Crikey editor Misha Ketchell writes:

Is Brisbane’s Courier-Mail going tabloid? Rumours doing the rounds at News Ltd have the change of format as a done deal. Courier editor David Fagan hasn’t responded to Crikey’s email on the topic, and when you add in that the rumours have also been publicly floated in the News Ltd stablemate The Australian (in a story which claimed “executives at Queensland’s The Courier-Mail discussed the possibility of changing its format with News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch during his visit to Brisbane this week”) it seems highly probable a major change to the paper’s format is on the cards.

Whether the change will mean a dumbing down of what’s been a pretty consistent newspaper with some impressive scoops under its belt (remember the Walkley Award-winning Helen Demidenko/Darville expose?) is anyone’s guess.

The enthusiasm for tabloid formats sweeping the world is essentially about the practicality of having a newspaper format that is readable on public transport, in a car or on one of those irritatingly titchy tables you often find in cafes. And if the overseas experience is anything to go by, then there’s no reason to assume that a change in format implies a change in editorial direction. The Guardian in the UK hasn’t become any less “liberal” in its new Berliner quasi-tabloid incarnation and London’s Times is hardly less politically conservative now that it’s a tabloid.

The bad news for Courier-Mail readers hoping the paper will preserve its editorial quality is the presence of The Australian – and the fact that Brisbane is effectively a one newspaper town. The powers that be at News might be tempted to reason that The Oz can serve the readership wanting traditional “broadsheet” stories and the Courier could make more hay as a tabloid in the tradition of The Daily Tele, The Addy or The Herald Sun. After all, what’s the point of having a near monopoly if you don’t use it to cover all the bases and make life very hard for anyone foolhardy enough to try and break into the market?

Meanwhile there’s another interesting change rumoured in the Queensland newspaper market. According to News Ltd insiders, Kylie Lang, current editor of Brisbane News is tipped to be coming to the Sunday Mail to perhaps be deputy editor or number one editor replacing Michael Prain.

Brisbane News, distributed around the AB suburbs of Brisbane, is a glossy throwaway that has a mix of profiles, holiday features, wine and food articles. It’s very lightweight and some News insiders speculate that Lang’s appointment could be an attempt to address the boys’ club that is the Sunday Mail, where there are no women in senior positions.

Whatever the case, insiders say it’s likely Lang will find it tough to establish herself in the blokey culture of the paper.