What's 50-60 words between friends, though, really?

Gawker reports and analyzes a recent series of memos and stories, piecing together just what the heck might be happening at The New York Times between their expected move to a narrow web in August 2007 and a printing plant consolidation forecast for April 2008.

There's conflicting reports, but the upshot, at least in the short term, appears to be that there will be in the neighborhood of a 10% shrinkage of overall newshole.

According to an internal Times memo yesteday:
"A dress page column now with headline and blurb might be 720 words; without a jump, the equivalent column will be about 50-60 words shorter. While (executive editor) Bill Keller has been asking overall for shorter stories, the start of the narrow-measure paper will reduce specific news holes. Page designers are working out samples to share with individual sections. Merrill Perlman is working with News Technology on a guidance sheet for copy editors. With the start of this project looming, it seems a good time to ask all to think anew about how the measures may alter story lengths or layouts.
Gawker figures this means a loss "of about 50-60 words out of a 720-word column is around 7-8 percent. That's what they're starting with, and that last sentence sure seems to indicate that reporters and editors should be prepared for even more shrinkage. Our money's on 10 percent. And note that there's no mention here of adding pages to the paper, as Keller had promised in last year's memo."

But hey, what's 50-60 words between friends, right?

The Shrinking 'New York Times' (Gawker)
Coming This August: The New York Times Narrows! (NYO)
New York Times Shrinks Paper, Closes Plant (Romenesko)

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