As the relatively modest sales of The Independent in Scotland partly reveal, doing things differently is certainly no guarantee of success. But then the Independent has barely any Scottish content, an accusation that cannot be levelled at 'The new Sunday Herald' – the much-anticipated revamped Sunday Herald, out today as as a single section news magazine.
Indeed, today's edition of the new look is so Scottish, it features a dramatic photograph of former MSP, Tommy Sheridan, recently found guilty of perjury during his defamation case, five years ago, against the News of the World. The whole of the front page comprises a shot of Sheridan, as if emerging from the shadows. It dramatically sets the paper apart from its rivals on the newsstand, there being none of the traditional blocks of text.
Insofar as The new Sunday Herald is handsomely designed, it does, however, bear some comparison with The Independent.
Not every newspaper launch or relaunch manages to score a news hit; The new Sunday Herald avoids that potentially embarrassing fate with a strong tale of a juror in the Sheridan trial allegedly describing, on Faceboook, her fellow jurors as – among other things – “scum bags”.
The Guardian's Scottish correspondent, Severin Carrell – speaking about the relaunch on today's BBC Radio Scotland programme, Sheeren [Nanjiani] – wondered if there might be 'Sheridan fatigue', but Paul Hutcheon's piece is timely insofar as Sheridan is due to be sentenced in just over a fortnight's time.
Towards the 'back of the book', which comprises an illustration showing the Celtic football squad to be much larger than that of rivals, Rangers, there is a reflective piece about Kenny Dalglish's appointment as interim manager at Liverpool FC. Missing, though, is the news prompt that he had indeed succeeded the outgoing Roy Hodgson.
Missing from the 'front of the book' is news of yesterday's shooting of US Congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords. Instead, it leads 'The World in Brief' section, beginning on page 28. By contrast, Scotland on Sunday has the story on its front page – as a pic with an invitation to go to what is almost a full page report on page 21 – and the Scottish Mail on Sunday splashes with it, under the heading, '18 Shot in Safeway Massacre'.
Half a dozen short news items across pages two and three are separated by a news analysis piece, by Vicky Allan, about the much-criticised storyline on the BBC soap opera, EastEnders, about a cot death baby being swapped for the new born of another character.
The paper gives the impression of making the relatively safe assumption that its readers have already acquired, from elsewhere, a working knowledge of what's making the news.
Meanwhile, the middle pages comprise an atmospheric, snowy photograph of Edinburgh's Calton Hill, forming the basis of a short story by the acclaimed Scottish novelist, Alan Warner.
Thanks to high-quality newsprint, The new Sunday Herald certainly feels good to pick up. In particular its pages that are free of adverts – including its columnists – are stunningly good-looking.
Among allmediascotland's weekend reads, the Sunday Herald was always among the first picks. With this revamp, it has surpassed itself. It is a triumph. 9/10.
But what do you think? Comment directly, or send your comment (plus name or name but asking for it to be withheld) to email@example.com
Read Brian McNair's take on the new look, here.
Comments sent to firstname.lastname@example.org:
Oh – oh, time to find another Sunday newpaper after sooo many years. No longer the fun sharing sections out among the family, ditch the sports section when there is no sports enthusiast at home, keep the magazine with recipies for the resident cook, or keep just one part for the TV guide when the rest has been digested. No, now we must keep the entire, unwieldy, fat paper all week just for the odd glance to see if there happens to be anything worth watching.
Whoever came up with that idea? – part of Sunday newpaper fun has forever been to try to get to the section you want next, before someone else does. We could buy a paper for each member of the family – of course, that could have been the marketing idea behind this odd move.
Please return to an intelligently divided paper, or lose this reader for good. I cannot imagine I am on my own in this. Ulla-Brita Carlsen
After all the hype about the bold new single-section 'magazine', the very least I was expecting was glossy paper. And surely the Scottish Cup tie between Caley Thistle and Elgin City – one of the most eagerly anticipated matches on a day when there was relatively little football taking place – was worth more than a grudging two sentences at the foot of page 93… Can't see myself rushing back to buy next week's edition. A Hendry
What a let down.
I have been looking forward to the new Sunday Herald all week. Indeed I have long been of the opinion that Scotland needs a current affairs / news magazine like Time or Newsweek. The relaunch of the Sunday Herald as a 'magazine' seemed to promise this.
Imagine then my disappointment when I got to the newsagents to find the Sunday Herald looked just the same as before – like a newspaper. No new format, size or magazine style of paper. First impressions told me the relaunch as a magazine was off to a bad start.
Nevertheless I bought the newspaper (magazine?). After reading it I am highly disappointed. It is simply a cut and paste version of what went before. Some articles from the arts magazine, a pinch of the business pages, a bit of the TV schedules (not for the whole week, alas), some opinion and sport. The only difference is it's all in one section. Which means that there is also a lot that has been left out.
I'm afraid I don't think I'll be getting the new Sunday Herald again. It promised so much and could have delivered. Why call it a magazine, when it is clearly just a slimmed down one section newspaper? Ultimately, it has let itself down. Peter Clark
Is it a Newspaper or a Magazine? With only four pages of sport actually printed on Saturday night/Sunday Morning there is little other news, a few snippets here and there it must therefore be a Magazine.
No separate sections to share round the breakfast table with the family.
The absence of a weekly TV guide is also a major loss.
On a Sunday I am not looking for a Magazine and as far as I am concerned it is an unmitigated disaster which will not be getting purchased again in its revised form. Papa G
Can't both read the paper at the same time. We normally share different sections of the paper but one only one person can read while the other waits-major dew back! I am still waiting! Margaret Wheatley
A gamble? A last throw of the dice? If the owners had wanted to perform a hatchet job on the Sunday Herald – they could hardly have done better. 90-odd pages dominated by mediocre photographs and minimal meaty text. in one stapled pack. Impossible to share around the family.
It is no longer a serious newspaper, neither is it a worthwhile magazine, printed on glossy paper with good photography. The front cover is a real turn off for most buyers – surely we've had more than enough of Sheridan! A sports section even more dominated by Rangers & Celtic.
No weekly TV & Radio programming. No quick crossword. And is a Scottish Sunday really the place for extensive cover of a London-based soap?
We have been keen supporters of this regional, balanced and quality Sunday paper but I doubt we will continue to buy it unless the owners can reverse this ill-considered decision – there is nothing left in it
Against all my better instincts, I see myself being forced into the hands of the Murdoch press. A. James