Gazette consolidates weekday paper into three sections

The Gazette (which brilliantly decided to hire me way back when, and more brilliantly has decided to re-hire me a few times since) today reorganized its Tuesday-to-Friday papers, reducing the number of sections from five to three. Sports, Driving and Classified will no longer get section fronts on those days, but will get giant teases, examples of which you can see below.

Publisher and editor Alan Allnutt explains the change in a note to readers on A2.

What’s noteworthy here is that there is no corresponding reduction in the size of the paper. The “news hole” (the space not reserved for advertising) is the same in all sections. So this is a purely organizational change. It uses the same amount of paper and will provide the same amount of content.

So why do it then?

The big answer is flexibility. Organizing the pages of a newspaper is actually a complex balance. Each section (city, nation, world, editorial/op-ed, business, sports, arts, life, driving) needs a certain amount of editorial space, which means if you throw a full-page ad in that section, the section has to be a full page longer to ensure that editorial space.

Except with standalone sections, you can’t have an odd number of pages, and for technical reasons you need eight as a minimum. During the week, that means most of the time Business, Sports and Arts&Life were exactly eight pages, with Driving/Classified being not much longer. Then there are things like obituaries, comics, puzzles, the Mini Page and other one-page features that have to be placed somewhere. And finally, there’s the issue of colour, which because of the way newspapers are made can only be used on certain pages (usually odd pages at the beginning of a section and even pages near the end). Figuring out how it all fits together is a juggling act.

With consolidated sections, if you want to take a single page away from one section and give it to another, it’s a lot easier to do so.

So here’s how it will work:

Day Section A Section B Section C Section D Sections E, F, G…
Monday News, Opinion, Business, Arts&Life Sports Driving, Classified
Tuesday News, Opinion Business, Sports, Driving Arts&Life
Wednesday News, Opinion Business, Sports, Driving Arts&Life
Thursday News, Opinion Business, Sports Arts&Life, Classified (West Island)
Friday News, Opinion Business, Sports Movies, Classified
Saturday News Saturday Extra, Opinion Business Sports Culture, Homefront, Working, Weekend Life, Travel, TVtimes
Sunday News, Opinion, Arts&Life Sports, Classified

The Monday paper was reduced to three sections a year ago, the Sunday paper reduced to two sections long before that. Those days aren’t affected by this change, nor is Saturday which will still have everything in its own section.

The grouping of the sections was carefully considered, and is meant to allow couples to split the paper between them. Section B is the guy section with business, sports and cars. Section C is the girl section with arts, life and classified. It’s sexist, sure, but it’s the way to do it that will please the most people.

Business, Page B1

Business, Page B1

In order to compensate for not having its own section front, the Sports section gets a very deep skybox at the front of Business, which will normally have the score of the big game (read: Habs game) and a picture pointing to the section inside.

Sports, Page B13

Sports, Page B13

The first page of the Sports section won’t be much different than before, even though it’s not a section front anymore. The skybox, which used to have two small pointers to online content, will now have one large one with an extremely horizontal photo.

Driving, Page B21

Driving, Page B21

Driving doesn’t look any different.

Arts&Life, Page C1

Arts&Life, Page C1

Arts&Life also gets a deep skybox, to match the B section front. In this case, it will point to two stories inside.

Allnutt is asking people with comments about the consolidation to email changes@thegazette.canwest.com. Be sure to include a non-sequitur complaint about how the paper has gone down the toilet since it dropped Garfield, and ask why you can’t find Nick Auf der Maur’s column anymore.

17 thoughts on “Gazette consolidates weekday paper into three sections

  1. Becks

    Quite frankly i didn’t like the change this morning…no specific reason…it just felt wrong to me.
    I guess I’m just an old crank but I feel the Gazette,especially the Sunday to Friday editions have gone down-hill over the past couple of years. In my opinion, if the Gazette continues on the path it’s been on for the past couple of years, it’ll be gone by within another five years.

    Reply
  2. Shawn

    What’s with all the Driving sections? This is really just driven by ad dollars, right? I mean, even the Gazette cannot really think that there are enough bona fide editorial stories about cars, for crying out loud, three times a week?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      I don’t think anyone can deny that Driving is ad-driven. While almost no newspapers have books sections anymore, they all have automotive sections. Heck, some have two in the same day.

      It’s one of the realities of newspapers and news media in general.

      Reply
  3. Soupdragon

    The changes, as explained here, make good enough sense – though why not just drop the useless “Driving” section as it has long ago degenerated into trite advertorial.

    Reply
  4. David C.

    I sent Mr.Allnut a nasty note after his comments were published.

    In essence I found it insulting that the same newspaper that day had its first hard news story on page A6.In addition I found his tone like Josh Freed’s a week earlier a little lame.

