A short love letter to print and the new Guardian…


I LIKED the mini-me version of The Guardian and borrowed a library copy to show my Monday morning students. It’s fair to say they weren’t impressed.

This was dispiriting to an old man of print. The paper’s editor-in-chief, Katharine Viner, has done a great job in relaunching her newspaper. It looks familiar and modern at the same time, and much crisper than the broadsheet. Neat lines and some beautifully designed features/comments pages; what’s not to like?

Everything, if you’re the wrong age. The problem doesn’t lie with what Viner and her team have done: it’s just that young people aren’t interested in newspapers – even those who study journalism.

They keep up with the news on their phones or rely on Twitter, or pop over to the BBC website. They can still express opinions well. In an exercise on iPhone filming yesterday, they rose to the challenge of Trump insisting that he isn’t a racist with sharply put views to the contrary.

But the new edition of The Guardian only produced a shrug. They just weren’t that into it: not down to how it looked, but because it was only a newspaper – virtually a museum exhibit.

Printed words on rustling paper are still the best to some of us, a hardy band of inky-fingered readers who like to hold something in their hands. Maybe we’re a dying breed and print will expire with us. Then again, print has had its obituary written many times, and still staggers on.

Habits do change, even for those of us with worn-out typewriter ribbons for souls. My print consumption is as follows: The Guardian on a Saturday and The Observer on a Sunday, with occasional copies of the Yorkshire Post at the weekend, too. The rest of the time, I go digital and wear out my eyes a little bit more; and probably the ribbon on that typewriter soul, too.

The other nationals had fun with The Guardian’s new look yesterday. The Daily Telegraph stood on its brogue-clad toes to look down on the shrunken rival, beneath a blurb written across a tablet of blue stone, saying: “Britain’s biggest & best quality paper”, with “size does matter” tucked away in brackets.

The Sun offered a playground shove for a welcome, snarking that its up-market rival cost £1.50 more. A barbed little leader said: “From one tabloid to another, here is our suggestion for them to turn around their failing fortunes: actually report some exclusive, rip-roaring stories… We know that is an alien concept to them, but it might help them flog a copy, or two.”

A matter of taste, but I’d say The Guardian contains acres more journalism every day than The Sun.

It’s easy to admire the work that goes into producing The Sun or the Daily Mirror – but, somehow, not so easy to read them, or not for me. Everything is too short and bitty, even though my attention span is short and bitty too, worn away by messing around on my mobile when I should be reading a newspaper.

But I do like The Guardian’s new look and, you know, it might even tempt me to drink more often from the inkwell.

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