New look Guardian to herald new ambitions?

Managed to pick up a copy of the new Guardian today. It’s a triumph of patience over fashion. They’ve got the right size (Berliner), and the design is good. But a bit like the Independent when it first kicked off in 1986, it feels like the subs are a bit at sea with the new proportions. Presumably that will ease with time. The paper is now in new territory. By beefing up its hard core news and snipping a few of its ‘timed-out’ columnists, it might even re-position itself as Britain’s newspaper of reference. A title abandoned by The (London) Times some time ago.

Here’s what some half decent blogs had to say: Noing Noing; Where’s me country; Dave.org; Suw loves it too; the Blogsnorkler is hacked off with the lack of colour in the Irish version; and PR view from Morgan McLintic.

  • Noing Noing

    Half decent? But we’ve deliberately positioned ourselves as the “blog of record” for all things annoying?

    Without wishing to throw flowers at you just because you linked to us, I have to say I was chuffed to stumble on Slugger O’Toole. Keep up the good work.

  • peteb

    Oh go ahead and throw flowers.. Mick’ll love that 😉

    On theguardian‘s new design.. like the berliner format a lot.. still getting used to the new layout though..

    But I hate the comic sized g2.. previously, and by far, the more interesting part of the daily edition it now looks, and feels, like an after-thought.

    And I’m pissed that the weekly Life [science etc] section has been dropped.. not a good move.

    I see they’ve already had to back down on the decision to drop Doonesbury too.

  • Keith M

    I like the new size, handier for the bus. G2 is much better in this size. I’m deligted Doonesbury is gone (can we have something vaguely amusing in its place?)

    The thing that I still hate is the “Education” and “Society” sections. We’re not all teachers, parents, or (God forbid) civil servants. There should be a place where you can immediatly “recycle” supplements like these.

  • peteb

    Keith

    Doonesbury is back next week.. by popular demand

  • alexander bowman

    Why doesn’t it surprise me that Keith M fails to find Doonesbury “amusing?”

    I’ve “been off somewhere or maybe just too high” so I’m not quite up to date on this, but is there any truth in the rumours that the more, shall we say, progressive commentators on the paper such as the excellent Seamus Milne and Larry Eliot are to be reined back, if not purged?

    Seeing that soigneed twerp Rusbridger on Andrew Marr’s new Sunday morning show if this proves true it wouldn’t surprise me in the least.

    Removing Doonesbury with its consistent, at once excoriating and hilarious, satire on the U.S. would be of a piece with that. Glad to see they’ve retreated on that one.

  • Denny Boy

    Here’s an email I sent to the Guardian yesterday:

    “Congratulations to all on the new look. Very daring. After two minutes I was over the strangeness and completely converted.

    The masthead, though. I do hope you didn’t fork over more than £500 for that. You do realize that an all-lowercase design is about the most ephemeral of all chronic (chronic in the sense of periodically recurring) typographical “innovations”, don’t you?

    Be prepared to change it again within 24 months.”

  • Noing Noing

    True, the masthead looks like it was inspired by an estate agent’s freesheet.

  • Mickhall

    I looked forward to the change with trepidation, but in truth it is not to bad although Imo totally unnecessary, as there was nothing wrong with the way it looked. G2 is hopeless though, if you leave your reading glasses at home do not expect to be able to make out what’s on TV etc. this rush to tabloid the broadsheets is inexplicable to me, im considering going over to the telegraph as they have not yet joined the herd, although I doubt I will.

    I think Rusbridger has been in the chair long enough. he has been a fine editor in his day but the paper seems a bit stale of late. Why is it that columnists all seem to be either under 12 or over 60 and why o why do they all come from a similar class background.

    However having said all this, when I pick up a paper of the quality of the guardian, i always feel I have a little miracle in my hands. it just seems wonderful a thing of such quality is produced day after day, plus you can buy a copy of its international edition in most european cities.

    Regards to all

  • Mick Fealty

    Mick,

    I think the truth is the the broadsheet has run it’s time. The tabloid is too small to carry copy of any length or complexity (though the Independent has really used that well to carve out a new oppositional character).

