Mightier Than The Pen

Making The World A Bitter Place

NY Times to Switch to Tabloid Format

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By Jay Walker

NEW YORK, April 30 – Responding to a decades-long trend in newspaper marketing, the New York Times announced today that as of June 30 it would change its classic broadsheet layout to tabloid format. The decision follows months of studies commissioned by the Times management and comparisons with the fates of other newspapers in both the broadsheet and tabloid formats.

Long associated with higher-quality journalism, the broadsheet format has fallen out of favor with purchasers of newspapers over the last thirty years. Although tabloid newspapers have suffered declining sales during the same period, the tabloid format has proved somewhat more resilient, as it remains more conducive to compelling or dramatic photos and headlines that help attract readers.

Although the impending switch took some industry analysts by surprise, many print media experts saw the newsprint on the walls ages ago, says Harold Perlmutter, Associate Professor of Media at George Mason University. “The Times took the revolutionary step – at least by its own conservative standards – and introduced color photography to its front page in the 1990’s,” he said, “but in recent years even the stodgy folks at the Times realized that they needed a wholesale makeover, not some cosmetic touch-ups here and there.”

The announcement garnered mixed reactions among media consumers. According to a CBS poll, 48% of respondents expected the change not to affect sales to any significant degree, while 38% expressed excitement at seeing the paper of record feature front-page headlines such as, “Guv: Feds Too Nosy” and “Cops Nab Pair in Mob Hit”. The other 14% expressed no opinion on the matter. The poll’s margin of error was four percentage points.

Alison Morgan, 38, of New Hyde Park, NY, has had a subscription to the NY Times for seven years, and welcomes the change. “I know it’s supposed to be the best paper and all, but I just can’t wade through everything I need to in the little time I have. It’s great to know the Times will now be on the same level as the Daily News and the New York Post.”

Others are not so keen on the switch. Maureen Baker, 52, of Brooklyn Heights, plans to cancel her subscription once the change takes effect. “I can’t believe they’re selling out,” she said.

Beyond the announcement itself in a press release today, the Times has remained unusually silent on the matter. The press release said, in its entirety, “As of June 30, 2011, The New York Times will switch from broadsheet to tabloid format, in keeping with worldwide trends in print journalism. We anticipate that the change will attract new readers, and we will work to retain our current demanding readership by demonstrating that the format of the paper will not affect the kwality of the publication they have come to expect.”

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Written by Thag

April 30, 2011 at 9:32 pm

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