West Central Tribune of Willmar, Minn., launches a redesign

The West Central Tribune of Willmar, Minn., launched a redesign Monday.

On the right, here, is Tuesday’s edition — the second day of the new format. On the left is a front page from late last year.

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Editor Kelly Bolden wrote in launch-day column:

This new design addresses the text and headline fonts and other design elements, such as our flag, column logos and page headers, for example.

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The first change you may notice is a new West Central Tribune flag on our front page. We made some small modifications: changing “Tribune” to a capital-case word (it was all capital letters before); adding a deep blue color scheme and adding a drop shadow.

Here is Thursday’s front page — Day Four of the new format:

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Other changes, according to Kelly:

  • The WCT changed its body text to a more readable font: Nimrod MT.
  • The new headline and accent fonts are Photina and Air.
  • All story text are now ragged right, “which reduces the frequency of word hyphenation,” Kelly writes.
  • Story headlines are now centered.
  • Also added: New page headers and column sigs.
  • The only content change Kelly notes is the addition of a new comic panel: Non Sequitur by Wiley Miller.

The next day, Kelly wrote:

The majority of the readers like the new design overall, calling it simple, fresh and clean. Some readers raised the concern that our photo cutlines were too small and hard to read.

…The cutline font has been changed to an Air Bold font that is easier to read.

Average daily circulation for the West Central Tribune is 13,714.

A look at the redesign of the Press of Atlantic City

The Press of Atlantic City, N.J., launched a redesign a couple of weeks ago.

On the left, here, is the final edition under the previous design. On the right is the May 19 edition.

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Executive editor Kris Worrell wrote about the new format:

Highlights include a fully local A section, expanded coverage of communities, a refreshed Opinions page, a new Money section, and a full-color weather page featuring our own meteorologist.

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Many things, including our familiar logo, changed as we modernized our look, emphasized our local content and sharpened our organization. Our goal is to make our pages more inviting with better visuals, more layers of information, and easier-to-read type.

Here’s a closer look at the new format — May 20, which was Day Two of the redesign:

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Average daily circulation for the Press of Atlantic City is 68,477.

Independent Mail of Anderson, S.C., launches a redesign

The Independent Mail of Anderson, S.C. — in the northwest corner of the state — launched a redesign Tuesday.

The 22,625-circulation daily  bucks a bit of a trend by converting from a Berliner format to a broadsheet. The Independent Mail has been a Berliner since late 2006 — it was reportedly the second U.S. paper to move to that format.

On the left, here, is the front page from Tuesday, March 24. On the right is yesterday’s relaunch front.

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Tim Thorsen — a senior editor for Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers in Stuart, Fla. — tells us a little about the redesign:

Susan Kelly-Gilbert (publisher) and Steve Mullins (editor) really drove the train. My job mostly centered on answering questions and kicking out prototypes and making tweaks they suggested.

Not much to do style-wise, as we didn’t really change much of anything along those lines. The real work was done behind the scenes with ads and newsprint and all the stuff that allows us to actually produce a newspaper.

Here’s a closer look at the new front page:

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Tim continues:

Jorge Vidrio (Scripps design editor in Corpus) created the new nameplate/flag/identity.

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The increase in page sizes allowed the Independent Mail to shuffle around much of its newshole. Here’s a before-and-after look at page A2, which now holds mostly entertainment and light briefs.

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The new format allows the Independent Mail to add larger labels at the top of each section. Local and State news begins on page three.

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Nation and World begins on page 7A.

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Here’s what a typical A-section jump page looks like.

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The serif  headline font you’re seeing there is

  • Madison Narrow /medium
  • Madison Narrow /bold

The san-serif headline font is:

  • AntennaExtraCond / bold

Tim tells us:

The big thing was figuring out how many pages the A and B sections would be — what would give us a balance between the space we had as a tall tab and the space we need.

We’ve also built some efficiencies into the process. The top of 2A and all of the first Nation/World are done by the Central Desk in Corpus Christi.

Here’s a before-and-after look at the editorial page, which the Independent Mail calls “Views.”

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With high school football huge in this part of South Carolina and Clemson University only a few minutes up the road, sports is a very important part of the Independent Mail. Here’s a before-and-after look at the sports front:

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Page two of sports is the “Fanfare” page, including a daily calendar, this day in sports history and sports briefs.

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Here’s a typical inside sports page.

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As you can see here, the agate page didn’t really change at all. A few inches of wire was tacked onto the top.

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Tim writes:

The Biz page is new and is about 90% paginated by the Associated Press.

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The advice columns move onto the puzzles page…

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…and the comics consolidate into a single broadsheet page.

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Daily weather — produced by Accuweather — doesn’t change at all, as far as I can tell.

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Full disclosure No. 1: I was born in Anderson and read the Independent Mail whenever we were in town visiting family. I still have family in Anderson.

Full disclosure No. 2: I interviewed two times for two different jobs at the Independent Mail not long after I graduated college in 1984. I landed neither.

Full disclosure No. 3: I love the typography and the organization of the new-and-improved Independent Mail. But I’m going to miss that Berliner format. I really liked the size.

The Chicago Sun-Times launched a redesign Wednesday

The Chicago Sun-Times launched a redesign this week.