    My French isn’t good, but I’ve been waiting ten years for the Le Monde style paper in the English language world. Given it’s mainstream rivals have veered off down the tabloid route, the stage is set for a bit of coup in the British media.

    Re the columnists, there’s room to retain the best of them. But as one of NI’s best once told me, no matter how opinionated you are, you can only have so many views on so many issues!

    Too many of them are re-heats or just plain inconsequential.

  • Gum

    Keith, you gotta stick with Doonesbury – it rewards long readership. Might not be your politics, but its been great satire since the Vietnam war, long may it continue!

  • Belfast Dissenter

    Bought a copy of the new look Guardian yesterday too. The Euro-size seems to be the same size abandoned by our own Irish News in March. It looks well, but I’ll stick with the Independent – more innovative and tremendously original front pages – and the tabloid stapled Irish News. Apart from the Dublin evening paper, nobody else seems to publish a stapled newspaper. Great for reading in windy weather!

  • Mel

    I miss many things about Belfast and NI and the UK — and among the most missed is my daily read of the Guardian. News coverage here in US is such that I find it an effort to do more than glance at the NY Times or the Boston Globe (my two dailies). Rarely do I dig as deep in either as I did during my morning reads of the Guardian.

    That said, reading the non-digital on-line Guardian was a bit less attractive — I cannot do the kind of page-turning I do with real hard copy in hand.

    So I am pleased with the redesign not merely because it does seem attractive — but also because I now have a couple of weeks to try out the digital — and to see if I want to invest 15-18USD a month….

  • Mick Fealty

    Good luck with the digital Mel. So much of the paper’s redesign has focused on the aesthetics of reading, I’m not sure that’ll come out in the print out version.

    I’m sorry in a way that the IN gave up on their visionary move to Berliner (or near approximate) size. But the truth is these guys (at the Guardian) have had a fortune to spend on actual design. Which is key if you’re trying to break moulds.

    The IN could never have expected to have that kind of cash at their disposal.

  • Harry Flashman

    In what planetary system could Doonesbury possibly be described as excoriating hilarious satire? Correct me if I’m wrong but to be described as such it would have to come up with challenging new thinking written and presented in a witty and intelligent manner.

    Allow me to summarise Doonesbury; Bush is a moron fronting up a sinister cabal of oilmen who are leading the US in a way that pointy headed liberals and Europeans disapprove of. Wow, far out man! Such cutting edge radical thinking! Jeez the CIA goons will be kicking down the doors soon and smashing their presses.

    These dreary talking points are the staple diet of the Washington Post, Boston Globe, LA Times, NY Times, the mainstream US media, CNN, the BBC, RTE, Guardian, Irish Times and 95% of the European media for generations, just go back to the 1980s and replace Bush in Doonesbury with Reagan and I challenge anyone to notice the difference.

    The Guardian only survives on its jobs supplement where 215 (count ’em) pages advertise hundreds of unionised public service jobsworth careers funded by the taxes of the rest of us in the wealth creating sector, just like the BBC really.

  • darthrumsfeld

    Might I suggest for it’s next relaunch it come in a handy roll format, say four inches wide by 100 feet long? Oh, and make the paper more absorbent

  • micktvd

    “The Guardian only survives on its jobs supplement where 215 (count ’em) pages advertise hundreds of unionised public service jobsworth careers funded by the taxes of the rest of us in the wealth creating sector”

    Harry Flashman, by the ‘wealth creating sector’, do you mean the people who ring me from Calcutta at teatime most nights asking if I want to change my Telco? Or is it the people who make those little plastic dothingys that come with the fruitloops?

    As opposed to that, my ‘sheltered workshop’ job, teaching in a public high school is sheer waste.

  • harry flashman

    Hey Micktvd if the cap fits wear it! Either you contribute to the wealth creation of a society or you leech off it, if you are happy where you fit in then boolay for you, just don’t expect the rest of us to take you seriously.

