Thursday, 15 March 2007

Xquisite or xxxx?

After two years of plotting in a secret basement, Gulf News has finally launched XPress. So is it really a 'new style of newspaper', or just a mildly better organised imitation of City Times with a confused looking front cover and more colours than Sport Extra (if that's possible)? Should 7days - XPress' self-proclaimed rival - be worried?

56 comments:

Anonymous said...

Extended Tabloid with no sense of direction for the reader.

Shocking.

Anonymous said...

You have to ask yourself what they've been doing for two years. The masthead lacks impact with that biege wash behind it, and the orange headline fails to stand out - the splash is completely overpowered by all those blurbs. The content does remind me of City Times, although the wasta story is not bad.

GN'er said...

After lots of joking and ill feeling, it was better than I thought it would be. Looks like a totally different product to 7days and looks like they are going for a different audience. the colours are a bit loud but I guess thats what they think tabloids should be. I disagree.

The Wasta story is good, the air crash pics on the website are really, really good and should have been played up more in the paper.

The splash is terrible (especially as the story contradicts the headline), but overall the style is quite racy...and if they can continue to get away with stories like the wasta one, half dressed women and tales of Emirati women arrested in Kenya for terrorism then it will be a useful addition.

I also liked the human stories of the pool player (good target audience story) and the basketball coach with no legs.

And of course the pic of the Serbian tennis player!!!

Anonymous said...

It's using British tabloid style language - which can only be a good thing.

The ET writers responsible for gems like 'flight fright' should take note of '19 year old stunner', 'sexy serb',forming a 'dishy doubles' partnership with 'cute Kirilenko'

Oh...and the spelling of Eriksson which they seem to have missed because they were too busy being super and soaraway...(sorry - xpressive and xperts)

A masterclass.

Anonymous said...

First, looks like a Mario Garcia design to me: bold, brassy, (and very hard to maintain over the long term), overly busy, extremely confusing and generally hideous. Any Xpress insiders confirm it is indeed Garcia behind the retina-burning design? If so, check out the fate of most of the gaudy tabloids he's responsible for.

as for the splash, well, call me odd, but I'm not a fan of sticking third-rate, piss-easy-to-write q&a style features with absolutely no new research or insight on the front of any newspaper, especially one which has been aeons in the making and is much anticipated by an increasingly bitchy and pissed off media crowd. The heart-warming, shiekh-pleasing but ultimately contradictory splash head is just icing on the cake.

The wasta story? C'mon. We want names! Positions! Nepotism exposed! Merely saying "wasta exisits!" isn't quite as earth-shattering as some commentators here think.

And why a weekly? What's the bloody point with 7/6/5 Day, Emirates Today and the criminally overlooked Evening Post already fighting out in the daily market?

And what's with that feral cats question on the web poll?

Ach, I could go on but what's the point. A masterclass? Nah ... ET still leads the way in being a masterclass. In shite.

Anonymous said...

As there is a big feature inside about Mario Garcia having designed the paper, I'd presume he was responsible.

Anonymous said...

why can't i get hold of the damn thing? At least thought it would arrive with my GN but alas...any suggestions peeps?

Anonymous said...

I think its in garages and the suchsort...next to 7days

DXB hack said...

Anon at 10.34.

I didn't think it was a secret, but obviously it is to some. It's a weekly because they haven't got a daily licence yet.

The wasta story is ok. You want them to name names? Why aren't the other papers doing stories about wasta if it is so easy?

You should be aiming your fire at the crap like the 'cat's have diseases' story and the oh so dull 'boat' piece and that god-awful mess that is page 20.

Anonymous said...

Half my copy is sadly missing, having been scattered among sniggering colleagues. Such mean kids. Found the Garcia bit now, so obviously feel foolish: still with a front page like that it kind of stands out as one of his kindergarten efforts.

Anonymous said...

Waves of relief washing over the satff at 7DAYS, no doubt.

