I was one of three speakers at St Brides last night as part of YCN Live. John Brown has a longstanding relationship with YCN from their early days and it was good to extend that further with a quick tour of some of our projects and a look at the changing relationship between art directors and editors.
The other two speakers were Mark Porter from The Guardian, who has spoken many times about his redesign of the newspaper but has added an insightful overview of his later re-launch of their website. While Mark has made the most of the current online environment in terms of simple, clean content provision, he made a very clear point by looking back at how broadsheet newspapers all looked pretty much identical up to the late eighties. Strip off their logos, and it was heard to identify which front page was The Times, The Independent, The Telegraph or The Guardian. Strip off the logos from the websites available from the same titles today and you have the same problem – which site is whose? As one of the more significant players in online news, the Guardian site is moving into audio and video creation in preparation for future technical developments. But perhaps the most striking part of his presentation was the graphic depiction of the fall in serious (ie non-redtop tabloid) newspaper sales. Mark’s redesign temporarily halted the slide but even The Guardian is suffering a gradual decline now, the exception, as for all newspapers, being the Saturday edition. A future where the daily news fix is only available online, with a more relaxed and magazine-like weekly print edition was the unsaid solution.
Richard Spencer Powell spoke next about how Tyler Brulé’s proposed magazine The Edit came to be Monocle. Interestingly for those obsessed by the detail of these things, Brulé left his previous title Wallpaper* at Time Warner with a no-competition clause which meant he couldn’t launch a new magazine for a period – I think Richard said five years. This explains how the Monocle team were able to take a slow build up and then suddenly launch.
I won’t run through the much-documented ins and outs of Monocle again other than to add that hearing Richard talk about his project – it’s clearly as much his as Brulé’s – was fascinating. It remains a conundrum to me how a magazine created by people with such obvious passion and love for what they do, and an almost obsessive attention to detail across every element of the project, end up producing a finished publication that is ultimately rather cold.