I am labelling the redesign of the Herald on Sunday a course correction. It is one that could bring the paper back on track.
From its inception, the HoS did not sit comfortably alongside its older siblings the New Zealand Herald and Weekend Herald. Somehow it didn’t seem to share the same gene pool. It always left the impression that it might, in fact, have been an adopted child.
After downsizing, the weekday Herald had retained something of the gravitas of its broadsheet antecedent even if it assumed tabloid trappings that pulled away from the ‘compact’ concept championed by The Independent in London (the Herald had been its stablemate during the Tony O’Reilly era). The Weekend Herald has also reflected its traditions, despite a tendency to confuse broadsheet and tabloid design concepts.
The Herald on Sunday had been born to break the traditional mould. The past was to be another country and ‘invented here’ was its guiding light. In a word, it was tabloid.
There is nothing wrong with breaking moulds if they are replaced by something superior. However, I do not think the HoS met that challenge. Worse, it was pitched at a market outside that of the main mastheads.
There are three Sundays in the New Zealand market: Sunday Star Times, Herald on Sunday and Sunday News. Stuff owns the SST and venerable Sunday News, which has been with us since 1964. The former strives for the ‘thinking’ end of the market while the latter is what it has always been – a tabloid aimed at the lower end of the market (although the economies of copy sharing with its sister has unfortunately raised the tone a little). The Herald on Sunday should be pitched at the middle market, which is arguably much larger than either end of the spectrum. However, since its inception in 2004 it has been aimed lower than was wise.
The re-design last weekend is a welcome attempt to draw it back toward the centre and, while one swallow does not a summer make, it looks to be a successful move. Continue reading “Redesign puts Herald on Sunday back on course”