Grumpy Old Men will decide fate of The Times

Of the many factors involved in The Times’s historic decision to completely drop its broadsheet format, one emerges as the most significant.

It’s the one that could be called the Grumpy Old Men factor: to what extent will the stubborn readers (and they are mainly men) who have so far ignored all blandishments to buy the compact version decide to take their broadsheet business elsewhere? In the 11 months since the compact first hit the newsstands, more than 200,000 of these curmudgeons have clung to the broadsheet habit, despite News International’s best efforts.

The Daily Telegraph, which wasted no time this week in trumpeting its status as the last mainstream paper committed to the full-size format (“The Best in Broadsheet Journalism”), hopes it will already be luring some of the harrumphers into its clutches.

It may yet find that being the last man standing in the broadsheet field is no bad thing after all.

The Times is gambling that Victor Meldrew and co will vent their spleen over the toast and marmalade, and perhaps write a stern letter, but still remain loyal to the masthead.

Or if not the masthead, at least the crossword.

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