The Independent on Sunday is seeking to reinvent quality Sunday newspaper journalism this weekend by ditching the multisection approach and tailoring its content to readers who may only buy one newspaper a week.
The new strategy from the IoS borrows from the success of news digest magazine The Week and will make it the first Sunday newspaper to attempt to give readers a thorough round-up of the week’s news – in a new 10-page section called News Week.
Most noticeable will be the front page, which will look more like Newsweek or Time magazine than a newspaper. In a dummy seen by Press Gazette, a large image of Tony Blair was used with a small magazine style headline.
The change comes less than two years after the paper’s last big revamp – when it went tabloid in October, 2005. Since then, the circulation benefits of the move have levelled out. In April, the IoS had a headline ABC of 244,809 but a paid-for circulation (excluding bulks) of 207,749 – down 8.24 per cent year on year.
Tristan Davies, who has been editor for six years, told Press Gazette: ‘We’ve designed what we think is a unique package and an alternative to traditional Sunday newspapers – compact, concise and comprehensive. It’s got everything you want in one big newspaper and magazine.
‘We live in the age of information overload, we’ve got news coming at us from every kind of media.”
The straight news section has been cut from 64 pages at the front of the book to 26. But Davies said the new design actually allows for more stories than before.
It makes extensive use of ‘super nibs’– which are intended to be tightly-written stories with links to outside resources, such as websites, for those who want to find out more.
The new design also makes extensive use of graphics, with a new in-house team recruited.
And after the main news section, there is a 10-page News Week section which will provide a round-up of the last seven days and is intended to appeal to readers who may not take a paper during the week.
The revamp follows a round of job cuts at both Independent titles, which Davies said had led to him losing a ‘handful’of staff. But he said the new slimmed down look is not about saving money.
‘We have enough people to produce the kind of newspapers that we want to produce. This isn’t costing us any less to produce, it’s not about cost-cutting.”
The headline size throughout has been reduced and the front-page masthead has been changed to the new dominant colours of the design: red and black.
The new look has been put together by Barcelona-based design firm Cases.
The current Art Books and Culture supplement and the Business and Money section have been incorporated into the New Review magazine and the main paper.
Davies said the new look is aimed not so much at his rivals in the quality market, which he said are all ‘very good papers”, but at ‘a whole tranche of newspaper readers out there who may not be traditional readers of newspapers – but who are still interested in news.”
He said: ‘I don’t expect The Sunday Times to be looking at their declining circulation and thinking: ‘this is really going to hurt us’. This is about bringing new people into the market – a new generation of reader.
‘Some people are getting out of the habit of buying a newspaper every day. This offers them a fresh new choice.”
When asked whether the move to poster magazine style fronts could signal a retreat from finding strong news-based splashes, he said: ‘There’s no retreat from doing news. Marie Woolfe broke the cash for honours story, we’re are the paper that broke the story on Blunkett that brought him down for the second time.
‘We have a Saturday night deadline whereas news magazines are doing stuff three or four days ahead. We have people who can turn around these sorts of magazine fronts very quickly if we have to.
‘The front page of the paper is going to be best story that we’ve got that week. It will be judged on whether the story is good enough.”