ONE OF THE most prominent newspapers in the Netherlands, NRC Handelsblad, switched from broadsheet to tabloid size this week. The newspaper claims it is returning to the ancestral format of its predeccesors, the Algemeen Handelsblad, the Amsterdam newspaper founded in 1828, as well as the Rotterdam Courant, founded in 1844. Those two papers merged in 1970 to form NRC Handelsblad, which is the seventh in circulation among the national newspapers of the Netherlands.
The evening newspaper has gained experience in tabloid-size printing since 2006 when it launched its morning compact edition, nrc.next, aimed at young, highly educated readers. Nrc.next has a Monday-Friday circulation of over 300,000, while NRC hovers around 240,000 on weekdays and 270,000 on Saturdays.
“A compact newspaper is more accessible to the reader,” the head editor, Peter Vandermeersch, said. “The content remains the same and it will continue to be as long. But smaller formats often present news, analysis, and reportage in a more obvious way. Bright, clear, and with a better rhythm.”
The dramatic change by the newspaper is an attempt to halt a decline in profits and to draw readers away from its competitor, De Volkskrant.
For now, the overall design avoids the chief fault of broadsheets that go ‘compact’ or tabloid: not enough stories on a single page. The front page of the Scotsman is usually just one giant story — tabloid not just in print size but in spirit. Respectable newspapers that decide to go smaller must insist on getting multiple articles on every (non-advertising) page, and not having their stories swamped by ads.