Stephen Glover

Should the Telegraph go tabloid? It’s a tough call

Should the Telegraph go tabloid? It’s a tough call

The serious newspapers — what we used to call the broadsheets — have extracted themselves from the frying pan only to find themselves in the fire. For years they lived in a world of reduced cover prices which meant lower revenues. Rupert Murdoch started that when he slashed the price of the Times in September 1993. Last year the war petered out as the Times and its rivals raised their cover prices. And then what happened? A new war began — the tabloid war. But it was not Mr Murdoch who on this occasion commenced hostilities. It was the Independent. The small, loss-making Independent, whose competitors were used to talking of it in condescending terms.

On September 30 the paper launched a tabloid format within the M25 area. On November 26 the Times followed suit. The Daily Telegraph and the Guardian may soon join battle. It is as though Tranmere Rovers had decided that it was a good idea to play a new style of football, only to find Manchester United jumping on the bandwagon. The Independent is naturally very pleased with itself, having shown a year-on-year sales increase of some 9 per cent as a result of selling the tabloid alongside the broadsheet version. The Times’s gains are less dramatic, but they have partly reversed an alarming recent decline in circulation. The paper is thought to have made a net gain in December of 33,000 copies in the M25 area. From Monday the tabloid Times has been on sale in over half the country. The tabloid Independent is available almost everywhere.

At the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph there is an air of trepidation. The Guardian, with its journalistic flair, might have been expected to be the first broadsheet to go tabloid, yet it finds itself outsmarted by the much weaker Independent.

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