It seems to be the season for magazine re-designs. The Atlantic recently underwent a very successful (and colourful) redesign, and now we have one of the best newsweeklies undergoing a similar face-lift. I’ve been reading the magazine religiously since October 2002, when I was living in Kumamoto, Japan, and wanted something in English to keep up on the news and general current affairs (I am equally fond and loyal to TIME magazine for the same reasons) – it would later become my go-to publication for information and updates on the War in Iraq.*
This new design for the magazine has both good and bad elements. First, and most importantly, it’s not always clear what’s an article. They now appear almost identical to those annoying “Special Advertising Sections” that Newsweek runs from time to time – usually about the economic developments of an African or South American nation. This effect is largely down to the abolition of the familiar red bar at the top/bottom of every page of journalistic content. (Now they have more varied bars.) The new font is not as good, either – it’s more squat and rounder than the previous one.
The opening sections of the magazine are, on the whole, better. It’s less messy, and much more visually pleasing (what used to be the “Perspectives” section is now the “Scope” section, which includes sub-sections like the “InternationaList”), even if there are bigger empty spaces. What does work in the new design is the three-column approach, an improvement on the previous two-column, which for some strange reason both looks better and reads easier.
Moving beyond the actual design, the content of this issue is pretty good. Couple of good articles about President Obama, but also an interesting article about George W. Bush’s post-presidential life.
On the whole, the magazine looks cleaner and crisper, perhaps a little more modern. But I shall reserve my judgment until I’ve read a few more issues, to see if it’s really as good.
* Incidentally, since I was relying on weeklies, and not getting daily updates, I found the shift from Afghanistan to Iraq wholly suspect and irregular. So at least there is some benefit to not being a news junkie – a benefit I have since lost…