The Incredible Shrinking AJC

The redesign of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution got plenty of attention back in April, patient healing but one noticeable change that ironically drew the least reaction was the reduction of the paper’s size from a 48-inch broadsheet to 44 inches. While this saves on the cost of newsprint, order it’s resulted in a front page that is actually square when folded. You may have noticed how much empty space is now present in the machines on the street.

Longtime AJC readers of course know that this is not the first time the paper has reduced its page size. But the effect of multiple reductions over time is more severe than most might think. So I dug through my personal archives (i.e., there my parents’ garage) and have put together an evolutionary illustration of the AJC’s shrinkage over the last five decades:

ajclineup2.jpg

The six papers displayed are:

June 3, 1962
April 9, 1974
May 10, 1986
September 12, 2001
April 26, 2009
May 10, 2009

Here is the current AJC contrasted with the oldest paper I have, the Atlanta Journal special edition from June 3, 1962, following the Orly Field plane crash:

ajc1962b.JPG

That’s a front page of 15 1/2 inches compared to 11 inches. Now to be perfectly fair, that paper is 47 years old, and from a time when there weren’t 4+ separate daily sections to accommodate the day’s content. The individual page was larger, but there were simply fewer pages printed. So let’s compare the new AJC to a more recent, and more internally similar, edition:

ajc2001b.JPG

The width of the front page has shrunk 1 1/2 inches in just eight years. One somewhat surprising aspect of this evolutionary change is that while the paper has grown progressively, and radically, thinner in width, the height has remained relatively unchanged since the Kennedy administration. While the broadsheet has dropped from 31 inches to 22 inches in width, it’s only gone from 23 to 22 in height. Given that we now have a paper that’s square when folded, I expect that the next reduction will be in height.

And after a few repetitions of that, we’ll find ourselves with an Atlanta newspaper that’s not much bigger than the Fulton County Daily Report or the DeKalb Champion.

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