Saturday, July 25, 2009

Free daily in California going broadsheet

In Palo Alto, Calif., the Daily News is once again going to change its page size. This time it will become a 21-inch deep broadsheet.

The paper, one of the earliest and most successful free dailies, dropped its distinctive long tab (16.25-x-11-inch) format in May for a short tab that's almost a square (11.5 inches wide by 11.25 inches deep).

The change was made because the paper switched presses from a commercial jobber to a facility owned by its parent company, MediaNews Group, where the San Jose Mercury News is printed.

I'm told that this fall, the Daily News will switch to the same size as the Mercury News, 11.5 inches wide and 21 inches deep.

Free dailies have usually been printed as tabloids because they're easier to hold, especially on mass transit. The Daily News doesn't distribute much of its circulation on mass transit, but instead relies on the public to pick up its papers from news-racks or other public distribution points. So the size change might not be that important to Daily News readers.

Traditionally, advertisers have favored the broadsheet size, especially department stores which have wanted to display women's apparel in a large format that would allow big photographs. This switch to a larger size might result in more ads, which would be good news for a paper that has been forced to eliminate several of its editions and discontinue publishing on Sundays and Mondays due to a drop in advertising.

CORRECTION: The previous item incorrectly stated that the Daily News of Palo Alto, Calif., would be the first free daily to go broadsheet. That reference has been omitted. Actually, the Starkville (Mississippi) Dispatch has that distinction, launching on June 8, 2009, more than two months before the Palo Alto paper switched to a broadsheet. Our thanks to Peter Imes of the Dispatch for pointing out the error — Nov. 17, 2009