Paper tigers - Issue 8 - Magazine | Monocle

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Dr Mario Garcia

Newspaper doctor & CEO, García Media

We are not talking about newspapers any more, but news brands that deliver great stories across all platforms: from the moment the news happens until the paper the next day.

Readers know that when they pick up their paper the news is dated, so they need background, they need a digest. Being a newspaper doctor used to be about redesigning layouts on paper; now it’s about rethinking a whole process. We are not interior designers telling people to change the curtains any more – more often I tell them to change the house!

Reading a newspaper should be like the aim of a workout – to nourish you and make you feel better. There’s nothing worse than quitting halfway through. We need to make papers people can finish.

To be a newspaper doctor you need to employ Freudian psychology and tons of patience to deal with a variety of people – many of them have no clue what they are talking about. One must listen. One must advise. One must pick battles carefully.

Having said that, I am always an optimist, and I believe in five or 10 years papers will return as iconic brands, as a badge of identity, as a rock in the middle of an avalanche of free information.

Dr Mario Garcia has been a newspaper guru for 37 years, involved in over 540 redesigns in 81 countries. He describes his work on the “Wall Street Journal” and Germany’s “Die Zeit” as his “Sistine Chapel”.

Richard Addis

Founder, Shakeup Media

The annals of annihilation are a notorious dossier of delusion. If we believed them, men, redheads, career women, polar bears, handwriting and God would all be extinct by now. I believe that predicting the death of newspapers is just as misguided.

Papers are still the most efficient rapid information-absorption machine, with their sweeps of graphics, colours, photos and typography easily outpacing TV, net and radio. They’re portable identities: even if they don’t read a word, people still feel good carrying the right paper under their arm. And at their best, they’re beautiful. Take typographical design: people may not care that the “T” in a paper’s masthead took five years to perfect but they do respond emotionally to the aesthetic.

Print is still the world’s biggest advertising medium; newspaper ad revenues have been up every year for the past four years, global circulation was up nearly five per cent last year, and from Monrovia, where a one-man newsroom operates by writing stories on a street corner blackboard, to Singapore, where the The Straits Times is now feeding increasingly off its citizens’ stories and photos, newspapers are doing amazing things. The net isn’t destroying newspapers; it’s changing them for the better.

Richard Addis is a former editor of the “Daily Express” (UK) and the “Globe and Mail” (Canada) and more recently editor of the “FT Weekend”. He is an editorial and design consultant.

Papers in facts

Newspaper death? What newspaper death?

Newspapers represent a $180bn (€127bn) global industry.

Over 550 million people globally buy one every day.

More than US$6bn (€4.2bn) has been invested in newspaper technology in the past 18 months.

Newspapers employ almost two million people globally.

Newspapers are the world’s second-largest advertising medium, with almost a 30 per cent share, exceeding the total spend of radio, outdoor, cinema, magazines and the internet. Combined with magazines, print is the world’s largest advertising medium, with a 42 per cent share.

At least 1.6 billion people read a newspaper every day – a figure that has grown by 5 per cent over the past five years.

Global newspaper circulation is up almost 10 per cent over the past five years.

There has been an explosion in the number of new titles, and now a record 11,000 daily papers are produced worldwide.

The papers getting it right:



“Less text, more information” was the principle behind the 2006 redesign of the Portuguese weekly. “We wanted to cut the fat out, make it leaner,” explains the editor, Henrique Monteiro. “We had the professional audience but we wanted to attract younger people.”

Pairing up with Javier Errea from media consultants Innovation, Monteiro made the switch from broadsheet to colour Berliner format. Mário Feliciano, a Portuguese typographer, delivered fonts inspired by 18th-century Iberian text. Bullet points, fact boxes and small Q&As now sit next to more white space to help readers digest the big stories.

As a result, 25-34-year-olds have replaced 45-54-year-olds as the core demographic. Female readers are up from 42 to 48 per cent, while circulation has risen 9 per cent in the past year to 130,000.

Sankei Express


Sankei Express launched last November into the second-largest newspaper market in the world (behind China). In a country of 127m people, 70m newspapers are sold daily. The top-selling Yomiuri Shimbun shifts almost 14m copies a day, although the newsstand is largely irrelevant as 94.3 per cent of its sales are by subscription delivery.

With a 70,000 print run, Sankei Express is starting small to reach its ideal subscriber base of urban-living 20-to-30-year-olds, skewing 60 per cent male.

While half the editorial is specially commissioned, the rest is taken from other Sankei titles, and the stories are written left to right rather than the usual top to bottom to mirror young readers’ experience of foreign media and the web.

Sankei’s creatives also signed up singer and actor Kimura Takuya to woo young, media-savvy readers.



Launched in September by Mediapro, this 50-cent, 64-page colour tabloid costs half the price of its paid-for rivals. Promotions have helped ensure Público is sold out by mid-morning in many parts of Spain, as the newspaper’s owners, Mediapro, try to steal readers from El País and El Mundo and freesheets Qué! and ADN.

The left-leaning daily boasts more features, infographics and bigger pictures that focus on arts, science and sports, targeting young, urban professionals who began reading daily newspapers through freesheets, as well as trying to poach older readers who already buy a morning paper.

Mediapro is a major shareholder in television channel La Sexta and linked to the WPP Group, and Público marks a stepping up of its battle with Spain’s biggest media group, Prisa.

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