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Overhaul at the Observer

The Watford Observer has undergone a complete overhaul in a bid to meet the needs of its existing readers while attracting a wider audience, with a particular focus on women over 30.

The transformation, which was unveiled on Friday, includes an easier to handle compact size, new features and a change in house style to a more casual tone.

There has also been the introduction of a new publishing system in the paper’s editorial department.

  • The new Watford Observer
  • The changes follows months of planning and research by staff, which began with an in-paper questionnaire in the Observer and its free sister, the Watford Free.

    And after examining the feedback from more than 700 readers the paper decided that after 141 years it was time to ditch its broadsheet format in favour of the increasingly popular compact size.

    This has also given the Observer the opportunity to repackage some of its existing content and add new features, with the old three-section paper – which included sport and entertainment inserts – transformed, with sport now at the back, and entertainment in an enhanced leisure pull-out.

    The 19,500-circulation newspaper’s launch also coincided with the introduction of a new Miles 33 publishing system in the editorial department, with the compact being the first issue produced on it.

    Group editor Peter Wilson-Leary said: “Rather than setting up for a broadsheet and then having to rebuilding libraries and templates weeks later, we thought we should go for it. I’m glad we did.

    “It required a truly monumental effort from the team, but it went to show the rich seam of talent the newspaper can draw upon as it enters an exciting new chapter in its history.”

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    ©NEP 2004