Berliner: it's poor from front to back

From: Jim Anderson Subject: Guardian redesign Why is everyone being so damned polite about the Berliner Guardian?

Where
aren’t the reports echoing the fury of so many of its readers, that
their favourite paper has overnight turned into a something as inviting
to read as the Nursing Times? Every regular Guardian reader that I know
has been appalled by the new format.

Why? First things first: the
Guardian no longer fits the standard cat litter tray. The broadsheet,
folded, was a perfect fit. The Berliner, folded, is hopeless and when
used full size, flows over the edges of the tray.

Second, it is almost impossible to read. The text columns are too wide.

Did
Alan Rusbridger take a dummy copy on a rattling train or bus? I doubt
it. Time and again the eye either reads the same line twice or jumps a
line.

That is when the reader has actually stopped to read the
text, which, for me anyway, is rare as the layouts don’t actually
invite one to stop and read.

Most pages have soft pastel
pictures, all very pretty, but surrounded by a grey mass of text with
virtually nothing inviting the eye into a story. The headline face is
the dreary same, story after story, page after page.

Newspaper
design is no longer the task of newspapermen or women, but of graphic
artists who have largely never worked as a reporter or sub, who rarely
read the newspaper they work on, let alone any of their rivals.

(When was the last time you saw an art department bod arrive for work with a newspaper in his or her hand?).

Do
they ever think: “How can I persuade readers to stop and read this
page?” I doubt it. The artists I complain to simply laugh and tell me
that this is what people want and that I’m a grumpy old fart. I agree
to the latter only.

The letters page used to be the best in Fleet
Street. The grey Berliner size has lost its sparkle, and the
correspondents have lost their humour. Have you laughed out loud at a
Berliner letter? No, I haven’t either. The comment pages ditto. It is a
well-known fact that star writers who switch papers often lose their
touch. Rusbridger must be desperate for Simon Jenkins to get into his
stride properly, and looking with envy at the Daily Mail where Paul
Hayward has survived the journey from Canary Wharf and is now two or
three times more readable than when he was at The Daily Telegraph.

As
for G2, I am astonished that Ian Katz, the editor, has not resigned in
protest at the massacre of his tabloid section of old. Ditto, Review.
Italic headlines… the artists are taking the piss, surely?

What
about the Berliner on the newsstands too? It’s folded, so readers
cannot see more than a third of the front page picture. And why are the
puffs above the ghastly masthead invariably written over soft pastel
colours. Don’t they want to attract casual readers?

I confess
that the 1988 Guardian redesign only grew on me. But I didn’t dislike
it half as much as I hate the Berliner. I cannot see myself ever coming
to like it. Nor will the cat.

Jim Anderson Sunday Telegraph

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