Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Canada's '24 hours' puts copy on the cover

Since the beginning of tabloid-sized newspapers, editors have debated whether to put news copy on the cover or put large headlines and photographs.

New York's Post and Daily News are famous for screaming headlines and bold photos that attempt to sell the reader on a major story that starts inside. Today's most successful urban free dailies, amNewYork and Chicago's RedEye, have magazine-like covers, emphasizing one story with a single photo, with a couple of teases.

But community free dailies have taken a different approach, putting as many as four stories on the front with text, like a smaller-sized traditional broadsheet. Examples include the Conway (N.H.) Daily Sun, Denver Daily News, Aspen (Colo.) Times, Aspen Daily News, Palo Alto (Calif.) Daily News and Santa Monica (Calif.) Daily Press.

After considerable research, the Canada's chain of "24 hours" free dailies has switched from the magazine-cover format to one with two stories that have text. It's really a hybrid of the two styles since there still is a large photo that promotes a story inside along with teases along the top.

24 hours -- with editions in Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver -- calls the format "hi-speed news."

"Insights from our readers, prospective readers, advertisers and ad agencies set the course for the redesign," said Chris Brockbank, vice president of marketing at 24 hours parent Sun Media. "Essentially they want sharp and fast headline news and a consistent, quick navigation system to get to content they want.

"We've put the emphasis squarely on those characteristics in this first step of our program to introduce improvements driven by research," Brockbank said.