Based in London; Formerly of New York, Buenos Aires, Fife, and the Western Cape. Saoránach d'Éirinn.
A writer, blogger, historian, and web designer born in New York, educated in Argentina, Scotland, and South Africa, and now based in London. read more

New Year’s Resolution for Journal is to Lose Weight, Dignity

NO SOONER HAD the Wall Street Journal earned the highest regards from these quarters for their splendid ‘hedcut‘ portrait of the Generalissimo (on the front page, and above the fold, no less!) than their stock immediately plummeted in normal daytime trading on the Cusack Exchange. The best and most admirable feature of the financial-and-more paper is its splendidly broad size, in complete repudiation of the tabloid mentality. It has dignity, refinement, and gravitas. And so it must go. Newsdesigner reports that the Journal will be trimming its broadness to a much narrower, uglier size. The idea is to save newsprint, and thus cut costs, but the result is a disgrace. A sense of proper proportion is sacrificed to the gods of the balance sheet. Hmmm… where have we heard this before? The New York Observer trimmed its size, again without any regard for proportion, and the result was most poor. I bought it once after the changeover and never since.

Narrow broadsheets are not only a contradiction in terms, they are exceptionally irritating to read. The Berliner size of the Guardian, Le Figaro, and other papers is a handy, convenient size, and of a very comely proportion. The normal broadsheet of the Daily Telegraph, the current Wall Street Journal, and the Scotsman in its pre-tabloid days exudes soundness, reliance, and dignity. But ungainly tabloids and these new narrow broadsheets ought to be relegated to the dustbin of dodgy newspaper ideas.

This post was published on Saturday, December 9th, 2006 10:12 am. It has been categorised under Design Franco Newspapers.
10 Dec 2006 8:36 am

The “teaser bar” above the masthead certainly does not lend any gravitas, refinement, or dignity to the design, either. Nor does the advert in the lower right corner, no matter what “high end” product is being hawked.

Andrew Cusack
10 Dec 2006 8:47 am

Agreed. ‘Teaser bars’ can be done well but most often are not, and both examples shown here could do with improvement. As for the advert, on the broader paper they’d need to either cut its width to one-column or else take a 1/3 off the top. In the more narrow version, it’s just too big, full stop.

10 Dec 2006 3:54 pm

Andrew, this may mark the first time ever that “KD” commented on a post of yours that mentioned Gen. Franco–without KD taking umbrage. How nice to see a common enemy–in this case tabloid sizes–bring the two of you together in peaceful accord. Of course, in this vale of tears, peace is as tenuous as…an alliance in a game of Risk.

Andrew Cusack
10 Dec 2006 4:23 pm

KD did not bring up previous umbrages; nor should we!

10 Dec 2006 4:57 pm

Not without reason did you give me the “fiendish lout” moniker a year ago. But, for the record: sorry, sorry, sorry.

10 Dec 2006 7:47 pm

Andrew remained a true gentleman when responding to my umbrage at his posts concerning Franco. I admire him for that, & decided to express no further umbrage over the General!

I find Andrew’s pictures, comments, & musings are always a pleasure — even though I’ve sometimes disagreed.

Matt S.
10 Dec 2006 8:53 pm

It seems to me a post in honor of the late, great General Pinochet is in order. He seems to be a model for American foreign policy — put the strong man in place, keep the trouble makers down. None of this democratizing the world nonsense. So he got his hands a little dirty in the process — Chile was no more violent than our own decaying cities. And, in light of Jeane Kirkpatrick’s recent death, the time has come to realize (again) that a right-wing dictator who is mildly friendly to the U.S. is not such a bad thing.

Andrew Cusack
10 Dec 2006 10:16 pm

Well, savior of Chile though he was, if you ask me he pales significantly in comparison to Franco. Pinochet even went so far as to favor Evangelical Protestants in order to undermine the leftish element among the Chilean clergy, whereas the Generalissimo was a true devoted son of the Church. I have also never been impressed with the fact that, while the solidification of Franco’s hold on power led to an end to torture and summary justice, Pinochet’s rule led to a continuation of these things. Despite these sad facts, we must always face the reality that it would have been far, far worse for everyone involved had there not been a coup. I just wish they had behaved in a more dignified and Christian way and just exiled the menacing lot.

