MEDIA WEEKEND: AN EXPERT'S VIEW - Matthew Cowen was left feeling cold by the new-look Weekend magazine from The Guardian

Saturday may have seen the first appearance of The Guardian's

new-look, glossy Weekend magazine, but I had a nagging feeling I'd seen

it somewhere before. In fact, I'd seen it on quite a few occasions,

nestling between the pages of The Sunday Times, The Sunday Telegraph and

even The Sunday New York Times. The fact is that The Guardian's new-look

Saturday magazine looks almost exactly the same as any other weekend

supplement.



There are a lot of strong arguments in favour of Weekend switching to a

glossy format and reducing its paper size to bring it in line with its

rivals. Most importantly, it should allow better reproduction of the

photojournalism and hard-hitting features that should be this

supplement's forte. Unfortunately, though, there's precious little

hard-hitting journalism in this debut issue. In fact, I felt there was

little attention-grabbing writing whatsoever, although there was

apparently 60 per cent more editorial than in the previous, larger

format version.



Of course, this could be because I'm a bloke. As such, The Guardian

seems to have decided that I am not really part of Weekend's target

audience.



So rather than throw in a couple more pieces on riding horseback across

the Caucasus (in the previous week's magazine and I loved it), the bulk

of the new editorial seems to have been given over to an enhanced beauty

section. I could have read about Zoe Ball preparing herself for an Oscar

party, but I didn't. I could have read Jess Cartner-Morley's column on

how to wear clothes, but I'm not interested. Hannah Pool's new column on

black beauty is a great idea, but not one that will add a great deal to

my life.



This may seem like a selfish way to review a magazine. I'm sure that a

great many of the women who read Weekend will love the aforementioned

beauty section, just as I'm sure people who are househunting or care

intensely about interior design will lap up Space, which moves into

Weekend after existing as a standalone supplement for London. But I'm

part of The Guardian's target audience too, and I feel well and truly

let down.



One piece in the whole package that I was interested in was an article

on Basque separatist terrorists. This proved a stimulating read.

However, the outdated piece on It girls, the dull Nick Cave musings and

the bland anti-nostalgia piece left me cold.



Newspaper supplements are not lifestyle magazines. They may have the

effect of siphoning some readers off from women's glossies but that

doesn't mean they have to behave like them. In fact, their broader

readership means they should avoid doing so at all costs. Weekend used

to realise this, but it seems it's not enough to look like the other

supplements, they have to go for the same mix as well.



Publisher: Guardian Newspapers



Frequency: Every Saturday



Circulation: 399,696



Full-page ad rate: pounds 12,200



Advertisers include: Hugo Boss, Kenco, Tate Britain, Ernst & Julio

Gallo, Ruddles County, Suzuki, Sharp.



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