It's utter sh1te and looks like it was designed by a 7-year-old kid with ADHD.

Anonymous said...

The real shocker can be found on page 25

10.00 dirhams for two bottles of mayonaise. Chili flavoured too!!!!

The paper? Who cares, get down to Spinneys

secretdubai said...

Ah well let's wait and see. 7Days was appallingly bad when it launched, then got much better (when it moved to becoming a daily, from what I recall).

There's hope for XPress. I'm staying optimistic. Trying to, anyway.

dances said...

i thought the best bits were the local insight/profile stuff. okay, they could go after tougher subjects, but they're not alone in picking the easy fruit. finding interesting local stories/personalities could set them apart.
agree the design will be hard to maintain. and did anyone think it was too thick? took an age to get through and i found it one-paced - 100mph all the way.
and i'm not in the least intested in pictures or profiles of the staff. does the guy at the petrol pump hand me a resume when he fills my car up? no. so why do these two-bob writers feel the need?

Anonymous said...

The home page contain something about xpress in order to set people expectation of what kind of news they will expect to see , the design is Ok, stories and articles should not be shallow , we need details not general news which we already aware of

Anonymous said...

The problem is that the editor in chief is the same guy in charge of gulf news. The guy knows nothing and the fact that Garcia gets a million dollars for this appalling design shows this. Terrible.

Anonymous said...

Two years? TWO YEARS?!?!
Jeez....

Rob

sin said...

I agree with Rob...TWO YEARS?!! And this is what we get???!!!

Sorry SD I'm trying to be optimistic, but just can't! This is Shitty Times all over again...just with a slight edge on design.

I could do better single handed said...

7days might not have been great when it launched as a weekly, but they had a full time editorial staff of two. Xpress have 47. Throw in the fact they were 'busy' for two years in that basement and you have to wonder if their combined IQ reaches double figures.

Anonymous said...

Be Flanagan has just called it a 'Headache on every page'.

Hilarious.

Can we now get back to discussing Eudore Chand's moustache?

Open mind said...

I would agree with all of you if you were out there producing cutting-edge journalism and winning international awards, but in a city devoid of any proper media or journalism Xpress is not off to a bad start. What do you all do anyway apart from slag off others in your profession? If you're all so great and know it all let's see the fruit of your expertise. Oh we do: ET (and 7Days, which is slowly imploding). What did you expect from Xpress - the National bloody Inquirer or The Sun? What I can't understand is everyone leaping to the defence of 7Days which prints about two local news stories a day if we're lucky, can't even spell Waxy O'Conner's right in its splash when there's a bloody great picture of the pub's sign on the same page, and now seems extremely thin and dull by comparison to Xpress. Yeah, the colours in Xpress are a bit radical, but you were probably the same people who said the Guardian was shite when it redesigned so radically in the 1980s or that The Independent would never work as a tabloid. Time will tell, not knee-jerk reactions from embittered failed hacks.

Anonymous said...

Eudore Chand's moustache was once used as a fence in the Grand National, only four horses managed to clear it.

Eudore's hairy lip slug said...

Xpress is a decent read today and will no doubt get better. Lots of local coverage - just what is needed.

Eudore Chand is a warm, gentle lover.

Peace out

Anonymous said...

open mind - it's National Enquirer. just fyi

Anonymous said...

Open Mind - your real name wouldn't happen to be Abdul Hamid would it?

Anonymous said...

Open mind. Where are you working? Xpress perchance?

BTW, as a news designer I have always loathed Mario Garcia's tabloid productions. They're hideous and faddish. He fools gullible newspaper execs which the kind of marketing jargon that convinced the UK Royal Mail to rebrand as Consignia. It's all empty nonsense, and really doesn't bode well for Xpress's future.look at teh guy's track record with tabloids (his broadsheets are a different matter .. there's some OK work there)

In terms of pure design, ET looks cheap, Khaleej Times is an awful, bewildering mess, Gulf News is a fairly standard broadsheet but is pretty lazily put together.

