The Globe and Mail's Redesign Is Awful! No, It's Great!

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The Globe and Mail‘s Redesign Is Awful! No, It’s Great!

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The Globe and Mail‘s much-criticized and much-boasted-about new design is here. Online, it arrived on Thursday night, and in print, Friday morning. Within a few hours, consensus on the Globe‘s new face in print was already clear, country-wide: it’s the best/worst, and the paper’s brave/foolish move will save/doom print media forever.
Below, Torontoist’s Emily Shepard (a fan) and Suzannah Showler (a detractor) slug it out.

EMILY SHEPARD LOVES IT
5… 4… 3… 2… 1… REDESIGN! Like anyone who knows how to use the internet, I was worried. Why remodel your home when it’s built on a slowly crumbling cliff?
But when I set eyes on the front page, I felt like a proud parent. The new look is more mature; the Globe has grown up and lost its baby fat. The front page has dropped some of its faddish antics and settled into something more tasteful and appealing.
As a design layperson, I’m going with my gut. The colours are classy and centre on a crushed blue and a softer red. The fonts they picked are particularly pretty and make me feel comfortable. The horizontal dotted dividing lines are just different enough to prove that the Globe is doing something new. The spacing is measured and attractive (except for a strange break on page A10 after a pull quote).
Not everything is perfect. A text-heavy teaser dominates the space above the banner, and is by far the most annoying part of the front page. (Plus, I don’t really trust the old-guard Globe to know how to dress this space on a daily basis.)
The Life section tries too hard—the crammed teaser text, all-white paper stock, and “inside” sidebar are remnants of the Globe‘s need to be noticed. Of all the sections to pander to my short attention span, I can tolerate a little excess in my Life.
Flipping happily through the pages, I stopped in panic. Who hijacked the editorials? Something isn’t right in the Comment section—the editorials column has been grafted onto the rest of the page. I don’t want to read it. It looks like one of those sneaky advertisements imitating the paper’s actual content to trick me into reading a piece of advertainment.
Even though I am impressed by the redesign, I wish the Globe would shut up about it. The Globe is insecure about its new clothes; the redesign is “daring,” “elegant and compact,” and does not “seek to prolong the past, but burns to invent the future.” Best of all, “it’s about so much more than design.” No, this is only about design. This is not a pro-print revolution, and I doubt if more people are going to buy a hard copy of the Globe after today’s blitz.
So I’m opting to ignore the hype, ignore the cost, and ignore the “state-of-the art German printing presses” that brought us this brave new look. I’m sitting down with a coffee to stare at an attractive newspaper and throw out a few compliments. If the Globe is a sinking ship, they may as well go down in style.

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SUZANNAH SHOWLER HATES IT
After much build up, the Globe and Mail‘s redesign hit newsstands this morning, and with a rallying cry from the paper’s Editor-in-Chief calling on Canadians to seize the future for their own, the Globe has recast itself as a news source on the vanguard. The only problem: the redesign is awful.
I should confess that I’m a layperson, a civilian, a plebe in the world of design. I know that this has been three years in the making, and I know that the Globe got its hands on some fancy, high-tech German printers and some extra-special paper, and I’m sure that it’s all a very big deal in ways that I can’t understand. But as a reader, this new take on the newspaper is really not doing it for me.
The glossy, extra-white front page is flashier and more fragmented—the eye jumps around, looking for something to light on. With lots of white space and very little written content, it’s a page that begs to be scanned and skimmed. It looks, frankly, a lot like a web page. The oscillation between the glossy pages and the more familiar, light grey newsprint is yet another distraction. I have a newspaper subscription specifically in order to avoid the harried visuals of the internet. This new look seems to assume a deficit of attention in its readership.
The Globe Life section, which has already spent a couple of years on a steady decline towards embarrassing, has sealed the deal with its new all-glossy-all-the-time, supplement-ish feel. You know those ads that are laid out like news but more awkward and cheaper-looking? That’s sort of what the Life section looks like now.
Don’t get me wrong: I don’t want to be a hater. I grew up in a house with a Globe and Mail subscription, and in the years since striking out on my own, living in apartments whose conditions have run the gamut from general squalor to downright infested, I have always had the Globe and Mail there as a civilizing anchor—a reminder to eat breakfast, to pay attention to the world, to be an adult.
But I’m considering cancelling my subscription in light of this redesign. I don’t mean to get melodramatic, but the Globe has reduced the space between the web and print to the point where even I—someone who puts a high premium on reading things in a tangible form—may be capable of making the leap across the divide.
I do like one thing about it: it’s smaller. It fits my hands better.

Photos and intro by David Topping/Torontoist.
The Globe and Mail is partners with Torontoist, though it’s not like they let us do stuff like redesign their paper for them.

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