Bhutan newspaper Kuensel launched its daily edition in the most unusual manner. Well, at least to Western eyes.
It was a day-long affair, beginning at 4am when Bhutanese monks and priests started the religious rites of chanting, praying and making offerings.
The Chief Justice made a heartfelt plea for the media to respect its role as the fourth estate, saying it was its bounden duty to be the watchdog of democracy.
The paper is now available from Mondays to Saturdays with both the Zhongkha (the Bhutanese language) and English editions merged into one. The Zhongkha edition starts on the back page but is printed upside down with the English edition on the other side.
Kuensel had printed about 10,000 copies of the new paper and sales were beyond expectations, said its managing director Chencho Tsering.
The paper hopes to increase its number of pages in the next few months.
Kuensel’s dragon (a symbol of Bhutan, also known as the Land of the Thundering Dragon) was a saga that would take a few days to resolve.
After 10 different versions were drawn by different artists, we finally settled on one that would appear in the paper’s masthead only four days after the launch. The version you see below is the eighth dragon but was deemed too skinny and didn’t quite represent the prosperity of Bhutan!
Which brings me to the question of mastheads.
As with mastheads or nameplates, as some call it, there is always a great division. There is the old school which does not want any change, and the other that says we should change with the new look.
I am of the latter school, having changed mastheads at many newspapers, including that of the world’s biggest vernacular paper, the Malayala Manorama, which I redesigned some years ago.
I had the old typeface redrawn and even reworked the elephant, removing all the fine detail and making it slightly more stylistic.
At every one of these papers, there was not one single objection from readers! It was only a handful of journalists (mostly senior editors and long-time employees) who felt they had to retain a bit of the past!
My feeling is that people often mistake the look of the masthead as “branding” whereas it is actually the name and how the paper markets itself.