Needless to say, though, we pray eternal rest for his soul.

10 Dec 2006 10:34 pm


Your above posts have left me horrified & at a loss for words.

My prayers for you both.
Goodnight & goodye.

10 Dec 2006 10:39 pm

Yeah, I was never a huge fan of Pinochet either, while fully recognizing that things would have certainly been worse without him. I mean, torture chambers, “disappearances”; can we really claim these were necessary? As Cusack says, no. Exiling the lot wouldve gotten rid of the threat handily. Why didnt he just send them to the Soviet Union?

Andrew Cusack
10 Dec 2006 11:00 pm

The model for American foreign policy should be to have less of it. Arranging coups in other countries is usually more in the interests of a) those countries and b) business interests, and not chiefly in the interests of the American people as a whole.

Dino Marcantonio
11 Dec 2006 1:53 pm

Let’s not forget that Pinochet, unlike Franco, padded his bank account with state funds.

11 Dec 2006 3:13 pm

I would argue that “arranging” coups in other countries is chiefly in the interests of a) U.S. business interests and b) the domestic business interests of those countries.

As for U.S. military backed coups being in the interests of either the people of those countries or the American people as a whole, that is, suffice it to say, doubtful.

11 Dec 2006 7:04 pm

KD, I agree with your last comment about coups. Even though the discussion here for the last serveral posts has been interesting, I really do regret that my attempt at humor in my first post above carried this thread in a direction that obviously became, to put it mildly, extremely annoying to you. Blog discussions can jump the rails with much greater ease that a real live conversation.

11 Dec 2006 11:19 pm

How true, Fiendish.

It was mainly Matt’s post that bothered me. I understood yours to be said in a humorous & indeed generous spirit.

Matt S.
11 Dec 2006 11:50 pm

And, of course, mine comment was written without a hint of sarcasm…

(Though I do think Kirkpatrick’s distinction between authoritarian and totalitarian regime, especially in the context of the Cold War, was a useful — perhaps one we still can learn something from.)

12 Dec 2006 9:51 am

I assume you speak of the ideologue Jean Kirkpatrick, whose infamous response to the 1980 rape & murder of four American nuns by El Salvador armed forces was, essentialy, they deserved what they got.

Overall, her support of “authoritarian” regimes that tortured, abducted, & murdered unknown numbers of their own people is, to say the least, unconscionable — & flies in the face of her so-called committment to the “freedom of the human spirit.”

12 Dec 2006 10:19 am

Please pardon my misspelling of her name. It should, of course, be Jeane.

13 Dec 2006 10:14 am

I certainly don’t want to get in the middle of this Franco/Pinochet-Authoritarian/Toltalitarian funfest, but I would like to say something about “The Wall Street Journal” changes planned for January.

First, not all of their changes relate to size and proportion. Some the their changes sound a bit like an attempt to USA Today-ize, with quick and easy summaries and graphics. Very suspicious.

Second, I’d like to know what the results of the new sizing will be on the op/ed spread. After all, they will be losing two full columns. I doubt they will make it up by sacrificing ad space. I certainly don’t want them to cut the space they currently dedicate to editorials, opinion pieces, and letters. I vote for a third op/ed page. (Perhaps they’d like me to write a guest opinion piece on the matter.)

Third, getting back to the new size… I really have to see (and feel) the new paper. Frankly, while I agree that the current size is very classy, it frequently does prove rather awkward. This is particularly the case when I’m having breakfast alone in a hotel or when I’m on a plane. I am forever knocking things over.

I think that if WSJ pays very close attention to their design and graphics –and doesn’t cheat us on the op/ed pages– AND the quality of the actual newsprint (look and feel are very important here), they may be able to pull this off.

Maybe. . .

Boko Fittleworth
18 Dec 2006 2:31 pm

I thought it was customary to fold one’s paper in half (longways) while reading it. Is this just the Journal doing it for us?

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