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Panpa Bulletin : May 2007
PANPA Bulletin May 2007 7 The narrower broadsheet format being introduced next year by The New York Times will reduce the paper's news- hole by 11 per cent. But the paper's management has made it clear that, while shrinking page widths by 1.5 inches -- "now becoming the industry norm" -- it will add pages to compensate for "such a serious loss" of space. This will reduce the net loss to about five per cent -- a model that Fairfax Media CEO David Kirk has indicated is the type of change to which he has been paying "particular attention" as he prepares to make an as yet-to-be-determined slice off the page width of Fairfax 's two broadsheet flagships, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. "The move to a narrower broadsheet is not simply about size of design, but is part of a comprehensive effort to conceive and implement the newspaper of the future -- with the needs and preferences of our readers in the forefront of our thinking," is how Kirk described his philosophy. The New York Times is one of a range of papers visited by a Fairfax team during a whirlwind fact-finding trip to the US and the UK. The team, of which Age editor Andrew Jaspan was a member, looked not only at how the move to narrower pages had been managed, but also -- and more importantly -- how the integration of news- rooms is being handled. In the US, the Fairfax team also visited the Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, the Washington Post, USA Today, and Gannett Corp. In London, The Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian and The Observer, and their online associated opera- tions, were checked out. The New York Times, which is 'updating' its look by moving from the traditional US web broadsheet four-page web width of 54 inches to a 48-inch web, is allowing two years for implementation of the changes. The long lead time is necessary because the introduction of new printing equipment is also involved, allowing a 250 cut in pro- duction staff. With the paper savings added, costs should fall by US$42 million a year. The Executive Editor of The New York Times, Bill Keller, believes the five per cent loss of news space can be absorbed without harming coverage. "We will look for ways to report incre- mental news development in digests or other abbreviated forms, and to police flabby or redundant prose in longer pieces," says Keller. "I'm convinced that, with good editors and a little time, I could take five per cent out of any day's paper and actually makes it better. "We still intend to cover all the things we cover now. And conveying the news in a bit less space will require more rigorous editing, not less. "Moreover, with the advent of the web out responsibility to cover news for our au- dience has grown well beyond the columns of newsprint in the paper. Our commit- ment hard-hitting, groundbreaking journal- ism will not be compromised." But you couldn't just take the current front page and squeeze it. It was necessary to think hard about changing the look in ways that preserved the visual power, the urgency and the dignity of the paper. Broadsheets, as newspapers produced in larger-sized page formats have become known, rst appeared in 1712. A response to a tax im- posed on British mastheads, it was based on the number of pages in each issue. The common perception has always been that larger-paged newspapers are more authoritative and provide the best canvas on which to address 'upmarket' audiences, not to mention packing-in the classi eds. Half-size tabloid page became the accepted format for capturing the attention of lower socio-economic mass audiences and for the convenience of commuters. While the general trend overseas and in Australia over the years has been to adopt the smaller size, New Zealand has remained more committed to larger pages. The few titles that have adopted the tabloid format include The Gisborne Herald and The Herald on Sunday. The suburbans have also favoured the smaller size. In Australia Fairfax Media's business daily, The Australian Financial Review, adopted the smaller format right from its launch as a weekly in 1951 -- with no "credibility" problem arising from its size. After Fairfax's two metro agships, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age in Melbourne, make the changeover in 2008 to the narrower-width format announced by CEO David Kirk, the only major Australian titles coming o the presses as 'true' broadsheets will be News Limited's na- tional daily, The Australian, and The Canberra Times. All of Australian's regional dailies are tabloids with the exception of the Sunraysia Daily in Victoria. An interesting piece of newspaper history lies behind the new common link The Canberra Times has with The Australian. The Times went tabloid in 1956. However, in July 1964, under the ownership of Fairfax, it was switched back to a broadsheet. Fairfax considered this to be the most appropriate way to counter the arrival in the city of a new competitor. That was Rupert Murdoch, starting up a broadsheet publication, The Australian. * The Australian Newspaper History Group is publishing in May a book on the changing format of Australian newspapers during their 204 years of publication, with a special focus on changes from broadsheet to tabloid. The author is Victor Isaacs. Details can be obtained from Rod Kirkpatrick at email@example.com. Reduced-width New York Times compared with the current-size Age news