Established in 1919, the aim of the Guardian Weekly from the start was to provide a weekly snapshot of the best and most interesting stories that ran in the paper. Largely sold to subscribers both in the UK and internationally, it is also available on news stands outside of the UK and to date has had a newspaper format.
Today though, the Guardian has unveiled a slick new look for the title, as a news magazine. The new format features more pages and magazine-quality paper stock, which brings the content and imagery to life and places the Guardian Weekly as a competitor for the likes of The Economist and The Week.
The shift in style was prompted in part by the Guardian’s move earlier this year to a tabloid format, which sparked the need for a redesign of the Guardian Weekly too. “What we wanted to do was create something that looked and felt like it could compete on the news stand with other news weeklies, and feel at home there,” says Guardian Weekly Editor Will Dean, who joined the title earlier this year.
The new magazine, which goes to print on a Tuesday and comes out on a Friday, is a curated look at the most significant stories to run on the Guardian and the Observer over the previous week. It opens with a snapshot of the 20 biggest news headlines of the week, before honing in on one story in-depth (for this week, this focuses on the Brett Kavanaugh story).
Beyond that content, the aim is to cover stories that will have longevity over the week. These include long-reads from the newspaper, analysis, opinion, and cultural coverage. “You get a real encapsulation of the week’s events, but more than that you get a really fulsome read of contemporary news and slightly slower things where you can pull back,” says Dean.
“We produce so much great content here,” he continues. “Even for staff here it can be hard to keep up with the best of it, especially things like long reads where they can be four or five thousand words…. Giving it a second home gives another life to this journalism we’ve invested a lot of money and energy on.”
The magazine is news-heavy – and therefore text-heavy – though this is broken up by the use of photography, illustration and info-graphics, the style of which will be familiar to regular readers of the Guardian. There are also clear section divisions to provide pace. “The hardest challenge with this was to take what is an established and loved newspaper and turn it into a magazine and to inject that pace and wit and surprise that you get in a magazine,” says Chris Clarke, Design Director at Guardian Weekly. “We’ve made four clear sections within it: Spotlight, Culture, Opinion, and News. We’ve given those entry points to add to that pace and rhythm as you go through.”
The new Guardian Weekly will be on sale on news stands internationally but also at selected outlets across the UK. It is priced £4.50 in the UK, up from a previous price of £2.90 for the newspaper edition. Its relaunch shows a commitment to print that, says Guardian Weekly Publishing Director Mylene Sylvestre, is timely. “There’s clearly something happening in the magazine market,” she says. “News weeklies are doing really well … and there’s definitely a Guardian space in that news weekly category.”
The hope is that the new magazine will appeal to current subscribers of the Guardian Weekly but also provide room for growth. “We really need to keep our existing readers,” Sylvestre continues. “Financially we need them, but we don’t think we would have grown the base with [the previous version of the title]. The research showed that people were a bit confused by it, because it didn’t really look like the newspaper, it didn’t look as good in a way, the design hadn’t moved with what we’ve done with the daily.”
The new Guardian Weekly will now have three editions — Australia, North America and a global edition for the UK and the rest of the world. The US and Australia editions will have four pages of the magazine devoted to localised news.
The first copy of the new magazine will arrive with subscribers and on news stands tomorrow.