Jacek Utko argues that there is no convincing reason why newspapers should survive - but that good design might be able to transform them into something more successful. In addition to numerous awards, Utko's fearless use of white space, bold color, and dramatic imagery has won significant increases in readership (up to 100%) for several Eastern European newspapers.
A real newspaper redesign involves more than changing the layout. The layout is essential, but by no means the only element. First we define the goal, later the necessary content-changes, and only then do we get to design. Because design is a mirror of the content and strategy.
View the video of his TED talk, including many examples of his work, below the fold.
You neglect to address the issue you mentioned in passing - these are eastern European newspapers. It occurs to me that, having lived under dour communist rule for so long, these newspapers may have been even more boring than western newspapers, and now that they're emulating western styles more, perhaps people are taking a look.
But this doesn't mean that these newspapers too, once the internet fully penetrates these eastern nations, won't start to suffer just as western newspapers have done.
It's going to take something far more attractive than a flash or two of color to truly resurrect them.
With Eastern European newspapers he certainly was starting with dull, ugly papers, but the pages he showed are better than I've ever seen in the US. They looked good, looked like magazine pages but spread over four times the area and so avoiding the cramped look of the glossy mags.
I agree. Our papers in the U.S. are nowhere near as cluttered as the old examples he presented. Our magazine racks however are a cacophony of visual noise!
I'd rather our newspapers focus on content and see a more dignified end (if that be their fate). It seems like all designers could do now is apply the mortuary make up before the wake.
Erg, that sounds so depressing.
"It seems like all designers could do now is apply the mortuary make up before the wake. Erg, that sounds so depressing."
Depressing, but apt!
Shiny mags selling houses, wedding gowns and glitz will survive because they don't deal with news - they are visual objects, not information platforms. Where senses matter, not intellect. But they will not be "newspapers" any more. Print, yes, but not "news".