The Guardian is dead, long live The Guardian

Today sees the last copy of The Guardian in its Berliner format.


What is about to follow will be known by those that come to this blog post after Monday 15 January 2018, when the new look Guardian is launched. But for now, only the new masthead has been revealed in a video teaser.

The teaser, and its corresponding print campaign, demonstrates some interesting references to John Stezaker covering found photographs with white squares, (and Jonathan Barnbrook’s subsequent ‘borrowing’ of this for David Bowie’s The Next Day), see Field Readings’ post Graphic obscura.


The campaign cleverly suggests that The Guardian will still reserve space for commentary and opinions that tend not to be heard in other areas of the mainstream media, (with maybe the exception of the Channel 4 News). This, I believe, is the result of a sense of responsibility the paper feels to report accurately and critically in the face of an otherwise largely right-wing and conservative media. Its investigative journalism has broken some of the most important and disruptive news stories of the last decade, from Milly Dowler to Panama Papers. In these supposed post-truth times, long may this continue.

Aside from its journalist integrity, the thing that I have always been reassured about with The Guardian is its belief in design. It is, in my opinion, simply the best designed newspaper in the UK. I have read it on and off for over 4 decades since my dad first started buying it in the early 1980s. In that time it has continually worked with some of the best photojournalists, and selected some of the best photography for its print and digital publications. In the last 20 years it has consistently commissioned some of the best contemporary illustrators, and helped support the growing careers of the likes of Noma Bar and Tom Gauld, amongst many others. When in 2005 it moved to the Berliner format and commissioned the design of a bespoke typeface in Guardian Egyptian, the paper proved there was no doubting its dedication to graphic design, and that this underpinned its values as much as did its liberalism and quest to hold the powerful to account. From the editorial board to the design team on the paper, they truly understand the importance of how effective visual language can impact communication.

As new technology progressed and The Guardian found the need to straddle its design principles across different digital platforms as well as in print, they managed this with much success. I have even used its iPhone and iPad apps, alongside its website and print edition, in student-led critiques when I have wanted to demonstrate the value of a consistent visual tone of voice across a brand’s delivery mechanisms.


Over the past few years The Guardian has also proved to be innovative in how it uses graphic design in breaking important stories it has been involved in uncovering. See Field Reading’s coverage of the design of the Panama Papers, for which it quite rightly won a design award. It followed a similar approach in how it visualised the Paradise Papers in 2017, and even managed to render Britain typographically for a special on the triggering of Article 50. It is no wonder that the paper has many admirers for the way it introduces the news that touches their lives.

I have absolute faith that in relaunching as a tabloid The Guardian will be just as well designed as the Berliner version has been for the last 18 years. In this, I also believe that the paper will redefine what tabloid newspapers can be. In fact, it will by definition alter the lexicon of those that bandy the term ‘the tabloids’ around snootily, by joining every other mainstream newspaper in going to the more user-friendly, and ultimately cheaper size. They leave behind them in their dust The Telegraph who still print as a broadsheet.

All power to The Guardian, and I look forward to seeing how the design team at the paper has risen to the challenge of redesigning the publication for the tabloid size when it launches on Monday. May this move keep the presses rolling for a long time to come: theguardian is dead, long live The Guardian.

Published by Nigel Ball

Senior Lecturer in Graphic Design

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