Ich bin ein Berliner

by Suw on September 12, 2005

So The Guardian launches it's new 'Berliner'-sized and redesigned paper today, and I will freely admit that I love it. I never could figure out how people read The Guardian (or any of the other broadsheets) on the tube – they are so big and clumsy and annoying and the ink comes off on your fingers and makes everything you touch grubby – that 'everything' usually including portions of my face as I brush away a stray hair or scratch an itch. I used to see people doing intricate origami folds with it to get it into a size that's manageable, that won't result in you accidentally thumping the person sitting next to you in the face as you turn pages, but I could never quite figure that out myself.
I always used to end up buying the thing, reading the front page, noting nothing of value on the back page, stuffing it in my bag and promising myself I'd read it later when in fact, deep down, I knew that it'd more likely grace the kitty litter tray in pristine condition than ever be actually read. Sometimes I'd keep them, maybe for months, with the forlorn hope that one day I'd sit and read them. But I never did.
Yet today I did something I've never done before. I bought the Berliner and I read it, cover to cover, on the tube. I have never done that before, and it really was a joy. I actually, for the first time, enjoyed reading a newspaper. How can a simple format change make such a difference?
On thing I do miss, though, is the old 80's masthead. I've had a soft spot for The Guardian's old masthead since uni days. I worked on the student newspaper at Cardiff, Gair Rhydd (Free Word), and ours was strikingly similar to The Guardian's despite, if memory serves, being older. You can see that masthead, unchanged since I was there, on the Gair Rhydd site.
(Aside: I am astounded and delighted to find that Gair Rhydd has its own online edition now, although there's not much up there because it's still 'summer', but there's stuff in the archives. It was an award winning newspaper when I was there, although the year I went to the ceremony, they decided that they couldn't possibly give us the accolade yet again – excellence apparently is not supposed to happen consistently in the UK. I still have all the editions I contributed to stashed away somewhere in my parents' loft.)
After uni, it became a ritual to buy The Guardian once a week for the media job ads, which I would pour through with a fine toothed comb, looking for my way into publishing or TV or something. It took me a year and over 50 applications to finally land an 'editorial assistant' job at a science publishing house. Seems the media back then weren't entirely sure why a geology student should want to work, er, in the media. Me, I see it the other way round. I'm not entirely sure why a writer started off hitting rocks with big hammers.
Then, last year, I was published in The Guardian myself. Just the once, mind, because I ended up being so busy that thinking of articles to pitch to editors became something that I 'really ought to get round to some time', instead of an imperative. I really had ought to start pitching again, because I rather like writing and I rather like The Guardian so how much more would I really rather like writing for The Guardian? Of course, it's easier to just say things here than go to all the hassle of working up a pitch and hassling editors, but I guess nothing worthwhile is easy.
In short, I think the Berliner is bloody great. Congratulations to everyone at The Guardian who had a hand in it – it's good job well done, and it will almost certainly turn me back into a regular reader again.
Oh… and did I mention it's all in colour now? How cool is that!

Anonymous September 13, 2005 at 4:23 am

Interesting that Berlin itself has no such size paper. http://tinyurl.com/cqyfg (except the one in New Hampshire, maybe)

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