On the left is Tuesday’s front page, the final edition in the previous format. On the right is Wednesday’s launch day front page.

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Looks like new typography — that superbold compressed headline font makes room for a new superbold extended headline font.

Here is today’s front page.

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But the most striking change — on page one, at least — is the new nameplate. The Sun-Times has seen a number of nameplates just since the mid-1990s, when I lived in Chicago. Forgive me if I missed one:

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Quite a change. With the exception of the most recent one — the one with the dot com in it — each seems like an improvement over the one before.

My only remaining contact at the Sun-Times told me there was no consultant involved in the redesign, suggesting it was done totally in-house. I asked him if I could get some before-and-after inside pages — a sports “front”, for example, which traditionally is on the back page of the Sun-Times — but he told me to not expect anything. Hence, this rather thin blog post today.

A reason for that, perhaps — but I’m only speculating here — is the Sun-Times‘ new partnership with USA Today, which will reportedly result in the Sun-Times running up to 12 pages a day of USA Today-branded national and international content. Here’s a closer look at the little blurb at the bottom of Wedneday’s front page:

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This move doesn’t seem to have gone over too well with most Chicagoland media critics. (Find examples here, here and here.)

It hasn’t been all that long since the previous redesign of the Sun-Times. That happened just 21 months ago.

Since then, the Sun-Times is probably best known to visual journalist-types as the paper that axed its entire photography department a couple of years ago. The paper later re-hired four of them but then let them go again a couple of weeks ago.

Fun fact: The editor of the Chicago Sun-Times is a very nice fellow by the name of Jim Kirk. He used to be a business columnist for the Tribune. Every time I walked by his desk, I greeted him as “Admiral Kirk.”

The guy probably thought I was nuts.

Average daily circulation for the Sun-Times is reportedly 422,335.

Those front-page images are from the Newseum. Of course.

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 Kelly 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.

A paper with a mouthful of a name redesigns… and shortens that name

The Intelligencer Journal and Lancaster New Era of Lancaster, Pa. — circulation 78,819 — launched a redesign Thursday.

This was one of the more extensive print renovations I’ve seen lately: A big part of the change included a new name for the newspaper.

While I’d normally advise against changing the name of a 220-year-old newspaper, I think I like this change a lot. Can you imagine answering the phone and saying:

Good morning… Intelligencer Journal and Lancaster New Era… (gasp for breath)… How may I direct your call?

The new name has only three letters in it. On the left is a front page from last week. On the right is Thursday’s debut front page.

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LNP President John Kirkpatrick — his friends call him Kirkwrites in a column on Thursday’s front page that…

…the name change “reflect(s) our full integration as a complete, multiplatform media company.

With the LNP name and “Always Lancaster” tagline, your new newspaper embraces who we are and who we serve — Lancaster County. Our company is now LNP Media Group, Inc., which includes LancasterOnline, the home of our quickly expanding digital offerings and a forum for community engagement.

As Kirk writes, the paper’s owners — the Steinman family — bought the paper soon after the Civil War. So that’s a lot of history they were potentially tossing away with the name change.

Visual editor Patrick Kirchner tells us…

The (new) logo was created by JPL Creative out of Harrisburg; they handled the branding and marketing efforts of the redesign.

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A  spadea that wrapped around Thursday’s paper explained the new logo:

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Q. What does the green part of the N represent?

A. It turns out it means different things to different people. Some folks see a blade of grass. Others see the green-covered fields around the county. Still others think of it as corn stalks or as the farmland of Lancaster County. But regardless of what individuals associate with the green swoosh, they almost all feel it represents our county.


UPDATE – 10 a.m. PDT

Because it’s come up already on my social media feeds, here’s a little more from the paper about the “LNP” non-acronym…

Q. Why did you change the name of my paper?

A. When the evening and morning papers were consolidated in 2009 the names of the three newspapers — Intelligencer Journal, Lancaster New Era and Sunday News — were retained. As a result, members of the community simplified our name by calling us Lancaster Newspapers. So we decided to take their lead.

Q. Why LNP? And why was the tagline Always Lancaster chosen?

A. We talked with the community. We spent 15 months asking questions and conducting research with people in the community. LNP resonated fully with residents in all age groups. We also knew we needed a unique and contemporary nameplate. We chose “Always Lancaster” as a tagline based on our deep and historic connection to Lancaster County and the people who live here.

So enough about the logo — let’s move on to the rest of the paper. Here is today’s Day Two front page:

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Very clean. The use of white space is particularly nice. And I’m amazed by the ear at the upper right of the page. The best word I can think of to describe it is understated.

Patrick tells us:

We’ve introduced a new 12-column grid, more white space, and typefaces with high utility/readability, all with the goal of better organization and a more approachable feel.

The  spadea also addressed the new typography:

Q. Did you change the text typeface throughout the refreshed paper?

A. Yes. Our readers have told us they want a type that is easier to read. The new typeface is actually larger with a little more space between each line of type. We have experimented with the new typeface on a variety of stories over the last couple of months and have received great feedback.

The new body copy type is Chronicle Text.

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The new headline font is Sentinel (the slab serif that works, Hoefler & Co. says).

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The secondary display or accent font is Gotham Narrow.

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The other thing to note, typographically: The new LNP uses lots and lots of italics.

