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Is the new, smaller Rocky more "convenient" than ever, or a sign of an impending newspaper apocalypse?

The salaries will continue flowing if the Rocky can attract people who aren't currently reading the paper, and Temple sees two groups as being particularly promising: "young, active people who rely on the Internet but still use print, and young, middle-income families." Nevertheless, the two main stories on January 23 seemed aimed at older audiences. "The Crossing," penned by staffer Kevin Vaughan, tells about a 1961 train-schoolbus accident that killed twenty children, and it's very deliberately paced; on day three, the train still had not reached the dreaded intersection. Likewise, a three-page spread about Holocaust survivors didn't exactly brim with youth appeal. Still, Temple thinks the tales send the message that the Rocky is "about storytelling. It's at the heart of everything we do."

The presentation of this material was strong, as is typical in the new-look Rocky. The photos and body type look sharp thanks to the new presses; that's especially true on the Spotlight and Sports section fronts, which feature full-page color images that overtly recall magazine covers. These spreads suggest less news, and so does January 25's Rocky Talk, which took two pages to display what used to fit on one, but Temple maintains that, because of "efficiencies in the way we package some things," the amount of copy evens out. Whatever the case, the layout is clean, if a little confusing at first because of section headers (like the one for the World & Nation pages) that are more subtle than they need to be. And despite type that's slightly smaller than it was previously, readability is good -- not that everyone agrees. During the January 23 edition of Channel 9's morning show, the sight of anchor Kyle Dyer squinting at Rocky pages spoke volumes.

As for Post business columnist Al Lewis, he ribbed the "incredible shrinking Rocky" in a January 24 blog illustrated with a mock cover of the "Rocky Munchkin News," only to acknowledge a few lines later that the Post will also be downsizing before long. (Westword, which is printed on the same gear, has already undergone the process.) Granted, the Post probably won't have to change as dramatically as the Rocky has because of its broadsheet approach -- but Temple prefers the extra work to the alternative. "One of the main reasons our readers like this paper is because of our format," he says, adding, "It's really convenient."

And he's going to make damn sure everyone knows it. Is the new, smaller Rocky more "convenient" than ever, or a sign of an impending newspaper apocalypse?

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