Journalism has many subtle pleasures, and one is sitting at your desk reading newspapers while convincing yourself that you're hard at work. Today sees a double dose of that as we avidly deconstruct the new-look Guardian (or theguardian, as it appears to have become). Layouts, fonts and double page spreads are discussed, colour printing is examined, size is, well, sized up. There is serious talk of kerning.
But where is Doonesbury? There is none. It has been dropped.
A fearsome mistake by the Guardian's Ian Katz, which one in four people who gave the paper feedback on the redesign are keen to point out. The focus for this unrest is the editorial blog the paper is running, where hundreds of posts pile in to excoriate the decision. I must admit now that two of those posts were by me – only one under my own name, with the other being the product of one of my more belligerent sock puppets. I feel mildly guilty about this, but the temptation was too strong, the stakes too high to resist the deception. My misgivings are eased when a news story about the kerfuffle uses two quotes from two different blog posters, both of whom are me. It was still wrong, and I apologise, but darn it if it didn't work.
But the rest of the paper is much improved. It feels revitalised, it is graphically excellent and as Andrew Brown says in his blog the colour throughout should be a huge draw for advertisers. With the Guardian and the Observer between them losing a million pounds a week – sister titles like AutoTrader bring in the dosh — this is an important factor. Curiously, the online side hasn't been redesigned at all and keeps many aspects of the old paper – evidence perhaps that the paper's management still see the Web side of things as secondary, despite its huge success. You can't do everything at once, though.