All posts filed under: Newspapers

Bowie tribute issues – how the quality press covered his death

Above: The Guardian front page 12.1.16. Design by Guardian Design. Photo by Lord Snowden 1978 Notebook: 18 January | NEWSPAPERS The news of David Bowie’s death broke a week ago at about 7am on Monday 11 January 2016. This gave the newspapers a good 12 hours to prepare special tribute issues which hit the streets the following morning. Soon after the Monday morning announcement, the full weight of the newspapers’ editorial teams – journalists, picture researchers and designers – would have swung into action to produce their special editions – and by the end of the day they were ready to press the button and see their specials come rolling off the presses. This is where printed newspapers can excel against digital – it would be impossible to provide a reader with a souvenir edition with an online version alone. Many of the papers ran with full front page tribute pictures of Bowie and all other news was relegated to the inside pages. Understandably it’s not often that a newspaper will do this but when they do, and if their picture is …

Remembering Peter Sullivan

Notebook 17 January 2016 | NEWSPAPERS | INFOGRAPHICS I’ve been helping with some teaching on the excellent Design for Publishing course at Norwich University of the Arts (NUA). The students have been set a project by Gordon Beckett, the Design Editor of The Sunday Times, that requires them to redesign pages of The Sunday Times print and digital editions. It’s made me think back to those glory years of The Sunday Times in the late 60s, 70s and 80s when the paper (and magazine) was renowned for its investigative journalism, great photography and strong design, under the editorship of Harold Evans. A highlight for me each week were the brilliant infographics drawn by the illustrator and graphic designer, Peter Sullivan. His drawings would explain the sequence of events in a major news story and would really help to bring that story to life – such as how the passengers and crew were rescued from the Zeebrugge ferry disaster in 1987 (above) and how the Chilean president Augusto Pinochet survived an ambush and assassination attempt in 1986 (below). Peter Sullivan died in 1996. You …

The Sun isn’t shining

Notebook: 26 November 2015 | NEWSPAPERS | DIGITAL Five weeks ago I reviewed the design of all the national newspaper websites (see link here). I’m back to take a quick look at The Sun which, in order to boost its readership, has now completely removed its paywall and is free to use (like all other newspaper websites apart from The Times). I’m glad to see that they now have a menu bar in place, but between now and early October when I last visited the site, they’ve tinkered with what was a surprisingly good looking design and the result, for me, is a disappointment. There are four issues that jump out at me: The letter spacing on all the headlines is too gappy (see above). You can just about get away with it on the smaller headlines because it becomes less evident, but on the large headlines, the letters look as though they’re drifting apart. It’s a quick fix – just track them a bit tighter – and this will increase the character count at the same time and will make it easier for the sub to …

Newspaper website design 2

Notebook: 18 October 2015 | DIGITAL Part two: The Daily Mail | The Daily Express | The Daily Mirror | The Sun Here’s the second of my two-part review into the design of newspaper websites. Yesterday I looked at the The Times, The Telegraph, The Guardian and The Independent. Today I’m taking a look at the online offerings from the ‘tabloid’ press. Once again I’ve pushed my political views and prejudices to one side. My judging criteria was simple – the site had to look attractive and it had to be an enjoyable user experience – quick to load and redraw, easy to navigate and good on the eye with well crafted typography and bold, lively imagery.  And I set myself a simple test: how easy was it to find a match report on the Pakistan v England Test match. For a bit of fun I’ve awarded marks out of 10. Here’s the results… (These reviews were done on Sunday 18 October between 7 and 9am using an iPad 2. I have yet to look and see how these websites appear on a smart phone) The Daily Mail’s Mail Online According to Wikipedia, Mail Online is the most …

Newspaper website design 1

Notebook: 17 October 2015 | DIGITAL Part one: The Times | The Telegraph | The Guardian | The Independent With newspaper print sales continuing to fall, the quality of their publishers’ online offerings are more important than ever. Here’s the first of my two-part review into which is the best designed newspaper website. My judging criteria was simple – it had to look attractive and it had to be an enjoyable user experience. I was looking for a site that was quick to load and redraw, easy to navigate and good on the eye with well crafted typography and bold, lively imagery. I made a note of the time it took to load up the front page for each site (The reviews were done on Saturday 17 October between 7 and 8am using an iPad 2. I live in the middle of the countryside so my connection isn’t great…). And I set myself a simple test: how easy was it to find a report on the on-going day’s play of the Pakistan v England test match. For a bit of fun I’ve awarded marks out of 10. Here’s …

It’s an ‘i weekend’

