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Ian Mayes has given more tantilising details of the new format, revealing that it is once again ahead of schedule, and now likely to launch in ‘the autumn’ – which, by my reckoning, is about a year ahead of schedule.
I like the Guardian’s policy of being very up-front with its readers about the difficulties it’s been facing of late:
The decision not to change to a conventional tabloid shape meant a delay that gave the paper’s rivals an advantage and that has been reflected in the circulation figures.
It takes a big paper (no pun intended) to stand up and say that yes, their circulation is falling rapidly, and yes, changes need to be made to stop this. Reading the other broadsheets, you’d think that circulation was going down quickly in every paper but the one that happens to be reporting the news.
The paper is being totally redesigned for its new format, marking a complete departure from the successful and influential David Hillman design of 1988 that was refreshed by Simon Esterson a decade later
That’s a big decision, and will probably be at first greeted (possibly even by me) exactly as the David Hillman design was – as a huge mistake. But it’s worth noticing that the Hillman design is still the most modern, fresh-looking of all the newspaper designs, and if the new Guardian can pull this off, then I will be most impressed.
It will feature throughout, in headlines and text, an entirely new typeface, unique to the Guardian.
That’s a much bigger decision that many people will realise – the backlash against The Times when it introduced the Times Millennium font as opposed to Times New Roman was such that they ended up dedicating two whole pages to explaining the differences and advantages of the new font. But I guess it fits in with the redesign of the paper as a whole – and maybe even signals a completely new masthead.
One noteable change:
They are technically more advanced (for the time being at least) than any newspaper presses operating in Britain. They will, for instance, be the first to give a daily national newspaper in the UK the option to run full colour on every page.
Previously, Carolyn McCall had said that the paper was going full colour. Now Ian Mayes is saying they have the option of priting full colour, when they want to. Perhaps this is just a semantic slip, but it does seem to signal a fairly major change of policy.
There is at least one good sign though, courtesy of Amanda Platell:
Impartial observers may have been confused when they saw Andrew Pierce’s normally scintillating People column replaced in the Times of 26 July with something that looked about as interesting as the instructions on my home waxing kit.
The clue was in the copy, which contained the word “guardian” in most items. I am reliably informed that the Times had seen a dummy for the much-heralded Berliner-style redesigned Guardian, to be launched some time this year. If this sleep-inducing display of journalism is anything to go by I hope, for the Guardian’s sake, that it was a one-off spoof based on a very old dummy.
If Amanda ‘Daily Mail’ Platell finds it ‘sleep-inducing’, and Andrew Pierce of the increasingly Daily-Mailesque Times wants to mock it, then we can happily say that it’s acheived its editor’s goal:
The editor wants the new paper, in tone and presentation, to separate itself clearly from the middle market in which he sees its closest rivals converging. He believes its new format and appearance will signal that intention.
It’s certainly a big decision to take, so let’s just hope that this radical change is as good as I’ve come to expect from the Guardian – and doesn’t signal the beginning of the end for an excellent paper. But they needn’t worry – so long as The Guardian’s journalism continues in its presently excellent form, I’ll be sticking with it, and I’m sure many others feel the same way.