The proposed merger of two Polish dailies and the launch of an entertainment version of a political weely, both intended to conquer a new public and consolidate readership, have raised some doubts in the Polish newspaper industry.
Poland's largest business and legal daily Gazeta Prawna (87,000 paid circulation) will merge with the second quality news daily Dziennik (147,000 readership), in a 51/49% partnership between Infor Biznes and Axel Springer, their respective owners. The transaction, which will result in a combined newspaper strong in economics on one side, and politics, culture and sports on the other, is still subject to approval by the authorities.
Monthly trade magazine Press reported on its website that Michal Kobosko, currently Editor-in-Chief of Axel Springer's weekly Newsweek Polska, is likely to head the new daily. This operation may be a way, for the German group, to avoid the full closure of its money losing Dziennik, launched in 2006 as a direct competitor to Gazeta Wyborcza. The merged newsroom is more likely to challenge Rzeczpospolita, the biggest opinion-making paper also strong on business and legal matters.
The newly merged daily was presented by Press by molding the front pages of Gazeta Prawna and Dziennik together (image at left).
Dariusz Piekarski, Infor Biznes' Vice President explained to Press that "the main objective is to increase the audience and go beyond the area of B2B". Other newspaper managers doubt, however, that it will significantly increase this title's sales. "The newly shaped Gazeta Prawna may sell a maximum of 10-20,000 extra copies, or about 100,000" commented one manager.
The Polish press is currently witnessing other attempts to attract new readers. General news weekly Wprost, a conservative publication defending free-market and Christian values, launched an entertainment and gossip news driven version called Wprost Light on May 28th, with a print-run of about 260,000. The original title, which claims to be the most important opinion-forming weekly in Poland, sells about half as many copies as its mother title. Its new 68-page "enlightened" affiliate is presented by its promoters as an "intelligent way to be informed about the lives of politicians and celebrities", and includes movie and television, health and beauty, and food pages.
"There is no paper in the market, which would show the real life of politicians and show-business VIPs, combined with good satires and cultural pages", believes Stanislaw Janecki, both weeklies' Editor-in-Chief.
Wprost Light is aimed mainly at women, intending to attract advertisers for cosmetic products in particular, while its original sibling is by far mostly read by men. The new weekly is often made of short reprints from other newspapers, and as Press reported, it is also criticized for its inconsistent design, the yellow box on the cover making it look like The National Geographic, and for its lack of in-depth news, even on the life of Poland's celebrities.