Get the gray out of America’s newspapers
Though it may not be fair to judge the problems of American newspaper publishers strictly by their covers, you can’t help but wonder how much their weary- and retro-looking products are contributing to their faltering readership and advertiser support.
The shutout last year of U.S. papers on the World's Best Designed list wasn’t a fluke. Since 2000, only three U.S. titles have won the annual competition conducted by the international association of news designers.
American publications have been outclassed in recent years by papers like “i” in Portugal, Der Freitag in Germany, Azkia in Russia and Rzeczpospolita in Poland.
It wasn’t always so. As you can see from the table at left, several U.S. papers each year collected top design honors in the late 1990s. When papers like the Jackson Hole News, Spokane Spokesman, Detroit News and The (Columbia, SC) State snared top honors in 1995, they shared the podium with 11 international publications. The full historical list of winners is here.
In the last decade, only three U.S. papers made the list: The New York Times (2009), Hartford Courant (2000 and 2004) and the San Jose Mercury-News (2001). The bankruptcy of the owners of both the Courant and the Mercury-News subsequently have forced sharp reductions in their news staffs and news holes. This may explain why we haven’t heard from them lately.
In the inspiring video embedded below, Jacek Utko, a designer who has won numerous awards for revamping papers in Eastern Europe, makes the compelling case for how a well designed paper can improve both content and circulation.
If you care anything about healthy newspapers, please take a few minutes to watch it.