The Society for Newspaper Design has named Portugal’s “i” newspaper as the world’s best-designed newspaper.
To understand why, click on SND for an in-depth look at a typical issue.
The best-designed American newspaper (of which I am aware) is USA Today. It was a pioneer in the presentation of graphic information; it showed that there were other ways to communicate besides just words and traditional newspaper photographs. Al Neuharth, CEO of Gannett Co. Inc., launched it in 1982, when U.S. newspapers were already on the decline and there was considerable doubt inside and outside the company that a new national daily newspaper could be successful. Although many journalists sneered at “McPaper” when it first came out, it has had a big influence on American newspaper design and news presentation.
Personally I liked the design of the pre-Murdoch Wall Street Journal, with its completely predictable six-column layout, two in-depth articles about some significant aspect of business, politics or society, a delightful light feature, roundups of business news and general news, and a column of brief notes on a special topic. It didn’t have the pizzazz of USA Today, but I knew where to find what I was looking for, and there was nothing to distract me from the content of the article.
USA Today and the old Wall Street Journal were each excellent newspapers in their own way. USA Today over three decades has grown steadily better, while I fear the Wall Street Journal’s best days are behind it.
While newspaper circulation is on the decline, the example of Portugal’s “i” shows that it is possible to reinvent the old and make it new again.