In the following interview, Janisch, who has worked as a newspaper designer and consultant for more than 25 years, discusses how Tageblatt remade itself into a premium product that is now more like a daily magazine.
A founder of the German branch of the Society for News Design (SND), Janisch served as SND International Director for more than 10 years. Last year, he was honoured by SND with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
On 7 October, at our World Printers Forum conference in Hamburg, Germany, which takes place alongside World Publishing Expo, Janisch will offer a full case study on his work with Tageblatt, but here he gives us an insight to how the project developed, what the response has been like since the launch as well as some design advice to publishers.
WAN-IFRA: You’ve recently redesigned the Luxembourg daily newspaper Tageblatt, giving it a new structure and focussing on new ways of storytelling for a daily newspaper. How did the decision to go with this come about?
Janisch: We were asking ourselves, ‘How can a printed paper compete nowadays?’ Surely not with delivering the news in a sectioned format, which worked for many years but feels old-fashioned in the age of mobile news. To compete, a newspaper has to go deep into a story, show different aspects and views. Give a complete overview.
To do this, the whole first section of Tageblatt is now what we call our ‘premium-product.’ The most interesting stories and topics are presented in this part of the paper. We give room for longer texts, show great images and help the reader with a variety of alternative story forms to navigate this section.
When did the new design launch, and how long was the full process from the time you got involved?
The redesign launched at the end of last year. It took us almost a full year to get there, including a major redesign of the newsroom and the editorial workflow. Several training sessions were necessary to prepare editors, designers and photographers for this major change.
What has the response been like from readers and advertisers since the relaunch?
We expected two things: the older readers will have some problems to adjust, and the younger readers will love the new format. Both expectations came true. The new magazine-like premium product is very popular with the younger target-group. And the critique from older readers stopped after a couple of days, once people realised the advantages of the new format with its longer stories and in-depth reporting.
We also introduced several new formats to combine ads with editorial content, which were well received by the advertisers.
What are some ways, through design, that publishers can help keep their print products lively and vibrant without necessarily going through a complete redesign? What are some things they should be thinking about in this regard?
Nowadays design is nothing without content. You have to think how to present the stories in a way that makes your product different from the overall news-flow. A redesign that is simply focussed on design will fail. But design that brings along new story formats, alternative ways to navigate and explore a topic, is a tool to success.
Identify what parts of your newspaper the reader really loves, then enhance them beyond their old structures. Use a variety of reporting and design tools to make this information as lively and changing as possible. There is nothing more boring then looking at the same structured newspaper and information every day.
To see 25 more pages from Janisch’s redesign of Tageblatt (as well as links to many of his other projects), click here.