What to expect from the localised edition of The Guardian Weekly

Last week, The Guardian revealed it would relaunch its global weekly print product, The Guardian Weekly, in a glossy magazine format. Zoe Samios chats with editor Will Dean about the new title, and what local audiences can expect.

You might assume that when a global magazine launches, little thought is put into the localisation of that product in each market.

And yet, as I sit on the phone early on a Thursday morning with The Guardian Weekly’s editor, Will Dean, it becomes clear it is certainly not the case for the revamped weekly edition, which has shifted from a newspaper to glossy magazine in the last week.

The old edition (left) and the new edition (right), available from today

The title, founded in 1919, has always been considered a ‘global news magazine’ – not just one for British expats. It’s for the elderly British man in his 90s, who first picked up the title in Myanmar in WW2. But The Guardian is also hoping the new edition is for the young woman or man in their 30s, trying to better understand the world, who want to take a break from technology.

Broadening the audience also means tailoring it to local markets. The last time The Guardian Weekly was re-designed, its Australian arm did not exist. Now, five years on, it’s getting four pages of localised content for the Australian market. According to Nielsen’s August Digital Content Ratings, The Guardian Australia’s unique audience now sits at 4.258m.

But it’s not just content which has been considered in this process. The level of ‘glossiness’, for instance, was chosen with consideration to the brightness of the Australian sun, and the difficulty some find when reading high gloss titles under it. And then there’s the size of the magazine, which will allow Australians in regional areas with tiny letterboxes to receive it no matter what, and avoid the dreaded drive to the local post office to pick it up.

A lot of consideration has gone into the newly launched glossy

The Guardian’s Dean has been working on this relaunch since his began at the UK-based publisher in April, and now, after a long day of work, he’s on a call to Australia, a sign of the commitment he and his team has to the global title, which launches today.

“Globally we produce so many stories every day and it’s hard – my job as the editor of The Weekly is to try and read as much as I physically can and even I struggle to keep up. So, The Weekly has always been a curated look at the best and most interesting bits of the Guardian, so could we present that in a really attractive magazine format that might sit alongside some of the famous news weeklies – Time, Newsweek, The Economist – could we make a Guardian product that sits alongside the titles in the market,” he tells Mumbrella.

There were a lot of questions Dean and his team looked at when launching the new format, which has a higher level of focus on photography and decision, as well as a cover charge of AU$10.95. One of those questions was how the magazine could better reflect The Guardian in all time zones. Together with Guardian Australia editor, Lenore Taylor, and deputy news editor, Patrick Keneally, Dean and his team set out to create a title with four pages dedicated to news in Australia.

“Last time the weekly was redesigned – that team of journalists weren’t there and it seemed obvious to us. We print an hour outside of Sydney so we can do, so it’s very easy for us to do additional pages,” he says.

Dean is hoping the magazine, which will be boosted on Australian newsstands, will become compared to the likes of The Economist or The New Yorker  – an informative publication which adds value to its readers’ lives.

“People have a really strong relationship with the Guardian and our world view and the reputation that our news reporting gives. I’d be very flattered to be compared to those magazines because I love them all and read them all and they all have very specific purposes,” he says.

The launch has been a collaborative process, involving three continents, all with different time zones. Everyone from the retention team, to the subbing team, to marketing has been involved.

The investment is of great value to The Guardian, which still places high value in a print version of its news. For Dean, the last few years has suggested people will pay for good journalism, support it and help hold institutions to account. It’s why he believes there has been an uprise of magazines like The Economist following the election of Donald Trump and Brexit in the UK.

“I’ve always worked in print magazines, I love print, I love what you can do with it. We talk to so many readers through the process of doing this to see what it was that they liked about The Weekly and how we could make sure we kept that and some just said ‘my getting The Weekly, this is my break – just sitting back and sort of holding something physical in my hands and not trying to read something online and checking Twitter.'”‘


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