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Three weeklies shrink to tabloid size in JP relaunch

Three weekly newspapers have relaunched in tabloid size after scrapping their long-standing broadsheet formats.

Between them,  the Berwick Advertiser, the Berwickshire News and The Southern Reporter have been broadsheet titles for more than 500 years, but have now downsized after reader surveys showed they would prefer a smaller format.

They are the latest Johnston Press-owned titles to be revamped in phrase three of the company’s ongoing relaunch of all 170 of its paid-for newspapers and their companion websites.

Other JP titles which have gone tabloid in the past year include the Bucks Herald and the West Sussex County Times, although the West Sussex Gazette retained its broadsheet size.

Berwick Advertiser and Berwickshire News editor Phil Johnson said the compact papers had been relaunched with a new look to reflect its new size, opting for poster-style front pages rather than a high story count.

“We might not do that every week, as you need a really good, strong picture to hold it up, but we worked really hard to ensure we could do it this week,” he said.

The Berwickshire News and the Berwick Advertiser both opted for poster-style front pages to mark their relaunch

“We have had a lot of good feedback – when we have been out of the office talking to people they have mentioned how good they think it looks. We’ve also had e-mails and comments on Facebook and Twitter.

“We have done a lot of reader research over the last 18 months and the response we had very clearly showed that the vast majority of readers were fed up of the big size of it – having to spread it out over their whole breakfast table, and they found it hard to read on the bus, and so on.”

As well as a new look, to mark the relaunch the papers carried a 12-page supplement called ‘Meet the Team’, with profiles on all members of staff and an editorial from Phil explaining the changes.

Members of the team also headed out to big supermarkets to hand out goodie bags containing discount vouchers to anyone buying the paper.

Editor Phil Johnson with the new-look tabloid size papers

Southern Reporter editor Susan Windram said the reaction had been much the same from her paper’s readers.

“It has been really well received – we went out and about with it and everyone said how good it looks,” she added.

“The masthead is the same, and the fonts have remained largely the same so it isn’t too much of a change for our readers, although it does look very different being the smaller size.

“It has been really positive, I’m very pleased.”

Johnston Press’ relaunch programme started last spring with the announcement that it was switching five daily newspapers to weekly publication and redesigning all its titles.

The programme was due to be completed by last November last year but chief executive Ashley Highfield announced it was being delayed until early this year to ensure its journalists had the right tools for the job.

The new-look Southern Reporter

2 comments

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  • March 22, 2013 at 9:55 am
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    The Southern Reporter looks like the ‘kerning’ has gone wrong. There’s no white space between the letters and they’re almost joined up making it difficult to read. At the same time there’s too much white space everywhere else. It hurts my eyes!

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  • March 22, 2013 at 1:44 pm
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    Liking the new looks – but 90p for “TheSouthern” however shocks me a bit. The use of photos was always of high prominence in the Southern – only one paper has used them to good effect in one of these cases – not much of an impact with a boat.
    There’s a lot going on in that top line above the mastheads too which detracts all of which looks like following suit of some the Media Scotland papers – which all have the appearance of freesheets. Not “Leal to the Border” any more? Altogether a decent makeover for some of the Borders’ “two minute silence” papers.

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