Can Design Save the Newspapers?

Ahmed Farooq sent me this link to a Ted presentation (video) arguing that better design can save print newspapers. It’s very compelling and persuasive and an approach I’d never considered or heard discussed:


Circulation grew post redesigns, seeming to validate the approach. In one sense this is what Apple does: focus on the UX and make it visually compelling.

The presenter, Jacek Utko, drew his inspiration from Cirque du Soleil believe it or not. He goes on to argue that design was just a part of “improving the product completely.” But design was a starting point for that process.

Watch the presentation-video and tell me what you think?


7 Responses to “Can Design Save the Newspapers?”

  1. AhmedF Says:

    I think its pretty compelling 🙂

  2. Ajay Says:

    I’m sure a better buggy design could have saved the horse buggy industry a century ago too! 😉 Print newspapers are dead because the technology is outdated, nothing more. The problem is that you conflate print newspapers with journalism, because the online model has not worked out a monetization scheme to properly support heavy-duty journalism yet. I’ve commented here before that I believe that will change and that micropayments will be the monetization scheme that finally accomplishes that, something even Eric Schmidt seems to have accepted recently:
    Please stop being so backwards-looking and realize that print is dead.

  3. Greg Sterling Says:

    You’re right that there’s no model to support large scale online-only journalism at this point — and it may not arise. Micropayments ain’t it however.

  4. Marina Martin Says:

    I saw that video for the first time last week and it definitely gave me pause. I haven’t subscribed to a newspaper in years. (The last time I did was the Sunday-only Los Angeles Times in 2002). I have a romanticized vision of a newspaper — you know, Sunday morning, birds chirping, sun streaming in the windows, cup of hot coffee — but I can’t imagine ever having the time or inclination to slow down like that in the future.

    However, I still love and subscribe to many magazines. They’re small enough to hold in my hands, and pages don’t fall out. (Come to think of it, newspapers have always been poorly designed.) The design is inspiring me and encourages me to read articles on topics that normally wouldn’t interest me (particularly magazines like Good, Plenty, and Ode). Maybe newspapers need to be more like more-frequent magazines and accept that they are no longer appropriate avenues for breaking news, but rather for explaining news in greater depth.

    Seems like newspapers need to read 🙂

  5. Ajay Says:

    Greg, your flat disavowals of micropayments have no credibility when you made no cogent counter-argument to my earlier arguments that it will be the model that finally funds online journalism:

  6. Greg Sterling Says:

    Depends on how one defines micropayments. But there’s simply no demand for individual pieces of text-based content. In Norway it’s a different story.

  7. Carey Says:

    I agree with you, Greg, it will be very difficult to convince consumers here to buy snippets of text content. If each piece of content is responsible for its own monetization, the economics break down. There may be a resurgence of small subscription fees, but I just don’t see the teaser intro and “pay 10 cents to read the rest” accepted as a good user experience.

    As Rich Barton said last year at Kelsey, “on the Internet, if information should be free, eventually it will be free”

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