Cost-cutters have long found ways to shrink the product to meet rising costs or boost the profit. As was said years ago, “It’s getting hard to find a nickel candy bar for a quarter anymore.” I hate to think what it costs now, much less in a vending machine.
Newspaper pages are no exception. The first jolt to tradition came back in the mid 1970s when there was a newsprint shortage. The Canadian suppliers, for whatever reason – a labor strike? – just didn’t have enough to meet demand. One solution was to narrow the width of the page.
In recent years, as the Internet has disrupted the business model of the news industry, the pace of cost-cutting has quickened.
The ones around here are now 11 inches wide, versus 15½ when I started in the business or one paper where I worked where the page was nearly 18 inches wide.
In other words, today’s broadsheet is as wide as a tabloid was back then, only longer. It’s lost two columns of news on each page – or a quarter of its surface. It’s so skinny I wince.
We never had enough room to print everything we wanted as it was.