Guardian fields reader backlash against print edition changes

The Guardian has revealed that it has received more than 1,400 complaints from readers since it unveiled a redesign earlier this month.

Readers’ editor Chris Elliott said that of the 1,400 or so readers that had been in touch ‘the majority of the responses are complaints, or demands for further explanation for specific changes”.

The redesign has seen a reduced pagination, a new masthead and the sports supplement  being merged into the main paper from Tuesday-to-Friday.

Elliott said that more complaints related to ‘highly compartmentalised bits of the paper, rather than to the generality of change”, including the cryptic crossword, daily TV listings, the weather page, and sport section.

The Guardian has said that the driving force behind the change was the need to save “on the cost of paper, ink and production”

Elliott said:

Beyond the familiar theme of the need to save money at a time of declining newspaper advertising and sales, there is another aspect to the change. There is an unseen but important restructuring of the editorial staff to improve the workflow – to ensure stories go on to the web faster and in a more even flow. Planning has become a great deal more important.

Rusbridger told Elliott:

People are very proprietorial and people get very comfortable with the way they use the paper. People have said they understand what we are doing but are making understandable pleas for their part of things not to change.

We are not disguising the fact that we have brought the paper down in size. But in fact the total universe of what we are doing is expanding, not shrinking.

We publish much more but decisions about limited resources are difficult; there is a fine balance between the production and expense of print versus digital. News and comment is not going back at all: one day last week we published 125 news stories.

All the evidence shows that digital is growing and newspapers are in decline. If you care about the Guardian’s future then you will understand why we are investing in the future and why it’s vital.

These may be the biggest changes to the paper since the Berliner, but there have been much bigger changes on the web in the way that we cover news.

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