MARIO GARCIA, renowned newspaper designer.-

Dear Reader

Changes in design, format, and editorial content are recurrent, sometimes cyclical, phenomena in the evolution of a newspaper or magazine. The Sportstar, launched by The Hindu Group as a tabloid in 1978, changed size to magazine format in 1980. In today's multi-media world, the flow of information is increasingly fragmented. Reader interests, habits, and tastes, especially among the young, are radically different from what they were a quarter of a century ago. Editorial, design, and marketing responses have naturally varied across the world.

In India too, mass television and fastgrowing internet use have made a tremendous difference to the way readers, especially young readers, approach (or do not approach) daily newspapers - and magazines. After a careful study, The Hindu group decided to base its editorial and design response on a major and exciting partnership with Garcia Media, headed by the internationally renowned newspaper designer, Dr. Mario Garcia. His approach to, and philosophy of, design is known internationally as pure design. It has been characterised as "clean, elegant, usable, and true to itself." Mario himself emphasises that his design philosophy calls for a `look and feel' that is appropriate to the content and audience to be served.

Our sports weekly - the only magazine of its kind published in English in India - is committed to being contemporary in every aspect: design, format, and editorial content, which is to say, text, pictures, and graphics. (You will notice another small change: The Sportstar has dropped the definite article in its name and become Sportstar. We think it's a sportier name.)

The first and big design decision made by us, with the wholehearted support of Mario, was to change format back to tabloid. Thus, a page of the relaunched Sportstar is double the size of a page of the The Sportstar. The new format provides journalists as well as designers a more generous canvas to work on - the opportunity to be more colourful, engaging, action-packed and, where necessary, dramatic (how else can you deal with the likes of Virender Sehwag, Shahid Afridi, Adam Gilchrist, and Shoaib Akhtar?).

Our hope is that the radical design transformation, going hand in hand with editorial and production changes, will make your sports weekly more current, more up with the news and trends, more vibrant and varied, more informative and insightful, more fun to read. And it will be quicker to market.

The emphasis of the new design is on elegant, comprehensive, on-the-go packaging and presentation of feature articles and photographs of the highest quality. A new typeface that is young and bold (fonts drawn from the Stainless and Fairplex families), a vibrant architecture, better navigation and layering of stories, a clear and vibrant colour palette, and colour coding of all major sports are key features of the redesign aimed at making Sportstar elegant, exciting, and sportier, besides offering the advertiser better value and new opportunities.

Mario and his German colleague, Annett Osterwold, worked for months with our talented and committed design, editorial, production, and marketing teams to give the new Sportstar the `look and feel' of today.

We have introduced new editorial features - a `Then & Now' column that brings into focus the past and the present in the lives of some of our prominent sports personalities; notes from major Indian sporting centres; a new monthly column by the legendary footballer, Franz Beckenbauer; and an instructional tennis feature by our own Ramesh Krishnan. In addition, we bring you a weekly update of the English Premiership.

Embarking on a change as radical as this is an adventure. What I can assure you is that we have taken the utmost care to retain Sportstar's core values - its serious journalistic purpose, reliability, accuracy, variety, fairness, balance, and unswerving sporting spirit. We will do our best to get better in every respect and we look forward to your support.

Do tell us what you think of the reinvented Sportstar.

I almost forgot: we have lowered the newsstand price of Sportstar to Rs. 8; the half-yearly subscription to Rs. 130 (Rs. 5 per issue); and the annual subscription to Rs. 208 (Rs. 4 per issue).