This morning the New York Times joined much of the rest of the American newspaper industry in shrinking its pages. The result for it — as for the Wall Street Journal, which made the same change recently — is that the paper now feels like a toy. Oh, sure, we’ll get used to the change. But at a time when all these papers are already watching their gravitas ebbing away, this change — designed to save printing, paper and distribution costs — is a self-inflicted wound.
The Times says it’s losing 11 percent of its column-inches, but making half of that up by adding pages. The op-ed and editorial pages are permanently smaller, though. And look where the Times — like the Journal before it — decided to cut back: the letters to the editor. (Originally, the Journal also buried its letters page far from the editorials; after a hue and cry from its readers, the letters got shoved back to the flip-side of the editorial page.)
Here we are, in the middle of a vast transformation of the news media from a one-way broadcast mode into a many-to-many free-for-all, and, when push comes to shove, the great newspapers of America decide that the one place they can afford to cut back is the paltry few columns they have traditionally dedicated to their readers.
It’s hard to see this as anything other than another twist on a long downward spiral.
[tags]newspapers, new york times[/tags]
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I dunno… Discussions should take place on the web, not the paltry letters to the editor column.
For the Times, the glass may be half full. Losing 11 percent of its column inches is roughly equivalent to increasing the cost of its advertising 11 percent. Unless, of course, they have reduced the cost of a full page ad to reflect the smaller size. But then, I haven’t heard of many newspapers jumping to reduce their ad rates to reflect their falling circulation, either.