It's small, or at least smaller, but is it perfectly formed?

The long-awaited Berliner 'Guardian' - a unique size in British newspapers - finally hit the streets last week. We asked leading industry figures what they thought of it. Interviews by Tim Luckhurst
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The Independent Online

The change of size is great but I don't like the typeface. It feels smaller and more cramped and it is more difficult to read. The layout reminds me of traditional American newspapers with lots of stories starting on the front and turning. But the most important thing is the journalism. It seems to have become very sombre. In the past The Guardian used to have a sense of fun. It used to take the piss out of itself. That seems to have gone. The tongue has been taken out of the cheek. When The Guardian was redesigned in the late 1980s they did not change that sense of fun. There is much less of a sense of continuity this time and in an age when readers are more promiscuous I think that may be dangerous.

John Humphrys, 'Today' presenter

My impressions are broadly favourable. G2 is too small and I am deeply suspicious about the temporary dropping of Doonesbury. The Guardian without Doonesbury is unthinkable. I miss the old Marina Hyde diary too. That was pretty subversive and it set the tone for a lot of people. But overall I'm amazed by what a difference a little space makes. I think it's very important to pick up a paper and see lots of stories on the front page. When The Independent gets its front page right it is stunning but if you want to pick up your paper and see what the news is then the Berliner works.

Stuart Reid, deputy editor, 'The Spectator'

I am disappointed. I love The Guardian and I expected great things. But the Berliner looks a bit flat. I don't like the masthead. Page one is dull. I think it gets better as you go in. I like the news features. I think the Comment section is good too, although I think the white space for quotes is self-indulgent.

The other night my wife was sitting in front of the telly with the new Guardian on the floor beside her. I asked her what she thought of it. She said: "Oh, that. I thought it was the local paper. I started looking for used car ads, and couldn't understand why there weren't any."

But I was wrong about the 1988 rejig. I was among the sneerers. As it turned out, it was one of the great design achievements of the past 50 years. The old new Guardian was quite simply beautiful. So maybe I am wrong about the new new Guardian. But this time I am not sneering. I hope it will grow on me.

Jane Johnson, editor, 'Closer'

It seems to me that broadsheets are turning into tabloids and tabloids are turning into magazines, both in style and content. The new Guardian Berliner certainly looks much sexier, much more accessible and will no doubt appeal to the short attention span of the younger generation. But at the moment, it feels like I've discovered one of my old friends has dyed her hair pink. It's very uncharacteristic of their personality and I'm still coming to terms with the shock.

John McGurk, editor, 'The Scotsman'

Berliner may well be a saviour - fashionable and very distinct - but the new size is also an Achilles heel. Page one impact is imperative and the folded Berliner does not provide this compared to broadsheet or tabloid. There is little space above the fold to sell the dramatic image of the day. How would the Berliner Guardian page one have coped with 7/7? With difficulty, I think. The size means the paper is placed sideways in newsstands. The new shape is excellent once you are inside. I like the accessibility and the packaging, but a question mark must remain about the headline type.

Roger Mosey, BBC director of sport

The cleverness of the relaunch is that if you like The Guardian then it's probable you'll like the new look - and I think it's a huge improvement. On the other hand, I'm not sure it will win huge numbers of converts: it's quite chattering class in its feel. I love photography in newspapers and the fantastic centre spreads move the art forwards in a way similar to The Independent and its black and white pictures 20 years ago. The bold use of colour also works well for sport, and I hope the effect of the paper as a whole is to stimulate the media to keep innovating: everyone has lessons to learn from this.

Mark Damazer, controller of Radio 4

It always takes several months to know whether you like it more than what came before. I remember how much ballyhoo there was when they changed the design the last time - endless pieces about blank spaces and sans serif type. A little way down the road and with some minor adjustments, the debate vanished. This is a more fundamental change. But the defining qualities of what used to be called the broadsheets will remain their content and editorial stance - and not the size of the newspaper or the typeface.

Martin Rowson, political cartoonist, illustrator and comic artist (for, among others, 'The Guardian')

I think the main section works very well. It makes The Times look incredibly messy. I'm not sure about G2 but I don't think they're really sure about it either. On the whole it's pretty cool because the cartoons are bigger - only by millimetres but that's good because cartoonists are by nature incredibly paranoid and we always think designers are out to steal our space.

Professor Justin Lewis, deputy head, School of Journalism, Cardiff University

I was in Kennington station the other day and they were giving it away, which was a shame because I had already bought one.

