Media Magazine

The Shape of Things to Come

Posted on the 31 August 2011 by Themarioblog @garciainteract

TAKEAWAY: It is likely to happen: US daily newspapers may finally realize that it is better to be published in smaller formats than the traditional format. Now,  The Cincinnati Enquirer and The Columbus Dispatch, announced plans to switch their printing formats from classic broadsheet to a new compact style more akin to a tabloid,  ALSO: The New York Times looks at the kitchen table of the future—-coffee, cereal and swiping.

Two reports from the Nieman Journalism Lab provide us with interesting news today, and I recommend both.

First, a story about The Cincinnati Enquirer and The Columbus Dispatch, both of which announced plans to switch their printing formats from classic broadsheet to something more compact, although the term tabloid is not specifically mentioned.

This has been a long time coming and those of you who read this blog know that I am an advocate of the smaller formats.  My European and Asian friends are constantly asking why the American publishers are so resistant to changing from those big broadsheets to smaller formats.  We know that the arguments have to do with the practicalities of how advertising is sold in the US, the fact that printing presses in some cases have to be prepared to print smaller formats (at a cost), and, most importantly, the fact that for many American publishers and editors “tabloid” is a dirty word that has connotations of cheap, down market publications with scandalous stories, big headlines and little credibility.

Of course, we know it does not have to be, as shown through the many “classic style” compacts that appear worldwide, including two tabloid editions of The Wall Street Journal in Europe and Asia.

Finally, with these two midwestern newspapers from Ohio deciding to go small may be the inspiration and the push some publishers may need to realize the advantages.

Margaret Buchanan, president and publisher of The Enquirer, is quoted in the Nieman report saying that response to print prototypes indicated that the audience wanted their newspaper to change. “We conducted focus groups with existing loyal readers,” she said. “We were concerned that if our loyal readers wouldn’t like this format, it probably wouldn’t be in our best interest.” She added that those focus groups wanted a paper that was, all in all, “easier” — easier to fit into briefcases or laptop bags, easier to read on a table at breakfast, or easier to keep together in one piece. Their testing made clear, Buchanan said, that people want a paper that is “more adaptable.

We have heard the same comments at dozens of focus groups worldwide.

The smaller, easier to carry newspaper is what readers want today when given a choice. And if the compact can be stitched, then so much the better.

Here is the kitchen table of the future

For those who like to gaze into the not so distant future, this second Nieman report will please you. And, as you can imagine, it is a tablet edition of The New York Times at your breakfast table, to swipe the pages as you enjoy your granola and coffee.

The New York Times imagines the kitchen table of the future
The Times Co.’s R&D Lab is betting breakfast will be less about sharing out newsprint and more about swiping through stories, ambient commerce, and the quantified self.

First paragraph: At The New York Times Company’s R&D Lab, the group’s collective of technologists, artists, and journalists talks a lot about “information shadows” — the auras of data that surround us in our daily lives. Tracking and processing the info trails we leave, the thinking goes, allows for deeper insights into ourselves — and it can also help media organizations to provide their users with news consumption experiences as intimate as they are relevant. We tend to emphasize the “self” aspects of “the quantified self“; the R&D Lab is exploring what it means to be a part of a quantified community — and, for the Times, what it means to be a provider of information to that community.

TheMarioBlog post #845

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