Making sense of Chinese Newspaper Design

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One of the things that has fascinated me is how do Chinese tabloid newspapers such as Lianhe Wanbo (WB) and Shin Min Daily News (SM) get away with such designs?

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At first glance, you are overwhelmed by the number of colours and things going on in a single page and every rule of design is seemingly broken. But on closer inspection, you realise that like most newspapers, the content does not escape from the modular system as each story and its elements is contained in a single rectangle box. In that sense, order remains. Plus, as tabloids, its design does not have to show the kind of restrain a reader would expect from The Straits Times and TODAY.

Curiously, both papers have chosen to stick to the broadsheet size instead of the tabloid size (think The New Paper) usually associated with such sensationalist journalism.

Printing considerations aside, might there be historical and cultural reasons behind it? Both papers come out only in the evening when readers are returning home after work so there is probably no need for the convenience that a tabloid size provides for papers like my paper and TODAY. The other possible reason might be that its readers tend to be older, thus text size has to be big enough and a broadsheet format is more cost-efficient as more stories can be fitted into less pages. But even so, some readers struggle to read the papers, see here.

Finally, as its general readership is the working class, I think these Chinese newspapers’ design actually compensates for their reader’s general lack of interest in reading too much words. But design aside, reading these papers still gives me a headache when all the news I get is about teenage pregnancy, a 105-year old grandma passing away after dinner and celebrities committing suicide…

You can check out more WB covers here and SM covers here.

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