The revamped Frontline, the fortnightly from The Hindu group of publications, looks fresh and inviting. But behind the new visage lies the same old spirit of Frontline. With the new look given to Frontline, Dr Mario Garcia's work on the group's publications is complete.
Elaborating on the changes effected, Garcia said, "Regardless of the level of education or intellect, we are all scanners. We, as readers, are getting smarter, more tech savvy, more demanding. The magazine's editors realised that even the magazine's readers, who are among the smartest thinkers of India, are changing."
Gopalkrishna Gandhi, Governor of West Bengal, who has written for the magazine in the past, released the first copy . He said that with the new look, the magazine had found 'oxygen'. The "predecessor was short of design but not of personality", he added and explained that there was a need to "deliver depth without the risk of the reader drowning".
Commenting on the strengths of Frontline, Garcia said, "Good content can sustain a magazine even if it is ugly. But we've seen enough princes and princesses buried looking extremely pretty and beautiful." The challenge was to retain the core values of the magazine, and enhance them to be able to relate to the next generation of readers better, he added.
The new Frontline sports a more colourful look, is easier to navigate, and bears most trademarks of Garcia's work we have seen in the recent past. New typefaces include DIN and MILLER, and the magazine is now bestowed with a cover that will pull the browser.
It was more 'rethinking the publication' than re-design, said Garcia. And N Ram, Editor-in-Chief, agreed and shared some interesting insights.
"Several years ago, Satyajit Ray, a reader of Frontline, said that the magazine looked 'all wrong'. He expressed the intent to re-design the colour and the logo. Somehow that didn't happen. If ever a publication needed a re-design, it was Frontline," he said.
Ram explained that beyond the core functions that journalism needed to accomplish, it needed to be 'accessible, engaging and lively, diverse and varied'. "Some people consider the Frontline heavy. These are all issues that have to be overcome," he added.
The fortnightly, with a circulation of around 65,000 copies, should never be embarrassed by the size of its circulation, said Gandhi, elaborating that 65,000 readers were better than 'a million flippers of a glossy page'. "Let leisure and indoor recreation be the job of others. Let those go into how many 15-year olds are making love," he quipped.
Gandhi cited the example of how the media had covered Budget 2006, especially television. He noted that while everyone harped on the reduced prices of cars and prices of processed foods, not many focused on how much had been allocated to sectors like health, education, and public transport.
In a suggestion to the publishers, he said, "Frontline, you are a dissenter in the larger picture. Let dissent on your dissent be invited to your table." He urged the new Frontline to connect between the two Indias – the urban and the rural – that have emerged, and continue to inform one India of the other.
With the new design, more readers from this India will feel invited to listen.