Does something about this paper look different?
You may notice the appearance of this publication looks a little bit different this month. If you’re not able to put your finger on exactly why, here it is: The columns of type are 1/8-inch narrower than they used to be; and the gutters—the white space between each column—are 1/16-inch wider.
I’m always amazed at how much impact a sixteenth of an inch can have on the page of a newspaper or magazine.
If you look through the paper, you’ll notice that every ad is either one, two, three or four columns wide. So the change means all of our advertisers have had to make small changes in the width of their ads.
It’s been a lot of work, and we’re not finished. Only about half of the ads have been changed over so far. We've had to do some jury-rigging to make two different sets of slightly different ad specifications fit together in a single issue. That’s why some pages may look more raggedy than normal; it will improve over the next couple months as we get the rest of the ads re-sized to fit the paper’s new format.
To be honest, I don’t think the change makes the paper look better, and it actually reduces the amount of text that fits on a page (though not by very much).
So why did we do it?
The Heights Observer is one of seven publications affiliated with the Observer Media Project. The others are in Euclid, Collinwood, Lakewood, Rocky River, Westlake/Bay Village and Parma.
Each of these publications runs independently of the others; our only real connections are the software we use to operate, and a community-building vision that takes a slightly different direction in each publication—depending on the community and on the individuals managing the paper.
But we are working cooperatively to sell advertising to organizations that want to reach some or all of the communities these publications serve. To do that effectively, we all need to offer the same advertising sizes so a business or institution doesn’t need to submit up to seven slightly different versions of the same ad.
The changes you see represent the adjustment we had to make in order to match our advertising specifications to those of every other Observer publication. Why our specifications were different in the first place isn't much of a story; it goes back to a couple of decisions that were a good idea at the time we made them in 2008.
In short, we made the change for the money. But don't worry; this doesn't mean we're suddenly soliciting the likes of Walmart to advertise.
Over time, you may begin to see a few more institutional advertisers like Tri-C and Hospice of the Western Reserve—two examples of organizations that have been running in multiple Observer publications.
Be assured the Heights Observer exists for this community. Increasing its marketability to regional advertisers is part of making it financially sustainable. But it doesn't change our mission to foster transparency, citizen engagement and an environment that supports the independent businesses that make the Heights such a good place to live.
Cleveland Heights resident Bob Rosenbaum is co-chairman of the Heights Observer Advisory Committe, and is responsible for its advertising sales and market development.