By: Dave Astor
Newspapers may need to contract to expand their chances of staying healthy.
“In 20 years, I foresee that many of the traditional U.S. broadsheets will be tabloid or even smaller,” said Garcia Media CEO and President Mario Garcia, speaking from , Cal?, Colombia in an interview with E&P Online.
Garcia — whose Tampa, Fla.-based firm just redesigned The Examiner of San Francisco from a broadsheet to a tabloid — offered several reasons for his prediction. Among them: Narrower web widths already make papers more compact, tabloids are easier to handle and easier to put online, and busy readers (especially young ones) like quicker-to-peruse tabloids.
“I have sat in countless focus groups globally,” he said. “Unquestionably, smaller formats are favored by most.”
Garcia added, “The myth of tabloids being flashy, downmarket products, while broadsheets are serious, is only that” — citing respected papers such as The Christian Science Monitor in Boston, Newsday in Melville, N.Y., Le Monde in Paris, and El Pa?s in Madrid, Spain.
Garcia knows of at least five dailies outside the United States that are in the process of converting from broadsheet to tabloid. “Europeans have been quicker to switch to tabloid or even smaller formats, but Latin American papers are doing it as well,” he said.
What about the United States?
While he knows of no U.S. broadsheets that have currently committed to switching, “some have called us since The Examiner redesign to inquire about the advantages of tabloid formats. Their editors’ curiosity is evident!”
Currently, only 51 of the 1,468 U.S. dailies are tabloids, according to the 2002 Editor & Publisher Year Book. Also, a few broadsheets have one tabloid edition a week.
Garcia said some papers outside the United States take a gradual approach to going tabloid. “They start with one section as a tab, then proceed slowly towards total conversion,” he said.
“Not all newspapers will be tabloid,” Garcia continued. “Some will maintain their formats. But [they] will have more sections in tabloid format. Many do already. And, who knows, some papers may decide to publish a tabloid version simultaneous with the broadsheet for smaller appetites.”
Garcia has redesigned more than 400 newspapers in more than 40 countries. His firm has also worked on plenty of broadsheets that remained broadsheets, such as the recently revamped Wall Street Journal.