Socialist London commuters celebrate!
September 9, 2005 8:48 AM   Subscribe

The Guardian Newspaper is changing to a Berliner format. This follows similar moves by both The Independent and The Times. The familiar Guardian masthead is also being revised, with the familiar and much loved sans-serif font being replaced by an entirely new font.
posted by Elpoca (51 comments total)
 
"It's not only about reinterpreting the paper for a particular age, but making the case for what we do and saying it has validity."
Alan Rusbridger, editor


Translation: Paper feedstock is expensive, folks.
posted by Rothko at 8:50 AM on September 9, 2005


Seems a shame to change the typefaces.

(infact, why do I fear change?)

(infact, why do I care, I don't even read newspapers)
posted by 13twelve at 8:57 AM on September 9, 2005


What, no Comic Sans?
posted by fet at 8:58 AM on September 9, 2005


from the last link: With apologies to JF Kennedy, "Sie ist ein Berliner".

German speakers please correct me, but aren't they repeating his mistake, in that he effectively called himself a jelly donut?
posted by Turtles all the way down at 9:01 AM on September 9, 2005


Comic Sans goes into a pub and orders a beer. He waits at the bar for minutes but the barman ignores him. They didn't serve his type in there...
posted by feelinglistless at 9:04 AM on September 9, 2005


Turtles: That's apparently an urban legend.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 9:06 AM on September 9, 2005


Seriously though I'm hoping it will be a more accessible paper, with a clearer font. I like that it's going to be full colour and G2 is going to have staples and that the sports section is going to have its own section which can be more easily binned. We'll see how many of these developments stick or develop. As changing shape it's having a complete make-over rather than the rush job perpetrated by some of the other broadsheets. I love that this is happening on the same day that I'm starting university, new newspaper, new life.
posted by feelinglistless at 9:12 AM on September 9, 2005


I'm by nature vigilant about sniffing out urban legends and this is the first reference I've seen identifying the jelly donut story as one--thanks for correcting me monju!
posted by Turtles all the way down at 9:13 AM on September 9, 2005


That's apparently an urban legend.

The urban legend seems to be that Kennedy was supposedly greeted with laughter, which anyone who has seen the news reels knows is not true. The Wikipedia articles seems to acknowledge that the proper syntax dictates that that the article "ein" be left out, but that most people understood the context and realized what Kennedy was trying to convey.
posted by deanc at 9:26 AM on September 9, 2005


This is what most newspapers will look like in the not-so-distant future. The 50-inch web has become the standard with only a few holdouts with the older broad sheet. The tabloid format IMO forces better design, better use of visuals and offers a size most readers want.

Mario Garcia seems to be the master at the moment of converting broadsheets to tabloids. He came very close to pulling it off at the Miami Herald a few years ago.
posted by photoslob at 9:33 AM on September 9, 2005


The smaller design makes a lot of sense from the perspective of those who read the paper in, say, a crowded subway car or bus. As for full color, well, it's a bit of a gimmick, but in an age where even the WSJ has embraced it it seems like a gimmick which is more or less expected of every newspaper.
posted by clevershark at 9:44 AM on September 9, 2005


Broadsheet is such a crummy and unwieldy format. This is a good move.

Also, the flag is not the masthead.
posted by sklero at 9:48 AM on September 9, 2005


I've got to say, I was pretty shocked when I saw this [PDF] mock up of Monday's front page. Not sure I like the masthead, for starters, and the fonts look a little funny, though that's probably more to do with the fact that they're fonts for print, not for the web.

I fear change, and I've been reading the Grauniad for nearly 20 years – I remember when they brought in the current design back in 1988, and comparing today's front page with its first iteration, 17 years ago, very little has changed at all. This, though, is a radical overhaul (as I'm sure the last one was for people who had been reading the paper for two decades); it'll be interesting to see what it looks and feels like in my hands.

One thought, though, which I was pondering in the newsagent's this morning: if it's going to be roughly mid-point between the size of a broadsheet and a tabloid, they're fucked when it comes to display, unless it comes folded in half, because no newsagent's stands in this country are going to be the right size for it.
posted by Len at 9:59 AM on September 9, 2005


Turtles: That's apparently an urban legend.

The wikipedia link doesn't say that it's an urban legend as to what Kennedy said or that it means what it is alleged to mean in terms of confectionery. What they suggest is an urban legend (as I understand it from the site) is that people laughed at him at the time.
posted by biffa at 10:02 AM on September 9, 2005


Broadsheet is such a crummy and unwieldy format. This is a good move.

I can't help but regard the tabloid format as trashy and low rent. Now, mind you, sometimes I want to read something trashy and low rent, but there's a time and a place for everything.

Broadsheet lends itself to informative banner headlines. Tabloid format gives us "Headless Body in Topless Bar" in 72-point font with "New York's Best Hotdogs? Page 32!" in the corner inset.

