Angus MacPhail: Times are a-changing

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From broadsheet to compact

Congratulations to The Oban Times on its compact new format and the beginning of a new era in the technique of coal-fire lighting in houses across the Highlands and Islands!

This bastion of our regional media, as any true west coaster knows, has over the years not only been the primary vehicle for local news, but also, in a utilitarian dream of the perfection of dual purpose, has been the most effective means – after reading, of course – with which to light the fire (rumours that the people on Coll don’t even read it first are unfounded).

New techniques must be developed and put into action this week and any problems with the new edition should be reported immediately to the Independent Press Standards Organisation.

The Scottish Government has allocated and ring-fenced substantial funds that are ready to spend on sending firelighters and copies of The Herald as emergency fuel aid to help those caught up in this unprecedented potential disaster for rural household heating.

Luckily for the population of Argyll, the Islands and beyond, The Oban Times has teamed up with Oban Live and jointly purchased four days of guaranteed sunshine from June 7-10 to help ensure that no householders or festival goers will freeze or even be uncomfortably chilly this weekend.

Beyond the chuckles of my nonsense above, the transition from broadsheet to compact format has been a change taken now by many of the big boys of the mainstream press.

The Times, The Independent and The Scotsman have all, despite some objection from readers, taken the leap to the smaller compact format.
These well-known papers have, of course, retained their broadsheet qualities along with their new compact ‘physique’.

Despite the new ‘mini me’ appearance, I am confident this paper will similarly maintain its ethos of providing quality journalism, intelligent comment, local news and commitment to the communities it serves, albeit with a few dodgy columnists!

What a shock we would all get if suddenly the carefully-considered content of The Oban Times transformed overnight to the sensationalist, salacious, celebrity-obsessed, gossip-mongering, gunge-purveying style akin to the worst of the red-top rags of Rupert Murdoch or the hate-fuelling anti-everybody doomsday delivering dribble of the Daily Mail.

I think we are safe. Readers can now look forward to finding out all the weekly news of the west coast without having to wrestle with the huge unmanageable and unruly sheets of the old-style Oban Times. However, like many, I will miss this familiar part of life and, if for nothing more than nostalgia’s sake, will lament its passing.