The Oregonian dropping broadsheet-size format

Of the Associated Press

PORTLAND — The Oregonian announced it's cutting the size of its newspaper from a broadsheet to an easier-to-hold compact format.

Publisher N. Christian Anderson III said in a statement Tuesday that the new format will include color on every page and measure about 15 inches tall, down from about 23 inches tall. The width will remain 11 inches and the type size stays the same.

Some sections will convert in February, and the entire newspaper will be in the compact format by April 2.

“Our goal is to create a more compelling and convenient experience for readers, while improving the effectiveness of advertising,” Anderson said.

The move comes months after the newspaper owned by Advance Publications Inc. shifted its focus to the digital delivery of news, cut staff and reduced home delivery to four days a week. The paper is still available at newsstands seven days a week.

The physical reduction of the 163-year-old newspaper can be seen as a metaphor for a declining industry that has lost circulation and advertising money as readers use their phones for news and other entertainment options.

But it's also an attempt to improve a product that was designed for readers of a different era. The broadsheet was born because the British government taxed newspapers based on the number of printed pages — better to have a few tall pages than a lot of short ones.

“The traditional broadsheet format was due for an upgrade,” said Peter Bhatia, Oregonian Media Group's vice president of content. “Today's readers want a more convenient and efficient way to consume the news that matters to them.”

Though more common in Europe, the Columbus Dispatch and the Cincinnati Enquirer have switched to a compact format.

Industry analyst Ken Doctor said the Dispatch made the switch for reasons of efficiency. Moving to the compact format allowed it take advantage of a new press system that uses a plate cylinder that prints three sheets in a revolution instead of two.

The papers move through the press faster while reducing newsprint costs, and more color is available.

“It's interesting they're doing it,” Doctor said of the Oregonian. “It's not that widespread of a phenomenon.”

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