NEWSPAPERS are changing and so are the ways we read them.
Readers yesterday saw the broadsheet format that has sustained The Age since it was first published in 1854 resized to more manageable proportions.
Editor-in-chief Andrew Holden described the smaller format as a logical step that made the newspaper more convenient to read while maintaining its quality journalism.
Love it or hate it, the initiative has led to a national conversation about the changing face of newspapers and traditional news media as a whole.
It comes at a time when people are consuming content from traditional newspapers via mobile phones, tablets, email editions and work and home computers.
But aside from the extra elbow room on trains, what is the significance of the new weekday Age and Sydney Morning Herald formats?
The new look of The Age may not even be the most important part of the conversation.
The Courier editor Andrew Eales said there would be some traditionalists that would not like the shift to the new format, but the journalism The Age could deliver remained at the heart of the discussion.
“We’ve seen such a dramatic shift in consumer habits in the past five or 10 years that the format, or the look, of newspapers is not as relevant as it once was – it’s the words and photos which are of most importance,” he said.
The Courier has had 10,000 downloads of its iPhone and Android smartphone apps in the past seven months and regularly has more than 2.5 million hits on its website.
Mr Eales said that clearly, people were consuming in different ways.
But he sees newspapers – particularly in regional and rural Australia – having a strong future as part of multi-platform offerings to readers from the brand.
“Newspapers are changing and will continue to do so but there remains a significant audience – we sell 5.5 million copies of the printed version every year – for the hard copy,” he said.
“It’s a challenging environment and the move from The Age is just another sign that the traditional media world is changing.”