Media Magazine

Tabloids in the News: Some Renew, Some Disappear, but Still the Way to Go!

Posted on the 07 September 2011 by Themarioblog @garciainteract

TAKEAWAY: In Singapore, The New Paper——not so new anymore—-goes for a total makeover, while in Chicago, The Chicago Tribune says goodbye to its not so old tabloid edition. And, of course, in the UK, “tabloid” is that dirty word that is constantly attached to the phrase phone-hacking affair. Yet, it is still the format to go for!

New look for The New Paper of Singapore

Tabloids in the news: some renew, some disappear, but still the way to go!

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Well, The New Paper, that young, dynamic and adventurous newspaper that I had the honor—-and pleasure—-of helping to start in the island nation in 1988, has reinvented itself, with a new look announced by its publisher, Singapore Press Holdings.

And what memories that announcement brings! No, I had nothing to do with this new look and feel for The New Paper, but I can tell that it continues to be the daily for the young reader, dynamic in its presentation of content, aiming for women readers, and, as its marketing department describes it “offering news with sharp angles not seen elsewhere.“

It was that way from the start, when founding editor Peter Lim would round up his young staff in the newsroom and instruct them to remember the three key words: people, people, people.  The covers emphasized a person, and a headline that many times included the pronoun “I”.

And the logo——which I am happy to see, although small, in the new pages shown—-has a story of its own.

We tried logo ideas by the dozens.  Contributions came from everywhere.  Nothing would seem to fit into the spirit of something new, young, dynamic.  One day, in desperation, I simply wrote the words the new paper in lower case, then typed them using American Typewriter as the font.  It was 1988, remember, so I took my 48 point version of the words and then took them to a copying machine to blow them up bigger and bigger.  There was something rough, new and unfinished about it.  Because Mr. Lim had check marks everywhere as we covered so much ground in starting the new newspaper, I took one of the checkmarks and added it to the words “the new paper”. A logo was born.

The checkmark is still there—-durable like The New Paper itself. I am happy to see the changes.  More importantly, I am happy to see that this youngish paper that we started in 1988 is still here, attracting the children of those for whom it was initially created.

Meanwhile in Chicago

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It is only the broadsheet for The Chicago Tribune readers now

While in Asia a successful tabloid reinvents itself for a new audience, the news on the other side of the world, in Chicago, is not so pleasant.  The Chicago Tribune has decided to close its tabloid edition, started in 2009, in what appeared to be a strange and difficult to sustain proposition from the start: to publish the Tribune as both a broadsheet and a tabloid daily.

I remember answering questions at seminars worldwide about this announcement: Mario, do you see that this is the way of things to come? To publish in two formats at the same time?
Should the rest of us be looking at that?

I found it strange, too, but gave the Tribune execs the benefit of the doubt, thinking that they must have known what they were doing.

My friend and colleague Len Kubas, of KubasPrimedia, of Canada, has written a very detailed and comprehensive piece on why he thinks the Tribune experiment was doomed to fail from the start. In fact, Len wrote me an email yesterday in which he said: “With The Tribune’s shuttering of its tabloid edition this week, I hope that publishers won’t think that tabloids are doomed in North America.“

I don’t think so, Len, although, like you, I do agree that tabloids have had a rough summer to get through with the closing of The News of the World and the lingering phone-hacking scandal that continues to receive plenty of media attention even into early September—-with no signs of letting up.

Compact format is a big opportunity, provided it’s done right,“ Len Kubas writes me.

Indeed, and it is the way to go, and there are thousands of newspapers that do the compact format perfectly well, and we should concentrate on those efforts.

We should also be on the lookout for what happens in Ohio, with the Cincinnati Enquirer, whose management has announced new printing presses and a conversion to a smaller format.
Bravo, we say.

But back to The Chicago Tribune, I urge you to read the Kubas piece on why the experiment failed. Please request the pdf version directly from him:

Highlights: Kubas believes the experiment was doomed from the start because of these reasons—-Producing Two Formats at the Same Time Will Always Cost More, Expected Newsprint Savings May Not Materialize, Advertising Pricing Was Not Optimized, A Short, Squat Tabloid Is Not Attractive, and Limits Editorial and Advertising Flexibility,A Short, Squat Tabloid Is Not Attractive, and Limits Editorial and Advertising Flexibility,The Tribune Failed the Carpenters’ Rule, “Measure Twice, Cut Once

Still my favorite compacts: those seductive A4 papers

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If I was starting a printed newspaper today——and some clients I know ARE——my recommendation would be for the smallest of the compacts, the so called A4, favored by German language newspapers primarily.

Here are three we at Garcia Media have been a part of: Kleine Zeitung (Austria), Sata 24 (Croatia), MorgenPost (Germany).

TheMarioBlog post #852

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