April Fool: AFR to switch to broadsheet format

Noon update: This story was published on April Fool’s Day

The Australian Financial Review is to move to a broadsheet size after 60 years in compact format, Mumbrella can reveal.

financial review logo

The move puts the AFR in line with global financial titles such as the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal which differentiate themselves from the market through their larger size.

The AFR’s editor-in-chief Michael Stutchbury told Mumbrella: “In this new world, the prize goes to those who are big and bold. We’ve seen most of the rest of the newspaper world coming down and shrinking. We thought we would grab the market by the scruff of the neck and take what has been a compact for 60 years, make a big statement and turn it into a big, bold broadsheet. We think the market will really love it.”

Stutchbury added: “Although we only recently had a successful redesign for the AFR, I am a strong believer that newspapers need to be nimble, and that means delivering what the readers want, even if they keep changing their minds.”

The decision to make the shift came as a result of a gap in the market discovered during research carried out by Fairfax Media’s sister titles The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age as they moved to compact format.

The market research showed that while commuters find broadsheets difficult to read in busy public transport situations, the Australian Financial Review’s mainly C-suite readership view buying a broadsheet as a status symbol, because it helps demonstrate they do not face this hardship.

The AFR’s CEO Brett Clegg told Mumbrella: “We have carried out extensive research which gave us a game-changing insight: Particularly for those regularly flying between Sydney and Melbourne, people like to buy broadsheets because it sends a subtle signal to fellow travellers that they will be travelling business class and will have room to stretch their arms.”

“The same applies to company chief executives who are far more likely to be driven to work, and feel they are getting better value for their companies if they are reaching their arms out towards the other side of the car which is often otherwise empty.”

The decision has also been backed by neuroscience research which showed that the pleasure centres in executives’ brains are 15 per cent more likely to be triggered when reading the popular Rear Window column in broadsheet format compared to compact.

The move will also create cost savings for Fairfax. The broadsheet-sized shop display stands that used to feature the SMH and The Age are still in storage, and newsagents will be given stickers to cover up the SMH and Age logos.


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