There is a story, probably an apocryphal one, that when Hindustan Times owner Shobhana Bhartia told an American designer who had designed The Washington Post, that she wanted a “good-looking paper”, he is believed to have retorted: “For that you need good-looking ads.”
Mario Garcia, the designer who has had a hand in pouring old wine into a number of new Indian bottles—The Hindu, Malayala Manorama, Sakaal, Saakshi, and Hindustan Times—returns to redesign Hindustan Times once again without any such constraints.
The paper, now in its 96th year, has unveiled its new look at the height of the post-COVID downturn today—August 31, 2020—with a front-page pointer to an edit page piece by Nandan Nilekani, who is an investor in HT Media.
With the same ugly ads.
The paper has a new tagline: “First Voice. Last Word”. And a new crest.
This is how the Delhi front page looks with blue being the common colour across pages.
And this is the Mumbai front page.
The over-exposed Mario Garcia—who has designed 729 projects in 121 countries—has a note on the redesign on the HT‘s inside pages, in which he makes the grandiose claim that the new design would have made Mahatma Gandhi proud.
Gandhi, of course, inaugurated the HT Press in 1924; he wrote “op-eds” for it; his fourth son Devdas Gandhi was its Editor, who was also responsible for the paper’s current location on Kasturba Gandhi Marg in Delhi.
At the inauguration of the press, Gandhi uttered words that should be inscribed in every news room and Garcia quotes:
“Every word and sentence published in the newspaper should be weighed. There should not only be no untrue statements, but no suggestio falsi, or suppressio veri.”
Devdas Gandhi’s son Rajmohan Gandhi would go on to become a resident editor of the undivided Indian Express.
“So great was the involvement of Devdas Gandhi’s family with the Hindustan Times that when the rotary press fell silent, I would wake up,” recalls Rajmohan Gandhi.
This is how the HT masthead has evolved over the years, with the definite article being dropped under Vir Sanghvi.