Inside the redesign of the Beaumont (Texas) Enterprise

The Enterprise of Beaumont, Texas — circulation 23,669 — launched a major redesign last month.

On the left, here, is a Wednesday page from last May. On the right is the redesign launch front page from Wednesday, Feb. 18.

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Click those — or any pages here today — for a larger look.

Enterprise editor Tim Kelley tells us:

To make this effort doable with our resources, we kept the body type, basic page architecture and main news hed face and concentrated on high-profile improvements and simplification throughout.

A closer look at the debut front:

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To help make this happen, the Enterprise hired Washington-based editing and design consultant J. Ford Huffman.

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J.Ford was part of the team that created the original prototypes for USA Today. He later served as as a content editor for USA Today‘s Life section and then managing editor for the Rochester (N.Y.) Times-Union, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle and then the Gannett News Service. He then spent eight years as deputy managing editor of USA Today, art-directing page one.

With Tim’s permission, J. Ford walked us through the redesign process:

Publisher Mark Adkins asked me to see and read the Enterprise and to work with editor Tim Kelly, managing editor Ashley Sanders, news editor Vic Odegar and the rest of the staff – to help develop ideas for ways to refine the strong, local print brand.

I suggested three goals, each about simplifying things. Adkins and Kelly agreed:

  • Refine the look and feel and the organization, for reader appeal and navigation.
  • Streamline the layout process for the enterprising (pun intended) but small newsroom staff.
  • Give staffers more time to present news creatively instead of spending time producing elements such the art-filled skyline promo.

For two days early last November I visited Beaumont in order to get a sense of the character of the city, the readers (I attended a post-Election Day party and a major charity’s fundraising dinner), and the energy in the newsroom. In nearly nonstop discussions with staffers – starting with reporters – a consensus and a plan became apparent.

The rest of my input – from mid November through mid February – was in conversations on the telephone and in email notes.

THE LOGOTYPE

We looked at the archives and agreed that the Enterprise logotype, which is historic and therefore authoritative, ought to stay.

The existing logotype:

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We decided to put a bigger Beaumont back into the nameplate – as a visual way of affirming the Enterprise’s commitment to local readers and the organizaton’s pride in being a part of the community.

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After we agreed on placement and size, editor Vic Odegar and I tweaked and tightened the letter spacing in the existing “Enterprise” — and also took care with the new “Beaumont” and the section and topic words’ letters.

THE NAMEPLATE

In developing at least a dozen thumbnail sketches that I could present to staffers as initial idea-starters on my first day in Beaumont, I looked at page after page, in online and on newsprint – and was inspired by the indicia, which stacked Beaumont atop Enterprise.

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How would the stack look at the top of page one? Would the two lines’ depth have impact? Would making “Beaumont” prominent work as a design and as a civic and brand statement? And could the two-line logotype style work on section flags? What if the “Enterprise” remained black but the “Beaumont” were a different color?

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Kelly and Odegar tried a variety of colors from the local environment’s palette but ultimately we opted for gray because of its journalistic and classic feel and because there’s plenty of color on the rest of the page.

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To ensure that the color decision was based on reality rather than images on a screen or copy paper, Vic prepared prototype pages that were put on the presses – twice.

Here’s J.Ford’s sketch for the new-and-improved Sunday nameplate…

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…and here’s the one that sat atop the first new Sunday edition.

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Tim tells us:

We phased in some other cleanup of both design and content.

A reduction in the number of typefaces we were using for centerpiece and feature heds, the elimination of color in those heds and the introduction of size constraints, both for news heds and centerpieces (which often were larger than news lede heds).

At the same time that we were trying for more discipline with headline design, we targeted label heds on feature stories, which disguised weak wordcraft with large type. We’ve been on a similar whack-a-mole effort with superfluous colons.

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Elimination of the heavy use of red throughout the paper, which looked like the last notice from a collection agency.

To emphasize our regional reach and appeal (and help sales), we added place labels to any staff story in our non-Beaumont coverage area. For Beaumont-based stories, we stick to theme labels.

Here’s the entire front page of the first Sunday front page.

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Find the Beaumont Enterprise web site here.

Media management guru Jill Geisler to teach at Loyola

Longtime management consultant and former Poynter faculty memeber Jill Geisler has been named the first Bill Plante Chair of Leadership and Media Integrity at Loyola University in Chicago.

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A news release from the University reports:

“We are delighted to have someone with Jill’s background, experience, and reputation join us,” said SoC Dean Don Heider, “She is one of a kind with her background in journalism and experience teaching management and ethics.  She will bring much to the school.”…According to Geisler, “Three things made this opportunity irresistible: The School of Communication’s focus on media integrity in the digital age, the chance to integrate leadership skills and values into an already strong curriculum, and Loyola’s commitment to social justice.  Even as I continue to coach managers in media organizations, I’ll be helping grow tomorrow’s leaders in Loyola’s classrooms.”

