He admits he "might be biased", but Paul Cooke, the new co-owner of the Sunday Business Post, says he thinks the newspaper "looks brilliant actually" since its redesign. The newspaper hit newsstands last Sunday and was officially launched at an event for advertisers in the Westbury Hotel in Dublin on Tuesday.
Making the masthead jump out and giving its pages a “sharper” and “cleaner” layout was the main objective of the redesign, which was a collaboration between Scottish newspaper design consultants Palmer Watson, Stephen Ryan and the newspaper’s reduced production department.
The front page on Sunday gave a prominent blurb to an interview with Looper and Inception actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt after reader surveys revealed that the magazine, a mix of arts and lifestyle, was regarded as the "hidden gem" of the newspaper, according to Cooke. But can redesigns help reverse circulation trends or is their main task to keep the news brand fresh and up to date?
“I think [redesigns] can help to reverse the trend because the first thing you need to do is stand out on the newsstand.
“But the key thing for any newspaper is your content,” he says, declining to give any details of future content plans at the title.
The publication that styles itself as "Ireland's financial, political and economic newspaper" is edited by Cliff Taylor, and it has endured a number of redundancies since it was purchased out of receivership by financiers Key Capital in partnership with Cooke earlier this year. As part of the cutbacks, 13 production staff were recently told to apply for six available positions.
It is “unfortunately” the case that redundancies have had to take place, Cooke says, pointing out that the new owners have managed to avoid the outsourcing of production functions.
The Sunday Business Post now has 1,400-1,500 digital subscriptions, says Cooke, who is a former managing director of Independent Star. "We would like to grow it," he says, adding that management will "formulate a strategy" for digital growth over the next few months.
Although he says "broad brush" newspapers "are going to struggle" to make money from digital paywalls, the Sunday Business Post still has the benefit of a readership that uses the title in their professional lives. "We're a different position – we're niche," he says.