    The existing newspaper are “going down the toilet”because they are no longer relevant.
    The person under the age of 40 cannot relate to todays paper.The total neglect to onfo on technology and other items of interest to that generation is baffling.

    i can remeber when I used th anxiously await my gazette at 11 oclock at night at the corner of parK anf Bernard when barnie would come of the 80 bus with the first edition of the early gazette and I would quickly go to page4 to to read on and ff the record by Fitz.
    That was when a NEWSpaper was news.Now they have pushed us to the WEB and have liad the foundation for their demie

    How about printing a Final edition for the 5oclock crowd like the Star used to do.You think PULSE or Ctv News is all powerful.

    Boy I feel better now dont you?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      In essence I found it insulting that the same newspaper that day had its first hard news story on page A6.

      Some context is needed here. First of all, the front page had hard news. You can’t get harder than a story about scandal at a politicians’ debate. Page 2 was Allnutt’s letter, and Pages 3 and 4 were the You’ll Like This pages, which had good news stories. Maybe that’s not hard enough for you, but it’s something people like to read. And that’s a Tuesday-only thing. Page 5 was a full-page ad. So that meant the debate story and other hard news went from Page 6 onwards.

      The person under the age of 40 cannot relate to todays paper.The total neglect to onfo on technology and other items of interest to that generation is baffling.

      Newspapers have tried appealing to a younger market with more technology and other content. But the young readers just aren’t coming. So instead, they focus the printed paper on the older reader demographic and put technology stuff online. Maybe you think newspapers should continue struggling against a hopeless cause, but the people who are interested in technology news are precisely the demographic least likely to buy a newspaper.

      Reply
  5. Gazoo Subscriber

    Here are a few things you can pass on to your bosses over at The Gazette.

    – I find the Saturday edition too big. Too big to go through in a rather busy day. I find Sundays much quiter to sit down and enjoy the paper. I would prefer that some of the extra sections in the Saturday paper be inserted into the Sunday edition. Such as…Books section, All color comics, perhaps some of the feature articles. Just to name a few.

    – I think it’s about time the Gazette updated their TV listings. We are getting digital TV channels over the air, and no listings for them. Example… WFFF-DT is offering the CW on 44.2 and WPTZ-DT is offering ThisTV on 5.2, WETK-DT is offering Create on 33.3 and PBS World on 33.4 while WCFE-DT is offering ThinkBright on 57.3
    Not everybody has Cable/Sat, and some don’t even want it.

    – And how about a bit more investigative news rather than press conferance release news. You know the type. Somebody announces a press conferance, and journalists show up to report it as news. This is not news. This is somebodys marketing department using journalists to get their message out. They want publicity, let them buy an ad.

    – Also, it seems that the Saturday edition (cover page) is always focusing on the enviorment, or trees, or public transit. Please give us all a break. That is not headline news to be put on a front page. Those are feature articles. And they should be placed inside the paper. They should not be the main focus of the edition. Shit has happened the day before that needs to be on the front page.

    – And please, with all the city hall nonsense, can we get somebody that can cover city hall with the ability to see through some of this nonsense and report on it. The same goes for the provincial capital. Can somebody read some of the proposals by our elected representatives, and report to the public what they are up to when we do not have the time to look ourselves. Please!

    And as Peter Griffen say “That’s what grinds my wheels”

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      – I find the Saturday edition too big. Too big to go through in a rather busy day. I find Sundays much quiter to sit down and enjoy the paper. I would prefer that some of the extra sections in the Saturday paper be inserted into the Sunday edition. Such as…Books section, All color comics, perhaps some of the feature articles. Just to name a few.

      For the record, I agree with you. But Saturday is where the advertising is, and efforts to expand the Sunday paper haven’t met with much advertising support because the Sunday paper is the least read during the week and the Saturday paper is the most read.

      Besides, if you feel that way, why not just take a couple of sections out of the Saturday paper and wait until Sunday to read them?

      – I think it’s about time the Gazette updated their TV listings. We are getting digital TV channels over the air, and no listings for them. Example… WFFF-DT is offering the CW on 44.2 and WPTZ-DT is offering ThisTV on 5.2, WETK-DT is offering Create on 33.3 and PBS World on 33.4 while WCFE-DT is offering ThinkBright on 57.3
      Not everybody has Cable/Sat, and some don’t even want it.

      This is an interesting point, and one that may not have been considered yet by powers that be. But 90% of television watchers have cable or satellite service, and these secondary channels aren’t carried on those services. Those who use over-the-air reception don’t have television sets that work with digital TV, and probably won’t until the changeover in 2011. Finally, these secondary channels tend to carry content like weather and newscasts that are repeated often, making them less interesting for a TV grid. Maybe these things will change when Canada switches to digital in 2011, we’ll see.

      And how about a bit more investigative news rather than press conferance release news. You know the type. Somebody announces a press conferance, and journalists show up to report it as news. This is not news. This is somebodys marketing department using journalists to get their message out. They want publicity, let them buy an ad.

