Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

Irish Times launches its new format and remains a broadsheet…

Mon 5 November 2012, 10:52am

Great to see the Irish Times finally make a move it has been contemplating for some time. Briefly, it’s changed the format of the print version of the paper from classic broadsheet to a compact version. So now it is almost exactly the same size as London’s Daily Telegraph:

The new size resolves a lot of problems that the staff at the Irish Times have been mulling for years. I suspect the tabloid was never seriously considered, particular after The Times of London plumped for it.

In fact they’ve considered innovative paper sizes from across the world, including the Berliner; chosen by the Guardian as a statement of intent to be innovative and different.

The Berliner is a personal favorite of mine, not least because has the kind charm of the unusual you get from like the quarto and octavo in books or magazines.

But the Guardian is also slightly ungovernable, particularly if you’re carrying other more standard sizes along with it.

The new Irish Times is much less radical, as I suspect was the intention. The size is identifably broadsheet, but is also double tabloid size. So it sits handily inside the Irish Indo for instance.

Trimming the width creates a little bit of chaos in the first edition for the subs in parts of the news pages. Though the volume of news from the US election means that pages 8-9 are well filled with good quality and link-themed news copy.

On the editorial page, the biggest change is that the iconic Irishman’s Diary slips to the bottom of the page and letters play out all along the top and out to the edge. On balance, I like it. But I’d have worries that that column may have lost its particularity for good.

The OP Ed page is a slightly different matter. It’s here probably more than anywhere else in the paper you notice just how long and thin the pages are: though when you fold the paper (which is much easier than it was), it frames both top and bottom pieces nicely.

The other thing is that the news analysis begins closer to the front of the paper, with Harry Magee’s run down of just how little room the Republic’s government has to move with December’s budget.

Of course some will say this is just shifting deck-chairs. That in five years or less no one will be printing newspapers. At the very less it is a signal that things are changing with Ireland’s most senior title and newspaper of record.

On the whole I like more than I think I thought I might. It feels less onerous, and yet they’ve kept the signal authority of the broadsheet.

To answer my own rhetorical question over on Google Plus, no one could paint this as a new dawn for the Irish Times. But it demonstrates a willingness to repackage the brand carefully and thoughtfully at must be the beginning of a long arduous journey towards sustainability in the digital age?

No doubt other, possibly tougher decisions lie ahead.

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Comments (23)

  1. Drumlins Rock (profile) says:

    “On the whole I like more than I think I thought I might.”
    Bilbo Baggins

    “I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”
    Mick Fealty

    Sorry Mick, it just brought the quote to mind!

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  2. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    And there’s me thinking there was serious response… ho hum… Now tell me this? How many times have you read that book?

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  3. Drumlins Rock (profile) says:

    The Hobbit 3 times, LOTR 4 times, but been a few years, think another read is due before the films come out.

    Don’t ever remember buying a paper version of the Irish Times, but have read many articles online, the format of the webpage is probably of more interest, which isnt bad btw. a bit of class which is rare.

    The Tyrone Courier is going up to £1:20 I hear so even it is becoming an occasional rather than regular purchase. Plus they change from publishing on Wednesday to a Tuesday, upsetting alot of traditional buyers reguarded Wednesday as Courier day.

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  4. Mick – is it as thin as the US slim-but-long format that USA Today uses? Doubt I’ll notice the difference on the Kindle, but a refresh benefits most papers every now and again.

    PS
    Jude has his own ideas!

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  5. http://judecollinsjournalist.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/are-you-wondering-where-to-slip-new.html?spref=tw

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  6. BarneyT (profile) says:

    ye can’t light a fire with a…kindle…! Oh the parallels are painful. I astound myself with my comic irony!!! (there I go again)

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  7. Nevin (profile) says:

    In its own words:

    The Irish Times is serving more and more readers in a rapidly emerging digital world but we believe an outstanding newspaper, and its approach to generating journalism, has an important place in that turbulent, constantly changing mix.

    That is why we are improving our newspaper and at the same time accelerating digital development while providing journalism to our readers in tune with their lifestyle.

    The daily news digest or summary will move from the side of the front page to the bottom, to allow for better display of Irish Times photographs and lead stories. The carefully thought-out design means we will still cover a wide range of stories.

    The smarter look in print will be complemented by more extensive, original journalism from our reporters, correspondents and feature writers. That is what our readers cherish most.

    I seldom buy the paper but I intend to do so later today.

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  8. Drumlins Rock (profile) says:

    Alan, its is amazing how Jude can turn an article on the size of a paper into his usual republican snipings.

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  9. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    Okay, well let’s try to get on topic rather than on the man DR?

    Alan,

    I’ve posted brief response on Jude’s site, but it may take a while before it shows.

    In essence, I take the opposite view. In the case of journalism, to quote McLuhan the medium is the message.

    Why worry about what a paper is going to say in four years time when the prior question is can it change sufficiently in order to still be around to say what it might say in four years time?