Evening Post is also all over the place .. they've tried to copy a few garcia designs, but with less of clue than he himself says.

7days looks deliberately cheap (it's a freebie, after all, takes design cues from Metro et al in the UK, which are deliberately designed so as not to detract from paid-for, higher quality titles)but is a servicable, effective modular design. No I don't work there.

As for the content? they all have huge weaknesses and occasional strengths .. even, dare I say it, Emirates Today (thank God for anonymous posting, eh!)

open mind said...

No I don't work for Xpress or any other newspaper in Dubai. If daring to express (if you'll pardon the pun) the opinion that I don't find the first edition of a new newspaper too bad and that I think 7Days is piss-poor, opens me up to a ritual slagging, then so be it.

Anonymous said...

7days is the best paper in the UAE by some distance, and everyone knows it.

This says a fair bit about the competition, but that's not really 7days' concern.

Add 'Xmess' to the list of embarrassing and costly (failed) attempts to outdo a paper with an editorial staff of just into double figures...

Anonymous said...

7 Days is terrible. Two local courts stories, bog-standard features, and a load of wire copy don't make a great paper. If was stuck on a desert island and had to choose one daily paper, it would be Gulf News.

Anonymous said...

I agree Gulf News is best paper in the UAE
Khaleej Times used to get the best stories but terrible English and writing let it down
7 Days does what it does well
Emirates Today is atrocious and should be closed
Xpress may get good but looks like a university rag

Anonymous said...

The only reason 7days is popular is because you can read it in five minutes. It has no thought going into its design (pages poorly ripped off an old Metro template), virtually no original content, no sub editors and no photographers - and it shows. Even the letters, one of its biggest attractions, are now so off message and repetitive they could be have been posted on this blog.

Anonymous said...

Xquisite. Love it. At last something that looks and feels like a proper tabloid newspaper. Just wish it was daily and it hadn't taken me till 11pm last night to track one down.

death from above said...

anon @ 21.04
'virtually no original content' in 7days? That just aint so. There is original content every day in News, Sport, Business, Features.

They also have both a sub editor and one staff and one frelance photographer.

Check. Your. Facts.

Anonymous said...

Oh c'mon. Comparing 7 Days/ ET with Xpress wud be like comparing chalk with cheese. Xpress is hot, racy and fun to read.. I am not a newsperson, but I have a feeling they'll go a long way. Mark my words

Anonymous said...

I think it's pretty decent. The Life section in particular was pretty Xciting. Wasta story was good, but I wish they had put some names to substanitiate their claims. Overall ratings 6/10.

death from above said...

anon @ 10.54 makes a shameless pitch for the 'Xmess' account...

Anonymous said...

I really like Danesh Mohiuddin's illustrations in this newspaper, props to him! Do I have any fellow fans?

Anonymous said...

No Danesh

Anonymous said...

yeah...it's good that Xmess showcases art projects from students of Dubai's Centre for Special Needs

Anonymous said...

7days is basically Metro, and they freely admit that's all they're trying to do. No one in their right mind would ever dream of comparing the London Metro with national dailies such as The Sun and The TImes. They're completely different products. The fact that 7days is compared to the national dailies here, often quite favourably, speaks volumes about the quality of the competition. The armies of staffers at xpress, and KT, GN and the Toady, should be embarassed.

dxb hack said...

7days was different because it was off message.

People put up with the rest of the nonsense because of the occassionaly highlighting of serious local issues and an interesting letters page.

Now it is firmly on message it is not worth reading, and cannot be compared anymore (although you conveniently forget that GN, ET, KT are all essentially local papers too, no matter what they insist)

It may not have been the best start, but I can see potential in Xpress. If they are going to do 15 plus pages of pure local content each week then it will be worth a read (although in stages as I can't cope with 72 pages of visual assault in one go)

Anonymous said...

