Why are we changing format? We know already that some of you won’t like it because it’s a break with tradition, it’s not what you have always known and – after all – A4 was/is such a useful format.
But others will like it, perhaps younger readers, perhaps the more daring, perhaps those who are prepared to take a chance on the ever-changing world of media where we are all still looking for answers… paper, internet, Facebook, Twitter, and whatever may come next?
But the answer for the change is easy enough to find. In that unforgettable phrase from Il Gattopardo by Lampedusa: “Everything needs to change so that everything can stay the same.”
Or look at it in another more mundane way. Move the furniture around in a room and suddenly the whole place looks different; old pieces take on a new look, the sun shines on different things and above all you can sweep out dust from under the frayed carpet or creaky cupboard.
That’s basically what we are doing. There was certainly a lot of dust when we moved from Via Falegnami to Via di Monserrato 49, dust and mountains of paper, not surprisingly. But even after only a month in the new office plenty of good things have happened.
First of all we only have to walk out of the door to have either a leisurely coffee at Caffè Perù next door or an aperitivo in Piazza Farnese looking up at the French embassy… what better places to do business and meet our friends?
We have re-discovered so many “old” friends walking down Via di Monserrato whom we hadn’t seen for ages. Then we have discovered that when we put the copies of Wanted in Rome and the Ex-pat Guide to Rome outside the door they go like hot cakes. Maybe because readers pick them up free (although in theory they should still pay!) which is just to prove the point… we have in a way gone back to our roots when we started out as a free sheet nearly three decades ago. One new customer picked up a copy without paying, went off down the road and then half an hour came back with €1, saying that she hadn’t realised until she looked at the cover that the magazine wasn’t free. She stayed to chat and of course has now become a firm friend.
But just to set the record straight (you may be getting very confused with all our changes) we are not contemplating going back to being a free sheet. Nor are we changing the other essentials of the paper edition: articles, What’s On, classified advertising and the solid base of our local and always very loyal display advertisers.
So basically what we have done is to change in order to stay the same. Nearly 30 years (we started in 1985) is a long time in the media business, although only a blink of an eye in the time-scale of the Eternal City. We are now handing over to a new generation, those who were only toddlers (or not even born) when we first started. We oldies (or the post-war baby boomers) have the wisdom (not to be undervalued, as our new pope has told us), but the young have the ideas and the daring. Italy, and the rest of Europe for that matter, badly needs new ideas, new daring, new adventures, new risks. The oldies have been basking for too long in the innovations of the 1960s, the rebellion and reforms of Sessantotto and the economic boom (and the busts) of the years that followed. Now it is time to hand over. So if you ask us why we have decided on a new format after all these years… that’s why.