we want to strengthen that connection with a new independent Sun Readers' Champion to accept feedback and correct significant errors.
"After all, a newspaper which holds the powerful to account must do the same with itself. You will be able to trust our journalists to abide by the values of decency as they gather news."
The front page of the new title featured an interview with Britain's Got Talent judge Amanda Holden, the first after the birth of her daughter, which left her in a critical condition in hospital. The story is headlined: "My Heart Stopped For 40 Seconds".
The paper has had a mixed reception from industry experts and reviewers - with many pointing to a softer news approach and lack of wow factor.
Guardian columnist and City University journalism lecturer Roy Greenslade wrote: "The Sun on Sunday was the Sun - but not the Sun as we know it. In order to avoid giving offence and therefore hint at being a reincarnation of its deceased ugly sister, the News of the World, it appeared unusually bland.In order to avoid giving offence and therefore hint at being a reincarnation of its deceased ugly sister, the News of the World, it appeared unusually blandRoy Greenslade
"Not only were there no investigations, there were few revelations of any kind, and no hint of controversies or even surprises. The material was deliberately, even self-consciously, soft focus."
The Observer's Peter Preston added: "From the Times to the Telegraph to the Observer to (even) the Daily Star Sunday, Brits like something different on the seventh day. They don't want to read what they read through the week. They go out and try something fresh. So why should the Sun be any different?
"The pace is seven-day frenetic. You don't feel a moment's relaxation. The latest Sunday has been pumped up on adrenaline - and seems notably short of the quality that made the News of the World so dominant.
The Independent's writer and commentator John Walsh said the Sunday edition was "the weekly Sun minus about 15 per cent of its style"
He wrote: "I almost walked past it in the newsagent's. I thought it must be The Sun from the day before. It's not called The Sun on Sunday, just The Sun, with "Sunday" an apologetic, miniature addition. How disappointing to find it's exactly the same as the daily, only less so.
"The splash on Amanda Holden's briefly problematic Caesarean op is stupefyingly dull and doesn't justify four pages inside. The exclusives lack the wow factor.
"It will be bland, it will be nice to celebrities, it will be anxious to please, it will contain nothing to upset - or to excite in any way."
Former News of the World chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck wrote on his blog: "Today's Sunday edition of the Sun ended up feeling a bit of a damp squib - very News of the World 'Lite'.This is surely the type of tabloid paper we will be getting post-LevesonNeville Thurlbeck
"But it's set out its stall and is doing exactly what it says on the tin - trawling with a big net in the female market. A total of 13 pages devoted to the staple fare of most women’s magazines. The Sun is leaving us in no doubt about its Sunday identity.
"What we won't be getting are investigations clearly. And the rest of Fleet Street won't be waiting up late and holding its breath for revelations which will set the news agenda alight for the rest of the week.
"But this is surely the type of tabloid paper we will be getting post-Leveson, so in that respect it is setting the agenda other tabloids will follow. It is so indistinguishable from the daily Sun that it will surely succeed in capturing many of its readers.
"This product may disappoint died in the wool red-top Sunday journalists. But that's irrelevant. Today's Sun is a commercial inevitability."
Editorial consultant Peter Sands added: "If you have the market leader six days a week, why not seven? It will no doubt sell - and as journalists we should applaud any newspaper launch.
"There is plenty of mainstream advertising - so any worries about companies wanting to disassociate themselves from the paper will have evaporated. Looks like the Sun on Sunday is here to stay."
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