In the old format, the B section was local and biz. Patrick explains:

Structurally, the new design features a three-section paper Monday-Saturday, with a B section that rotates through a different theme each day.

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Those themes are as follows…

Monday: Trending (everything from hard-hitting health and education trends to fun pop culture items)
Tuesday: Business
Wednesday: Food
Thursday: Home & Garden
Friday: Together (stories of family and community issues)
And Saturday: Faith & Values

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Sunday’s edition will be a larger, 8-section paper with more comprehensive coverage.

I really love that Trending section prototype — or, at least, the part that I can see here. Very nice.

The third daily section is sports. Here’s a before-and-after look at the sports front.

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Patrick continues:

On the A2 page every day, we’re featuring a section called Speed Read, which designed for quick, informative reading.

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It features a quick-hit summary of news stories (and some fun, quirky blurbs) in digestible bites.

Lending a consulting hand with the project was my old friend Paul Wallen. I’ve barely heard a peep from him since he moved to ESPN the Magazine, eight months ago.

Patrick tells us Paul…

…was instrumental and fantastic to work with. Our design aesthetics are very similar, and we both share the belief that design – especially in a newsroom setting — needs to maintain equal parts utility and elegance. We had a great working relationship throughout this process; we couldn’t have selected a more talented and flexible designer for the project.

Paul adds:

Not only am I from that area of Pennsylvania, I was born at the Lancaster General Hospital just a few blocks down from the newspaper building. It was a real treat to be involved in a newspaper redesign for my native city!

Here’s the spadea explaining the features of the redesign. Click this — or any of the images above — for a larger look.

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Find Kirk’s Thursday column, plus most of the text of the Q&A from the spadea — along with comments from readers — here.

Chattanooga Times Free Press redesigns

The Times Free Press of Chattanooga, Tenn., launched a redesign Sunday.

On the right is Sunday’s debut front page. On the left is Saturday’s front page.

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As you can see, the typography has been updated quite a bit. I’m told the new headline font is Salvo.

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The body type for stories remains the same, I’m told. There are lots of reverse labels out of color boxes, lots of rules and quite a bit more white space.

I am surprised, however, by all the italics on the sports front.

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On the right is Sunday’s sports front. On the left is a sports front from a couple of years ago.

I also like moving the skybox below the nameplate. That just seems to make more sense, given the very long, very wordy name of the paper.

Here is today’s front page:

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One of the more welcome design changes was the removal of the awfully dated beveled edges from the paper’s nameplate.

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Anything the paper can do to reduce clutter up top is welcome. Next, I might suggest just a bit less spread for that dropshadow.

The redesign project was reportedly headed up by presentation editor Matt McClane.

The Times Free PressShawn Ryan wrote in a page-one story for Sunday:

OK, we admit it. We had a little work done.

What you’re holding in your hands is the result of two different projects, each of which took more than a year to complete, and each intertwined with the other.

One was the installation of our new printing press, a $6.4 million project and massive undertaking that was roughly like rebuilding an airplane’s jet engines while it’s 30,000 feet in the sky and stuffed with passengers.

The second was a redesign of the paper’s look — a face lift, if you will — to take advantage of the improvements our new press offer us. So you’ll see a lot of new things in the paper, from the look of the front page to the style of headlines to the photos we use.

The new $6.4 million press means a dramatic increase in the number of color positions in the paper each day, Shawn writes. This brings with it a corresponding promise to use “more photos, bigger photos, better graphics.”

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The former press was flexo, which is a water-based type of printing. The new press is a conventional offset press. Installation took 16 months.

Find editor Alison Gerber‘s Sunday column here.

The Times Free Press has an interesting connection to media history. Adolph Ochs — who was just 20 years old at the time — used borrowed money to buy a half-interest in the Chattanooga Times in 1878. A couple of years later, he borrowed more and bought out his co-owners.

The paper flourished under Ochs, who then set his sights higher: In 1896, he moved to New York and bought a little operation there called the New York Times. Perhaps you’ve heard of it.

The Ochs family sold the Chattanooga Times in 1999. It combined with the Free Press that year. The current publisher of the New York Times, Arthur Hays Sulzberger Jr., is Adolph Ochs’ great-grandson.

Average daily circulation for the Times Free Press is 75,336.

Inside the recent redesign of the Newport News, Va., Daily Press

The Daily Press of Newport News, Va. — circulation 57,642 — launched a redesign back on Aug. 10.

On the right is the Sunday, Aug. 17 front page — a week into the new format. On the left is a front page from last winter.

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Click on that pair — or any page here today — for a much larger look.

Kevin Goyette, night editor of the Daily Press, did the work on the redesign. Previously, he redesigned the weekly Tidewater Review and the bi-weekly Virginia Gazette, both also owned by Tribune.

Kevin tells us:

We were overdue for a visual refresher, but the big driver behind this project is to enhance our focus on local news. Readers we surveyed felt like they weren’t getting as much local news as they had in the past from all the communities they care about. So we revamped zoned news sections we had created a while back to include only calendars, submitted photos, news items and the like…

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…and pumped up our local news section with more stories produced by a beefed-up reporting staff. We added more substantial local labels and added thumbnail locality markers to reinforce the idea.

