Story | 10/06/2023 07:32:49 | 3 min Read time

Francesco Franchi: "On paper you have freedom of space"

Francesco Franchi is an award-winning editorial and infographics designer and the deputy creative director of Italy’s second largest daily La Repubblica. He shares his philosophy of designing a newspaper.

“Designing a news experience today means designing an experience for readers based not only on the medium but also for different times of the day. We consume news through different channels, so we want something to read, to listen, to watch, and to touch. But we are also living in different moments: the hour, the day, the week and the month impacts the news reading experience we design.

We redesigned La Repubblica twice based on this matrix. We added in new navigation elements, giving more weight to analysis and commentary rather than just the headlines of the day. We still have the newspaper that we know from the past, but I believe we have to change its format and its focus.

If you’re going to print your newspaper, the content itself needs to be of very high-quality.

If you’re going to print your newspaper, the content itself needs to be of very high-quality. It means working in a different way to develop a product that is meant to be consumed at a slower pace. If you have something that takes longer to read, it has to be nice to touch, so that’s an important consideration – the feeling of the paper. You have to print less, but better. It has to be something different from digital. We are now trying to redesign the newsroom, to have one group working on the newspaper with this idea – a slower, more in-depth read – and another group working in digital on the daily flow of news.

 

Besides being about the news, a newspaper is also energy. You need to start with a strong idea and then give form, or energy, to this idea. For example using photography, illustration or data – and it is easier to do that with print than in digital. You can use huge formats, you can mix elements, create complex infographics in a way that you can’t with digital.

 
Besides being about the news, a newspaper is also energy.

On paper you have freedom of space, you have all this room to communicate. But for digital, you are often designing for the display of a mobile screen. It’s a different product and you have to think in one way when you’re working on digital and another way when you’re working in print.

The quality of the paper and the quality of the print is important to the energy they create – offering a physical product to touch, to collect, to have on your table in the living room.

The quality of the paper and the quality of the print is important to the energy they create – offering a physical product to touch, to collect, to have on your table in the living room. Paper offers an opportunity to do something special, something that's exclusive or something that feels like a luxury. It can be considered a status symbol. And it says something about who you are. Just like when you go to a bar and see a person with a certain brand bag – this brand says something about the person. A newspaper can do the same as well.” 
 
As told to Daniela Walker 
Photo by Mattia Balsamini 


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