Notebook: Saturday 26 September 2015 | NEWSPAPER DESIGN The ‘i’ newspaper has been with us for nearly five years now. Its cheap price and funky format (aimed at people who didn’t have much time to read a newspaper) proved popular and they were soon selling more papers than their sister title, The Independent. Six months after launch they brought out a Saturday edition and today they’ve enhanced their Saturday offering with the introduction of i weekend – another 20 or so pages stuffed into the middle with bite-sized articles on culture, food, travel, TV, health and fitness, technology, homes and gardens, and motoring. It uses a blobby, more relaxed sans-serif headline font (as apposed to the harder slab-serif in the main part of the paper) and this, together with it’s own distinctive colour scheme of pale yellow, green and dark grey, helps set it apart from the rest of the newspaper. The ‘i’ has always used colour well with a subtle, unobtrusive palette that helps the reader navigate their way through the paper – pink for the Business section, blue for Opinion and …

Campaign magazine and the mysterious Mr Schenk

Notebook: 16 September 2015, with updates in December 2016 and May 2017 Long before the days of the internet and graphic design mags, if you wanted a career as a graphic designer, then the place to go to view the job ads, used to be Campaign magazine. Campaign is of course, the weekly trade magazine for the advertising industry but back in the 70s it was stuffed full of jobs for designers as well as for advertising execs. It was, and still is, a great looking publication with a sharp design that has changed little during its 47 year lifetime and the fact that its design has stood the test of time so well, is testament to the creative skills of its designer – the mysterious and enigmatic Roland Schenk. Schenk was a Swiss typographer who had worked with the legendary German art director Willy Fleckhaus on Twen magazine (see footnote below). When the publisher Haymarket bought the stuffy trade paper World’s Press News in 1968 and re launched it as the snazzy Campaign, they called upon Roland Schenk …

The Grid – gone but not forgotten

Notebook: 5 September 2015 No, we’re not talking about the modular system used for the design and production of magazines and newspapers, but The Grid, an award-winning, free, weekly newspaper for Toronto, Canada that folded just over a year ago. In its short lifetime (2011-2014) The Grid won huge amounts of praise for the high quality of its design and journalism. It was voted one of the World’s best designed newspapers three years on the trot by the Society for News Design (SND) and it was awarded a D&AD yellow pencil in 2014. But good design and editorial wasn’t enough to save this great weekly publication, aimed at Toronto’s younger residents and families – it was unable to generate sufficient advertising revenue despite its strong and loyal following. We’ve only seen pictures of The Grid and would love to get hold of a copy or two, to really appreciate its good looks. Here are a couple of layouts, and if you go to the Cover Junkie website you’ll find that there’s a whole gallery devoted to its bold, colourful and clever covers.  

Mirror’s design stands out amongst other red-tops

Notebook: 25 August 2015 Let’s face it, the design of the ‘red-top’ newspapers (Daily Mirror, The Sun and Daily Star) isn’t good – they’re old fashioned looking and a bit of an assault on the eyes. Given that their circulations continue to fall each year because the younger generation simply don’t read newspapers anymore, isn’t it worth them at least trying to slow down their decline in sales by improving the designs of their publications? In fairness to the Daily Mirror, they did have a bit of a design tweak two years ago and if you scratch the surface you can see a designer’s hand at work – the Mirror does look fresher. The Sun has changed little in 16 years – I’ve just dug out an old solar eclipse copy from 1999 and apart from lots more colour, the 2015 edition looks pretty much identical. There’s still the same tired sans-serif headline font (Futura Bold Condensed?) shouting at you in CAPS and still the same clumsy typographic detailing such as underlining and drop shadows on headlines and worst of all, the …

‘Libération’ redesign

Notebook: 15 June 2015 Wandering the streets of Paris in the early 1980s, I remember passing a news vendor’s stand and a copy of Libération, the left leaning tabloid newspaper jumped out at me with it’s strong visual identity. I bought a copy and enjoyed looking at the bold and well crafted design on the train back to Calais although I couldn’t make much sense of it even with my ‘O’ level French. Now I see on magCulture that it’s just had a redesign and from what I can make out it still looks as good as it ever did. The designers have commissioned Production Type, a Paris based digital typeface foundry to design a set of rather tasty new sans fonts across a complete range of weights and widths with a big ‘x’ height and very short descenders and ascenders. The condensed version has a feel of the 1960’s font Compacta about it and the expanded version has a definite ‘French’ character to it. Take a look at the new design in the magCulture article here. UPDATE 26 August: The Society for News Design (SND) have recently published an interview with Libération’s designer, Javier Errea, on the redesign. You can read it here and see some more …