Some of the fanciest mastheads I have ever seen are in India.
Take a look at those of four Punjabi newspapers in the picture below. They are (from top) Daily Ajit, Rozana Spokesman, Jag Bani and Punjabi Tribune.
Two weeks ago, I revamped the masthead of Jag Bani, which used to be a lot fancier (second picture). I streamlined the cut and did away with the serifs at the bottom.
The result? The owners of Jag Bani, the Chopra family in Jalandhar, were pleased with the outcome. And so were readers, who felt that the new masthead gave the paper a more modern feel. But more importantly, it looks more distinctive and authoritative.
I know readers don’t buy a newspaper because of the beauty (or lack of) of the mastheads. But it has such an important recognition factor that you cannot afford to use any old masthead.
Usually, when I redesign a newspaper, one of the first things I look at is the masthead. Does it go with the rest of the paper’s typography? Does it project authority? Does it convey to readers a feel and sense of the kind of paper you want it to be? Does it need to be modernised?