At their most recent Meet the Editor event, Members of the Guild in the Midlands region turned out to hear Farmers Guardianeditor Ben Briggs fill in the background to the publication’s switch from a broadsheet to magazine-size format and the associated changes in content.
“We want to be seen as the publication that fights for farmers, one that takes a lead for them,” explained Ben, who charted the title’s journey from tabloid to magazine format at the meeting hosted by rural training organisation Lantra at its Stoneleigh HQ.
The re-designed title hit the shelves on 1 July – some six months after Farmers Guardian parent company Briefing Media agreed to the change and the major investment needed.
“The response was ‘positive’,” said Ben. “One of the main reasons for the re-design was the feeling that the newspaper format had become tired and was in need of a revamp. We decided to go the whole hog, change the size and get FG on the newsagents’ magazine shelves to create a more direct competitor to Farmers Weekly.
“It also helped shake out the view of what we were about – ie a northern livestock focused paper – when that is no longer the case; and hasn’t been for some years, in fact.
“It’s also the case that the news agenda has shifted, with so much information nowadays floating around in the ether that by Friday, straight reporting via long articles is redundant to a new generation of readers. Our focus now is to latch on to news stories and ask what they might mean for farmers and why.”
In addition to the Briefing Media team, the re-design has been influenced by six user groups comprising farmers and industry influencers. Huge effort had been made on driving balance in to the front page for real impact, Ben explained, whilst content on the inside pages had changed, with more analytical features, more points of view, and more in depth political and red tape stories.
“This is where we are today,” said Ben. “However, we have to remain dynamic so the title may have moved on again in five years’ time.”
Members of the Guild in the Midlands – and from further afield – at the presentation by Ben Briggs (standing, centre) on the new-look Farmers Guardian.