It wasn’t so much a redesign as it was a format change.

Monday, the Columbus Dispatch switched from a typical American broadsheet to a “compact.”

On the left, here, is Friday’s front page. On the right is Monday’s debut front.

130125ColumbusDispatchOld 130128ColumbusDispatchNew

That comparison doesn’t really show you the size change, however. This is a better comparison of the old format vs. the new.


As you can see, this “compact” format isn’t a tabloid at all. It’s more like a shortened broadsheet.

In a Sunday column, Dispatch editor Benjamin J. Marrison listed some of the changes:

* We have not changed the story font size. Some have said it looks bigger; others say it’s smaller. The reality is that it’s the same.

* There will be fewer story continuations or “jumps” in this new format. We will use more story summaries on the section fronts, giving readers the story in a nutshell while providing the depth inside. That eliminates some jumps.

* There will be more photos in the new format. They will be roughly the same size, although they might appear larger because they are on a smaller page.

Sure enough, the photos do seem larger. Here’s today’s front page, featuring a fairly large photo containing fairly small elements, which reduces the knock-you-over-the-head effect that a large photo might typically have.


Even with the larger photo, the page looks rather tranquil. I wonder if going to an actual tabloid format — like Newsday uses, for example, and then running a large cover photo — might work better visually.

But admittedly, it’s difficult to have a snap judgment on something like this without actually having a copy in my hands. Especially when it’s a complete format overhaul.

Other improvements mentioned by Marrison in his column:

  • Improved page labeling and navigational aides.
  • Editorial and op-ed section is spread over four pages.
  • No change in all in the comics, other than rearranging them on the new, smaller pages.

In addition, the Dispatch offered live streaming of the newsroom putting together that first new edition Sunday night as well as a Monday morning video report from a staff videographer. Find videos and links to several other resources here.

Previous posts on this topic:

  • Sept. 2: Amusing TV commercials for the new format change
  • Sept. 6: Launch of new format is delayed
  • Jan. 23: Format change now scheduled for Monday.

I’ve not seen any new inside pages yet. This blog post contained bits and pieces of prototype pages for inside the paper.

The front pages above are from the Newseum. Of course.

This article has 1 comments

  1. Kamaluddeen

    Heather, I love your Emerson quote, Every artist was first an aamteur. A friend, who also attended the conference, and I were just talking about that subject. In any creative endeavor, periods of verbal self-flagellation are inevitable. When I was painting, we called it the Uglies. That term still works in my writing. I force myself to work through it. Writing everyday (with occasional exceptions) is a rule. I put pen to paper, or fingertips to keys for at least an hour. That usually turns into two or four. My mantra is Just do it. (By the way, I used that term before Niki!)

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