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Abstract:

Faced with growing competition and dwindling readership, especially among young people, some metropolitan newspapers have switched from a broadsheet to a smaller, easier to handle format. This strategy has been successful at least in the short term, and has been applied recently in Quebec by small-market newspapers owned by the Gesca chain. In April 2006, Le Soleil, the second-largest daily of the group, adopted a compact format and new design, accompanied by new content sections, changes in newsroom staff and management, as well as an elaborate marketing plan. In announcing the change to its readers, an article by the editor-in-chief focused on adapting the newspaper's content to readers' lifestyles and interests, as well as developing interactivity. The plan was met with some resistance in the newsroom and among readers. Based on a theoretical model of long-term change in journalism, briefly set out in the article, this study analyzes this case as it compares to the “communication journalism” paradigm. Specifically, it examines how tensions between competing conceptions of journalism are manifest in Le Soleil's own coverage of the format change.
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