I agree that 7days' strength was its willingness to tackle some serious issues. Who else has ever taken on Emaar or Nakheel? Xpress is never going to be allowed to do that, so although there may be 15 odd pages of local news, all you're getting is more of the same.

Anonymous said...

I'd say give it a chance to see if it will tackle these issues. It's unlikely, but we'll see.

They did use a picture of a woman in skimpy clothing on the main pages!!

Anonymous said...

I think you'll find that GN has taken on Emaar and Nakheel - just in a more subtle way.

Did you know for example that GN is banned from taking photographers onto the palm.

Anonymous said...

Printing a picture of a tennis player showing a tiny bit of cleavage is not exactly pushing the boundaries of journalism. What we're lacking now 7days has to tow the line is edgy local content. I fail to see how xpress can be allowed to deliver.

And as far as I'm aware no journalists are allowed on the Palm. It's not exactly a badge of honour.

Anonymous said...

I just find it amusing that the XMess pages extolling the virtues of its editorial and design teams has a great big mistake on it (not to mention several little ones)
Let's face it, most of us on here would love the oppo to mould/launch/edit a new newspaper with such a long lead in. I imagine most of us would like to think we'd avoid such cock-ups. Not nice to slag off another journos work but, IMHO, it's a very ugly product. But then I'm guessing I'm not the target reader...

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know exactly what the target audience is? I'd be interested to find out. With a claimed circulation of 80,000 to 100,000, you surely can't be too picky.

Anonymous said...

the colourblind???
;-)

Malibu

Anonymous said...

I think they are aiming for all those people who wear sunglasses at night.

Anonymous said...

actually...xpress was initially planned to come up with a Braille edition but that would put Mario Garcia out of job

Anonymous said...

The second edition has been out all day and no one's having a go. Does that mean people can't find anything not to like in Xmess now?
I thought today's paper was a cracking good read with some great stories - prison hell, money laundering to name but two. Pity it's not daily as it is already head and shoulders above the competition. It's beginning to grow on me.

Anonymous said...

So much for the "no journalists are allowed on the Palm" theory, Check out the palm story on page 4.

This issue is way better than the launch issue. With strong stories like the Prison Hell (WOW), Money Laundering, and Club Discrimination XPRESS is heading in the right direction. Less annoying cartoons, the art in this issue is actually quite good, and fewer stupid “paper that cares” Ads went a long way to making it a better issue. Let’s hope they keep it up.

Anonymous said...

There's no new content in the Prison Hell (WOW), Money Laundering, and Club Discrimination XPRESS stories. The only new thing is XPRESS has a bunch of drunkards. Is it "drink" driving or "drunk" driving? The illustrators have done a pretty decent job.
Hey, by the way, has anyone gone through the international section. It is really XMESS. Wonder how many have understood the "poverty" story - complied from a press note - with a screwed first paragraph. The contribution of the news editor - international is clearly seen in the syntax and convulated sentences that doesn't make any sense. Pls what was the story all about!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you mean "convoluted sentences"

...Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

Anonymous said...

The second edition is much better than the first. However, the prison story is just about how sorry he felt for himself - it doesn't say much at all about the conditions, other than there's a shortage of beds. Speak to anyone who's actually been in prison and you'll see it's a pretty watered down version.

The Palm story is pure propoganda. We still don't know if journalists are allowed on the Palm, because whoever wrote that is not one.

Credit where it's due though, the nightclub racism piece is something that's been a very obvious feature for years, and no one's ever dared to do it. If Xpress are allowed to carry on as they are it could well turn into a very strong paper. Whether or not it can be replicated daily remains to be seen, but it's a zstep in the right direction.

DXB Hack said...

The prison story is nothing new? How many first hand accounts of being in prison have we seen in the UAE papers? One a week is it?

Some of the people on here are a bunch of jokers.

It looked a mess the first week, but content-wise (the horrible Palm puff piece aside), and design wise it is much better this week.

The sports features are again excellent, good strong local stuff.

If it is allowed to continue with this much freedom then it will become a very strong paper.