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Newspaper experiences reduction in page width

by Brad Fuqua & Western News
| March 31, 2009 12:00 AM

Readers of The Western News probably notice a change with this edition of the newspaper. Like so many other newspapers around the country, we now print on paper 22 inches in width. That is, when you hold the newspaper open with two pages facing out, the total width of that span is now 22 inches – down from the previous 25 inches.

Like most other newspapers, primary reasons for this move are to conserve newsprint and reduce costs. The rising cost of newsprint has forced newspapers everywhere to reduce widths.

This reduction in page width has been an ongoing issue for decades. A half-century ago, many newspapers printed on paper as wide as 34 inches. In the late 1970s, a project called Standard Advertising Units – or SAUs – was created to standardize the industry. Most newspapers changed to a 27.5-inch web width with six columns per page and those that didn’t had to eventually follow suit or risk losing retail advertisers.

In the following years, the industry experienced various changes in sizes but maintained six columns as a standard format. Now, we go to 22 inches and it’s difficult to imagine that we would see any further width reductions.

The width change does not affect the quality of our product. The quantity of news and advertising remains the same and our primary type sizes remain the same.

Our readership remains strong with more than 6,000 readers picking up our two editions each week. And our online news site is now routinely drawing close to 10,000 visits each week. Thank you readers and advertisers for continuing to support our newspaper – which has been hitting the streets in Libby and Troy for 107 years and counting.