The Reading Room

FT: Future Tense

As print circulation of the first world’s newspapers continue their apparently unstoppable freefall, established titles are feeling the heat. As well as looking around for digital diversity opportunities to chase their easily distracted readership, the Financial Times has recently been trying to freshen up the design of its dead tree version.

At a time when the authority of old school newspapers is considered history – supplanted by a rich alternative array of news and views across global social media channels – experiments in paywalls or print redesign can seem like trying to apply a sticking plaster to a stab wound.

However, the FT has been a rare print success story and admiring the FT’s paper “refresh”, Roy Greenslade blogs in The Guardian that: “there will always be a print audience at the upper end of the market. The élite won’t ever desert print entirely.” True, print editions of papers like the FT will be consumed by an increasingly niche audience, just as in this digital age, audiophiles buy 180 gram vinyl today.

So what about the redesign? Well it’s still pink and still a broadsheet. The three main highlights are a new typographic palette: an elegant, old world font that charms at first sight. There is also a new attractive six column grid which replaces the old eight column configuration. But thirdly, and most importantly, the print edition is a now actually a snapshot of the digital edition and not the other way around.

The future for newspapers like the FT? It hasn’t been written yet. When Editor Lionel Barber was recently asked whether he can imagine a day when the FT print edition is no longer around he quickly responded with “not in my lifetime”. Some things just make the world go round.

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