On her Facebook timeline Tuesday, Jill added:

Yes, I’ll continue to travel to newsrooms near and far to work with media professionals and teams, while I also teach up-and-coming leaders at the University. My consulting work for managers is integral to my role.

Yes, I’ll continue my column for the Columbia Journalism Review – and do more writing on leadership and integrity issues for Loyola.

A 1972 graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Jill spent 25 years at WITI-TV in Milwaukee, Wis., ending up as vice-president of news. She earned a Master’s degree from Duquesne University in 2004. She worked with the Poynter Institute for more than 16 years as a senior faculty member for leadership and management programs. She switched from senior faculty to affiliate status earlier this year.

In 2012, she published a book: Work Happy: What Great Bosses Know – aimed at managers in all fields, not just journalism.

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The university press release reports the book…

…grew out of a column and podcast she did over a number years. The book has been released in English, Portuguese and Korean editions. Her podcasts have been downloaded over 13 million times.

Find the news release here. See Poynter’s version of this story here.

Find Jill’s CJR columns here. Find her web site here and her Twitter feed here.

Birthdays for Wednesday, March 4

Here’s wishing the happiest of birthdays to five brilliant visual journalists…

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Chris Dye is a designer for Gannett’s Louisville Design Studio. A 1999 graduate of the University of Kansas, Chris spent a year as a designer for the Baltimore Sun and then another with the Myrtle Beach, S.C., Sun News before moving to the Charlotte Observer in 2001. He changed coasts in 2003, moving to the San Diego Union-Tribune. In his spare time, he served as director of the color guard for the San Diego State University Marching Aztecs. Chris joined Gannett in 2011. Find his portfolio here. Chris turns 38 today.

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Elizabeth Kiernan is an adjunct professor at Cal State University San Bernadino. A graduate of Queens University in Charlotte, N.C., Elizabeth earned a PhD at Duke University. She’s taught at St. Catharine College in Springfield, Ky., the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Ky., and Aquinas High School in San Bernadino. Find her Twitter feed here.

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Pam Nelson is a copy editor for the Journal of Accountancy, the Tax Advisor and a number of other publications and based in Durham, N.C. She’s also the official grammar blogger for the American Copy Editors Society. A 1976 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Pam spent 13 years as a copy editor, assistant news editor and assistant editor of the News & Observer’s state Capitol team before leaving to become managing editor of HowStuffWorks.com. She returned to the N&O in 2001 and, when McClatchy moved that paper’s editing and design to its new Charlotte Publishing Center, Pam made the move as well as a universal editor. She left newspapers again in 2012, joining the Durham office of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants as a copy editor for publications. She began blogging about grammar in 2005 and moved that blog to a stand-alone site in the summer of 2012. A member of ACES since the group was founded, Pam signed on as an ACES blogger in December of 2012. Find my Q&A with her here. Find Pam’s Twitter feed here.

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Geoff Pinnock is senior editor for visuals and production at the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash. A 1981 graduate of Southern Oregon University, Geoff spent 11 years at the Mail Tribune of Medford, Ore. He started out as a sports writer, was promoted to sports editor and finally to chief of the copy desk. He moved to the Anchorage Daily News in 1990 and then moved again in 1992, to the Spokesman-Review as sports design director. He was promoted to design director in 2004 and assumed his current duties a year later. Find his Twitter feed here. Geoff turns 56 today.

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Ryan Sparrow is an instructor at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. A 1994 graduate of Indiana’s Franklin College, Ryan spent spent two years as a photographer for the New Albany (Ind.) Tribune and then three more shooting for the Florida Times-Union of Jacksonville, before heading to Ball State for a Master’s degree. He earned that in 2004 and has been teaching there ever since. Last year, he led a handful of students to Sochi, Russia, to cover the Olympics. Read about the trip here and go here to watch a brief piece on them by CBS News. Find Ryan’s web site here, his Flickr photostream here and his Twitter feed here. Ryan turns 42 today.

Chris, Elizabeth, Ryan, Pam and Geoff share a birthday with actors Catherine Anne O’Hara, Steven Robert Weber, Adrian George Zmed, Patricia Helen Heaton, Andrea Lauren Bowen, Patricia Jude Francis “Patsy” Kensit and Paula Ragusa (better known as Paula Prentiss); musicians Jason Curtis Newsted (of Metallica), Christopher Russell Edward Squire (of Yes), South African singer Zenzile Miriam Makeba and Antonio Lucio Vivaldi; transgender and gay rights activist Chaz Salvatore Bono; politician James Richard “Rick” Perry; hot-rod designer Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, children’s book creator David “Dav” Pilkey; Amway founder Richard DeVos and sports greats Landon Timothy Donovan (soccer), Kevin Maurice Johnson (basketball), Sergio Francisco Romo (baseball), James “Jim” Clark, Elzie Wylie “Buck” Baker (both auto racing) and Knute Kenneth Rockne (football coach).

