"Can you have a magazine that's not in the shape of a magazine?" asks Lary Bloom. "We're hoping the answer is yes to that."
And with that hope, the Hartford Courant's Sunday magazine, Northeast, of which Bloom is editor, becomes a broadsheet. The redesigned "magazine," which debuted February 6 after a four-month hiatus, is made of smudgy newsprint.
Most Sunday magazines struggle with high cost and little revenue, and this move certainly saves the Courant some dollars. But Bloom, the mag's editor since its 1982 start, says there was more reason than that for the switch. For one, the format combats the lost-in-the-crowd problem that plagues a thinning magazine in a hefty Sunday paper.
Besides creating a different look, Northeast added new features and columns and resurrected its in-depth cover story. The staff has increased from about six full-timers to 10, including two rotating writers from the newsroom, who will work six-month stints with the mag. Plus, reporters from other sections of the paper now contribute.
It's the spirit and voice-full writing of a magazine that Bloom wants to convey, regardless of format. "We're hoping to reinvent the Sunday newspaper, creating something that doesn't quite exist now," he says, using phrases like "a broad canvas" and "intense connection with the reader" to describe Northeast.
Readers had gripes with the first issue, saying it wasn't a magazine--something they could curl up in bed with, Bloom says. But he hopes over a short time, readers will appreciate this new magazine--or whatever they think it is.
"They can call us the Northeast section... They can call us whatever," Bloom says. "Just as long as they read us."