E&P Technical: 'ET' Calls It Home
Rosenberg, Jim, Editor & Publisher
Greeks have valued timely reporting since the message from Marathon. Reliably informed communication and debate were foundations of their earliest democracy, while that same society manifested an appreciation of elegant design unsurpassed in its time.
The new Eleftheros Tipos (Free Press) revives all those elements in the flagship of an enterprise reorganized as a modern multimedia operation. It is the result of a collaboration of modern, international talents, as well as the revival of another ancient local institution.
Founded only 25 years ago, Eleftheros Tipos quickly became the country's top- selling daily, but circulation and advertising stagnated in the 1990s. A tabloid of dated design produced by a largely older staff in a shabby newsroom, "this was a party newspaper," like others in Greece, that "fell into disrepair," says architect Safwat B. Fahim.
Purchased in the summer of 2006, ET is still recognized as a center-right publication, but without political party affiliation. CEO Michalis Zacharatos argues that its editorial independence is assured because, unlike most Greek media owners, ET has "no business interests" in Greece.
The new owners aimed high. Within three months they had consultants modernizing all aspects of the enterprise, then fast-tracked implementation of their plans. Radical changes to process and product were quickly followed by dramatic improvements in sales.
Reintroduced in May of last year, ET's extreme makeover was more than a serious redesign. It represented a complete rethinking of the newspaper: what, how, and how much it covered, as well as its presentation and production.
Since then, according to Managing Editor Serafim Kotrotsos, six-day circulation rose 50% and Sunday circulation nearly tripled to more than 100,000 copies, while revenue doubled. Once again it is among the top sellers -- reportedly second on weekdays and third on Sunday.
"More important," says Juan Antonio Giner, survey research by a U.S. firm shows "the newspaper has attracted a lot of new young readers and more women."
Giner is founding partner and director of InnoVation International Media Consulting Group, which was tapped to turn around the way ET worked and looked.
While another firm researched the market, InnoVation consultants examined publishing models, production, and newsroom organization, workflow, and environment.
"This was a bankrupt newspaper. So the new owners wanted to change everything except the name," says Giner. "We were hired with total freedom to develop a new editorial concept, a new design model, and a state-of-the-art newsroom. This freedom and the full support of the new management made the difference."
The goal was "to become the No. 1 newspaper of the country in three years," adds Giner -- who, besides having consulted for dozens of media companies in 20 countries, is a lawyer, author, newsletter editor, Web site publisher, researcher, educator, founder of Spain's Society of Newspaper Marketing and Malofiej Infographic Awards, advisor to the World Association of Newspapers, and former European director of the Society of Newspaper Design.
The owners agreed to remake ET in nearly the same large-tab dimensions, but more like a daily news magazine, and with only two weekly supplements "because we believe in compact" newspapers, "not in multi-section ones," Giner adds. Page One features arresting layouts to compete in a country without subscription sales. It relies heavily on photography and graphics, with stories introduced in spreads.
Sunday's edition carries its own glossy magazine. "Sunday newspapers in Athens have fabulous Sunday magazines, and the new owner wanted to compete also in this field," Giner notes.
Only months old, the new ET was named best designed national newspaper at last spring's European Newspaper Awards. Javier Errea, president of Spain's chapter of the Society for News Design, conceived its overall design. …