Ok, so the Guardian's new format isn't quite that bad, but that flag font... oh, the pain, the pain!
posted by deanc at 10:02 AM on September 9, 2005


The Wikipedia articles seems to acknowledge that the proper syntax dictates that that the article "ein" be left out, but that most people understood the context and realized what Kennedy was trying to convey.

Exactly deanmc. German might me a difficult, unforgiving language, but most Germans are not. Moreover, 30 years after the fact the literal statement is interpreted by German speakers in the spirit as Kennedy intended. Technically wrong, but the meaning is perfectly clear.
posted by three blind mice at 10:04 AM on September 9, 2005


might me be

Good thing English isn't as unforgiving as German.
posted by three blind mice at 10:06 AM on September 9, 2005


Le Monde, the French quality paper that adopted the Berliner format five years ago, is now seeking an outside investor to stem big losses amid a circulation decline in the same period to 381,000 from 393,000.

the Times of London editor who took the blue-blooded paper to a tabloid format this fall after 219 years of broadsheet publication. The newspaper calls its new size "compact" rather than "tabloid" in a bid to ensure readers that the quality won't decline.

In London, The Times's circulation rose immediately when it moves to the tabloid format by nearly 10%, from the same period last year, and 40% of readers are now in the 25- to 44-year-old, high-income demographic, compared with 34% for the former broadsheet version.

The U.K.'s Independent newspaper, which went all-tabloid last year, saw a 9% circulation boost and has seen a large increase in both upscale and women readership, helping to revive a newspaper whose circulation stood at 413,000 in 1990 but had slumped to just 225,000 by 2003 (source to data)

So it is difficult to see how the Berliner format could save The Guardian from its circulation decline (2.3% last year).

I believe the real solution is to kill the paper edition all together and move to an-all digital format.
posted by dov at 10:25 AM on September 9, 2005


dov: a decline in sales of 12,000 over 5 years is tiny, and certainly wouldn't lead to massive losses; is there anything else that's contributing?

I believe the real solution is to kill the paper edition all together and move to an-all digital format.
It might well happen; Grauniad editor Alan Rusbridger was on Channel 4 news last night, and said something along the lines of "well, when your website wins international awards even though it's up against the NYT, the Washington Post etc. etc., and you give it to people for free, you can't complain too much that your paper isn't selling as well." Video (.wmv, unfortunately) here.
posted by Len at 10:34 AM on September 9, 2005


Wow. I really like the mock-up. I think it's probably true that the broadsheet format has had it's day. I expect all remaining broadsheets to move to either the berlinner or tabloid format by the end of the decade.

I started reading the Guardian in about 1989, just after the last redesign. At the time, it was practically unique among British newspapers in that it didn't have the sport on the back pages. (I think that must have changed in the early to min 90s.)

I'm looking forward to the change.
posted by salmacis at 10:36 AM on September 9, 2005


About time. Reading broadsheets is a pain in the ass.
posted by Artw at 10:51 AM on September 9, 2005


Urgh. The new font is awful, particularly the pale blue "the".

They're also changing the Observer (their sunday paper) to the same format, which is a shame. Sunday papers are supposed to be unweildy, goddamnit!
posted by Blue Stone at 11:00 AM on September 9, 2005


dov, I'm not quite sure what you're arguing. Two of your examples saw an increase in circulation following their changes. Why might the same not apply to the Guardian? Are you suggesting that their growth will impede the Guardian's potential growth?
posted by Elpoca at 11:02 AM on September 9, 2005


Hey, as long as they keep the mipsrints.

the proper syntax dictates that that the article "ein" be left out


Wrong:
Linguist Jürgen Eichhoff, writing in the academic journal Monatshefte, confirms there was no flub on Kennedy's part. "'Ich bin ein Berliner' is not only correct," he says, "but the one and only correct way of expressing in German what the President intended to say."
posted by languagehat at 11:03 AM on September 9, 2005


30 years after the fact the literal statement is interpreted by German speakers in the spirit as Kennedy intended. Technically wrong, but the meaning is perfectly clear.

Ahh...just like "One small step for man; one giant leap for mankind".
posted by Turtles all the way down at 11:11 AM on September 9, 2005


As an Independent reader I loved the move to the Berliner format a while back. Easier to read over breakfast or on the tube etc. And loving the new typefaces. A good move from The Grauniad I say.
posted by brautigan at 11:22 AM on September 9, 2005


I hope the new Guardian works but an early preview on Channel 4 suggests I'm going to be sorely disappointed. A few points:
1. The style looks more magazine-like. I'm dreading an Independent/The Guardian's Weekend magazine crossover that will fail to mean anything to me.
2. Simon Jenkins is joining the Guardian. It was bad enough with David Aaronovitch but Jenkins? This is a whingeing London-obsessed Ken Livingstone-slagging Tory whose stories in the Evening Standard (the right wing Daily Mail cousin) makes my blood boil. He should not be in the Guardian.
3. Thursday's Life pullout is no more. Rusbridger decided to absorb it into a daily page on the main paper, i.e., can it. I just don't understand this. Whenever the Guardian do something decent they screw it up. Friday's Editor pullout was also 'absorbed' a few years ago and it went awol immediately. Life will follow the same pattern.
posted by movilla at 11:33 AM on September 9, 2005


As an Independent reader I loved the move to the Berliner format a while back.

