The incredible shrinking industry

The much-ballyhooed redesign of the Globe and Mail arrived today and it is disconcerting. In a week when Torstar and Postmedia exchanged papers and killed their young, I wish the redesign had been more uplifting.

First off, while top to bottom measures the same, there is one inch less width to the paper. Beyond shrinkage, the other obvious alteration is what has become the Globe’s definition of news. On the front page, there are three stories and one photo with a pointer inside. Of the four topics, two are news, the other two are soft stuff. With an average of three stories a page in much of the paper, if the motto of the New York Times is “All the news that’s fit to print,” the Globe has fallen heir to what used to be the Mad magazine parody: “All the news that fits, we print.”

Photos are generally smaller and certainly not the “stunning” work promised in the promos. Only the Report on Business has a decent number of stories and that may be because the section, which also includes Sports, has precious few ads. Of the twenty-four pages, two are devoted to the Globe promoting itself, and four are ads, not a ratio that lends itself to profitability. Still, I was happy to see no screeds written by flacks or hacks promoting some self-interested business point of view. I trust this means an end to such detritus as was increasingly appearing in the “old” ROB.

On a positive note, Facts & Arguments, often the best read in the paper, has been retained as First Person. I fear, however, if the Globe goes through one more downsizing redesign, it won’t be much bigger, or any more relevant, than a letter from camp that’s delivered after the camper comes home.

UPDATE: Some sections of the Saturday paper are back to the “old” width while other sections such as Pursuits and Arts, are the new skinny. Maybe it was the mixture that caused late delivery. Sweet mysteries of life.

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