In addition, today is Toy Soldier Day, Courageous Followers Day, Holy Experiment Day, International Scrapbooking Industry Day, March Fourth-Do Something Day and National Grammar Day. Seriously.

Have a wonderful birthday, y’all! Best wishes!

A fun — and simple — page-one illustration on housing issues

As I mentioned yesterday, I took a week off of my new job in Victoria, Texas, to teach in Fargo, N.D. One of the main topics we covered there: How to build centerpieces when you have little art to work with.

On my way home Saturday, I stumbled over this delightful example of exactly that from the Tennessean of Nashville.

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Bill Campling, a designer for the Gannett design studio in Nashville, tells me:

I put together the Saturday cover.

The main story was about the impact gentrification is having on affordable housing. The study the story refers to talks about Nashville’s efforts to maintain affordable housing as being haphazard.

The concept of the main package was based off of a conversation I had with reporter Tony Gonzalez that focused on the term “scattershot,” which was used specifically in the study.

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A graduate of the State University of New York at Brockport, Bill Campling worked at the State of Columbia, S.C.

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He moved to the Observer of Fayetteville, N.C. in 2008 and then to Nashville in 2011. Find his portfolio here.

A 2008 graduate of Hillsdale (Mich.) College, Tony Gonzalez was a merit scholar and editor-in-chief of the student paper.

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He interned at the Toledo Free Press, the Detroit News and the Minneapolis Star Tribune. After graduation, he spent three years with the Waynesboro, Va., News Virginian before moving to Nashville in 2011, where he specializes in stories about family issues. Find his Twitter feed here.

Also, I might add, my former Orange County Register news editor, Marcia Prouse, is now a storytelling coach at the Tennessean.

Average daily circulation of the Tennessean is 118,589.

Previous appearances of outstanding visuals from the Tennessean here in the blog:

  • Sept. 9, 2011: My favorite Obama jobs speech headline of the day
  • Jan. 12, 2012: Nashville Tennessean shows us what’s inside President Obama’s head
  • Feb. 4, 2012: Four clever and fun page-one illustrations
  • Feb. 12, 2012: Eight cleverly striking Sunday page-one visuals
  • Feb. 18, 2012: An appreciative reporter brags on the designer who worked on his story
  • Feb. 28, 2012: A few outstanding pages from last weekend, courtesy of Gannett’s Nashville Design Studio
  • March 20, 2012: Paths not taken today in Nashville
  • March 30, 2012: For your Friday enjoyment: Two truly clever illustrations
  • Aug. 19, 2012: A big day for illustrations on page one
  • Sept. 26, 2012: What you need is a big glass of whiskey
  • Oct. 23, 2012: Inside the Nashville Tennessean’s 10-page special report on athletic concussions
  • Nov. 6, 2012: Today’s five best Election Day front pages
  • June 26, 2014: Inside the Nashville Tennessean’s addicted baby presentation
  • June 30, 2014: Nashville Tennessean celebrates a college baseball championship

Features designer Julie Frady to join GateHouse hub in Austin

Features designer Julie Frady — with whom I’ve worked at two different times in my career — is moving to Austin, Texas.

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Julie and me on my first day of work at
the OC Register, two years ago this week.

Joe Greco, design director of the GateHouse Center for News & Design in Austin announced a couple of weeks ago:

We are really excited about Julie joining our staff at the Center for News & Design. She’ll be joining a growing team of deputy design editors that tasked with designing front and project pages of some of our larger papers.

Along with Julie, the team of deputy design editors includes Ariana Torrey, Becca McGovern, Oscar Martinez and Jason Armstrong. They report to G.W. Babb, our senior design editor.

Julie and the DDEs are part of a great team we’ve built here in Austin, Texas. But we have a ways to go. We have about 165 staffers right now and hope to hire many more this year.

We’re growing like crazy. We’re going to do our best to convince our candidates to consider Austin over the likes of, say, Victoria!

Actually, we just announced [Feb. 19] that GateHouse acquired Stephens Media, of which the Las Vegas Review-Journal is a part. The group includes eight dailies and 65 weeklies. Find out more at are just-launched site: www.centerfornewsanddesign.com.

A 1986 graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, Julie spent 11 years as a features art director for the Chicago Tribune and then six-and-a-half years as a senior features designer for the New York Post. She left New York in 2011 to move to the West Coast. She spent a few months doing contract work for the features department of the Los Angeles Times, and then a year as a senior features designer for the Orange County Register in Santa Ana, Calif.

A few samples of Julie’s work:

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Until recently, she volunteered at the Aquarium of the Pacific, near where she lived in Long Beach. I’m not quite sure when Julie starts her new job here in Texas, but it’s pretty soon.