The four of you who still read paper newspapers will notice a dramatic shift in Monday’s Gazette. It’s gotten smaller.
The most dramatic change is the consolidation of the news, Your Business and Arts & Life sections into the A section, similar to what happens in the Sunday paper. The Sports section is unchanged (in fact, it’s a larger-than-normal 10 pages this week), as is the ad-generating Driving section. The length of the paper reduces overall by about six pages.
Editor-in-Chief Andrew Phillips is honest in his note to readers today about why this is happening:
The main reason for the change is that the cost of newsprint is rising dramatically. In the past year, it has gone up by about 24 per cent, and it is adding more than $2 million to our annual expenses. Fuel costs, as everyone knows, have also gone up sharply.
The fact is we can’t keep printing the same size newspaper at a time when the competition for advertising revenue (which makes up about three-quarters of our income) is much tougher. The time is long past when newspapers like The Gazette could just absorb extra costs and pass all of them on to advertisers.
Of course, no doubt some readers won’t agree (especially when it’s combined with a slight increase in subscription rates), so Andrew and the rest of the staff are fully ready for an onslaught of complaints. He has a blog post explaining the situation, and readers are encouraged to comment there, or by email to his address or the new firstname.lastname@example.org.
As if in answer to management’s prayers to give them some cover fire, the New York Times also announced that it would be consolidating sections to save on newsprint. One of my colleagues got the idea to run a story about that in the Your Business section today, and Andrew points that out to readers.
(UPDATE Sept. 11: Andrew has a summary of the reaction, which is negative, but not as bad as he feared)
Here’s what’s changed
The new layout of A1 (as seen above) emphasizes the newspaper’s slew of Monday columnists (because, try as they might, little news happens on Sundays), with quotes along the side from marquee names.
Content-wise, the changes are modest:
- Your Business takes the biggest hit, dropping to only three pages (1.5 if you discount the ads). This essentially means there will be one entrepreneurial feature story instead of two. Don Macdonald’s and Paul Delean’s columns are still there. It will also no longer be able to take advantage of the occasional extra page that pops up at the last minute when obituaries are light.
- Editorial and Opinion pages are, for the first time, combined into a single page, with an opinion piece along the bottom, a single editorial and fewer letters. Monday opinion pages tend to be a bit stale sometimes because they’re created on the Friday before (along with Saturday and Sunday pages).
- Arts & Life is reduced in size (and fewer pages are in colour), but no regular features are cut (the HealthWatch column moves to Tuesdays). Green Life, Showbiz Chez Nous, Dating Girl, Susan Schwartz (though she’s off this week), Hugh Anderson’s Seniors column, Applause, This Week’s Child, Fine Tuning (with the TV grid) are all still there.
- Squeaky Wheels moves off of A2 to make way for the Bluffer’s Guide and the new Monday calendar.
It’s not all bad
On the plus side (and so people can get excited about something), two new features are being introduced on Mondays. A2 features a weekly look-ahead calendar, with information on events to look forward to. There’s also a Monday Closeup, which features an interview with someone who will be relevant to something happening that week. (The first week features an author talking about winning book awards, as the Man Booker shortlist is being announced)
But let’s get back to talking about me
Now here’s where I fit in: I’m the one putting together that look-ahead calendar. So if you know of any interesting newsworthy events coming up, let me know and I’ll see if I can get it in. Take a look at what’s already in the calendar to see what kind of stuff I’m talking about.
Note that the following are not things that will make it into the calendar:
- Your birthday party
- Your awesome rock/blues/polka band playing at Sala Rossa.
- Your garage/bake/charity sale
- Your book reading
- Your support group meetup
- Your $500 basket-weaving training course
- Your company’s new advertising campaign launch
- Any of the above replacing “your” with “your friend’s”
I mean, unless it’s really exceptional. Like you’re pulling a plane or something.