Next week the print editions of Casa Grande Valley Newspapers Inc. will have a new look and feel.
The broadsheet width of the Casa Grande Dispatch, Maricopa Monitor, Eloy Enterprise, Coolidge Examiner, San Tan Valley Sentinel and Florence Reminder & Blade Tribune will be shrinking from 12 1/2 inches to 11. The height is staying the same.
This will give the appearance of a thinner, but taller paper. Most readers will notice the difference the minute they open up the paper and notice their arms aren’t as far apart as they used to be while reading it.
That means you won’t have to reach as far for a cup of coffee.
To coincide with this change in the physical product, we are also redesigning the daily Dispatch. The front page has been redesigned with a larger nameplate at the top. Elements that used to be stripped across the top and bottom of the page have been moved to a skinny column on the left. This includes the “refers” to stories inside the paper, the index, the weather forecast for the day, the bar code and the social media locators where our content can be found online. We have also added a “Daily Dow” tracker.
To add uniformity to the paper, we will mimic this design on the front page of Sports and the weekly Tri-Valley Dispatch section. Those page covers will also sport a skinny column on the left with refers, scores, TV sports listings and Odds & Ends news stories, respectively.
I call the short Odds & Ends stories “cupholders.” A car salesman once told me years ago that the first thing potential car buyers first noticed when looking at a vehicle were the cupholders. They would comment on what they like or didn’t like about this feature before looking at the other accessories available. A cupholder story will be the one story everyone will read. It could be a story about something weird or just coincidental that people might remember, like the recent story about nine nurses working in the same maternity ward who are all pregnant and due to give birth at around the same time.
The inside pages of the paper will stay the same.
The reasons for the changes are both practical and economical.
Next to payroll, the second biggest expense for a newspaper is newsprint. By shrinking the width of the paper, Casa Grande Valley Newspapers Inc. will be able to save thousands of dollars a year, thus preventing the need for cost cutting in other areas, such as content. The company is currently in the process of hiring a new reporter to keep up with the amount of local news gathering readers have come to expect from our community coverage.
Also, because other newspapers, such as The Arizona Republic, shrunk their widths to 11 inches years ago, the wider paper is more unusual. It just made sense to follow the trend.
As for the design changes, a thinner paper points to a more vertical display. We read left to right, so having a column on the left for anchor refers that people might look for first when they pick up the paper — whether that would be what page the comics are on, or the expected high temperature for the day — was a way of making information more convenient for readers.
Nothing else will be changing at the paper. The thinner width just means it might take two sheets now to line the bird cage or wrap that rainbow trout.
Andy Howell can be reached at email@example.com.