The Guardian’s 50,000th issue

Published today. To celebrate they have put up 50 of their front pages, 50,000 issues since 1821.

Stepping through their front pages one notices how the pace of change and innovation has accelerated. The first colour on page one happens as recently as 1996. The Berliner format only covers the last few examples. More colour, reduction in format size, blockier layout……

The funny thing is, it is almost as though newspaper editors and designers KNOW that they have to make their product more like a web page. As though they secretly know that the future of print is to become a digital edition (oh yes, hand-in-hand with the print edition, whilst there is still a need for it).

They know this and are making their newspapers (and the magazines, which all newspapers increasingly resemble), more web-like, more suited to being presented as a digital replica in a web page (which in a month or two will be flipped horizontal to landscape on an iPhone). There is a hidden hand pushing print into a digital and web-friendly format, whilst at the same time the Official Doctrine of most newspaper and magazine publishers is that the web is different and their web version, needs to be repurposed, needs to be something other than the daily/weekly issue that they lovingly prepare in Adobe Files and which they messily Print.

Digital editions are still officially a backwater, in the book of most newspaper publishers and editors. The Guardian is a case in point it has a very respectable Digital Edition, but it is well hidden and comes as a surprise to many people who know their excellent but rather outmoded Guardian Unlimited as the popular face of the newspaper on the web.