Are Pop-Up Newspapers The Future Of Print Journalism? – Forbes

British newspaper The Independent ceased publication last year, yet a pop-up that was intended to last four weeks is still going strong. (Photo by Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

The old-school British media shed a tear on March 20 last year, when the last ever printed edition of the Independent hit the newstands.

Founded in 1986, the publication affectionately known as The Indy is one of the youngest papers in the country — perhaps a contributing factor in its decision to go digital-only. Not long after, the daily paper The New Day, just a couple of months old at the time, also published its last edition, leaving us all wondering whether that was it for British print news media.

This came at a time when the U.K. was embroiled in one of the most polarizing and vicious political issues in decades: whether or not to leave the European Union. In a pre-Trump world, Brexit seemed like a journalist’s goldmine: it was an ever-evolving story with two clear sides but infinite angles, and the press barely touched on anything else all summer.

It’s little wonder then that newspaper and magazine publisher Archant decided to capitalize on this unique moment of British political engagement and launch a pop-up newspaper. The New European was intended for a four-week run, aimed at the 48% of the public who wanted to stay in EU, and covering the debates in the run-up to the referendum. Ironically, the vote to leave Europe which would have devastated the paper’s readers is also the best possible thing that could have happened to its publisher.

“The expectation when we launched was that there would be several weeks of really acute interest in this topic, and then it would wane and life would move on,” editor Matt Kelly told Nieman Lab.

But interest didn’t wane, and the paper is still going strong, with plans to continue to publish for the rest of the year. So how did a newspaper with a staff of five and a limited time span survive the pressures affecting print media, when so many more established publications are flailing, and even closing down?

“We started the whole concept because we thought there was a new model for print publishing. If you already had established distribution networks and the facilities to print a newspaper, you could quickly create a new brand, distribute it widely quite easily, and look to gain an audience that was acutely interested in this issue, whatever it was. And then, very easily, you could say, ‘Okay, the zeitgeist has moved on, and we’ll move onto something new,’” said Kelly.


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