on reading the newspaper

guardianI guess I’m of an era. I read a newspaper. In fact I’ve got one on subscription and if I haven’t bought one all day I’ll still go along to the newsagent at 10pm and pick one up. I just like to read a newspaper.

Of course it isn’t just any newspaper. It’s the Guardian. I’ve been a devotee since the 80s when I lived in Switzerland and had to make do with the Guardian Weekly and the occasional daily paper when I was close to a main railway station or passing through an airport. I read it because it reflects my values and it’s got some super columnists which I especially enjoy reading. And perhaps it’s also important that The Guardian is not an establishment paper like the Telegraph and the Times. It stands alone, it’s got a bit of attitude. I like that.

My routine these days is to walk to the village in the morning and buy croissants for breakfast and to pick up my newspaper. I then eat the former and read the latter at the kitchen table. Then just last week my routine was shattered (well, not quite) when the Guardian moved from Berliner to tabloid and restructured itself at the same time. How would my routine cope.

With the Berliner, I liked that format because it fitted my briefcase easily, my breakfast reading routine was easy. First the sports section, then the main section from the back and finally G2. Nothing too complicated but the new structure isn’t so simple.

Today’s Guardian comes as just one package so to some extent it’s like reading an old fashioned newspaper: I start at the back to read the sport first. Then it’s Media, Arts and Social depending on the day. I tend to go through that more quickly before hitting Financial which I spend a little more time on.

That’s when I get to the centre where I find the Journal nestling. I take it out, enjoy the centre spread, and then start the Journal, from the back again. This is the meaty part of the paper and this morning it gave me a comprehensive briefing on digital currencies after which I quickly scanned the obituaries and then hit the centre again. This time I find G2 which I lift out and put to one side because one advantage of the new format is a double page spread of letters. After letters I continue towards the front where I get a full 4 pages of editorial and opinion. That’s a good chew over breakfast.

When I’m done with the Journal I go through G2, but from the front this time, before returning to the main paper and finishing off the front section, again from the front.

So: a changed format and a changed routine. Does it matter? Is it worth it?

I liked the Berliner because it was different but the tabloid has one distinct advantage. Because I read a newspaper flat on a table, and at breakfast it’s spread out beyond croissants and coffee, it’s good that the top of the paper isn’t too far away. Certainly I couldn’t read a broadsheet that way and even the Berliner was a bit of a struggle. The tabloid is just right.

In addition to the change of format and the change of structure there’s been a redesign. It’s not bad but at present I’m still mourning the loss of the old blue logo with the italic ‘the’. Actually it’s not italic. When did that change? That must have been the last logo but one. I find the new logo a little stark.

But what hasn’t changed is the content. Same old, and young, columnists. Same left of centre value set. Same breadth of coverage. It’s still my paper.

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