John Drinnan 's Opinion

Media writer for the New Zealand Herald

Media: Final farewell to broadsheet

5 comments
How the new format newspaper will look.  Photo / Herald Graphic
How the new format newspaper will look. Photo / Herald Graphic

The new-look weekday New Zealand Herald might have a tabloid shape but editors stress it will not have tabloid news values.

Today marks the final edition of the broadsheet Herald.

The Weekend Herald tomorrow keeps the same format, but on Monday the weekday Herald will return as an easier-to-handle compact, with the masthead featuring a big gothic H.

Herald group editor-in-chief Tim Murphy says the relaunched newspaper will be easier to handle and to read.

But the change was as much about invigorated content as it was about format.

Editorially it will focus on original content that changes the public conversation about events, Murphy says. It seems owners at APN News & Media are wary of alienating consumers, who have indicated they do not want news values to go tabloid along with the format.

"It is not going to be populist or sensationalist for the sake of it, but it's not going to be dull either," Murphy says.

Murphy acknowledges a period in the past when spot news stories of car crashes regularly featured on the front page.

He thinks critics of the period have overstated the emphasis but says the initial positive reaction from readers did fall away.

"Spot news stories drew the attention [of readers] for a while but it dropped off," Murphy says.

Meantime, while the overall editorial space has not diminished, the sizes of individual pages are smaller.

Herald news writers have been told to tighten up copy so stories can be kept shorter and sharper.

Murphy says the need for tighter stories was not absolute and the length of page lead stories will remain at around 550 words.

There will be room to spread stories across pages, he says.

HEAVY LIFTING

The ad campaign for the Herald by agency Draft FCB began this week. It focuses on continuity and the heritage of the brand which has informed people since it began 149 years ago.

APN management are pleased with the commercial which appears to be pitched at an older audience - a demographic that has traditionally been buyers of newspapers.

The commercial with a voice-over from a mature man does not appear to be aimed at drawing in younger readers.

Murphy says people in their 20s and 30s were well-represented in the Herald readership, but he wonders whether historically many teenagers had ever read the newspaper.

Like TV One, it may be that newspapers are a product that people grow into.

A lot is resting on the success of the weekday Herald - our biggest daily - moving from broadsheet to compact, for APN and the newspaper industry.

Even competitors in other newsrooms acknowledge that a healthy newspaper industry is valuable because they often do what is colloquially called the heavy lifting - the collecting of detail for stories which are then picked up by other media.

GO GRANNY GO

It will be interesting to see whether the shift to the compact format will finally put paid to the hoary old put- down, "Granny Herald" - a term that harks back to a reputation as a conservative paper of record.

The term relates to the period when the paper was owned by Wilson & Horton, says media commentator Gavin Ellis - a former editor-in-chief of the Herald who introduced a major revamp of the newspaper in 1996.

Ellis says that he never agreed with the term which has all but disappeared.

Indeed, it's not very Granny today, he says.

The term survives in some left- wing media such as blogs like The Standard.

Granny will be looking racy on Monday.

BUSINESS TIME

The Friday liftout "The Business" - where this column will continue to run unchanged along with news and business feature content - has been the template for the new daily business liftout.

From next week, Monday to Thursday, eight pages of business will be followed by entertainment stories, film and TV listings.

Murphy says The Business is too substantial on Fridays to be placed together with entertainment, which will run with the SuperSport liftout.

Murphy says it has been vital that liftouts in the new papers are stapled, so they fell out of the paper naturally and people could read separately.

In some compact titles, such as the big Sydney and Melbourne tabloids, unstapled business sections get lost in the middle of papers, mixed up and have to be reassembled.

PAY ON THE WAY

Murphy - who oversees editorial content for nzherald.co.nz - confirms the company is looking at options for a paywall for the online arm of the Herald, but no new developments are imminent.

Murphy says that the archives were also potentially a rich, if small, revenue source.

The key was to have a metered paywall that was "set deep" so that items were initially free and a charge kicked in for viewing at a set point.

That ensures that the company is not giving away all of its content, while staying free enough to keep the number of visitors up and still appeal to advertisers.

LOTTO LEAVING

The slow death of television in Wellington continues unabated.

The Lotteries Commission confirmed yesterday it is moving its funded Lotto and Big Wednesday draw broadcasts from Avalon production studios to Auckland in March or April next year.

TVNZ is in the process of selling Avalon.

The show has followed Good Morning to be made out of TVNZ in Auckland.

Wayne Pickup, NZ Lotteries chief executive, says the move to Auckland was still being negotiated with TVNZ, which has broadcast the Lotto draw since 1987.

"We will ensure the integrity of our draw processes is maintained at all times during the relocation project," he says.

Meanwhile, there is still no word whether the Wellington-based political show Back Benches will be screened next year on Prime TV.

Television New Zealand has abandoned the show but New Zealand On Air has agreed to fund TVNZ to make it for Prime, subject to unspecified conditions.

The Sky TV political lobbyist Tony O'Brien has been a big supporter of the political show which is popular with backbench MPs.

SKY LETTER REDACTED

The Commerce Commission has heavily redacted a letter written to Sky Television about the next steps in its investigation that is looking at whether Sky's contracts to provide content to ISPs contravenes section 27 and/or 36 of the Commerce Act.

It is the first scrutiny into the deals that have been running for 10 years, and which critics claim give Sky inordinate control of the market limiting competition.

- NZ Herald

John Drinnan

Media writer for the New Zealand Herald

John Drinnan is the media writer for the New Zealand Herald. A business journalist for twenty years, he has been editor of the specialist film and television title "Screen Finance" in London, focussing on the European TV and film industry. He has been writing about media in New Zealand since the deregulation of the television industry in the late 1980s. He is focused on the business side of the digital revolution in media.

Read more by John Drinnan

Have your say

We aim to have healthy debate. But we won't publish comments that abuse others. View commenting guidelines.

1200 characters left

Sort by
  • Oldest

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n4 at 17 Sep 2014 17:52:26 Processing Time: 592ms