Independent newspaper revamps, goes compact

The Ashburton Guardian was already the first daily paper in New Zealand to go compact when it changed its weekend format in 2000.

Independent newspaper The Ashburton Guardian has relaunched with a compact Monday to Friday paper.

It was already the first daily paper in New Zealand to go compact when it changed its weekend format in 2000. The newspaper has a circulation of 5000 and reaches more than 70% of the mid-Canterbury population.

Editor Coen Lammers says the NZ Herald’s decision to go compact had made it easier for it to shift its content to the smaller size. He says all regular advertisers switched to the new format and additional clients had come on board.

The Guardian was relaunched as a special edition and with a new masthead created by Christchurch design company Plato. It combines the letters A and G and incorporates a shield. 

“Newspaper people, like their readers, are conservative so when we first saw it we took a bit of a breath," he says.

“But now we’ve fine tuned it and it looks really sharp. It also gives you more design opportunities.” 

The Ashburton Guardian, which is owned by Bruce Bell – whose family before him have owned the business for many years – previously launched a paywall on its website.

There are now 1500 subscribers behind the paywall, which Mr Lammers says includes lot of the print newspaper’s subscribers who get content free.

The newspaper has some community coverage such as photo galleries, an events calendar, community newsletters and video accessible to non-subscribers. 

Mr Lammers says being independenly owned has enabled the paper to be nimble in a fast-moving environment.

“We’ve got a small management team and one owner. If we want to do something we can do it tomorrow which is a wonderful situation to be in.”

The Guardian has a staff of about 30-35, including 15 in the newsroom. Mr Bell also employs a further 90 workers at associated company Guardian Print.

The Guardian is unashamedly parochial, providing a broad range of local news and opinions.

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