Independent revamp puts focus on European coverage

Indy: dummies reveal more modern feel

Smaller headlines, bigger story count, more colour, a tabloid Review section and an agenda which makes Europe a priority – The Independent is bent on change.

From next Tuesday, readers will see a total revamp of the paper – the first since editor Simon Kelner took over four years ago. He has decided it is time to tempt more buyers with a structural and policy shake-up that will enable the paper to have a new Europe page of news, politics and features, coverage of European events and places, and which will add new features and extend favourites.

Stuck with a 32-page main section under its print contract, The Independent now has a judicious flat plan, a change of headline type to Augustea and a 15 per cent higher story count which has given Kelner room to shift the leader, comment, obituaries and letters to the first section without up-paging.

But it could mean the loss of a page or two of sport over the week. Kelner said he had "calmed" the design, which he felt was too crude, to create a newspaper with a more modern and more European feel.

Meanwhile, the broadsheet Review becomes a 28-page tabloid home for features, columns, the arts and three pages of listings, and explodes into colour. There will be new families, science and nature sections, and media and law will have more pages.

Kelner brushes aside comments that this will make The Independent just like Guardian 2 and Times 2.

"The colour, the structure and the design gives it a very different texture and flavour. When we did the broadsheet Review, it was right for the time. Tastes have moved on and I think there is a greater reader-friendliness to the tabloid Review which will help us greatly."

Kelner took his department heads away for a think-tank day in Hertfordshire in January and found an enthusiastic response to his ideas. The team did a series of dummies, testing them with potential and current readers, and got "an incredibly positive reaction", he said.

But he stressed The Independent has not given up on being a national newspaper. "We are very much a national British newspaper but one that is more interested in Europe, has a more defined line on Europe and reflects our readers growing interest in Europe as a social, cultural and political force."

The Independent has John Lichfield (Paris), Stephen Cassell (Brussels), Frances Kennedy (Italy) and Liz Nash (Spain) feeding continental copy, together with a network of stringers. Kelner is mulling over coverage for Germany after the departure of Imre Karacs.

The Review section will be edited by Laurence Earle, promoted to executive editor (features) from features editor, while the Magazine’s editor Lisa Markwell becomes features editor. Former Review editor Richard Askwith has been made associate editor with a roving role. The design has been done in-house by art director Kevin Bayliss and designer Matt Straker.

 

By Jean Morgan

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