Newspaper design must evolve in order to survive

We cancelled our subscription to Design Week a couple of years ago because there was never anything in it of relevance to us magazine and newspaper designers and, quite frankly, it used to look crap. So thank you for your issue of Design Week with its excellent supplement on publishing design (DW 20 April).

Mike Dempsey is a bit of a grumpy old man slagging off The Guardian – who rubbed him up the wrong way? He is showing his age by complaining about visual and textual overload in current newspaper design.

He must understand that, for newspapers to survive in the 21st century against other media, they need to seek inspiration from the look of the Web and from magazine design.

The Guardian is a great-looking newspaper for the 21st century and it sets a standard for others to follow. There are still many, many awful-looking newspapers – especially regional ones – and, if they don’t pull their socks up and learn a trick or two from the best of current Web and magazine design, so that they can appeal to a younger, more sophisticated audience, then they are going to carry on losing more and more sales.

One example of a regional newspaper that is moving with the times is the Norwich Evening News, which was given a bold facelift a year and a half ago.

Like every evening newspaper across the UK, the circulation of the Norwich Evening News had been declining year on year. The publisher took a brave decision to invest time and money in a comprehensive redesign and to employ magazine designers to do this, rather than journalists.

The result is a better, more contemporary-looking paper that appeals to a much broader range of readers. And the decline in sales has been halted as a result.

More features on publishing design, please, and then perhaps we’ll renew our subscription.

Nick Paul, Art director, Archant Dialogue, Norwich, NR1 1RE

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