We’re big fans of weekly periodicals at SevenStreets. Do it right, and they represent the only viable future for printed news. Get it wrong, and they’re just instantly dated relics of another era – depressing weekly free sheets that smell of ad-department-ran newsrooms and declining morale.
From San Fransisco’s experimental Panorama (pic) to the New Yorker, The Observer to the Economist, the best weeklies offer a more considered reflection of the world around them. A chance to soak up much needed context – an antidote to the 140 characters of social media and 24/7 rolling barrage of Sky news.
So, following a spate of regional titles moving from daily to weekly, now Liverpool has a weekly of its own; the new Liverpool Post. And what do we think of it?
Well, it’s early days – the paper (the last chance saloon for the 156 year old Daily Post) launched its first issue today. But, so far, we’re happy to say the signs are encouraging.
The paper leads with a gritty investigation into how cuts to the NHS will affect the region’s healthcare. Dull? Maybe for some – but a great infographic on page 4 really animates the story and drives home the salient facts – in much the same way the Independent’s funky little brother, i, would.
Perhaps surprisingly, the paper hasn’t had much of a style or design overhaul – although its website has. And that’s a mistake, in our opinion. One thing a weekly should never look is rushed. And, disappointingly, elements of The Post’s design do look a touch more ‘hastily-assembled’ than hand-carved. We’ve never been fans of the title’s spidery serif fonts and sometimes-clunkingly long headers: take ‘End of an era as council stalwart Clucas prepares to step down’ as en example.
The story is a nice little retrospective of Flo Clucas’ career, but the header screams ‘don’t read me’. In more deft hands the feature could have included a timeline, an at-a-glance column of the councillor’s greatest hits. A little background and opinion. As it is, it still feels like a daily news story in a weekly title.
Reportage and design have to work hand in hand in weeklies. The best titles offer a 360 degree view on their subject matter. It’s simply not enough to bang out 500 words and stick a picture on the top. Think about the weeklies we already know and love: they’re our Sunday papers, or our graphically-intensive news-mag hybrids such as Short List, Grazia, The Week and Heat. To compete, The Post has to ditch the five column grid and slouch out a bit. More infographics. More context. More visual tricks.
Faring better, the paper’s G2 equivalents, Post Business and Post Culture feel weightier, assured and comprehensive. Nice feature spreads, big bold pictures and tempting little ‘news in brief’ snippets add a pleasing rhythm and dynamic to the title. I’ve a feeling these sections will become the reason to buy the paper over the coming months. And it’s good to see Laura Davis given the chance to create a cultural compendium that goes some way to really reflecting what’s happening around here.
Lifestyle still feels a bit colour-by-numbers – an exercise in box-ticking more than a genuine attempt to get under our skin. Why can’t Liverpool’s media nail Lifestyle? It’s a perennial puzzle to us. I’d have preferred to see the eye-catching home interiors spread on p60 within this section, too. Forget trying to sex up the homes for sale ads.
Do we really need the dull off-the-peg Antiques column – wouldn’t a more picture-led piece work better here? Is Carolyn Hughes’ ‘People’ (third rate parties and tacky PR events) really at home in a title with genuinely smart and savvy readers, or does it feel a little overdressed and out of touch, like a prom queen at a reunion? (Clue: yes it does). And while there’s nothing wrong with it, I think we could all live happily without another review of Puschka – why not try and track down somewhere we’ve not been to? Surely that’s a better way for the paper to set out its stall at Issue 1?
Sport? Well, we don’t do sport, so we couldn’t possibly comment. But we do like the funky table on p85 revealing how LFC strikers’ forms dip after leaving Anfield. We don’t really care, but we still read it and went ‘Mmmm, interesting’. That’s gotta be a convincing goal.
So, congratulations to The Post. This is definitely evolution over revolution, but it’s by no means a backward step, and we’ll be back next week.
In the week that saw the finale of Desperate Scousewives, it’s reassuring to be reminded that there is intelligent life here after all.