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Stylistically, we tweaked some of the typography (more all-caps headlines and page labels) to be reminiscent of classic newspaper styling. We couldn’t really stray from the Tribune faces, but the idea was to be a bit more traditional and clean, while still allowing room for creativity and pop when opportunities arise.

Here’s a look at the Wednesday, Aug. 13 front page — Day Three of the new design.

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The paper lost its colorful blue nameplate — which, frankly, I kind of miss. But it gains the opportunity to do fun stuff with larger skyboxes. Here is the front page from the very next day: Thursday, Aug. 14.

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Kevin writes:

The new nameplate is a modestly revised version of one that ran from the paper’s inception more than a century ago until the 1970s.

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It features an old woodcut of the shipyard with the seal of Virginia in the center. The intent here is to help give our brand a sense of place and tradition, and, again, evoke classic styling. New section flags echo the visual approach.

Here’s a before-and-after look at the sports front…

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…and the Friday entertainment section.

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There are many other changes throughout — to furniture, column sigs and the like — but I won’t bore you with the minor details.

Ah, but we love minor details. Kevin sent along the clean, new editorial page…

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…and a new Page Two. It was pretty clean before, but now it seems just a bit more structured. The flatter (house) ad stack helps tremendously.

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According to editor Marisa Porto, a number of other changes took place with the new design:

Other features of the new design include:

  • Williamsburg — 45 minutes up the interstate — will now be included in the Town Square zoned editions.
  • Those zoned pages will stay at two pages per community every Thursday, but more of that local news will be spread throughout the week.
  • The regular local news sections expands by two more pages on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
  • Additional reporters have been added, Marisa says, to cover biz, real estate and state politics. Plus, watchdog reporting has been beefed up, Marisa writes.

Find Marisa’s column here. Find a news story about the changes here.

Marisa was bold enough to share some of the feedback she’s gotten about the format. Some readers have complained they miss the old nameplate. Others say they think some of the typography is too small or that they miss features that were changed. Find collections of feedback here, here and here.

Here are a few that ran on Aug. 12, just two days into the new design. These are from the sample of page two, above — the one that has the reader-submitted photo of the moon on it.

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Occasionally, though, you come across comments that are very interesting — and helpful — indeed:

Jerry, Hampton: I don’t know if anyone else has noticed that you have gone in the local section to sometimes four columns, and usually no more than five columns. It’s much easier to read because there are more words per line. I wish you could convince whoever does the Nation&World section to get away from the six columns that only have sometimes three words on a line. If there’s any way you could put forth that word, it would certainly be appreciated. But I want to thank you for increasing the number of words per line and decreasing the number of columns. Thank you very much.

Kory, Newport News: In an era where newspapers are constantly under threat from Internet-based news sources, it makes no sense to look “traditional”. You may think the Flag is retro, but really it’s just old looking and is a terrible choice. The addition of maps for each story is a huge improvement, and is almost what it needs to be. I have gotten in the habit of bringing my smartphone with me to read the paper just so I can look up the locations since the stories provide no landmarks to figure out where an obscure street is. I shouldn’t have to. You need to take the maps one step further by adding a dot, a star, or an arrow in the general location of the event. Why do residents of the Virginia Peninsula need to be reminded where Newport News is four times in the front section? County-scale maps would be helpful for stories in other parts of the state, since it’s impossible to keep a working knowledge of Virginia’s more than 100 cities and counties.

Lloyd: I read the Daily Press every day, especially the sports section. My concern is that box scores print is too small. I have problems reading box scores and I am sure that I am not the only one. Any improvement would be appreciated. Thanks.

Marisa received a number of comments from folks who missed the celebrity birthdays that used to run on page two. Those have been brought back.

Find the Daily Press‘ web site here.

Well, now. That IS unique!

Yesterday, we took a quick glance at the transformation of the Anchorage Daily News into the Alaska Dispatch News.

Today, a tipster sends me a photo of a page-one sticker ad from that same paper last week, advancing the big changes.

The sticker promises something “unique” for readers. And, if you look closely, you’ll find something that’s quite unique indeed.

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Thanks to my anonymous tipster.

Anchorage Daily News redesigns and changes its name

The Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News launched a minor redesign Sunday.

Minor, that is, except for a new nameplate and a new name.

On the left is Saturday’s front page. On the right is the front page of the Sunday Alaska Dispatch News.

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Let’s get this out of the way up front: Yes, I believe that is Optima.

Publisher Alice Rogoff wrote in a front-page story Sunday:

For those of you who also read us online, you’ve watched over the past 12 days as we combined the old Daily News website with our online-only news source, Alaska Dispatch. As of this weekend, we are known as Alaska Dispatch News in print too. The name “ADN,” by which many people have come to call the Anchorage Daily News over the years, lives on at adn.com.

…Many of you know the ownership of the paper changed hands in early May, when I bought it from the California-based McClatchy newspaper chain and announced that I’d be combining my Alaska Dispatch staff with the employees of the Anchorage Daily News.