    The upshot is that Jude doesn’t like the Irish Times (nor the Indo). But these papers still carry a large amount of the burden of scrutinising the Republic’s government.

    I’d add that I don’t see much coming up to replace it that would generally that much of a consolation to him either.

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  10. son of sam (profile) says:

    Like Nevin I have bought the Irish Times today but apart from Saturday usually read it online.Given that my last mention of Jude brought an undeserved yellow card the dictum “whatever you say,say nothing”is probably appropriate !Micks comment on the prospective alternative to the mainstream media down south is however well made.

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  11. Mc Slaggart (profile) says:

    Mick
    “to quote McLuhan the medium is the message.”

    McLuhan was on about speech, movie, medium in a broad sense. To equate it with different newspaper size is a bit daft. I don’t see how in any way you can use his phrase to counter Jude Collins argument “It’s the message that counts, Mick, not the handwriting. “

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  12. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    McS,

    Actually all Jude is saying is that he couldn’t care less for the fate of a paper that doesn’t print the message he wants to read. Fair enough.

    But McLuhan is a perfectly proper defence of my own argument particularly to those last paragraphs where I refer to the necessity of change.

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  13. Mc Slaggart (profile) says:

    “Actually all Jude”
    To you:
    “It’s the message that counts, Mick, not the handwriting. “

    ” McLuhan is a perfectly proper defence ”

    Not to anyone who understands McLuhan.

    BTW
    Your changing your defense the first one did not mention “necessity of change”:

    “In essence, I take the opposite view. In the case of journalism, to quote McLuhan the medium is the message.

    Why worry about what a paper is going to say in four years time when the prior question is can it change sufficiently in order to still be around to say what it might say in four years time?

    The upshot is that Jude doesn’t like the Irish Times (nor the Indo). But these papers still carry a large amount of the burden of scrutinising the Republic’s government.

    I’d add that I don’t see much coming up to replace it that would generally that much of a consolation to him either.”

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  14. Mc Slaggart (profile) says:

    BTW
    Your changing your defense the first one did not mention “necessity of change”to mcLauhan” standards:

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  15. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    “Not to anyone who understands McLuhan.”

    You mean like the guy behind Woody in the cinema queue in Annie Hall?

    http://goo.gl/xSNZm

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  16. Mc Slaggart (profile) says:

    Mick It was you put McLuhan as part of your argument. That makes you the guy behind woody.

    Here have a link to the bit of his work that you need to read:

    http://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=w2n3Vv0to7kC&oi=fnd&pg=PA390&dq=mcluhan+the+medium+is+the+message&ots=9_OefapMK7&sig=CAZMLIGqz4pOz-ouUqaekC0TXZU#v=onepage&q=mcluhan%20the%20medium%20is%20the%20message&f=false

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  17. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    That’s not coming to a valid page…

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  18. Mc Slaggart (profile) says:

    Its an electronic book Mick. If you move the scroll down you will get to pages that may provide you with some knowledge.

    http://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=w2n3Vv0to7kC&oi=fnd&pg=PA390&dq=mcluhan+the+medium+is+the+message&ots=9_OefapMK7&sig=CAZMLIGqz4pOz-ouUqaekC0TXZU#v=onepage&q&f=false

    For you from wikipedia

    “Hence in Understanding Media, McLuhan describes the “content” of a medium as a juicy piece of meat carried by the burglar to distract the watchdog of the mind.[8] This means that people tend to focus on the obvious, which is the content, to provide us valuable information, but in the process, we largely miss the structural changes in our affairs that are introduced subtly, or over long periods of time.[7] As society’s values, norms and ways of doing things change because of the technology, it is then we realize the social implications of the medium. These range from cultural or religious issues and historical precedents, through interplay with existing conditions, to the secondary or tertiary effects in a cascade of interactions[7] that we are not aware of.”

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  19. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    Erm, isn’t that my argument?

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  20. Mc Slaggart (profile) says:

    The change in the size of a newspaper is not a “medium” change. The medium is still the same.

    When the Irish Times provides the same information on its website then you can say that the medium has changed.

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  21. Mc Slaggart (profile) says:

    “Erm, isn’t that my argument?”

    Mick as yet you have provided any sort of argument.

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  22. Covenanter (profile) black spot says:

    “When the Irish Times provides the same information on its website then you can say that the medium has changed.”

    What?

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  23. IrelandNorth (profile) says:

    Somewhat of a culture shock initially, but speedily adaptable to. And eminently more foldable on the red line Luas tram system into town from Saggart/Tallaght without having to be a professional contortionist during rush hour commutes. Thoght they over-egged the ommlette with Obama’s win, as also with the sad case in Galways hospital. Excellent letters to editor re poppy day. And predictable excellent Irishman’s Diary by Frank McNally’s re hypothesis of flag for an Agreed Ireland.

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