It was Kath Viner’s fantasy flatplan, presented at a Guardian think-tank, for the sort of dream magazine she would like to turn the paper’s Weekend section into – but never thought would materialise.
Yet tomorrow, the editor’s vision becomes a reality as Weekend is transformed into a weighty, 112-page glossy magazine, with 60 editorial pages.
The run-of-print Weekend’s normal average was 39.
It will be part of a new Guardian Saturday package which sees The Editor move from Friday and Space fold into Weekend to merge with Living.
Admittedly, the size of the magazine will be smaller, yet Viner and her newly enlarged team – 24 instead of 17 – are going to be able to pack in between three and five 3,000 to 6,000 word features where before there were between two and four.
And, while keeping most of Weekend’s features and columnists together with its string of big name contract writers, the magazine will have more of everything. Its editorial budget has been doubled. The new Weekend will start back-to-front – the last section, now called Back, will appear, expanded to seven pages, including a contents page and columnists Julie Burchill and Alexander Chancellor, at the beginning. Viner, who lists Cosmopolitan and The Sunday Times Magazine on her CV, wanted an "easier way into the magazine" than the current "now you must launch into 5,000 words and we won’t let you off until you’ve done it".
"I feel that on Saturday we need to give our readers more of a treat. How- ever much fun we have had with content, it has still been a bit
austere and forbidding. Now, there will be all that content and glamour besides."
Viner put her ideas to editor Alan Rusbridger in November and got the go-ahead two months ago. The new format, designed by Mark Porter, head of The Guardian’s creative department, has been planned alongside producing the old Weekend. The new section is on a two-week production cycle, the old, one-week, under production editor and chief sub Billy Mann. Viner and her deputy Helen Oldfield have been sending 12 pages a day to new gravure printers in Scarborough. The deadline has been brought back seven hours.
There will be several "firsts" – The New Black, a beauty page by Hannah Pool for black women; a Guardian Pets section; well-being and fitness;
property coverage nationwide instead of London-only.
Vertically signposted, the magazine divides after features into "Spirit" sections – fashion, beauty, wellbeing, relationships and pets, while Space combines the best of Living and the stand-alone Space.
Zo’ Williams, Zo’ Ball, Mil Millington and Naomi Klein are all new columnists, plus there is a well-known writer sheltering under a pseudonym, who will write about people she has slept with (there are enough already for a year).
By Jean Morgan