But, all good things must come to an end: have the briefs bit the dust?
Behold those columns of briefs.
Adored by designers who used the skinny columns of short items—-always set with ragged right text and 14-point two line heads—-to put the V of vertical on the page.
A skinny column of briefs ran from top to bottom of the page, cutting the canvas the way train tracks do through a city.
Sometimes, the most daring would do horizontal treatments (we tried them as balconies when turning the Wall Street Journal Europe into a tabloid).
Briefs, to designers, were like maracas in a Latin band, the last instrument anyone picked up before the mambo started, but, oh, how necessary. And how fun!
Just like the mambo kings, briefs have gone a bit out of style, however.
More than out of style, briefs have been pushed out of the printed page by those mobile platforms which have become the Brief Kings.
We want brief and ragged right on that small screen of our iPhone. That means that when we come to lean back platforms such as a printed newspaper, or even a tablet, we are not in the mood for the short of it all.
We want to sink our teeth into that well cooked sirloin, juice running down the side.
And so, more and more, columns of briefs have given ways to columns of a single story, or perhaps two compacts.
We don’t have an appetite for tidbits and bites reaffirming stories we already know.
Right now, let’s face it: mobile is where we discover the news, and lean back, if we come to it, is where we want not just reaffirmation, but the substance of it.
Briefs, somehow, don’t fulfill that desire.
A newspaper designer asked me last week: But, what do I do if I take the vertical column of briefs out of the World Roundup page?
If the vertical structure is what you crave, I answered, then go ahead and put a single story there.
Make sure, however, that you and your editor are paying attention to how briefs will be presented on mobile devices.
It is NOT the end of briefs as we knew them, but it is the start of editing and designing for the multi platform world, for the media quartet.