Is imitation flattery? Russian paper apes Wall Street Journal design

Jun 13, 2011 in Journalism Basics

Scientists may have wrestled for ages over which came first - the chicken or the egg, but there is little doubt that The Wall Street Journal originated the design that Russian newspaper Izvestia debuted this month.

Russian journalist and blogger Nataliya Oss spotted the similarities between Izvestia's new design on June 7 and The Journal's May 26 edition. The websites for the two dailies are also remarkably similar.

Russian news outlet RSN picked up the story and interviewed Izvestia publisher Aram Gabrelyanov, who told RSN that his newspaper followed "the world tendencies" and that he referred to both The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

According to RSN, Gabrelyanov also stated that Izvestia consulted WSJ about the new format. "We were in touch with them, we took the narrow paper [format] from them, which has not been done in Russia so far. Such a narrow format, [with] the number of columns, cannot be done in a different way," he said.

Another Russian news outlet, Open Media News, pointed out that Gabrelyanov also heads up the Life News website. The site's design bears a striking resemblance to Sky News, OMN noted.

The pro-Kremlin Izvestia, whose name loosely translates into English as "The News," began publishing in 1917. Gabrelyanov, a tabloid publisher, took over the paper in February 2011 and has recently pushed for mass layoffs at the paper.

What do you think of Izvestia's new design? Are there only so many designs suitable for global papers?