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In addition to the name change and a different allocation of reporting resources, Rogoff mentions a number of other changes for the paper:

  • State and local news gets more priority one page one and on the web site. Wire copy will be de-emphasized.
  • A Sunday featured called “We Alaskans,” discontinued by the Daily News in 2000, returned.
  • The Sunday Life section will be renamed Culture and will move to Fridays.
  • The entertainment section moves from Fridays to Thursdays.
  • The paper will cease running unsigned editorials and use that space instead to run “more of your opinions and perspectives.”

But man, that nameplate. I don’t think the old one was all that bad. But I can’t say I approve of the Optima.

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Full disclosure: The first newspaper I ever redesigned — the Athens (Ga.) Daily News, in the fall of 1987 — used Optima in the nameplate and for the main headline font. But I’m not sure I’d recommend anyone doing it again.

Those front page images are from the Newseum. Of course.

Northwest Herald of Crystal Lake, Ill., redesigns

The Northwest Herald of Crystal Lake, Ill. — in the suburbs of Chicago — launched a redesign Sunday, it’s first in more than eight years.

On the left, here, is Friday’s front page. On the right is today’s new-and-improved front.

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The redesign was executed by Scott Helmchen, the managing editor for production and design for Shaw Media’s suburban group and former features editor and designer of the Northwest Herald. Among the changes, writes editor Jason Schaumburg:

  • An updated nameplate and new section headers.
  • “Our fonts haven’t changed,” Jason writes, “but how we use them in display type has.”

Sunday’s debut front page:

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  • Local news moves from the B section to the A section.
  • A new community page kicks off the B section with a calendar and “local photography from our award winning photo staff.”

Find Jason’s column here.


UPDATE: 11 p.m. Monday, PDT

Scott sends a long a care package of inside pages from Sunday and Monday’s papers and adds:

The new look of the Northwest Herald is the result of a six monthlong project to refresh Shaw Media’s print products to make them more uniform, but with each keeping its own identity.

Here are pages two and three of Sunday’s locally-oriented A section…

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…and here is Monday’s sports front.

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We wanted the design to be modern and clean. The front page was redesigned to declutter the top, making it more readable while adding more concise teasers to inside content at the bottom. We also added very visible links to our social media pages.

Here are the new opinion and weather pages…

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…and here are Sunday’s B and D section fronts.

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The inside page headers were designed to anchor each page from the top, letting the reader easily identify that page’s content. The sections of the paper now have a clear visual link with one another. In addition, a uniform color palette was adopted using shades of red and blue that are more modern and pleasing to the eye.

Average daily circulation for the Northwest Herald is 31,686.

A look at the ‘four-platform’ redesign of the Ottawa Citizen

The Citizen of Ottawa, Canada, launched a redesign a week ago today — one that reached across four platforms, the paper says, and elements of which will spread to other PostMedia company papers.

On the right, here, is Monday’s front page. On the left is a page from 2011.

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The Citizen‘s Andrew Duffy wrote in a launch-day story:

“We’ve reinvented each one of our products from the ground up — from a completely blank canvas,” said Wayne Parrish, chief operating officer of Postmedia Network Canada Corp. and the man in charge of transforming the business.

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That transformation begins with today’s newspaper and extends to the Citizens website, its tablet and smart phone editions. The four platforms will feature news, information and ads created and designed to take advantage of the strengths of each medium and to serve each platform’s unique audience.

Mario Garcia, who led the visual revamp for the Citizen, writes in his own blog that the project meant…

….not only a new look and visual identity. It is also a total rethinking of how news is edited, designed and distributed in the digital age.

Mario, his project manager Reed Reibstein and the creative director for the project, Gayle Grin of Toronto’s National Post, organized the paper’s content into three “buckets” — Ottawa, Context and You.

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Those buckets apply across all platforms. In the print edition, as you can see, that translates roughly into local and sports sections, a nation-and-politics section and a features section.

Other features of the redesign:

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  • Two new type families — Titling Gothic FB (below, left) and Shift — joins Benton Sans, Chronicle Text and Georgia.

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  • Mario says the paper will be…

“doing print happily,” using the broadsheet canvas to display large headlines and photos.

The paper’s own story reports:

You’ll notice more graphics, information boxes, and fewer long blocks of type.

Here’s a sample inside page Mario posted last week — page two of Tuesday’s debut edition:

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The paper’s report continues:

The paper will put an emphasis on context and analysis in recognition of the fact that most people find breaking news online. It will focus intently on local events, which in Ottawa include the drama of Parliament Hill.

Here’s a closer look at the new front page. This one is from launch day — again, a week ago today:

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Note the story count — two, plus an ad, a skybox, a rail and a fat quote/refer to what appears to be a column on page six.

Here is today’s front page:

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Today, the lede photo refers to a story on page two of the Context section. Again, there are only two stories on the front.

Among the non-print features of this project:

  • The web site is now responsive — meaning, of course, it formats itself to work on any device of any size.

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  • Even though you might think a responsive site reduces the need for mobile apps, the Citizen launched new apps for iOS and Android phones. For these apps, Mario writes…

…the focus is fast and local, with short and snappy updates created by a dedicated editorial team.

  • And a new evening edition iPad app — a completely separate animal from the web site and the print edition — will be published at 6 p.m. every night.Mario says the edition will be…

…edited and designed from the ground up to take advantage of the tablet. It will have interactive “pop-up” moments galore, along with video, photos, audio, and of course text.

