CAMPAIGNS: JUDGE AND JURY; Banging the good news drum won’t win hearts and minds

The Tory Party plans for a good news newspaper may come unstuck unless they get to grips with the fundamental rules of publishing says Bob Wells, managing director of Key Communications Publishing Group

The Tory Party plans for a good news newspaper may come unstuck unless

they get to grips with the fundamental rules of publishing says Bob

Wells, managing director of Key Communications Publishing Group



The most astonishing aspect of the Conservative Party’s good news

newspaper is that they expect to fill 16 pages.



For months to come dinner parties will be playing games in which guests

are challenged to name six articles that would have appeared in the

newspaper - a project that already looks dodgier than a herd of cattle.

Publishing the paper will require the Tories to get at least two things

right, and given their recent luck and track record, that might be

asking too much. First they’ve got to find enough good news, and

secondly, as the apparent postponement has shown, they need to get the

timing right when it should be issued.



Those who seek to publish must ensure that what they publish is

relevant, honest and credible. They must have a very clear idea of their

readership and tackle the issues that concern them. From the outset

targets should be set for the results they expect to achieve.



Certainly the Tories, who intend to distribute the newspaper to 100,000

homes in marginal seats, know exactly what they want out of it: votes.

But unless they abide by these fundamental principles, their newspaper

is likely to be as welcome through people’s letterboxes as the Inland

Revenue’s self-assesment forms.



It may well write about ‘feel good’ stories on falling unemployment and

low inflation. But what about the ‘feel bad’ factor of people struggling

to pay their mortgages, being uncertain about the security of their jobs

and worried about the last joint of roast beef they ate? Will the

newspaper deal openly and credibly with issues such as these? Will

people treat it like they treat most election leaflets? Timing could be

tricky. I wonder if this title could become the Marie Celeste of

publishing: one day it was there, sailing along smoothly, and then

suddenly everyone disappeared never to be seen again.



The launch was put off because of the bad news of BSE. But we could be

incinerating thousands of cattle a week for years to come. And the

Tamworth by-election could be one of the last nails in a coffin that

seems to be nearing completion. The whole project is reminiscent of the

Dangerous Dogs Act. No one disputes that it was a good idea, but it was

poorly thought through and ultimately bungled.



There is one final question of value for money and the benefits the

Tories will receive in return for their investment. How much will it

cost to convert a few floating voters?



They should ponder long and hard before launching their good news

newspaper, and shouldn’t waste their money unless they are going to do

it properly.



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