Erm. Except the Independent isn't in the Berliner format; it's a standard sized tabloid, as is the new Times (and the Scotsman, since some time last summer). The Berliner format is different: about halfway between broadsheet and tabloid.
posted by Len at 11:34 AM on September 9, 2005


On preview:

Movilla: Christ! Simon Jenkins? What are they doing? The man's an oaf. (Even more so than Aaronovitch, who has yet to eat his metaphorical hat, like he claimed he would, over the existence/lack thereof of WMD.)

As for the Weekend magazine, it long ago – bar the odd great feature – became unreadable ...
posted by Len at 11:38 AM on September 9, 2005


I don't fear change, I like most of the mockup, and I've been looking forward to the format change for a while...

but I wish they hadn't changed the logo.
posted by reklaw at 11:49 AM on September 9, 2005


Given his input on the matter, I bow to the authority of languagehat. (somebody should submit a correction to Wikipedia, btw)
posted by deanc at 11:54 AM on September 9, 2005


This just means that my father-in-law will get even more old newspapers into the small space he has left.

Yay.
posted by Katemonkey at 12:10 PM on September 9, 2005


dov, I'm not quite sure what you're arguing. Two of your examples saw an increase in circulation following their changes

Elpoca, I probably didn't explain myself clearly enough (English is not my mother tongue): two of the examples that saw an increase changed to the Tabloid format. The paper that moved to the Berliner format, Le Monde, saw a decline. My claim is the Berliner is a poor compromise.

dov: a decline in sales of 12,000 over 5 years is tiny, and certainly wouldn't lead to massive losses; is there anything else that's contributing?

Len -- point taken. The main contribution to their losses was that their newspaper is boring. Still, they thought the Berliner will turn out to be some kind of magic potion, and it wasn't.

My main point is Print Is Dead. The Guardian has an excellent website, and it is the future of the newspaper.
posted by dov at 12:25 PM on September 9, 2005


Well, newspaper printing is surely fading, but it's not dead. What is really changing is the business model. Free daily tabloid-sized papers distributed at tube stations and airports and such are a booming business. The American newspaper industry has tried hard to ignore that they even exist. The UK broadsheets tried that, too, and finally either went tab size themselves or launched their own freebies to compete with Metro and their ilk. Still, paid-circulation general interest newspapers are a sick business and there's no cure.

Meanwhile, one of the greatest English-language newspapers is kicking ass as a printed subscription product. The Economist somehow keeps selling more magazines every year. (They call themselves a newspaper.) And it's expensive ... no $12 giveaways like that perfurmed corpse-porn catalog called Vanity Fair.

I would pay for a weekly Guardian like that. Would be nice to read a clean little mag or glossy tab that didn't fall apart in a breeze or require two airplane seats to open it all the way. The web version of the Guardian is great for so many reasons -- simplicity, no registration, links tend to stay in place for years, etc. -- but I never really read it, I just go to certain articles linked on blogs or mf or fark or whatever. It's always nice to sit in a pub and read the whole thing on paper. Will be even nicer when it's not always falling apart.
posted by kenlayne at 1:16 PM on September 9, 2005


If you had a problem viewing the PDF -- newsdesigner.com also has the mockup and a close up of the new fonts --- Guardian Egyptian Text and Guardian Agate Sans.

From a story on Mark Porter, the Guardian's creative director, about the font designers, "Schwartz is American but has worked in Europe; his colleague Paul Barnes is British, but has worked in the States. Porter hoped they could unite the "quirky, sparky, aggressive-looking" elements of continental typefaces with the dignity of American fonts."

Now that's a poem title, "The Dignity of American Fonts."
posted by ?! at 2:05 PM on September 9, 2005


Channel 4 has an excellent video report on this on their website.

I've heard before that the Guardian and Observer lose £1 million a week between them.
posted by tapeguy at 2:55 PM on September 9, 2005


That new font is a disaster, and I write as someone who's won graphic design awards. Agate Sans is fine. Egyptian Text -- not a newspaper font, not a print font for anything longer than a paragraph. It'd be fine for picture captions. Body-text... ick.

I used to work with one of the designers who developed the new design. He was a cock.
posted by Hogshead at 3:17 PM on September 9, 2005


Ahh...just like "One small step for man; one giant leap for mankind".

