Friday, October 24, 2014

Recalling the rise and fall of The Grid

When The Grid was shut down this past July by the Star Media Group after an exciting three years of publication and 162 issues, many, many of us lamented the loss of it. 

But often, when a publication closes down, explanations are few and some of the texture and background of its existence simply vanishes. Staff moves on, collective memory is lost, readers accommodate themselves to its disappearance.

That's why it is so good to see an interview by the Society for News Design with former creative director Vanessa  Wyse. Here are some of the things she said about The Grid's vision, its storytelling sense and its evolution:
"We focused on “Street-level” as a starting point and branched out from there. Most of the staff came from magazine backgrounds so we basically used all of the magazine storytelling tools we knew and loved and applied it to a newspaper format. This strategy created a kind of hybrid publication with the best of both worlds. Utilizing relevant stories, large documentary photography, clean and contemporary design, loads of entry points and graphics, and a fun editorial tone throughout the magazine." 
*  *  * 
 "A few months before we closed the publication, The Grid scaled down its physical size making it even closer to an over-sized magazine. I could even bleed images, which was very exciting. 
"When we decided to make the change, it was very tempting to try and redesign the entire publication. My team and I played around with a few attempts, new fonts, grids etc. But the truth is that The Grid was never broken. The design decisions we had made originally still held up. We just had to rethink the editorial message slightly and change the size. Freshen it up a bit. So that is what we did."
 *  *  * 
"Aside from the personal loss, I feel like it was a huge loss for Toronto as a city. No one was telling the kind of stories the way The Grid was telling them. Whether it was our political coverage, our food and booze content or our design and photography, it was a different view of our city that seems missing right now. 
"Announcing the news to the staff was very difficult; everyone was in shock. We were doing something we believed in and to have it disappear just like that was hard to get past. But with media landscape as it is, we simply ran out of time." 
*  *  * 
"When the news hit Twitter we couldn’t believe the outpouring of support. Thousands of tweets instantly went up, some using words like “heartbroken” and “devastated”. Some people are still posting messages about how much they are missing the paper each week. Our readership was extremely engaged, committed, loyal, and was still growing. Even though we had been unsuccessful from a business standpoint, we had 20-30 year old’s reading print. That’s unheard of these days!"
Full text of interview 

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