The latest in a string of relaunches, repositions and revamps in the publishing industry, The Guardian has decided to join the rest of us this January in a bid to cut costs, downsizing with its long-anticipated move to tabloid.
The Guardian’s move to the Berliner format 12 years ago was embraced by audiences and critics alike (even winning awards for its redesign), and while this may only seem a relatively short period of time in the history of the longstanding paper, readers will be nervous about this change.
There are quite a few positives for readers: the new pink-washed ‘Journal’ section is full of opinions, letters and great thinking, and will no doubt be much-loved among The Guardian loyalists. The ‘Sports’ section has bulked up, brimming with 20-pages of content. The integrated look and feel across their platforms has landed well across print, web and mobile, although some may mourn the loss of the blue masthead (seemingly because the colour blue may carry a premium at Trinity Mirror’s print works).
With total pagination up to 96 pages, and stuffed with five supplements on a Saturday, readers will hardly be left short-changed by lack of content. With a presumed increase in ad sites available, The Guardian will be able to balance the loss to advertising sales of premium weekday outside back page and ditched front-page strip formats.
What has become most apparent is that publishers need to reduce hard costs in lieu of cover price revenue, and the cost of owning and running three printing presses under capacity seemed a step too indulgent for a publication that’s far bigger than its quirky page size.
Other publishers are taking different approaches in order to maintain revenues.
The i recently revamped its weekend offering, fleshing out its journalism with a more weekend friendly ‘Life’ section, abounding with interviews, arts and culture reviews and recipes, whilst keeping the delivery quality and concise. The Mail on Sunday, meanwhile, has introduced its own new lifestyle pull-out shuffling its homes and gardens, health and motoring sections to the centre of the paper. Both have made a concerted effort to bolster the number of pundits and high-profile guest columnists contributing to both their weekend and weekday offerings.
The Daily Telegraph is looking to broaden its audience base by augmenting its editorial team across its verticals, with Jamie Carragher joining sport and Charles Saatchi joining to write a weekly art column as notable examples. They are also keen to widen their age bracket, acquiring Gojimo, the UK’s largest revision app for GCSE and A-level students, as well as launching a Snapchat collaboration with Vice.
News UK has decided diversity in media markets is optimum, snapping up several companies in non-print areas of the industry, gaining a presence in the radio market with its acquisition of Wireless group (Talksport and Virgin radio), content creation with Storyful, and content distribution with Unruly, giving them access to a larger pool of media spend.
Be it through reduced production costs or diversification of media offering, publishers are having to find profit beyond print. We can no longer view publishers simply as the broadsheets and tabloids they champion; instead publishers ask us to look towards the esteem their brands draw culturally, the access to audiences they garner at all touchpoints and the role they play in consumer’s lives, agnostic of format and media channel.