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Mario is really high on the iPad app. After his first post offering a case study on the entire Citizen project, he came back on Friday with a second blog post describing the Citizen‘s iPad app as…

…the first I’ve seen in recent months that resonates with me as what tablet editions should be.

Inspired by good storytelling, it has no pretense of being adapted from print… The Citizen for iPad salutes print with one hand, while taking the user with a steady hand towards what true multimedia storytelling should be…

They have provided the industry with a textbook case study of how to create a tablet edition that does not duplicate content, but extends it, magnifies it and presents in such a way that many stories that may be ignored in your phone, online and print edition, will gain new and vibrant life here.

I should add: Both of the phone apps appear to be free. The iPad edition costs $1.99 for a single edition or $9.99 for a month’s subscription.

The paper’s launch-day story reports:

The unveiling of the new Citizen is part of a massive, chain-wide initiative known as Postmedia Re-Imagined, which will see similar products introduced by eight of the company’s daily newspapers during the next year.

The move to a four-platform strategy, introduced during a period of cost cutting and staff reductions, has been made possible through the launch of Postmedia’s One Newsroom. The initiative leverages the combined resources of 10 Postmedia papers to produce a comprehensive national and international file, which will be shared across the chain.

The collaboration is designed to allow metro papers, such as the Citizen, to concentrate resources on local news, analysis and features.

Translation: They’re hubbing nation and world news in order to free up resources for local coverage.

For the record, the other Postmedia papers are:

  • The (Toronto) National Post
  • The (Vancouver) Province
  • The Vancouver Sun
  • Edmonton Journal
  • Calgary Herald
  • (Regina) Leader-Post
  • (Saskatoon) StarPhoenix
  • Windsor Star
  • (Montreal) Gazette

There’s so much more you can read about this project on Mario’s blog — he goes into great detail about the project, how it was discussed, how the objectives were solved. He even offers up samples and working versions. Go read all that here.

Johannesburg daily Beeld switches to a compact for Saturdays

A couple of weeks ago, the Portland Oregonian converted from a broadsheet to a “compact” format.

Just three days later — on April 5 — one of the South African papers I worked with did the same thing.

This is Beeld, the daily Afrikaans-language paper of Johannesburg. On the left is the front page from Saturday, March 29. On the right is April 5’s relaunch front.

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The sizes are about as good as I can approximate them here. The page width shrinks from 90 picas to 64 picas.

The idea is to make the Saturday paper stand out as a special edition that contains quit a bit of feature-like reading material and to give it some shelflife. The nameplate now reverses out of a red box and the cover becomes a magazine-like page with a lead photo and refers to stories inside. Stories no longer appear on the front.

This was the April 12 front page — the second week with the new look.

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The commentary page features a smaller editorial, one column and one cartoon — this one is about sports — a quote of the week and lots of posts culled from Facebook.

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The sports pages always used a lot of nice graphics from the folks I once tutored over at Graphics24. Looks like the new format means a little more space for them, perhaps.

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The intro to this piece on Augusta National makes me laugh.

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It says, roughly:

The Masters in America has a history that goes back so far far that one wonders whether Abe Lincoln didn’t participate in it.

Um, no. If there’s one place on Earth where Abraham Lincoln wouldn’t have been welcome, it’s Georgia. Trust me on this.

The name of this segment of the paper is called “Relax.” This particular story is a travel piece on Peru.

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This one observes the 20th anniversary of the death of Kurt Cobain.

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This technology page compares Amazon — yes, it serves Africa — with its South African-based equivalent, Kalahari.com.

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Beeld always included a tabloid insert — they call it a “supplement” — with reader-oriented features stories. That’s not changing, despite the conversion of the entire paper to a more tabloid-like format.

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This April 12 spread is an interview with sometimes-controversial radio show host Gareth Cliff, who recently announced he was leaving popular radio station 5FM.

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Thanks to my old Media24 friend Arlene Prinsloo for sending the PDFs.

Because of all the time I’ve spent teaching at and consulting for Media24, I’ve posted quite a few pages from Beeld over the years. In case you’re curious…

  • Dec. 4, 2010: A fun first-person graphic [that I did] for the business page
  • Dec. 17, 2010: I told you it’s been raining here in Johannesburg
  • Feb. 11, 2011: Tomorrow’s front page today
  • Feb. 18, 2011: Fulfilling every stereotype of South Africa for you folks back home…
  • March 11, 2011: How Johannesburg’s Beeld is playing the earthquake/tsunami story
  • March 26, 2011: South African papers on their team’s cricket World Cup loss
  • May 11, 2011: A little contest horn tootin’ here…
  • May 18, 2011: Municipal election day coverage from South Africa
  • Nov. 22, 2011: South African newspapers observe ‘Black Tuesday’
  • Dec. 6, 2011: Beeld of Johannesburg, South Africa, redesigns
  • July 30, 2012: A Johannesburg paper celebrates Olympic gold for a South African swimmer
  • Aug. 1, 2012: Olympic gold medal elation on South African front pages
  • Aug. 8, 2012: There’s no front pages like snow front pages [This was during my last trip over there]
  • Aug. 12, 2012: How South African papers covered last week’s disastrous mine protest
  • Feb. 20, 2013: How South African visual journalists are covering the ongoing Oscar Pistorius story
  • Dec. 6, 2013: A sampling of Nelson Mandela front pages

Portland Oregonian switches to a ‘compact’ format

The Portland Oregonian launched a redesign Wednesday, switching from a broadsheet to a new 11-inch-wide by 15-inch-tall “compact” format.

