Mergers bring an end to compact experiment.. and more weirding

The inevitable end to a format innovation has arrived with the closure of the Columbus Dispatch plant on the city's west side.

For several years, newspaper trade shows were abuzz with details of a plan to print sectioned 'tabloid' newspapers by reconfiguring its TKS presses to print 'three-around' instead of the 'two-around' of a normal double-width machine. The Ohio presses used Pressline's 3Volution system with technology contributions from Nela, Foldex, QI Press Controls and Harland Simon.

When it was commissioned in 2013, the shorter, narrower product was also adopted by Gannett's Cincinnati Enquirer and Kentucky Enquirer, and for local editions of USA Today.

Change - in the wind with the acquisition of the Columbus Dispatch by Gatehouse Media in 2015 - has become a reality with Gatehouse's $1.4 billion acquisition of Gannett late last year.

The papers and others will be printed in Louisville and Indianapolis, many with a return to broadsheet, and the Dispatch plant will close in March with the loss of 188 jobs.

Meanwhile Dayton, Hamilton and Springfield in Ohio are also expected to lose their daily newspapers - currently printed at Gannett - because of the enforcement of outdated competition law restrictions following the US$3.1 billion sale last February of control of Cox Media Group to Apollo Global Management's Terrier Media. The papers switch to three days a week - at least for the time being - exploits the strange loophole.

We'd be remiss here not to mention the Australian connection, with parent company Cox Enterprises a quarter owned by the founder's granddaughter Blair Parry-Okeden, who lives in Scone, NSW, and was named by Forbes in 2016 as Australia's richest person.

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