NST going north: the rush is on
It’s the New Streets Times going local again
What other avenues could there be for the slowly-decaying NST to improve its circulation — besides cradle-snatching?
Their current marketing campaign, with mystifying billboards and other activities, does seem to reflect a desire to go for the brainy top end while also reaching out to brainy kids in schools who like riddles. The kids they already have (see Monday’s report); will the riddles entice their current top end, the brainy and bored civil servants desultorily flipping through their free office copy, to actually fork out a buck a day?
Or would the market prefer The Star, not riddled with so much brain-teasing, with more bang for the buck in 300-plus pages, and a better return from the botoi guni man? Or The Sun, neither riddled with brain-teasers nor plagued with, worse, a cover price?
Not wishing to tackle that riddle, next month or thereabouts, the NST will become the New Streets Times, adding a new local section, Penang Streets, to the product mix of Johore Buzz (now Johor Streets), and Streets Central for metropolitan KL. (A pity they lost their micro-sites at the web site, though.)
It was only a matter of time that Balai Berita aimed for the next largest urban market centre — their weak spot, as shown in the chart above.
The north is a stronghold of The Star, born in Penang 39 years ago this month and where it still maintains a full team of reporters and subs to independently produce Metro North, the only office other than PJ with a separate editorial crew and as independent as PJ allows them to be.
Having got a Sarawak edition going, Section 16 must now be looking at other urban pockets. Ipoh is the only other place left. So watch out, Ipoh Echo. (Or maybe not. Fifty-buck business-card retail ads can’t be of much interest to well fed big city ad reps.)
While The Daily Red had home advantage in Penang, the Not Straits Times conceded the region through benign neglect. Successive editors (three of them Penang or Kedah boys) did make a stab at boosting circulation. But Balai Berita initiatives usually settle down to an everyday humdrum pace once the initial excitement is over and the bosses go back to what they do best: toadying to the PMO.
And so The Red went on to eat the NST’s lunch.
It was only in the south that the NST established itself locally: first-mover advantage from establishing a plant there early on (for Berita Harian’s sake, really, back when Balai Berita was a cash cow).
The Red had more pressing matters: building up out of Section 13. So Balai Berita won the battle for the south — but lost the war: the centre did not hold.
While Balai Berita bosses were occupied in their favourite pastime of toadying, The Red went for the jugular — classifieds and shopping ads for the metropolitan urbanite — after its traumatic dalliance with Operation Lallang.
Which is why the Not Straits Times must now find new life and new meaning as the New Streets Times.
Hit the road, boys.