London Times Goes Strictly Tabloid

London Times goes strictly tabloid (CNN)

After more than two centuries as a broadsheet newspaper, The Times of London has gone strictly tabloid. On Monday, The Times moved to a totally compact format after almost a year of dual publication. The decision follows a similar decision by another UK newspaper, The Independent, which stopped printing a broadsheet edition in May in favor of a tabloid format. “This is a significant moment in the 216 year history of The Times,” the newspaper’s editor, Robert Thomson, said in announcing the change Friday. “The launch of the compact has transformed the fortunes of the paper and made The Times even more influential as Britain’s journal of record.”

The move comes as the latest circulation figures show The Times — owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News International — posted a third consecutive year-on-year increase. The Times said its circulation rose by 14,536 copies, up 2.28 percent on the year, giving it a total of 652,264 copies. Full price sales were up more than 3 percent in the same period. Sales of the compact edition has reached 300,000, representing 46 percent of the newspaper’s total sales.

The broadsheet format, still the norm for most U.S. papers, is an anachronism based on limitations imposed long ago by printing technology. While “tabloid” long ago become synonymous with “unserious,” it’s a far more convenient format for actually reading a newspaper. Of course, online is even more convenient.

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James Joyner
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James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. McGehee says:

    A long-established and respected newspaper switching from broadsheet to tabloid causes me flashbacks to when The Sacramento Union went to tabloid in the late 1980s or early 1990s. Before long the Union cut back to, I believe, three-times-a-week publication.

    What had been the oldest continuously publishing daily in the West, a newspaper that had counted Mark Twain among its contributors, closed its doors for good not long afterward, leaving Sacramento a one-newspaper town for the first time since John Sutter was in residence at his fort.

    I hope this is a totally dissimilar circumstance.

  2. dw says:

    The Times is doing quite well. Before the switch they were the highest circulation broadsheet (with the Guardian second and the Tory-graph third). the Independent went to tabloid earlier this year and saw a significant jump in sales.

    Tabloid makes more sense in Britain since they don’t have home delivery like we do here in the States. People typically buy the paper on the way to public transport. There are now only two national broadsheets left — the Guardian and the Telegraph. Both of them, though, appeal to broadsheet readers: Leftist intellectuals (for the Guardian) and right-wing/rich older people (for the Tory-graph).

    What the Union did was entirely a death-throes action. To my recollection, there’s only one tabloid paper in the entire West — the Rocky Mountain News. I’m probably wrong, though. I seem to recall one of the LA papers is as well.

  3. kenny says:

    “The Times is doing quite well. Before the switch they were the highest circulation broadsheet (with the Guardian second and the Tory-graph third).”

    Uh, the telegraph has been the largest selling broadsheet for decades. It’s circulation is still around 50% higher than that of the times and about 2.5 times that of the Guardian.

    You’ve forgotten the FT as well

  4. dw says:

    Yup, you’re right. Mea culpa. October 15 circulation figures for broadsheets:

    The Daily Telegraph – 900,702
    The Times – 660,906
    Financial Times – 437,717
    The Guardian – 376,314

    I don’t consider the FT as the same thing as the Times or the Telegraph, much as I don’t consider the WSJ the same as the NYT. The FT and the WSJ have a strong bent towards covering business news, where the Times and the NYT are more “papers of record” (while the Sun and the News of the World are “papers of cleavage.”)