My impression is that there is less in it. I don't know if that is true but it feels as if it is. The Guardian is in a very difficult position. It had to choose whether to follow the other qualities that have gone compact or be a dinosaur.

The Berliner size is a good idea in principle but the jury is still out on whether it works.

I shall continue buying it for a while and decide whether making it smaller has made it a less good newspaper.

Sue MacGregor, broadcaster

I am a Guardian reader and I am a little disappointed. I wish perversely that they had kept the old typeface and masthead. It is much harder to navigate and the articles do not stand out as they used to. It feels as if there is a film between me and my Guardian. I don't like G2. It is too small and there is almost no room for the radio and television. I have to put my specs on to read it. It looks cheaper whereas the old Guardian was very classy. Perhaps I will grow to like it as it becomes more familiar but my immediate impression is that my beloved Guardian has had botox and I do not like the results.

Emma Duncan, deputy editor, 'The Economist'

I'm surprised they've gone for theguardian on the masthead: lower case is so last decade. And G2 is ludicrously small: I feel as though I'm reading a comic. Aside from that, it's great. The typefaces are better, navigation is easier and the size is perfect. Mysteriously, it somehow does make one feel vaguely European reading it.

The hiring of Simon Jenkins, and Rusbridger's Delphic mutterings, suggest that the Comment pages are going to get more sensible. Shame they didn't take the opportunity to get rid of the awful Steve Bell.

Veronique Attas, partner, PR agency The Media Foundry

I really like the look and feel of it. I always found The Guardian unwieldy and too worthy. There is still a part of me that feels tabloids should be tabloids and broadsheets should be broadsheets and this resolves the difference. I love G2 because it is magazine-sized. Media Guardian is much clearer. It used to feel like a trade paper inside a national newspaper. But the front-page layout does not work properly yet and there is a problem with bits falling out. Physically it is still quite a large newspaper with lots of bits and that makes it a slightly difficult thing for newsagents to manage on the newsstand.

DIARY

White mischief

The Mirror produced a classic left-hand-right-hand moment on Thursday when it splashed with its "Cocaine Kate" revelations and continued the story over the next four pages. Meanwhile, their centre spread - headlined "Steal their style" - featured the interiors of celebrities' homes that readers might be expected to covet. And who should we find there alongside Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow but, yes, Kate Moss, "the undisputed queen of boho", as the Mirror cooed, with, among other things, her vintage enamel clock and gun-metal bedstead. No sign of any plastic CD covers, though.

Marathon man

The Great North Run, which takes place today, isn't just an exhausting business for the 50,000 participants. Pity the Times athletics writer David Powell, who virtually filled a special supplement that the paper brought out on Friday single-handedly. With no fewer than six bylined pieces in it - adding up to some 6,000 words - Powell put on a display of stamina to match his efforts as a sub-three-hour marathon runner in the 1980s. So much for the ample resources of The Times sports desk.

Jeff and the City snickers

Jeff Randall, who has just resigned as BBC business editor to join the Telegraph, never really understood the need to "go live" to the City late at night, when the place was deserted. Randall liked to tell the story of the first time he had to stand outside the Bank of England for the benefit of the 10 o'clock bulletin and the silence was shattered when a car drew up and a group of worse-for-wear City workers jumped out who then proceeded to hurl cat-calls at him. You're much better off back in newspapers, Jeff.

Escape plan

Randall learned at least one valuable lesson during his four years at the BBC, courtesy of Today presenter John Humphrys. This was the Humphrys law of meetings. There are, he feels, far too many meetings. The answer to the problem, Humphrys says, is never to sit down in a meeting room but to stand by the door. That way you can slip away unnoticed if things get really boring.

What a S Cream

From the "Heard a Whisper?" football gossip column in the Mirror on Friday: "My mate Tim says a struggling West London outfit has employed Italy's top football spin doctor Paulo D'Acre to find ways of reviving their ailing fortunes." The item is signed "S Creamer, Kensington". Paulo D'Acre - geddit? Not to mention S Creamer, Kensington. Those Mirror sports subs need careful watching.

Sprechen Sie Berliner?

With the great change at The Guardian comes a whole new way of talking that perhaps we should call Berlinerspeak. Specialist correspondent rings the news desk to offer a line for the home editor's list for conference. " We don't have list lines any more," she is told. "We have modules." Modules?

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