This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 19, 2010 7:46 AM. The previous post in this blog was Fake New York taking over Eugene. The next post in this blog is Nate's rating jumps. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Friday, February 19, 2010

Is the Oregonian going tabloid?

A reader writes:

I just finished up a 28-minute [telephone] survey that certainly was sponsored by the Oregonian. The charming college student surveyor... asked a lot of questions about where I get my news -- print media, TV, or radio, but they did not ask the right questions at all about my internet habits. They left a huge hole....

The big news is that the Oregonian is considering going to a tabloid format. The interviewer did not use that term but she asked if I read the paper on a table or by holding it in front of me. She also asked me to rate how well I liked:

-- smaller easier to hold format;
-- same or more pages;
-- pull out sections on sports, entertainment, business, local news -- depending on the day;
-- the sections being shaped like a magazine and stapled together;
-- color printing on nearly every page.

She also asked about my commuting habits regarding the various TriMet modes.

Based on this interview, I think that the Oregonian is going to soon change from full sheets to smaller pages, perhaps like Willie Week.

Lastly, the survey was conducted by [Ipsos] MORI who my interviewer said was headquartered in Salt Lake City. She hinted that her office was "down the Valley" -- I got her to reveal that they were in Eugene....

It all sounds plausible -- and like news -- to us.

Comments (12)

IF this WAS in fact a call related to The O, it looks like they are (like any other company looking to stay in business) searching all options. Smart of them to do.

After working for a decade at the Los Angeles Daily News production facility as a non union technician, I am pretty sure that making that kind of change would require either a couple of million dollars to change the printing units and folder, or as the Daily News recently did, firing all their union and non-union production employees, closing a relatively new plant, and contracting out to a large offset shop with the appropriate presses and crews. Either way, as hard print becomes less popular, there are big changes in store for all dailies.

My grandfather set linotype for 40 years at the LA Times, and I have a deep-rooted fondness of a physical newspaper. But alas, besides a twice-weekly local rag, I receive the Oregonian only on Sundays any more. Except for the crossword puzzles, the Internet is just too fast and easy.

Laying off the printing crew would stink.

But as far as the format goes, tabloid would be fine with me. The paper has been shrinking lately in content anyway.

I actually haven't minded that. It has made the paper more to the point and quicker to read. I wouldn't want it to lose much more content though.

Especially the Sunday edition has gotten pretty slim, in my opinion.

I just participated in an online survey that asked about the very same thing with the O. Even showed photos of someone holding a mocked-up smaller O, very similar to Wweek and the Mercury, only with staples. I thought it looked pretty tacky for a daily paper.

Sarah, could you email me?

oregonmedia [at] gmail

Just back from a short trip to Vancouver (the CA one) and had the very same thought - why not a tabloid size paper. Vancouver has several dailies and at least two of them I read were tabloid size. The staid Globe and Mail was still the traditional size.

I liked the tabloid Vancouver Sun. Seemed meaty, and had a lot of ads (healthy I guess).

Of course, wouldn't want to see jobs lost simply due to a format change. If WW and The Mercury can do tabloid, no reason why Oregonian couldn't except for the new plant equipment requirements.

My 30+ year complaint about the Oregonian is that they simply cannot seem to keep their sections consistent. The daily challenge is where to find the comics, the biz section, the sports section, etc. like the Front Page is the only static part of the paper.

David, I honestly wouldn't be surprised if your suggestion on outsourcing the plant is the situation. Considering that the current printing center is smack in the middle of some extremely valuable property, the taxes alone must be eating the O alive. (I used to live just up SW 16th from it, and had grand fun on Saturday nights watching the delivery truck drivers teaching their girlfriends how to drive. The tree out in front of my apartment building had many a scar from those practice sessions, and one took off one gigantic branch while overcompensating during a turn.)

The only question I have is if this were the case, then where would the printing be done? Are we talking about printing in Seattle and shipping down to Portland, or is there a newsprint-friendly venue in the area that I don't know about that could handle this sort of load? One way or another, it's obvious that the O isn't buying new presses to handle this, and it sure as hell isn't selling the existing ones in this market. (The Dallas Morning News just shut down a brand new facility out here, and apparently they're having a serious time trying to find someone to buy the building and the equipment.)

Yeah, my guess is outsourcing, too. There are a couple of niche and neighborhood newsletters out here in Northeast Portland (like the Hollywood Senior Center newsletter) that save a ton of money printing on newsprint with a local web-press company. I want to say it's Community Newspapers, although that's also the name of the company that owns the Portland Tribune . . .

In any case, I don't know if that particular company could scale up to handle the Oregonian's needs, but I'm sure there's someone locally or regionally that could do it.

I am pretty sure that making that kind of change would require either a couple of million dollars to change the printing units and folder, or as the Daily News recently did, firing all their union and non-union production employees, closing a relatively new plant, and contracting out to a large offset shop with the appropriate presses and crews.

I have never been more convinced that the fold-and-hold newspaper is doomed than after reading that sentence.

If the paper gets any "lighter" I will cancel it at the office (M-Sat), but still have it delivered at home until the love of my life (34-years) gives up on the crosswords.

After spending a few days in a western European country where the papers are mostly in tabloid format, I can boldly say that form and content are sometimes not always necessarily related. Tabloids do lend themselves more to pictures and less to lengthy text, something that I think we are all losing patience with. So I suppose we can expect less information and less complexity in the presentation of facts or ideas. My biggest complaint about the tabloid, though, is that it doesn't break up logically into sections. That being so, how does one share it with another reader?

Whomever mentioned the Vancouver Sun was reading The Province, unless the Sun is on an unusual change for the Olympics. The Sun is a broadsheet like the national Globe and Mail (and sort of national National Post).

I'd pick up the O more often if it were a tabloid layout, I think. I ride TriMet MAX or bus from one end of downtown to the other - it gives me 11 minutes to browse WWeek, PTrib (smaller, easier to hold than O) or Merc.

Clicky Web Analytics