‘Commercial Appeal’ in Memphis Shrinks to 46-Inch Web

By: Joe Strupp

The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tenn., is shrinking its print newspaper to a 46-inch web from 50 inches, the paper reported Tuesday.

In a story today, the paper said that the size cut is partly in response to recent 30% increases in newsprint costs. “The newspaper has been redesigned ? saving Memphis Publishing Co. about 6 percent in paper,” the story reported.

“The key issue for us is to make sure that the core news coverage continues,” Editor Chris Peck said in the report. “That will mean the need to edit the paper more carefully and also to encourage readers to go online more often when we have additional details that might not fit into the print edition.

“Those two tasks are certainly challenges, but my hope is that overall news report will be more easy to navigate and, in fact, will match up with what appears to be a long-term trend that digital delivery will be an ever bigger part of the news business.”

The paper pointed out that: “newsprint, the industry’s No. 2 cost behind labor, represents 10 to 15 percent of costs. Because the price is rising at the same time advertising revenue is hitting record lows — average advertising revenue fell 15 percent in the second quarter — publishers are making hard choices, cutting staff or news space, or both.”

The Commercial Appeal last reduced its size in March 2001, when it went from a 54-inch web to a 50-inch web, the paper reported, adding, “today’s reduction is an almost identical change and will save the newspaper about 1,000 metric tons of paper.”

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