Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Independent goes (not quite) full colour (in Northern Ireland)

Roger Alton's explanation of the new full colour Independent

This blog post was going to read something like ...

The Independent has gone full-colour today ... even in Northern Ireland! Roger Alton, the Indy’s new editor, explained:

“This will allow us to strengthen our bold and graphic approach to design, producing a paper that is visually more appealing and even easier to navigate.”

Easier to navigate than flicking through the 60 or so pages!

Top banner on front page of this morning's full colour Independent in Northern Ireland that wasn't quite full colour
Normally NI gets left behind with these kind of improvements. The Guardian took a looooong time to finally be able to deliver all the pages (G2 used to be missing a TV reviews) and all the colours to their NI readers. So there will be great rejoicing from the local band of Independent readers.

However, when I bought a copy at lunchtime (the newsagent in Church Lane, off High Street) to check out the new, easier to navigate than a TomTom features, I found a “New full colour edition” splash on the front page, a comment from the editor on page 2 (including mention of the new Belfast presses) and ... lots of black and white pages.

And lots of photographs and adverts spread across two pages, with one half colour and one half grey. Perhaps the most striking was the picture of Gordon Brown facing David Miliband across the centre crease between pages 10 and 11.

Full colour Independent - Page 10 and 11 in Northern Ireland

Slight technical problem? Much to the amazement of the Indy’s distribution office who confirmed that their (London) edition has a more conventional photo with both halves in colour. Looks like the local first edition of the paper (check for one or no dots below the £1 on the cover) wasn’t printed in full colour.

But back to the original blog post ...

Perhaps muted rejoicing since the paper had to put the cover price up from 80p to £1 last week. Alton opined:

“This is the harshest month in the harshest year of the harshest period I have ever known for newspapers in the harshest economic climate for 80 years. That's a lot of harshest.”

Along with other national paper, the Independent struggles with its readership level. The circulation figures for August show that:

The Independent sold an average of 230,033 copies a day in August, according to the latest ABC figures, down 4% year on year.

But around 55,000 of those were overseas sales, and 41,000 were bulk [hotels, trains, airport lounges etc], with only 131,000 sold at full price.

That’s a drop of 24% of UK (paid) circulation in two years.

Back page bar code from full colour Independent (not in full colour) on sale in Northern Ireland

Update - same mixed colour/monochrome in the issues being sold in Sainsburys when I filled up with petrol tonight.

Update - Wednesday 24th - Printed in full colour throughout in this morning's edition - problem fixed!


Des said...

Hi Alan,

Yes, like you I was surprised (and disappointed to see the new all colour Independent distinctly lacking in that department today.

It brought back memories of the poor black and white berliner Guardian we endured for years!

Fingers crossed this gets sorted soon...

Des said...

Back to a mix of colour and black & white - a real shame as I was particularly looking forward to the revised Arts and Books section in Friday's paper

Cosmo said...

One of the striking features of the early days of The Independent was it's excellent B&W photography. It would be nice to see it again on the front page every now and then.