Independent idea turns Western Mail and Scotsman into tabloids

Downsizing: both The Western Mail and The Scotsman (edited by Iain Martin, inset) plan to embrace the compact format

The “compact revolution” spread to Wales and Scotland this week as two more national broadsheets announced plans to downsize to a tabloid format.

The Scotsman, which has trialed a tabloid-size Saturday edition since March, goes fully tabloid from Monday. And the Cardiff-based Western Mail has announced plans to switch formats in October.

The trial of a tabloid-size Saturday edition of The Scotsman is understood to have secured year-on-year circulation increases of up to 18 per cent.

Editor Iain Martin said the new format “creates more room for international news, more room for features and sport. It’s a major advance.

“Our research has showed that readers of all ages felt more comfortable with the format. Readers said it was more modern and some said it was more continental. The reaction we’ve had has been overwhelmingly positive about the Saturday compact.

“There’s no doubt that The Independent started the compact revolution and the rest of the industry has been watching it very closely.

“Neither The Times or The Independent with their compacts are ever going to take Scotland seriously in terms of page one. We can do that with real power in the new format.”

He added: “The new-look Scotsman will continue to provide full coverage of Scottish, UK and international news, features and sport with authority and substance”.

The Scotsman, which is owned by the Barclay brothers, was launched as a tabloid in 1817 and did not move to broadsheet until 1831. Its current ABC figure is 67,645.

The Cardiff-based Western Mail revealed this week that its planned switch to tabloid followed “extensive market research, which showed overwhelming support for the idea”.

Editor Alan Edmunds said: “We have been delighted that the research shows that readers totally endorse the editorial changes made last year.

“They also overwhelmingly support the change to a compact format, which will be one of the most important milestones in the history of the newspaper.”

The Western Mail is owned by Trinity Mirror and has a circulation of 44,559.

Dominic Ponsford

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