The future of the newspaper is in magazines, believes Jacek Utko, design director for Bonnier Business Press, which publishes newspapers in eight Central European countries. This is a trend that news organisations should embrace rather than fight, he added, speaking at the 5th Arab Free Press Forum in Tunis.
Print is still a highly relevant medium, Utko said, and publishers are increasingly realizing this as they have been disappointed by tablets as audience- and revenue-generators.
However, the print model at many news organisations - publishing website content the following day and charging for it - does not make sense, Utko claims. It is necessary to offer more than that if you want people to willingly pay for the product.
Newspapers have a lot to learn from magazines, Utko said, starting with how to structure the information they provide. Magazines are small, with abundant spreads: when they deal with a long text, they make it as easy as possible to understand the content.
He called for news organisations to take a more creative approach to presenting news, rather than to be reactive, like "barking dogs."
"Small visual forms rule" in our SMS and Twitter world, he believes, and this should be reflected in print. Breaking up the story into a selection of shorter sections, with bullet points, lists, boxes and graphics is much easier for readers to understand, he said. Studies have shown that this approach leads to better retention of information, while as long tests with no entry points are seldom read to the end.
Newspapers should also pay attention to their front pages, he argued: news websites always look the same but in print you can break the front page template every day, creating magazine- and poster-style pages.
Redesigns work, Utko said, citing multiple papers that have seen circulation increases. However, it is essential to have a good reason for the move based on analysis of the market - strategy must come first, then content, then design.