Queen’s passing prompts massive demand for printed media

Dominic Bernard
Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Newsprint has seen a bumper fortnight as the public rushed to buy commemorative editions of newspapers.

Publishers reacted quickly to news of the Queen's death
Publishers reacted quickly to news of the Queen's death

Massive public interest in the Queen’s death and state funeral has prompted an explosion in sales for many newspapers - made possible by a dash to increase print runs of the Friday 9 September edition after the Queen’s death was announced on the evening of 8 September.

The Express’ executive editor Karl Holbook said on Twitter: “The rush for physical newspapers in these historic times is incredible (Daily Express sold 75% more copies on Friday than normal!)

“It shows the deep affection people still have… but we’ve got to support print day-to-day for it to exist on the extraordinary days.”

A spokesperson for the Guardian told Printweek the paper’s sales more than doubled on 10 September, adding: “Our print and distribution networks have coped well with the significant increased demand we have seen over the past 10 days.”

The Daily Mail reportedly missed its deadline to get nearly half a million (450,000) extra copies to retailers.

Many of the special editions on the morning after the Queen’s death included sizeable supplements - the largest of which being The Sun’s 36pp souvenir edition insert.

The weekend newspapers of 17-18 September also contained special commemorative supplements and pull-outs, ahead of the funeral.

News Media Association chief executive Owen Meredith told Printweek: “As ever, at times which bring our nation together, in mourning and in celebration, consumers turn to news media to understand and share the story.”

He added that early indications have shown a similar increase in news media print sales following the Queen’s funeral on Monday 19 September.

“The response of audiences to the coverage demonstrates that print continues to play a very important role in the media mix and will continue to do so for many years to come.”

Some magazines have likewise been able to share in this national outpouring of emotion.

Chris Duncan, CEO of Bauer UK Publishing, which publishes titles such as Grazia, Heat, and Empire, told Printweek there was massive demand from readers across all of the company's titles for content that reflected the Queen's contribution to public life.

Special tribute issues of Grazia and Yours, published within days of the Queen's death, "proved extremely popular on the newsstands," he added.

Consumers' rush for print media has not, however, necessarily meant a corresponding windfall for publishers. A protocol agreement with Buckingham Palace has meant that UK coverage of the Queen’s death and funeral has been accompanied by a near-universal advertising blackout.

Henry Faure Walker, chief executive of Newsquest, which runs 160 local titles, was quoted by the Guardian as saying the costs associated with printing and distributing the bumper issues and supplements had all but wiped out any financial gain.

He said: “You might not think it, given the magnitude of such an event, but at the end of the day I would say there has been a marginal negative financial impact.”

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