Someday, not too far from now, a generation will marvel at the idea that you could get lots of well-written stories, original photos, great graphics, and amazing custom illustrations in a dozen different sections of a large format publication delivered to your door for very little money—each and every week— on a recyclable and bio-degradable material.
It’s true that there’s no video, audio, moving parts—but on a quiet Sunday morning with coffee in hand, that’s a blessing. What can we conclude from this end-of-week extravaganza of words and pictures?
Couple things— visuals have become more and more important. 20 years ago there would have been far more writing and far fewer pictures. That seeing things up big, different sections simultaneously, and a tactile connection are advantages print still owns. But what strikes me most gets back to the idea of place and brand.
The Sunday NYT is an interesting place— like a city or region can be. A tapestry of different things that together make up the larger whole. Am I confused or bothered by the fact that there’s not a uniform approach to type, layout, imagery, topics or even point of view? No. I’m delighted by it. What unifies everything? High standards, a clear framework and the goal to inform, challenge and entertain. The “brand” is in the intention, the ambition, not the particular style.
Everybody likes to talk about authenticity these days. It’s got something to do with honesty— but also should acknowledge the fact that people, places and, by extension, brands, can embrace a bandwidth — and messy vitality— that goes beyond the dictates of graphics manuals and one dimensional expression.