I am very unhappy with the change of my newspaper’s format to tabloid. After about two weeks of experience, I try to express what subtly frustrates me.
Probably I belong to a minority which does not match the criteria for the superiority of the tabloid format. I am no commuter who reads his paper in the tram, and my breakfast table was sufficiently large for the broadsheet edition. I don’t own a television set, so the news are still sufficiently new for me in the morning, and I scanned them preferably by letting my gaze wander across the large paper.
I also like maps that invite my eyes to travel across. I think the physical zoom with one’s nose onto a map cannot be beaten by sophisticated software zooming interfaces. I like nonlinearity. I was enthusiastic about hypertext. But even the best nonlinear hypertext is confined to the computer screen, and for me this was at best a 19 inch with 1024 x 768 pixels (because I still don’t wear glasses).
So, when I thought about a paperless era, the newspaper was the thing I could least imagine to be replaced, since it allowed for most efficient and tireless scanning of large amounts of information, and its size would be difficult to reach by computer monitors. But not long ago, my monitor in the office was replaced by a TFT, where I can read even 1280 x 1024 without glasses. And now my newspaper went the other direction, and maybe soon it will go past the monitor. And this frustrates me.
- The half-sized pages require the double amount of scrolling (page-turning), and already in the computer world, I hate scrolling more than other people (who rather hate extra clicks).
- Furthermore, each double page seems to contain at most one significant article or topic, so I may not choose freely among several ones but I just may decide if I should scan it, or if I should proceed because so many others are waiting. Serialized processing, like inbox processing, or like assembly line. Never looking laterally or even backwards.
- And finally, the long row of pages seems to lack a structure.
Fortunately, the content of my newspaper is still satisfactory (in fact, I learned only recently that the word tabloid is not only a format name but has also connotations of yellow press content). I understand that the courageous, risky move was necessary because the low circulation numbers could not compensate the notoriously decreased advertising income of newspapers. But there is one thing that I don’t understand. Why do adverts concentrate on media that favor a very narrow, linear focus, such as search engines (where people have probably the least disposition to be distracted by ads because they are pursuing their search goal), and now the linear, tabloid papers rather than broadsheet editions where the wandering eye would perhaps be more inclined to be caught by an ad?