On the left is Tuesday’s front page; on the right is Wednesday’s:

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Here’s a closer look at the new front page — Today’s:

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Sports, biz and features sections are now pull-out stapled sections.

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These sections have been rolling out over the past several weeks. The main section switched over on Wednesday.

Eight stitchers have been imported from Sweden to staple the sections, the Oregonian reports. The presses themselves — built in 1974 — were “re-engineered” to create the new format.

Among other features of the new format, the Oregonian says:

  • Color on every page.
  • “More magazine-style spreads and fewer story breaks, for a more immersive reading experience.”

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  • “And yes, even the type size is the same.”

One thing you won’t find in the new-and-improved paper: MLB box scores.

Here is a TV ad the Oregonian has been running to tout the changes:

Average daily circulation for the Oregonian is 247,833.

Other recent format changes:

A look at the redesign of the Arizona Republic

The Arizona Republic of Phoenix became the latest Gannett paper to launch a redesign Sunday.

On the left is the front page from March 23. On the right is Sunday’s debut front — as you can tell from the obligatory page-one promo touting the new design.

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Click that — or any page here today — for a larger look.

Tracy Collins — director of the Gannett Design Studio in Phoenix — writes:

The structure for the redesign is by Colin Smith, the Republic team leader, who also did the Fort Collins redesign in October 2012. Creative director Trish Reinhold and I then worked to translate Colin’s terrific design to the many sections of The Republic. We also engaged all of the Republic designers early, having them recreate their favorite pages in the new design, so that they would feel better about the potential of a quieter design, and giving them some practice runs at it before the launch.

Designer Sara Amato — who took the time to pull the pages posted here — tells us the design…

…was launched ahead of the Butterfly initiative. If you’re unfamiliar, which I’m sure you’re not, is something launched by Gannett/USA Today. So there’s a USA Today section inserted into the paper daily. It’s national news. So the local content pushes into the A book and the B section becomes a USA Today section.

On the weekends, the Valley & State section is separate…

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…but during the week it’s part of the A-book. Features gets its own stand alone Life section from USA Today on Sunday. And sports gets two additional pages during the week.

The Valley&State pages were designed by Nicole Vas, Courtney Kan, Danielle Rindler, Brandon Ferrill and Mica Encinas.

Tracy picks up the story:

We knew that USA Today was about to become part of the daily Arizona Republic, and there were many characteristics of the previous design of the Republic that were similar in theory to USA Today — very bold furniture which in turn required a loud design. We wanted to create a contrast to the USA Today content, not try to out-bold a very bold design.

You can see this particularly well on the new sports front. The previous Sunday sports front is on the left, the new one is on the right, designed by Sara:

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Tracy continues:

So the approach was mid-century classic, downplaying the furniture to put more emphasis on the content, particularly the great photography of the Republic staff.

Headlines will also generally be smaller, and almost exclusively in serif type. But while the main news headline for The Republic had been a condensed version of the serif, the new design uses only the regular, bold and light (uncondensed) versions. Which gives them more weight at a smaller size. And by going almost exclusively serif, it is in contrast to USA Today‘s Futura headlines.

We dropped the “The” from the Republic flag to make it bolder in the presentation, something the paper has done intermittently in its history.

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Here is Monday’s front page:

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Tracy says:

The great structure and use of column rules reflects Colin’s architecture degree. The gutters within the stories and between the stories is the same on the grid (20 points), and using the column rules on the internal columns holds those pieces together.

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Sara elaborates on this:

We build primarily on a 10-column grid with 20-point gutters. With ad stacks, we also have the options of 4-and-6 column grids. Everything is 20 points away from each other.

Every story gets an 8-point hash rule above it. And all stories have hairline rules between the columns.

We’ve eliminated the san serif font. Big news gets an all-caps Amasis black weight. Our news/features font is now Century. We have the option of light, roman and black. The flags are ultra bold italic.

Here’s a before-and-after look at the Sunday business section, designed (I think) by Wendy Goldfarb

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…the arts and entertainment section designed by Audrey Tate

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…and the Sunday travel section designed by Rachel Van Blankenship.

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Sara adds a few more typographical details:

No indents on the first paragraph. No “by” in the byline.

Here is page two of sports, designed Sunday by Sara:

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Tracy concludes:

It’s a big change of direction from the 2012 redesign of The Republic, but one we’re very happy with. We weren’t unhappy with the 2012 design, but we feel this one plays much better with the new USA Today sections in the paper.

Average daily circulation for the Arizona Republic is 321,600.

A look at the redesign of the Shreveport (La.) Times

Nathan Groepper, creative director of the Gannett Design Studio in Iowa writes to say:

I know it seems like all we do here in Des Moines is redesigns. And that’s kind of been true recently. The Design Studio has launched five redesigns (and a “refresh”) over a four week period that started in February. This brings us to seven redesigns since October, which sounds insane.

I thought you might be interested in what we came up with for Shreveport, La., which launched on March 3.

