Columns 1.8.2018 08:15 am

Save that empty newspaper space to save the trees

Huge headlines, humongous photographs and screeds of empty space, if pieced together, could fill another two issues.

That tree life is under threat is well documented. What we’ve also learnt is trees remove air pollution primarily by uptake of pollutants via leaf stomata (pores on the outer “skin” layers of the leaf). In other words, trees prevent health conditions, including stroke, heart disease, lung cancer and asthma.

According to the World Health Organisation, outdoor air pollution in cities and rural areas caused an estimated 3.7 million premature deaths worldwide in 2012, the majority of which were due to heart disease and strokes. These facts presuppose that we need to protect our trees, not cut them down for less important by-products.

Like newspapers. Now, before you point out that I’m a newspaperman, even write columns for newspapers, and question my questioning of a product that is, and has always has been, my lifeblood, let me put it into context.

It’s all about the current design and layout most newsrooms throughout the world have adopted, or been forced to accept.

While holidaying in the UK, I noticed newspapers there falling for the same lark. This trend has changed how news is presented on the printed page. Especially so with broadsheet papers as opposed to tabloids.

Huge headlines, humongous photographs and screeds of empty space that, if pieced together, fill another two issues.

For some reason I enjoy reading business papers, because truth is, I know zilch about economics and financials. Perhaps in another world I was an economist – or a politician who loved the feel and look of filthy lucre. I digress.

Paging through such a Sunday paper, I was met with half-page photographs of the notorious Steinhoff’s offices – with not a person in sight. Then there’s the mugshot of a CEO of a clothing franchise almost filling the entire page. Why? Are its readers sight-impaired?

In the old newsrooms, big and wordy headlines and too much white space meant only one thing: not enough news to fill the page.

Therein lies the rub. Newsrooms are now split between print and websites, each requiring a particular format.

Websites, being the flavour of the present and a playing field for off-the-wall creatives, are influencing the look of the poor printed cousin.

Cliff Buchler.

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