The Sun on Sunday's launch issue described as 'limp' and timing 'high-risk'

PROs have dubbed the launch edition of The Sun on Sunday as 'limp' and 'trying not to be a Sunday paper', following sales that hit three million yesterday.

The Sun on Sunday: sold £3m on launch day
The Sun on Sunday: sold £3m on launch day

The newspaper that was billed by News International as 'the seventh day Sun' pledged to be a paper of 'decency' and 'trust', but still be 'fearless, outspoken, mischievous and fun'.

However, Alex Woolfall, head of Porter Novelli's EMEA corporate practice, was critical of the newspaper’s content: ‘It felt very thin on stories and was a bit limp. I think a lot of people expected a toned-down News of the World, but with less kiss and tell. Instead they got the Daily Express on a good day meets Heat on a bad one.’

Woolfall was more critical of the timing of the launch, stating: ‘Commercially I can see why they did it, but I think it's high risk with the Leveson Inquiry yet to finish and police still investigating Sun journalists.

‘Murdoch may be waiting for Leveson to end and charges against Sun reporters to be dropped before we see the new paper go up a gear and resemble its alter ego a bit more.’

The paper did not ignore its current troubles, referring to both the closure of the News of the World and the arrest of its journalists in its editorial ‘A new Sun rises today’.

It stated that its journalists, arrested over allegations of payments to public officials for stories, ‘are innocent until proven guilty’ and that the whole hacking scandal had been ‘a sobering experience for our entire industry’.

The paper has also appointed a readers’ champion to handle feedback from the public and deal with errors.

GolinHarris, president, International, Matt Neale said the low-key launch and gentle introduction into the seven-day news cycle was a smart move by News International – although he also questioned the launch date.

He said: ‘The Sun on Sunday is not trying to be a Sunday paper, yet. There was no sting operation, no-one was turned over and the product was very upbeat in tone. With Sun journalists still being arrested – and the public unsure of how to reconcile their favourite paper – this was a smart move.

'Whether the paper should have waited longer to launch is the killer question.’

Daisy Dunlop, head of external comms at News International, declined to comment on the timing of the launch.

The Independent on Sunday also questioned the launch, speculating that the date was brought forward to dodge ‘a wake of fresh revelations’ from the The Leveson Inquiry, which begins to examine police-press relations this week.

The Leveson Inquiry will this week hear evidence from the former deputy assistant Met commissioner Brian Paddick, former assistant commissioner John Yates, Andy Hayman – who led the original inquiry – former Metropolitan Police commissioners Sir Ian Blair and Sir Paul Stephenson, former deputy prime minister John Prescott and others.

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