The grids of older publications, such as old newspapers, show a very obvious grid that would vary very little between publications. Typeface, type size, column width, spacing etc. did not change very much and was consistent throughout the publication. Older letterpress publications have to conform to the restrictions placed on them by the limits of their technology. With limited technology publication design has the capacity to vary only slightly.
These days, with various different publishing technologies the old rules of publication design are being tested. Whilst designers still adhere to a grid, these grids vary greatly between publication and the myriad of different design tools means that the limits are almost endless.
Using different programs, such as inDesign and Acrobat, to create print mediums offer more flexibility than traditional letterpress forms. Restrictions on typeface, size, colour, columns, spacing and particularly vertical space that existed with letterpress are virtually non existent. Publications can be flexible with their grid, eliminating monotony from their publication.. (well apart from those which wish to keep a fairly traditional and consistent grid, here's looking at you Frankie.)
Looking at the ever changing front cover of Oyster magazine it is possible to see the freedom the designers have with font size, type face and subheadings. The magazine retains a consistency through the use of the single portait and placement of 'Oyster,' thus not throwing traditional rules of publication out the window completely.