New Newsweek: Out with ‘Straightforward News,’ in with Martha’s Favorite Slab Serif!


“Designed to hit just the right notes of forthrightness, credibility, and charm.” That’s how Hoefler & Frere-Jones describes Archer, the “well-mannered, easy to work with, and inviting to read” slab serif typeface that the firm developed for Martha Stewart Living. Now Newsweek has scooped up this good thing, as Martha would say, as part of its reinvention. “As we see it, Newsweek‘s role is to bring you as intellectually satisfying and as visually rich an experience as the great monthlies of old did, whether it was Harold Hayes‘s Esquire or Willie Morris‘s Harper’s, but on a weekly basis,” writes editor Jon Meacham in the editor’s letter that welcomes readers to the retooled magazine, which hits newsstands today with a mix of reported narratives, argued essays, and a fresh design by Number 17, the firm founded by Emily Oberman and Bonnie Siegler. Gone are the “straightforward news piece and news written with a few new details that does not move us significantly past what we already know,” replaced with a four-section structure and a closing graphic feature that Meacham describes as “a visual dissection or explanation of an important issue or phenomenon that will satisfy one’s curiosity or pique interest.”

The New York Observer‘s John Koblin got a sneak preview of the redesign and describes it thusly:

It’s stripped down. Instead of a screaming banner running across the cover, now it’s condensed and tighter, and the banner floats at the top of the magazine in a red box. The palettes are softer and more elegant. New fonts are used in the magazine, including Archer, a signature font of the most un-Newsweek of all magazines: Martha Stewart Living. Cerebral and direct, unsnarky and anti-ironic, with cool hues and fonts to match.

Why Archer? “It’s so beautiful and open and a very modern serif font,” Siegler told Koblin. As for Newsweek, “We wanted to modernize it,” she said. “We wanted to bring it into this century, sort of.”

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