“In the long run, I think there is no practical reason for newspapers to survive,” — Jacek Utko, Polish newspaper designer
Are newspapers doomed for a fate similar to that of the automobile industry? John Kerry proposed a government bailout to save the sinking ship of print media in April. But throwing money at a product that consumers no longer have an interest in would only prolong the pain. Perhaps the only real solution is to make papers, well, prettier.
Consumers today are accustomed to looking at web pages. Internet news is more appealing than print because it is cheaper, more accessible and more aesthetically pleasing. So, the more print news can mimic online news the longer it can prolong its not-so-certain demise.
However, cost and accessibility are really out of the hands of the newspapers. (Although a smaller, more mobile paper format such as a tabloid would lend itself to better accessibility). So what is left for the newspapers to control? Design.
Design is one of those tools that is too often overlooked by the jaded journalists of old. After all, it is content that matters. But if a product doesn’t say “pick me up” at first glance then readers will never get to the content. The truth is, content, or text, is ugly. The challenge is to make it prettier.
Luckily for designers, readers today have shorter attention spans and require much more visual stimulation to be engaged. As a result, many newspapers are trading in their old, traditional six-column design for a look that more closely resembles a web page. Some are opting for a more poster-like design with one large, dominant art element. And still others are moving toward a more magazine inspired design dominated by reefers and jumps and complete with an index.
But regardless of what new format a newspaper follows, one thing is for certain — change is needed. Unfortunately, adherence to tradition is a favorite of the newspaper industry. In the end, it may be stubbornness, not decreasing readership, that leads to its demise.
OLD DESIGN NEW DESIGN