Except that from what I've read, that was caused by a overly sensitive noise canceling microphone. He still insists he said "for a man" which makes a lot more sense, but that the microphone's circuitry clipped the "a."
posted by fixedgear at 4:02 PM on September 9, 2005


Kenlayne hits the nail on the head. Printed newspapers will always exist until the last pub has closed its doors.
posted by Sparx at 4:08 PM on September 9, 2005


Yeah, I can't see the PDF, but looking at the .jpg the headline font is terrible, too thin, could almost be Courier, aaagh, ugly.
posted by Joeforking at 4:13 PM on September 9, 2005


At least they can't 'berliner-ise' the Observer. Such a move would send out a serious 'fuck off' message to a lot of devout readers.
posted by movilla at 5:24 PM on September 9, 2005


At least they can't 'berliner-ise' the Observer.

I wish: in early 2006 our sister paper, the Observer, will move to the Berliner format.

I agree with Blue Stone. What fun is a Sunday paper that you can't spread all over the kitchen table or living-room floor?
posted by Vidiot at 11:04 PM on September 9, 2005


I don't know that Life will be killed by moving it to a daily page in the main paper. There are meant to be a great many more featurish and thought-out pages in the Berliner, which would suit Life. You can get 1600 words and an illustration onto a single Berliner page (I know; I've written them) and that's a decent sized newspaper story.
posted by alloneword at 12:52 AM on September 10, 2005


I am delighted to discover I am NOT alone in my loathing for the broadsheet format.
posted by Goofyy at 2:21 AM on September 10, 2005


I am ambivalent about this move. The Guardian opened up my eyes to alternative views of the world from the Murdoch stranglehold that had dominated before then (my parents read the Times and the NoW when I was a teen). I associate the font, the front page and all the other sections with developing my social conscience. I know that the politics of the new paper are unlikely to change but I really liked the look of the old paper.

I am going to have to go and buy two copies today. One to read and one for posterity. Having said that if it attracts more people and makes them pick up the Gruniad rather than the Daily Mail (People outside the UK you have no idea how sick this newspaper is, typical headline 'Windfarms lead to immigrants and AIDS') then it's a good thing.


I am still pissed about when the Editor got shunted from an insert into a half page. It was one of the best sections ever to appear in any paper.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 3:13 AM on September 10, 2005


On the one hand I really liked the current format so I hate this. On the other hand I read an actual hard copy of the world's best newspaper (oh yes it is) maybe half a dozen times a year, on the infrequent occasions when I get back to Blighty. The rest of the time it's a daily visit to Guardian Online. So I guess I can't really complain. I'll check it out next time I'm in London and complain then, no doubt.
posted by Decani at 7:00 AM on September 10, 2005


I bought today's (last ever broadsheet) Guardian so was able to get my hands on the 4 page preview supplement. First impressions are that the actual paper is very white and feels different (unless this sample is not what will be used on Monday). It feels awfully like a color photocopier print-out from a website. With the 'old' Guardian you could fold it in quarter and tuck it under your arm but the new style will be too thick to do that. Holding the paper feels different too. I can't put my finger on why though.

At the back of today's Guardian the full page had only 2 words. The End. I'm going to miss it.
posted by movilla at 11:24 AM on September 10, 2005


First impressions: Not so keen, think I would have preferred it to have gone tabloid, feels fiddly and don't like the font, my eyes weren't being caught by anything other than main headlines.

Where is Doonesbury?

Liked the big picture in the centre pages, would be happy if that stayed a permanent feature.

ClanvidHorse: I too would welcome the return of some of the Editor features, not just the digested read.

movilla: folded in half easily enough this morning, and that's with Sport and Media sections.
posted by biffa at 5:43 AM on September 12, 2005


biffa, just so you know someone read your comment...

I liked it. It's easy to resist change, especially when the old layout was so familiar. The new layout will take some getting used to, but I'm sure that in a matter of months, it will be the old version that seems odd. I too liked the centre photograph, and I hope that's a regular feature.
posted by salmacis at 11:08 AM on September 12, 2005


Lots of comments and (lack of) Doonesbury strip on http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/editors/
posted by movilla at 2:38 PM on September 12, 2005


Cheers, salmacis. But day two and still don't feel like any but biggest headlines stand out enough to be eyecatching, it's like my eyes are slipping over the paper without being caught. Difficult to know how used to it i will get, I suppose with daily use I'll put up with it but then what's the alternative? I suppose I'm not the target market they're aiming to capture/recapture, ie not at the margins between shifting permanently from Guardian to elsewhere, not about to buy Times or Telegraph and think Indy generally dull, what else is there available on a daily basis?

movilla: ta for that, couldn't believe it was considered as dropped, what were they thinking?
posted by biffa at 10:15 AM on September 13, 2005


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