Serious newspapers are increasingly popular according to the January ABC circulation figures from the UK. The Independent is the newest, smallest-selling and flashest kid on the block among the qualities. It is also the only national daily to increase its circulation compared with January last year (up 1.98 per cent). And The Independent on Sunday is the only national Sunday to increase its sales year on year (up 2.66 per cent).

But the popular red-top (named after their lurid masthead ink) tabloid sector appears to be in steady if not terminal decline, with dailies down 4.6 per cent and Sundays 9.7 per cent year on year. The saddest part of this freefall is that it is being felt most by the two papers that made Fleet Street in its heyday the Mecca for global journalism – Hugh Cudlipp’s Daily Mirror and Lord Beaverbrook’s Daily Express.

The Daily Mirror was down 6.2 per cent, the worst of any daily except the Express, down 9.15 per cent. The Sunday Mirror was down 7.2 per cent. The Trinity Mirror group is now in more trouble than the early settlers and has put some regional titles up for sale. The Express is currently owned by Richard Desmond and suffered the indignity of being outsold by its down-market sister paper, the Daily Star.

The good news is the London Evening Standard has bounced back from an onslaught from afternoon freesheets and is up 5.1 per cent in January to sales of 276,562 but is still down 14.1 percent year-on-year.

Peter Fray

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