Sun On Sunday Review - Is It Better Than The News Of The World?


Will the Sun on Sunday revolutionise weekend newspaper reading in Britain or would you be better off staying in bed?

Probably best to reserve judgement this week because it's quite clear that Rupert Murdoch has, despite all the fanfare, opted for a soft launch of his replacement for the News of the World.

How it evolves is another thing.

As it happens I've still got a copy of the last edition of the News of the World in my drawer, unfortunately what I haven't got is the last "normal" edition, before the paper imploded in the wake of the phone hacking allegations.

But it's easy to remember the hallmarks of the old paper - sex and drugs exclusives relying on mobile phone video footage; opinionated, sometimes rabidly deranged columnists; tenuous punny headlines. Some of these things have been resurrected for the new paper, others haven't.

The headlines are there, but then they always were in the Sun anyway. "Mandelly Belly" heads up the story about Nelson Mandela's trip to a South African hospital on Saturday. "Piggybeck Ride" leads into a short picture exclusive about David Beckham with his youngest child, Harper Seven, on his shoulders.

But the sort of investigative sting that became the hallmark of the News of the World is missing. People have been quite sniffy about The Sun on Sunday's interview with Amanda Holden as their first splash.

Sure, it's not exactly an earth-shattering scoop, the Britain's Got Talent judge is a readily-available figure, and she's doing an on-record interview. But it's a pretty emotional, in-depth account of her "nightmare birth ordeal".

Apparently there's more to come tomorrow, which seems staggering given she's already taken up five pages today.

The paper feels very, very similar to the sort of output it produces every other day of the week, from the layout to the style of the story - not surprising because it's the same editorial team which produces the weekday editions.

Apart from the Archbishop of York, all the columnists who regularly appeared in the News of the World - Carole Malone, Dan Wootton, haven't made a comeback. This is not, by any means, the News of the Screws just repackaged under a different masthead.

Still, it's hard not to get sucked into the spiral of celebrity nonsense. Katie Price reveals that she can't book a table in some of the posher restaurants because - it's implied - they don't like her sort dining there. She gets all the bookings done in her PA's name because apparently the restaurants are "fully booked" when Price tries herself.

Diedre's photo casebook is unfortunately buried on page 54 (it's a couple who are getting pregnant despite being in their late 40s), and page three has Kelly Rowland nearly naked, but not quite.

You have to wonder how the editorial leader writer managed to finish their work though, battling through the tears as they wrote: "It is vital to remember that The Sun has been responsible for some truly outstanding, award-winning investigative and campaigning public interest journalism," concluding it's been "a tremendous force for good."

Kind of puts small beer like Mother Theresa, Winston Churchill and the United Nations in perspective, eh?

It's a paper which feels quite serious, far less bright, breezy and brash as the News of the World in its heyday. It doesn't feel like a Sunday paper, which makes me wonder whether the format they've plumped for at launch will be around for long.

For one thing the team producing it will be working seven days a week if it carries on like this, and then they'll be too tired to save the world.

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