Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Saving Newsprint by the Inch: A Quarter-Inch of White Margin Adds Up to Big Savings

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Saving Newsprint by the Inch: A Quarter-Inch of White Margin Adds Up to Big Savings

Article excerpt

SOARING NEWSPRINT PRICES are cutting margins - and not just profit margins.

In an effort to preserve profits in the face of 60% higher costs of their principal raw material, newspapers are increasingly trimming their page margins, those slivers of white space on either side of the page.

The New, York Times figures it can cut its newsprint consumption 1.8% by slicing one-quarter of an inch off every page, or one-eighth inch from each side.

This doesn't reduce content, and it costs relatively little - only about $30,000 for press alterations for one of the parent New York Times Co.'s smaller regional papers, Times vice president Stephen Golden told a session at the Newspaper Association of America convention in New Orleans this week.

The change mainly requires buying 54-inch rolls of newsprint instead of 55-inch rolls.

Golden said the Times and its sister paper, the Boston Globe, were planning to make the shift in May. One paper in the regional group was planning to trim, and others were evaluating the move.

Nor is Times Co. alone. Mike Kienzle, who sells Goss newspaper presses for Rockwell Graphic Systems, says orders for paper-width conversions have quintupled to about 50 since last year, and the waiting time to schedule a conversion has grown to about three or four months.

Kienzle said the spurt in paper-width downsizing is common when newsprint prices surge - but this is one of the fastest run-ups in history, newsprint and newspaper executives say, coming as it does after one of the deepest price plunges ever.

For a small paper, Golden said, the $30,000 cost of press adjustments was "well justified."

Most of the paper-width reductions being planned have yet to take effect. But when they do hit the market, as well as a host of other conservation measures in the works at newspapers, they could lower newsprint consumption by 6% this year, Golden predicted. …

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