The Sun also rises on Sunday

Rupert Murdoch has announced the Sun will start publishing on Sunday from next weekend. Which is rather milder than staff might have expected.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 20 Feb 2012
Well, that was a surprise. There we were, expecting a News of the World-style bomb to be dropped on the offices of the Sun after five of its senior journalists were arrested over allegations of payments to public officials. The joke among staff was, according to the Guardian, that ‘if you get past 7am this Saturday, we have jobs for another week’. Even Murdoch biographer Michael Wolff speculated about it. When the man himself went to visit the Sun’s offices, he tweeted: ‘Rupert will… 1) yell at staff? 2) apologize to staff? 3) fire staff? 4) reorganise staff? 5) announce his retirement?’

But the reality must have come as a relief: last night, Murdoch announced was that the paper would begin publishing a new Sunday edition from next weekend.

Now, we knew there had been plans for a Sun on Sunday for some time: it seemed the obvious idea after the News of the World was unceremoniously dumped amid the phone-hacking scandal. But there had been question-marks over the idea, not least because tabloid sales have been dropping.

But apparently, many of those who originally bought the NotW haven’t quite got around to finding a replacement paper yet, so Murdoch reckons now is the time to pick up that slack. ‘Our duty is to expand one of the world’s most widely-read newspapers and reach even more people than ever before,’ he wrote in a memo to Sun staff. ‘Having a winning paper is the best answer to our critics.’ A seven-day operation also, of course, has substantial business appeal – if your company is already publishing six days a week, the marginal costs of adding a seventh are fairly modest.

And it’s all come faster than anyone had expected: having said last week the new paper would begin publishing ‘soon’, most people had expected it to take a few months.

Of course, it’s good news for News International (the paper’s parent company) staff, who have been looking nervously over their shoulders for the past few weeks. And it suggests that Murdoch wants to draw a line under the phone hacking incident and move on as swiftly as possible (is it a coincidence the new paper’s acronym spells ‘sos’?). He certainly has a special interest in its welfare: according to CEO Tom Mockridge, Murdoch will be staying in London to oversee the Sun on Sunday’s launch.

The paper itself, of course, was very upbeat about the situation this morning. ‘From today your favourite paper will be available seven days a week, making every day a Sun day’, it trilled.

Page three, seven days a week? We can hardly contain our excitement…

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