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Panpa Bulletin : March 2006
The trend towards smaller formats has caused many pa- pers to reconsider whether they also should look at downsizing. Newspaper readers like smaller formats, however, the large cir- culation increases reported by downsized newspapers tend to disappear over time. But if news- papers utilise format change as part of a wider commercial strat- egy, they can see gains in reader loyalty and advertising yield. Jim Chisholm, who directs the WAN Shaping the Future of the Newspaper project, has long cau- tioned that the rush to reduce the newspaper's size was unlikely to provide a dramatic turnaround in a newspaper's fortunes. "For- mat change was never going to be a panacea, but it is proving to be a worthwhile move, in terms of raising reader satisfaction and providing a foundation for other editorial and commercial devel- opments," Chisholm said. The SFN project has been tracking format change; in the last two years, more than 80 major ti- tles have undertaken a transfor- mation either from broadsheet to tabloid or to the mid-sized Berliner format. Shortly after the smaller editions are launched, circulations rise between 10 per- cent and 15 percent. But after a year, few titles are showing cir- culation gains. "The end result is, at best, a one percent growth, or for many, stable sales. Many publishers, having been faced with declines, regard this as suc- cess enough for their efforts," said Chisholm. Most significant is the number of publishers who have reported that the greatest value was the encouragement of innovation in the newsroom. "As one pub- lisher said, 'It's not enough to only change the format, readers expect the newspaper to be new, so the content needs to be re- freshing as well,'" Chisholm said. "Changing your format does not solve everything; you also have to take the editorial con- tent into consideration to satisfy your readers and advertisers." This view was also true in the advertising department, where training on price maintenance and demonstration of value, re- gardless of size, was seen as es- sential. Many newspapers chose the format change as the time to move from column centime- tre-based pricing to fixed-size, modular pricing. This has proved to be very successful, with pub- lishers able to retain prices, while newsprint consumption has fall- en. Research shows that a tabloid page advertisement is equally as effective as a broadsheet page. "On balance, smaller formats are a good idea," said Chisholm. "Readers undoubtedly prefer them, and any notion that size somehow is a badge of quality or status is demonstrably a myth. While few newspapers are show- ing material circulation ben- efits, the anticipated problems in advertising yields and prices have been overcome, and many newspapers are benefiting from improvements in content and re- duced costs." That size matters, a myth Tracking format change “changing your format does not solve everything; you also have to take the editorial content into consideration to satisfy your readers and advertisers.” March 2006 PaNPa bUlletiN | 27 WANTED PANPA Newspapers for the future COURAGEOUS MEN AND WOMEN for challenging roles in newspaper production and publishing. wE NEED • Absolute dedication required. • A strong focus on the good of the industry. • A willingness to share the load. • A vision to the future. A keen eye for detail. wE OFFER • Additional hours above your current workload. • No pay. You will enjoy unrivalled recognition by your peers and the chance to make a positive impact on the future of the newspaper industry in the Australia-Asia- Pacific region. You will also get to work with some exceptional people on a new sub-committee that develops the program for the technical sessions for the annual conference of the Pacific Area Newspaper Publishers'Association. If this sound like you – and we hope it does send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org Applications are OPEN to newspaper employees and suppliers… WE are seeking professionals working in the area of pre-press, production, publishing and/or printing management. You can be currently employed in a newspaper environ- mentorinakey supplier role.