Kelner: my plans for the Indy

By Dominic Ponsford

A year after it switched to fully tabloid format, The Independent
will next week unveil a top-to-bottom redesign aimed at pleasing its
“strap-hanging” readers.

Most bold has been the decision to drop much of the sport from the
back page – instead using the space to provide a digest of what is in
the paper.

This leaves the front page free to be a “blank
document”, as editor Simon Kelner puts it, which “we can do whatever we
want with”.

The number of columns per page has been increased
from six to seven, giving an increased story count. The masthead has
been changed and features will be merged with the main run of news
stories.

The redesign is the result of three months of market
research and was carried out by Barcelona-based consultancy Cases &
Associates.

It is the consultancy’s first English-speaking
newspaper design and Kelner admitted that the new paper has a European
feel as a result.

The relaunch comes ahead of The Guardian’s planned switch to a European style mid-size Berliner format in 2006.

Kelner
said: “One of the things that came out of the research was resistance
to multisection daily papers – that came out very forcibly. When we
turned compact the need for a tabloid section pulling out of the main
paper became redundant. Instead we’ve put everything together in one 88
to 104-page package.”

But while the daily tabloid second section
has been dropped, the daily specialist pullouts remain (media,
motoring, property, education, arts and books).

Tuesday’s relaunch is being backed up by £1 million of advertising.

Kelner
said the design brief was to make the paper “fresher, more modern but
recognisably The Independent”, and has been aimed at appealing to
commuters in metropolitan areas who he said like the “convenience and
modern feel of the paper”.

Since The Independent first brought
out a tabloid version, in September 2003, and then went went full
tabloid a year ago, circulation has gone up by 20.6 per cent from
218,567 to 263,595.

Kelner said the new look Independent will continue in its evolution towards being a “viewspaper”.

He
said: “News will always be the backbone of a newspaper – but the
X-factor which will make people choose your newspaper over another is
the way it adds to their understanding of what’s going on in the world
and gives them a depth of opinion, comment and analysis that other
media don’t have.”

The
new-look back page, with digests of the contents of the rest of the
paper, as well as sport, is designed to appeal to “straphanging” commuters.

Kelner said: “What the people from Barcelona have been teaching us is the thing they call the science of reading.

They
say in a tabloid newspaper the front and back page are almost read
together and the back page can be treated like a second front page.”

Overall, Kelner said, the redesign is intended to make the paper more “logical and coherent”.

He
said: “The news pages in a quality compact can be a bit relentless –
The Times is finding that, that’s why it has brought its comment
forward as a breaker. I believe comment should come after our news
coverage, but we are trying to alleviate the tunnel effect of going
through the news pages.”

Thanks to improvements at Trinity
Mirror, which prints The Independent on a contract basis, the new paper
will have 50 per cent more colour.

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