Northern Echo tests water with trial compact edition

By Sarah Lagan

Northern Echo editor Peter Barron said turning the traditional broadsheet paper into a tabloid is the most significant change since colour was first introduced around 15 years ago.

The paper’s campaign slogan is Try It For Size and Saturday’s paper will be used to test the waters and help determine whether to take the paper compact every day. Market research undertaken prior to Saturday’s move to tabloid on 14 January points to a “resounding yes”, according to Barron.

He told Press Gazette: “I’ve been at the paper for seven years and have been trying to push the paper towards compact since I joined and this is the first real breakthrough.

“If it goes ahead it’s probably the most significant change since the dawn of colour around 15 years.”

Away from the paper’s format Barron said the Echo will increase its commitment to national news as well as local news.

“The aim is to show our readers that this is the only paper they need,” he said. “Around 70 per cent of our readers only buy the Northern Echo and so our core philosophy of the paper is local, regional, national.”

The paper’s new design was led by production editor Ken Farrier with consultation from design expert Mike Brough of Fusion Creative Services.

Some of the headlines have been changed from Clarion to Utopia for a more modern feel and to gain impact without the use of brash, tabloid-style banner headlines.

Barron said: “There is no dumbing down – we remain committed to serious campaigning journalism and providing readers with in-depth analysis.

We didn’t want it to be a radical departure from the Northern Echo because we know there is a loyal readership base.”

The sports and motoring sections have been expanded. There is an additional pull-out property section which has been reinstated in Saturday’s paper with more analysis and a strong focus on house prices which Barron believes is unique to newspapers in the region.

The five-edition paper which circulates throughout the North East has been relatively successful in a tough regional morning market. It was down three per cent to 55,404 in the last set of ABCs and 1.4 per cent before that which is above average in the sector.

The Yorkshire Post is now the last remaining morning broadsheet in the regional newspaper sector.

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