The new-look Observer is getting a bit of a kicking over on the Inside Guardian blog.
But what do people on the internet know anyway?
I rather liked it. And considering that this relaunch was all about cost-cutting, it still felt like a substantial read for £2.
The 60-page news section has been beefed up considerably so serious readers will feel like they are getting more in this department. The chunky Andrew Rawnsley book extract was easily worth the cover price on its own.
The New Review section has also been beefed and includes a new section called Seven Days, which is a homage to what fast-growing news digest magazine The Week does. It’s worked for them and is a cost-effective way to fill six Berliner-size pages mainly with news intelligently aggregated from elsewhere in the media.
By folding much of what was in the now-axed sections into the New Review this also feels like a substantial read, on 56 pages of posher newsprint which is heavier than the main paper. And the return of the TV listings will resolve a major issue for many of The Observer’s lapsed readers.
Much of the features content has been taken out of the Magazine with the result that it now has a much more feminine feel and there was little left to entice me in. But the sport section appears to have escaped without major filleting and in Paul Hayward retains one of the top writers in the business .
Although there are gripes on the Guardian blog about the loss of the horoscopes and the travel section in particular – on the whole editor John Mulholland has done an impressive job of making less seem like more.
When this cost-cutting relaunch was first revealed there were claims from the NUJ that Guardian News and Media was killing the title by stealth and was not committed to its long-term future. The conspiracy theory goes that GNM still wants its heavyweight Saturday edition of The Guardian to be the main weekend offering long-term.
But the flurry of cross-promotional activity which has accompanied this relaunch surely must put that argument to bed.
Mulholland makes a persuasive case for GMG’s long term commitment to the title, and says the Observer’s financial position is now looking a lot healthier, in an in-depth interview which is appearing in the March edition of Press Gazette magazine (only available to subscribers).
He also provides a fascinating account of what it was like to go through the painful process of coming up with a relaunched and redesigned newspaper while his bosses were looking into closing it.
Press Gazette may have played a small part in persuading Guardian Media Group to back away from proposals to close The Observer last year with our Observer SoS campaign. And on the basis of this relaunch I’m glad we did.