Compact Press & Journal shows 10pc sales rise

First rate: Scottish First Minister Jack McConnell with the new P&J

The Press and Journal in Aberdeen claims it has earned almost unanimous approval from its readership on downsizing its Saturday edition to compact format.

Sales of last Saturday’s prototype paper were up by around 10 per cent, or 8,500 copies.

“The response has been extremely encouraging,” said editor Derek Tucker. “There have been hundreds of calls to our hotlines and well over 90 per cent of these are very positive.

“There were a lot of emails – again almost entirely positive.

“Our aim was to give readers a newspaper they could instantly recognise as their Press and Journal – not a different newspaper in a smaller size.”

Newspaper sales manager Neil Mackland said: “We have had an excellent response from existing and new readers. Early indications show a very encouraging sales performance across our entire circulation area.

He added: “We have received fantastic co-operation from all of the newsagents. They have all really got behind it.”

The trial period will run for another five Saturdays and there will be a major readership survey in the paper on 21 and 28 August, the results of which will inform any future decisions on format.

The morning paper’s 112-page compact edition contained comprehensive signposting, including a detailed page two index and straps at the bottom of pages pointing to story classifications ahead.

The weekly Farm Journal and the 32page weekend leisure supplement Your Life, now incorporating entertainment features, were carried in the run of the paper – and Your Life included the TV and radio listings, which were formerly on page two.

With colour throughout, the paper mostly plumped for one picture each on news, sport and specialist pages, intermingled with stock headshots.

The Press and Journal, Scotland’s topselling daily broadsheet and one of the UK’s oldest newspapers, carried an extensive range of detailed comments from readers throughout the week.

Included in the initial reader response were pleas that the crossword be put on the back page and that the 17 pages of motor ads have a pullout section of their own.

The P&J was selling around 88,800 actively purchased copies each day in the second half of 2003, compared with 105,000 a decade earlier. Like many other regional dailies, it sells fewer copies on Saturdays than in the week.

The seven-edition newspaper, which was launched in 1747 as The Aberdeen Journal, is owned by Northcliffe Newspapers.

By Hamish Mackay

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