25 Jul 2012

Newspaper to switch to compact format

7:03 am on 25 July 2012

The New Zealand Herald is to relaunch its Monday - Friday editions in September in a compact format, ending 150 years as a daily broadsheet.

It's promising new sections and a stronger focus on investigative journalism, but advertisers and analysts say the publisher has to tackle something much more important to revenue than a new format.

[Herald editor Shayne Currie says the switch to compact format is exactly what the readers want, which should translate to higher circulation.

Media buyer Martin Gillman agrees that without quality content the new-look Herald won't win more readers or advertisers.

Advertisers will find out later this week what rates they'll be paying for space in the new paper.

APN signalled the revamp last year when it announced a loss of $45 million, largely as it wrote down the value of its New Zealand mastheads which include the New Zealand Women's Weekly and The Listener.

But both advertisers and analysts say the revamp is simply cosmetic.

Fat Prophets analyst Greg Fraser says the Herald has a much bigger issue to tackle: making people pay to read online articles.

So far the Herald is saying nothing about the paywall but is stepping up its digital focus, linking the newspaper more closely to its website, tablet and mobile apps.

Mr Fraser says APN may want to follow the example of Fairfax in Australia and build up its online readership first.

He says the paywall is a crucial revenue earner for publishers grappling with ongoing high costs and it's just a matter of time.