The Guardian gets $145m make-over

The Guardian newspaper, one of the UK national dailies, finally unveiled its new mid-size format today. As part of an estimated $145m overhaul according to BBC estimates, the paper has resized to a format between tabloid and broadsheet, common in Europe, known as the Berliner. The makeover also includes the introduction of color onto every page.

This revamp has been a long time in the making. The Times and The Independent went tabloid back in 2003. At the time, the Guardian editor, Alan Rusbridger was less than enthusiastic about a similar move by his paper due to the populist impact it might have on the paper’s journalistic approach. Now, bowing to waning circulation, the Guardian has followed the pack, but with a twist in the Berliner format:

“The challenge for us was to remain true to our journalism, now attracting a record worldwide audience online, while at the same time finding a modern print format for a new generation of readers in this country.

”We believe we’ve found it with the Berliner format, which combines the portability of a tabloid with the sensibility of a broadsheet.“

The paper has also designed a new masthead and selected a new typeface (Guardian Egyptian) as part of the the overhaul, which required Guardian Newspapers to buy three German printing presses to produce the new size.

Torin Douglas, the BBC’s Media Correspondent, offers some insight into the challenge of the resize. He points out that since The Guardian is so strong in public sector and media advertising, to go to a traditional tabloid size would have created a book-sized tome of 250 pages on some days. Hardly the commuter’s dream. Douglas concludes:

Having lagged behind its rivals in the past two years, and lost far too many sales for comfort, the Guardian has now given them a good deal to worry about.

The question now is whether it can translate its new look into new readers.

The UK Press Gazette has more on the story including an indication of a move towards the political middle ground for the left-wing paper. Perhaps this too will win more readers. Circulation in August 2005 was 341,698 – we’ll see.

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