MEN miss a trick with Munich Tribute

MEN special on Munich front pagePicking up on an earlier post about slideshows, I wanted to point out what I thought was a real opportunity missed by my local paper The Manchester Evening News.

Its 50 years since the Munich Air Crash. A plane carrying the Manchester United European Cup squad and a number of journalists crashed as it took off from Munich airport.

As you would expect the Manchester Evening News, being the ‘local paper’ pulled out all the stops.

The Manchester Evening News has published a 48 page colour supplement to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Munich air disaster
The special addition (which is available to buy) is excellent; Page after page of archive image, reflection and editorial.

But it was more a case of Munich forgotten on the web site.

Up until the day of the anniversary there was next to nothing. No special section, no multimedia, nothing that reflected the richness of content in the special and the value of collecting it together. (unless I can’t find it). Just a few stories and some plugs for the special

MEN special on Munich

Reaction to the special proved that the MEN obviously has a place in the hearts of Man UTD fans. As one fan commented:

Somewhere in my loft (or perhaps my dad’s loft) I have some old newspaper specials from the Manchester Evening News and learnt a lot of the history of Manchester United from them.

Another fan liked the content and cited the MEN’s tradition of quality specials:

Before you say cashing in, they have a history of bringing out these specials, I grew up on them in the pre-internet age – usually pictures of the olden days or the blitz.

No complaints about the content and an obvious level of brand recognition for this kind of thing . So why is it a wasted opportunity?

Own the story

MEN pagesThe supplement came out a full week before the actual anniversary. A great opportunity to build the story on the website, perhaps feeding in content to a special section that would rival the print special. This would have meant that the MEN would have had more ownership of the story.

As it was, on the actual anniversary, they did set aside the lead story on front page but with an aggregation of content. Nothing coherent. Over the course of the day it developed – the gathering outside of Old Trafford duly covered – but whilst it’s interesting stuff it could have been so much more.

It’s a real shame because there is some nice stuff in there. Good pics, nice stories and good comments. But you have to work really hard to find it and worse still the opportunities to comment where spread around the site.

Thats a shame because the paper has very active online community around football(plenty of comments on the few stories related to Munich on their site) and there is an obviously active Man Utd community online.

In 2005 the BBC reported:

Manchester United had 75 million fans worldwide, with 23 million in Europe, 4.6 million in the Americas, 40.7 million in Asia, and a further 5.9 million in South Africa.

Before and after

A special section would have been a constant draw for people – some evergreen content. And bearing in mind that the supplement came out a week before the anniversary, they could have owned the story. The Man UTD site is a good example of that. Now, before you point to all the money and access that they have I’m not saying it should be like for like. But I actually don’t think that they have much more content than the MEN

ManUTD’s munich section

I can only assume that there was some overriding financial reason – they are selling the supplement – or legal reason for this (MUtd have an exhibition at the moment). Perhaps the CMS just couldn’t give them a special section.

Whatever it is, I think the MEN where given an easy shot and they didn’t take it.

4 Replies to “MEN miss a trick with Munich Tribute”

  1. The problem with having such a wealth of information as a 48-page supplement is that if the world new about it it wouldn’t be as special.

    The traditional nature of a supplement is something which you go out and buy the paper especially for, to gain that information as well as everything you’d normally expect to find in the day’s paper.

    Unlike the free DVDs given out with national newspapers left, right and centre, the supplements have significant hours of labour put in them and are (one would hope) not just about increasing circulation for a day, but paying a genuine tribute to a disaster which still sits in the minds of it’s readership, whether it be from having witnessed it on the day or heard about it from an uncle or grandfather.

    For some it may prove to be as significant as something they keep meaning to look up on Wikipedia but just haven’t had the time, though with any luck one Wiki article is trumped by a 48 page pull-out.

    Nonetheless to put the supplement online immediately could prove to be a saturation of information for someone wanting to check the latest headlines, and for those who wrote it a physical page is far harder to ignore than a link or banner on a home page.

    The important thing is that those who want to find out the information can, and hopefully that’s an issue the MEN will address continually in print and online.

    Led Zeppelin – Kashmir

  2. And if the world knew about it then you would sell newspapers.

    I wasn’t advocating putting the whole supplement on line. I was advocating using the information in a staged and creative way to have as much of a presence online as they did in the paper. That way, they could be recognsised for their quality and commitment online as they are in print.

    To assume that by putting stuff up on the web you a) have to put it all up and b)that devalues the printed copy is just wrong.

    One would hope that the supplement was a genuine effort to offer readers a valuable resource but don’t forget that in this day and age readers means online as well as print.

  3. I think what the MEN did by printing 48-page supplement was the least they could to honour the death of sport stars of a team so close to us, by name and by distance – well, for those who live around manchester anyway! Despite proximity Man Utd is probably one of the very few teams who has fans around the planet, including celebrites, apparently including famous stars like Justin Timberlake. Until the week running upto the anniversary, I have to admit I had never heard of the Munich air crash, let alone know anything more about it. The MEN gave people – like myself- a real good insight and paid good tribute to those lost in the tragedy, journalists and footballers alike!

  4. Razina. I agree and that’s why I thnk it’s a shame they didnt make more of the web coverage and catch people just like you but who may not be able to access the special.

    If they saw the coverage and appreciated it as much as you then they will see the MEN and as trustworthy, quality source for information. It may mean they are likely to come back. It builds an audience they may not have.

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