The Guardian, the popular left-wing newspaper here in the UK, has a completely new look from today. New size, new logo and perhaps most fascinatingly a new editorial approach to incorporate “online” news back into the mainstream newspaper.
Out with the old sized newspaper, they’ve gone for a new-to-the-UK”Berliner” mid-size (which apparently is popular in Europe).
Those of you who follow British newspaper developments will know that over the recent years there has been a trend for the broadsheets to either bring out a more commuter-friendly tabloid-size edition in parallel — or just swap to the smaller size completely. The “Berliner” mid-size is an interesting take, especially as some have found the much smaller sized Independent to be, well, too small, with some pages only able to accommodate one main story per page.
Guardian also have a new logo, moving away from their stylised “modern” sans-serif font through to a slightly more traditional new serif font. The white on blue background is it’s saving grace in terms of keeping it young and modern, and also capitalises their commitment to all-colour-pages throughout.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the redesign, however, is in the editorial. Guardian have picked up on all this “conversation with the audience”/”grass-roots journalism”/”interactivity” stuff and attempted to incorporate that into the off-line newspaper – to a degree far more than I’m aware anyone else is in this space (at least in the UK).
It’s not an area the Guardian Unlimited website has been particularly strong on in the past, but that’s mainly because of the minute budget the site has compared to BBC News website. Trying to incorporate an interactive theme back into the profitable newspaper side of things is probably a smart move – if they can pull it off. Such grass-roots editorial ideas they are implementing include:
- Been There: guides to cities for readers by readers. The Guardian’s travel section will feature one destination a week to which readers will contribute the copy.
- Obituaries: being touted as “more open”, again with a platform for readers who knew the person to contribute an individual tribute.
- Guardian Blogs in the paper: Editors blog, film blog and music blog will all have a presence in the paper
- Blogosphere in general: The paper describes their commitment in this area as “There will also be a strong reflection of the web in the paper – our most popular stories on the website and which pieces are causing a stir in the blogosphere”.
The Guardian Unlimited (the Guardian’s website) is the second most popular news site in the UK, BBC News being #1. I guess from my perspective, I am most interested as to what they do with their website – which has seen little in the way of redesign for the past 5 years. BBC News website has gone through two major iterations in that time (I was heavily involved in the second one).
At the time of writing this post, the Gaurdian Unlimited website hadn’t even changed the logo to the the paper’s new one, let alone any radical new templates to reflect the new change in editorial approach. Slightly disappointing.
Despite working for “the other side”, I really do hope the Guardian website does have a new design in the bag ready to go. BBC News needs good, stiff, competition – which at the moment mainly comes from the US. Of course Guardian Unlimited is trying to be a newspaper website, not a breaking news website, but I think the site has the potential to be so much more if only the bigwigs decided to invest a little more money in it.
So, in an hour or so I think I’ll be buying my first newspaper in quite a few years to see what it’s all about. I’ll keep you posted.
UPDATE: The Gaurdian’s Editor’s blog has a nice of regular posts outlining the production of today’s newspaper. I think it’s great they have done this, although I’m a little unsure of the quality of newspaper I am going to get this morning… The cut of time for many parts of the paper was set at 5pm on Sunday! I’m sure this is to incorporate ample contingency time, but that seems quite early.
Hmmm… This is a brave step for such a newspaper. Perhaps I’m getting old but it now has a less formal, magazine quality to it, which doesn’t lend itself to offering serious news. It’s like BBC newsreaders informing us of the latest disaster while wearing jeans and a t-shirt (albeit with designer labels).
I was once significantly involved with the redesign of a regional daily newspaper in its move from monochrome broadsheet to colour tabloid and understand the challenges and pitfalls of such a move – oh how there will be shouts from the readers unable to cope with change. We will just have to wait and see how many others follow suit.
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