Observer unveils major overhaul

The Observer is to launch three new standalone sections, covering travel, personal finance and popular entertainment, in a wide-ranging review under editor Roger Alton.

The newspaper will expand its travel coverage and launch it as a separate tabloid section, called Escape, on January 3.

Personal finance will be split from the main business coverage and repositioned in another pull-out section, to launch on the same date.

One working title for the new section is understood to be “Cash”.

A standalone entertainment section – with a now discarded working title of The Tube – is also being considered for launch in the spring.

It will contain the TV listings currently found in The Observer’s Life magazine, and is expected to include reviews of films, CD games and the Internet.

A revamp of the sports section is also likely.

Alton, former features editor on The Guardian, became The Ob-server’s fourth editor in five years in July, sparking intense speculation about a relaunch.

However, reports that the paper would undergo a major redesign, with sport and news downgraded in favour of more lifestyle coverage, have proved unfounded.

Circulation has continued to fall and there was a round of redundancies starting in October, resulting in more than 19 editorial staff being axed.

In the latest Audit Bureau of Circulations figures, released last Friday, The Observer’s circulation for October was 404,422, down from 405,545 in September.

For the six months from May to October this year, circulation was 400,608, compared with 452,767 for the same six-month period last year – a decline of more than 11 per cent.

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