  • fmk

    here’s something you guys could look into. the irish version of the donut gruan is printed in norn irn. part of the re-launch is all about colour on every single page. but the norn irn printers can only handle 24 pages of colour, half of which are given over to sport, meaning 2/3 of the main paper is still b&w. they’ve also got a problem with the g2. not only can they not staple it, but they have to lose 4 pages. the guys in the gruan don’t seem to think this is much of an issue, they’re still fussing over the size of the masthead, but it’d be interesting to get the story from the printers as to what’s going on.

  • joemomma

    On the subject of the Irish edition, Sheila Fitzsimons, executive editor of the Guardian, posted this comment on the Guardian’s Editors’ Blog yesterday:

    The Portadown print site where we print doesn’t have the capacity to do as much colour as our presses in England as they are not as new. They actually print it as a large tabloid and then hand-fold each individual copy. The only pages that should be missing are the “ents pages” in G2. So i will look into where the others went.

    So it seems we should not hold out too much hope of getting a full colour Guardian!

  • micktvd

    Mr Flashman, for your imputation of parasitism in the non-wealth generating sector you are sentenced to no healthcare, no education, no chilcare, no policing, no midwifery and absolutely no psychological counselling evermore.

  • harry flashman

    Pray tell why would I be denied these things? Are you seriously telling me that only government funded sucklers at the public tit can provide these services? You are putting forward the ludicrous proposal that unless the government organises medical care and education there wouldn’t be any? Really now that’s what you’re saying?

    You’re a teacher right, presumably a good teacher, great, you provide a good service but why must the government be the provider of your service? Why can’t you do it on your own? You know, like all those other providers of essential services, builders, grocers, lawyers, truck drivers, etc etc, what’s so special about you that you have to have a guaranteed index linked unionised civil service job? Break away from your apron strings and join the wealth creating sector, there’s nothing with the exception of defence of the country and keeping the peace that needs to be funded by the government (ok maybe fire fighting though that comes under keeping the peace I think).

    All the greatest art, inventions, institutions, educational advances, medical breakthroughs etc came from the free independent sector, free from the dreary dead hand of the state. Whilst you insist that unless you are funded by the tax payer you will not teach, then you are a leech on my taxes – fund yourself same as the rest of us!

  • harry flashman

    What the blue blazes is wrong with this blasted site? The post doesn’t get posted, the screen hangs and then the damn thing is posted three times.

    Sorry for the triple post.

  • foreign correspondent

    I think that the Independent has gone well down hill since it went tabloid. And Bruce Anderson should be retired to a home for the bewildered.
    However I don´t agree that:

    ´´The tabloid is too small to carry copy of any length or complexity´´

    Not necessarily. All the Spanish papers, across the political spectrum, have long been tabloid in format, and yet have no problem carrying such copy.

  • Reader

    harry flashman: All the greatest art, inventions, institutions, educational advances, medical breakthroughs etc came from the free independent sector, free from the dreary dead hand of the state.

    Be fair – it was the state that gave us the atom bomb.

  • Keith M

    I’m afraid I’m going to have to take back my earlier positive comments. For the last two days the Guardian has been unable to cover the previous nights Champions League games. I don’t especially want to read about Tuesday games on Thursday! Also the technology supplement isn’t as meaty as it was and (worst of all the godawful “Society” section (which goes straight into the bin) has got bigger.

    I believe that they are going to waste more of the already smaller G” section by bringing back the unfunny Doonesbury, which I think might be the final straw in pushing me over to the Mail or Independent.

  • micktvd

    Harry Flashman, I’m only going to say one more thing about this topic because I think that the discussion really belongs elsewhere.

    The simple response to your query about the role of the state is that state intervention in many areas is about social justice.

    Health, education, unemployment benefits, childcare , family allowance etc, is the social equivalent of the relationship that exists within my extended family. I do not steal food from my son. I share it with him. I sacrifice income for my parents, as they have for me.Through my taxes I sacrifice income for the less fortunate in society. I expect others to do the same for me. It really is about a conception of human beings that we work best as a society that shares costs and benefits. In spite of many problems with this view, the alternative is too ugly to contemplate.

  • micktvd

    HF, I should say one more thing about government services like public education. There is no real neccessity in my view for a system where the state controls education. This is about any system where people share, cooperate and exchange effort and work for the common benefit of all. Some schools in the independent system do this, but many don’t.