Friday, June 08, 2007

Vancouver 24 hours becomes a full-size tab

Things are looking up for Vancouver 24 hours. When it started two years ago, it was one of three free dailies battling for the hearts and minds of the 2 million people who live in British Columbia's largest city — a city long served by two paid dailies.

Last year, one of the three — Dose — stopped printing. Since then, 24 hours has gained the upperhand on Metro Vancouver, the other free daily, by simply printing more papers every day and getting more local news scoops. Also, rumor has it that Vancouver 24 hours is in the black.

On Monday, 24 hours will increase its page size (the image area will go from 8 1/2 x 10 5/8 inches to 9 3/4 x 12 1/4 inches) to that of a standard tabloid. That will allow it to run ads and news pages from other Sun Media papers. Vancouver 24 hours is owned 50-50 by the direct-mail firm The Jim Patterson Group and Quebecor's Sun Media Corp., which also publishes six other "24 hours" in Canada and traditional paid papers such as The Ottawa Sun, The Toronto Sun, Le Journal de Montréal and Le Journal de Québec. (BTW, the lowercase "h" in "24 hours" is correct.)

The larger Vancouver 24 hours will still be printed on a heat set press (which all but eliminates ink rub-off), but it will go from glossy to white paper as part of Monday's switch. The change will allow 24 hours to run more pages. And every page will still have color. Pages will now be bound together with staples in the middle instead of glue.

In addition to the size change, Vancouver 24 hours will get a redesign. (The page above is of the old design.) Sun Media president and CEO Pierre Francoeur said Vancouver 24 hours will feature his company's full range of local, national and special-interest content that includes Health & Fitness, Trends, Discovery, Eat, Sex Files, Gadgets, DIY, Green Planet and Entertainment section, covering the latest movies, DVDs, CDs, Video Games, TV and celebrity gossip.

Publisher Amber Ogilvie says Vancouver 24 hours has developed successful distribution strategies to reach readers in both traditional and unconventional locations, including the University of B.C. campus, the B.C. Institute of Technology, restaurants and coffee shops.

"Our distribution system blankets the urban core, the heart of the business sector, and the entire urban area including the thousands of daily users of the Greater Vancouver Transit Authority Sky Train, bus and marine services," she said. [Here's a link to the press release detailing the changes.]