The Hindu in a new look hit the stands on Thursday. Design guru Dr. Mario Garcia has redesigned the daily. According to him it was a huge challenge because of The Hindu's history of 126 years.
The process of re-designing was set in motion as early as 1994, and the current re-designing activity was started off eight months ago, N Murali, Joint Managing Director, The Hindu, told exchange4media.
He said, "This is the most comprehensive redesign in The Hindu's history. Last time, it was done through a journalist-turned-designer called Edwin Taylor in 1998-99, when we went colour."
Murali added that the new design was to make the paper more reader-friendly, giving more play to elements like space and photographs, and aid better navigation, while retaining the classical characteristics. Dr. Garcia's much-acclaimed collaborations with over 450 news organisations across the world include work for The Wall Street Journal. He has previously worked with the Malayala Manorma in India, and more recently with The Week.
Murali said, "We aligned the entire organisation to the process, bringing the edit, marketing and design teams on board. Based on dipsticks on dummies, where we received positive feedback, we decided to go ahead. No real research was undertaken."
The process has been cumbersome, no doubt, but seems to have elicited the right response from Chennai's readers, classified unilaterally by many as 'traditional'.
The changes and the thinking behind the new design elements were explained through an eight-page supplement brought out by the daily, Ön the new look, Deepak Bisani, Director, Textile India, said, "I must say I am very impressed by what I see. Besides great content, The Hindu can now also boast of a contemporary look. It is important that your product is packaged in an exciting manner, and with the new colour scheme and design. The Hindu has done just that."
The Hindu has worked on making itself more contemporary, and these changes include extension of its city supplement 'Metro Plus' to virtually all days of the week except Sundays. With the redesign, the paper has introduced an OP-ED page with analyses, interviews and the like.
Said Murugavel, CEO, Bharat Matrmiony, "There is good relief on the masthead. The Hindu, being looked at as a 'traditional' publication, I think is trying to target the younger audiences. Overall I think it reflects the changing market in Chennai and The Hindu's long-term strategy. On the left hand side on the front page, there used to be the 'In Brief' section, which I missed reading today. I think that section was very useful."
N Murali summed up the Hindu's plans for the road ahead, saying, "The Hindu has always stuck to its core values of journalism, while striving to be contemporary in its offerings be it in terms of technology or design or other elements. We'll keep doing what we're good at doing, without compromising on our core values and strengths."
For the paper's readers in Chennai with friends from out of town, here's a comment they might empathise with: Indu Balachandran, Creative Head, JWT Chennai, said, "I like it. Now I can stop apologising to my friends from out of town for my city's newspaper." And one can't help but agree that the avtar seems to be working already!