Swedish designer Anna Thurfjell creates a new look for Mediatalo Keskisuomalainen’s newspapers and Karjalainen — the reform is unique in Finnish media history

Text written by: Mikko Välimaa for Mediatalo Keskisoumalainen, Utissuomalainen and first published 18.1.2020.

Anna Thurfjell, who has worked for Nordic newspapers, is an expert in digital platforms in particular.

Mediatalo Keskisuomalainen’s digital platforms and printed magazines will have a new external look in the first half of 2022. At the same time, the printed newspaper of the newspaper Karjalainen is being renewed.

At the turn of the year, Anna Thurfjell from Sweden was chosen as the news designer for the major project, who has designed news design for Svenska Dagbladet in Sweden and Aftenposten in Norway, among others. Her most recent work is the new digital design for Jyllands-Posten in Denmark.

Thurfjell has not worked with Finnish media houses before, and she is excited about the challenge.

— The project is large in both scope and depth. It’s an honor that my design studio got it. It is really interesting to work with a Finnish media company, Thurfjell says in an e-mail interview.

Thurfjell’s office and home are located in Copenhagen. Prior to becoming a freelance designer in 2013, she was the creative director of Svenska Dagbladet.

THURFJELL was chosen with a strong, approximately 15 years of experience as a news designer for digital platforms.

According to Thurfjell, an important goal is to improve the digital reader experience. It usually means simplifying the look.

An additional challenge is that there are dozens of leaves and they are very different sizes.

– In all news media design projects, information content is paramount. In this project, attention must be paid to the development and acceleration of (visual) narrative formats and how the narrative format can be changed as required by the content of the news event.

Thurfjell says she will begin the work with a comprehensive study.

— Before proposing changes, I examine what kind of visual history the newspapers have had and what they look like today.

HER INSPIRATION Thurfjell draws on the fonts, shapes and colors she sees in everyday life.

— This project is also inspired by top Finnish designers I appreciate: Alvar Aalto, Eero Saarinen, Armi Ratia and Marimekko’s designers, as well as Finnish language and culture, says Thurfjell, who speaks Swedish, Danish and English.

She describes her work as an ongoing process.

— The first draft plan is as important as the final manufacture of the product.

Thurfjell considers Finnish newspaper and media culture to be of the same high quality as its Nordic neighbors. The newspapers are valued by readers, and there is also a lot in common internationally in the layout of the newspapers and in the structures of the news.

Finnish newspaper culture differs from others mainly because of the language, but Thurfjell has also noticed other special features.

— Finnish media has a certain style and coolness. It’s accurate, but sometimes a little dry.

Readers are often quite conservative about layout changes. Thurfjell believes this is related to the special reading experience that only a printed newspaper provides. On the other hand, she reminds that Finland is one of the world’s leading, developing information societies.

— I think we will definitely find a way to reform that works for you and your readers, she says.

In her free time, Thurfjell relaxes in a very Nordic way. — I spend time with my family. We like outdoor activities: running, cycling and swimming (as long as spring comes first). I also like cooking and reading.

MEDIAATALO KESKISUOMALAENEN and the newspaper Karjalainen’s newspaper reform includes all Mediatalo Keskisuomalainen’s provincial and regional newspapers, local newspapers and city newspapers, as well as the newspaper Karjalainen’s printed newspaper.

There are more than 60 newspaper titles.

Seppo Rönkkö, Chairman of the Board of Väli-Suomen Media, says that the newspaper reform aims to signal that the products of media houses are up to date.

— Although it is only fifteen years since the transition to the tabloid, for example, continuous renewal is necessary. In the big picture, the combination of print and digital is significant. Anna Thurfjell’s choice as a layout designer contributes to this.

According to Rönkö, the scope of the reform is unique in the Finnish media field.

— We made the first joint layout reform in 2003, when the newspapers Karjalainen, Keskisuomalainen and Savon Sanomat were involved. Since then, the number of newspapers has grown significantly. In its scope, it is a unique project in Finnish media history. Layout reforms have traditionally focused on print. Now there is a strong digital dimension involved, Rönkkö says.

For the employees of MEDIA COMPANIES, it is also a matter of learning new ways of working, as the work will be shifted with more emphasis on online publishing.

— The reform will change the whole journalistic process. The stories are first published online, and their export to a print newspaper is simplified. This saves resources for the actual editorial work, says Terhi Nevalainen, the producer of Sunnuntaisuomalainen, who is leading the newspaper reform.

Emphasis does not mean that printed newspapers are not developed.

— Printed newspapers are by no means being discarded, but are being imported to this day. Their appearance threat was renewed with the transition to the tabloid in 2016, but the bottom line is already from the early 2010s.

Although the design work for the reform was outsourced, there is also enough work within the group. Nevalainen’s role is to hold the hands of the company’s technical experts at one end and the management of the media companies at the other.

— The goal is to renew the look of all newspapers at the same time.

Text by: Mikko Välimaa.
Photo credits: Nanna Navntoft