      If you look at newspapers these days, you’ll find that they’re well aware of this problem and are doing things to combat it. Breaking news is posted online, and reporters try to come up with more analysis in the paper. It doesn’t always work, particularly in sections like business (where everything major comes out via release and marketers are well paid), but they’re trying.

      Also, it seems that the Saturday edition (cover page) is always focusing on the enviorment, or trees, or public transit. Please give us all a break. That is not headline news to be put on a front page. Those are feature articles. And they should be placed inside the paper. They should not be the main focus of the edition. Shit has happened the day before that needs to be on the front page.

      Saturday Extra stories have also been about math, H1N1 an Maurice Duplessis. Sure, the environment is a hot issue, but I don’t think it’s fair to say the Saturday front always focuses on the environment.

      Also, your point that “shit has happened the day before” seems to contradict your point about press releases and press conferences dominating the news. That “shit” you’re talking about tends to be either marketing-driven, politics or crime/trauma/natural disasters. Which of those would you like to see on the front page more?

      And please, with all the city hall nonsense, can we get somebody that can cover city hall with the ability to see through some of this nonsense and report on it. The same goes for the provincial capital. Can somebody read some of the proposals by our elected representatives, and report to the public what they are up to when we do not have the time to look ourselves. Please!

      I’m not sure what you’re getting at here. Do you think the media isn’t doing a good job covering city hall? There have been countless stories about water meter contracts and Benoit Labont√© revealed by newspapers over the past year.

      Reply
  6. Alastair Yates

    I think it’s just as well. The National Post, which has a larger overall distribution than the Gazette, doesn’t have a section solely for sports either (and normally doesn’t have more than 3 sections). Considering that Montreal is not any more of a big-league sports town than say Edmonton, Hartford or Salt Lake City, it makes sense that sports does not have its own section. I think the move makes sense.

    Reply
  7. Singlestar

    I don’t care about Garfield or Auf der Maur disappearing. (I wished he would disappera before he did.) I do miss the Saturday Tribune crossword. Oh yes, and also some writing in which the opinion of the man-in-the-street isn’t more important than the facts.
    It’s too much to hope for some intelligent writing and an editorial page to the left of Attila the Hun.

    Reply
  8. Gary

    I really don’t like it. I liked having a front cover headline in the sports section. You’d know what was the BIG news of yesterday.

    Find it kinda ironic that Sports finds itself inside the Buisness section.. Kinda fits reality?

    Reply
  9. Becks

    The reason the Sunday paper is the least read edition is because it pretty well sucks, has no worthwhile content and so is a waste of paper. Do as Gazoo says…move some of the Saturday features into Sunday and more people will read it….jeez..the Naples News, which is a pretty small,cheesy paper can manage a nice thick Sunday edition so can the Philly Enquirer.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      It’s a chicken-and-the-egg argument: Sunday papers suck because there’s no advertising in it. There’s no advertising in it because nobody reads it. Nobody reads it because it sucks (comparatively, I mean).

      In the United States, it’s the Sunday papers that tend to be the big ones of the week. Here, it’s the Saturday papers. Newspaper owners would love nothing better than to have more profitable Sunday editions, but the advertisers have to move along with the editorial content, and they’re not doing so.

      Reply
  10. Gazoo Subscriber

    – Back to the TV listings point…the figure you provide for Cable/Sat subscribers is more of a national figure at about 90%. The Montreal area has one of the lowest Cable/Sat percentage base in Canada. Over the Air TV reception is something like 20%. Also, any flat screen HDTV is digital ready for over the air reception. How many people do you know that have flat screen TVs? As well, digital to analog boxes are available in most electronic stores in the city for just under $80. These boxes can be connected to older TVs in order to make them digital ready. So, you don’t even have to buy a new flat screen TV.

    – As for the Sunday edition. Yes, you are correct. Why not just read some of the Saturday sections on Sunday. Excellent point. Here is the absurd situation…how many peple get the newspaper, look over it that same day they get it, and then pass it on to somebody else, or throw it away that same day. That is what has been happening to me. I get it on Saturdays. I look through it very quiclky because I’m busy. And then toss it out. Now, if I wasn’t so busy, perhaps I would take note of a few interesting things that I’ll save for Sunday. But, because the edition is so big, I find myself flicking through it even faster. Absurd, yes, absurd. But, because the Sunday edition is smaller, I actually spend more time going through it, because it doesn’t look so big. Again Absurd! That’s why I think something like Saturday’s book section and color comics would be a simple thing to transfer to the Sunday edition without major effect on the Saturday edition. It would certainly lighten up the Saturday edition a bit.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      How many people do you know that have flat screen TVs?

      How many people do you know have flat-screen TVs and don’t have cable or satellite?

      As for the Sunday edition, like I said it’s all about advertising. But don’t let me shoot you down. Tell The Gazette what you think directly, and if enough people say the same thing they might decide it’s an experiment worth trying.

      Reply

Leave a Reply