Cape Argus moves from broadsheet to a compact size — very carefully




Cape Argus, a 155 year-old newspaper in South Africa, recently moved rapidly into a new age, dramatically going from a traditional broadsheet to a compact format.

“In five weeks, we moved this dear old duck and changed her into a sleek and compact product,” said Sandy Naude, general manager of Independent Newspapers.

The problem laid with convincing Argus readers that the new compact was not a tabloid.

To do this, Cape Argus continued to focus on what its newspaper was known for — big stories, only now retooled for the compact form.

“We had quite a challenge,” Naude said.

Capus Argus eased long-time readers into the new format, overlaying the compact version of the newspaper on the broadsheet for a time, as well as launching a massive advertising campaign to attract new readers.

The results were mixed.

The news media company lost advertising revenue, but did increase the newspaper’s subscription base by 2,000 before dropping and then elevating once again. It does however, work better as a commuter newspaper, due to the newspaper’s compact size.

Ultimately, Naude said, it was the right decision for the future.

“Old readers were outraged,” she said. “We picked up new readers, useful readers, readers that could actually stay with us.”

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