Jacek Utko, a newspaper designer, talks about how the industry may be saved through strong designs, using his redesigns of Eastern European papers as an example. Although he says it was not the design alone that improved the paper, it was an enhancement of the entire product that did. Circulation increased 29% in Russia, 35% in Poland, and an incredible 100% in Bulgaria he said.
Utko talked about his initial frustrations with newspaper designing and how Cirque du Soleil inspired him because he saw how they took "a creepy, rundown form of entertainment and turned it into the highest level possible of performance." This is when he realized that newspapers could do the same.
They started experimenting with type, photos and graphics until they started getting results. "I wanted to make posters not newspapers, posters" said Utko in relation to adding artistic value to papers. He said what became important was to create a uniform design throughout the paper, not only making an attractive front page. Utko may have a point considering the growth they have seen, but is this just temporary and is it applicable to papers outside of Eastern Europe?
A Chilean regional newspaper El Mercurio de Antofagasta redesigned recently, modernizing the look and escaping the antiquated format.
In his blog, GarcíaMedia, Dr. Mario R. Garcia wrote that "In this case, and rightly so, the formula was to bring a sense of the contemporary for a regional newspaper that was visually stuck in the past," emphasizing the point that there's nothing revolutionary about the new look, but it's an example of updating for the readers. The key idea, said Garcia, is making it easier for readers to find the content, because then they'll want to read it.
"How this may change the fortunes of the newspaper, or attract new readers, is left for time to tell," said Garcia, but so far the response has been positive. Designer Javier Devilat said, "Readers appreciate the use of white space, the easier navigation and are even claiming that the quality of the paper used to print the newspaper is better, cleaner, even though it was not changed at all."
As both Garcia and Utko point out with their examples, redesigning a paper is more than changing the design, it is rethinking the entire product. According to both, a redesign could be the answer to a paper's circulation problems.