More Digital-First Downsizing: The Guardian’s Print Edition Shrinks Again

We’ve been covering already how the Guardian’s digital-first strategy has resulted in some sections of the printed newspaper shrinking. Today brings a fresh wave of downsizing moves, with the sports and film-and-music sections getting folded into the main paper, and the main, printed, weekday edition of the paper also losing pages.

As part of a bigger scheme to cut about £1 million ($1.6 million) amid falling revenues from its printed products and changing reader habits, the Guardian will be putting the sports section back into the main paper from Tuesday to Friday, where it will go on the back pages — the traditional slot for sports in UK newspapers. It looks like it will continue to remain a separate section on Mondays — a day when newspapers usually bump up their sports coverage to include fixtures from over the weekend.

Film & music, meanwhile, will cease to be a separate supplement and will instead be folded into the features section of G2, the Guardian’s daily supplement to the main printed paper.

All together, it looks like the main newspaper will be losing at least four pages as a result of this: one or two from the sports section, plus one from the papers Comment (op-ed) section, and another from obituaries, in addition to film & music getting downsized. The Guardian did not give us a formal statement on the move, but instead pointed us to an article on the moves penned by the Guardian itself, where the main print downsizing was detailed.

For now it looks like the weekend editions of the newspaper, the Saturday Guardian and the Observer (published Sunday) are not getting touched. They are currently under review with changes to those editions likely to come next year.

The loss of the film & music and sports supplements follows on from changes we reported on in September that saw the Guardian’s media, education, and social issues supplements all getting reduced and folded into the main paper.

At the time, the Media Guardian maintained that it would keep its full range of coverage available online, in keeping with the company’s new digital-first strategy, and the acknowledgement that there is a big online audience for the kinds of stories that got covered in the print supplement. It’s not clear from these latest moves that the same will go for the latest sections to see the chop.

The Guardian tells us that today’s news is not a redundancies announcement, so no further lob losses to be announced for now.

One area where the Guardian will not be changing things soon: what kind of coverage it provides in print. The newspaper had been considering dropping breaking news from print to focus on longer, analytical pieces, but decided against it after some reader research and working on mock-ups, according to the Guardian piece on the news.

But it will continue to figure out ways of capitalizing digitally on its coverage of ongoing stories, something that it explored first when it launched an e-book product based on its coverage of the phone-hacking story. New e-singles will likely feature packages of investigative journalism around other stories, as well as packages of articles around single events, such as a political speech or the release of certain economic data, according to the Guardian article.

The Guardian tells us that the new changes will start to get introduced in January.

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