On the left is a Shreveport Times front from last month. On the right is March 3’s debut front.

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Click these — or any page here today — for a larger look.

Nathan directs our attention to…

…the new masthead on Page 1A. We ditched the blue ball and some of the architecture to allow for more flexibility for the designers.

This was the front page for Wednesday, March 5…

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…and here was the first new Sunday front.

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In addition, Nathan says, please notice…

…the bright new section flags, which was inspired by the vibrant culture all around Shreveport. The big “T” was incorporated as a branding device throughout the paper.

Here are before-and-after views of the Local and State pages inside the A section…

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…and the sports section.

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Nathan writes:

The overall goal was a mix of modern visual touches with a nod to the paper’s deep history in the community.

Some of the other changes include:

  • New features sections, including Taste, ACE (Arts, Culture, Entertainment) and Lagniappe, which people in Louisiana roughly take to mean “the good stuff.”

Here’s the first ACE section from a week ago today…

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…and here’s last Friday’s Lagniappe section.

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  • A new Outlook section on Sunday that features staff experts and community voices.

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  • New fonts, rules and spacing to give the pages a cleaner and more organized appearance.

Here are before-and-after looks at the new editorial page…

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…and the new Page Two.

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On the new page two — above, right — you can see:

  • Faces of Shreveport staffers sprinkled throughout the paper to help better brand them in the community.

You can find more specifics about the changes here from Shreveport General Manager/Executive Editor Alan English.

Among the things Alan mentions in that column: New $2.2 million printing presses go on line in August.

Alan’s a good guy.  He spent more than 20 years shooting for the Knoxville (Tenn.) Journal, the Westchester (N.Y.) Journal News and the Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat & Chronicle before becoming executive editor of the Shreveport Times in 2004. He was named executive editor of the Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle in 2009, became publisher of the tiny Conway, Ark., Log Cabin Democrat in 2012 and then returned to Shreveport last September.

Average daily circulation of the Shreveport Times is 37,666.

Nathan adds:

The redesign was spearheaded by Scott Lester who was a designer for the Des Moines Register before becoming a Team Leader in the Design Studio in summer 2012. Scott was also responsible for the Lafayette redesign which launched in December.

Which reminds me: Here are a few more recent redesigns by the Des Moines design studio:

  • October: Post-Crescent of Appleton, Wis., circulation 38,244.
  • December: Daily Advertiser of Lafayette, La., circulation 29,368.
  • February: Argus Leader of Sioux Falls, S.D., circulation 32,192.
  • February: The Des Moines (Iowa) Register, circulation 101,915.
  • February: Green Bay (Wis.), Press-Gazette, circulation 41,767.

A look at this winter’s in-house redesign of the Tampa Tribune

Horace Brooks, team leader for design at the Tampa Tribune, writes to let us know about a redesign his paper launched in January.

He writes that he found, here at the blog…

…an extensive post about our last redesign as a Media General product. So I thought you might be interested to see what we’re up to now.

The purpose of that redesign was to bring us in line with the Richmond Times-Dispatch and the Winston-Salem Journal, so that the three papers could be designed and copy edited from two Consolidated Editing Centers, a truly dark chapter in Tribune history.

You can read about that October 2010 redesign here. Here’s a before-and-after look that I posted then:

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The sale to Warren Buffett of all Media General papers but one, us, meant the demise of the CEC.

We were purchased in October 2012 by a private investment firm, Revolution Capital Group. Tampa Media Group was born, and we were thankfully free to shake things up and reclaim our identity.

By December of last year (below, left) the Tribune had already changed its nameplate to something that looked a little more traditional. On the right, here, is Wednesday’s front page.

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You can see the elimination of the serif headline fonts and a complete overhaul of the skybox promos, for starters. But, in fact, there was quite a bit more to this redesign than that — stuff that’s not necessarily showing up in the Newseum.

Horace tells us:

Our first move was to push back against the Tampa Bay Times name change by reopening our office in Pinellas County and launching the St.Petersburg Tribune.

Here’s a live St. Pete Tribune page from last month:

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Click any of these, by the way, for a larger view.

Horace continues:

We treat St. Pete as our first edition and Tampa as the second. Most days we have two unique stories on each front and two shared stories. The same goes for Metro.

Next we switched from CCI to Saxotech, which consumed all attention for many months, so that I think it was the end of August last year when someone asked , “Why do we still look like the Tampa Times-Dispatch?”

From the start, I focused our redesign on single copy sales and reinventing our front page. Since we’re in one of the last competitive markets, with our papers sitting next to the Times in boxes and on store shelves, I felt we should dedicate every bit of the top half our front page as a billboard to draw undecided readers to our cause.

As you can imagine, this approach presented many challenges. Each time I tackled a new idea, I would design another round of prototypes, reimagining the previous four or five days of front pages using the actual news budgets. This went on for about three months. I also developed a 60-slide Power Point to present my ideas to my colleagues.

A couple of prototype pages from Horace’s collection.

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One of the first people I shared the concept with was our photo editor, Todd Chappel. Since we’re now mixing photos with type on a regular basis, this wasn’t going anywhere without his help and encouragement. From day one, I’ve had wonderful backing from graphics editor David Williams, and my fellow A1 designers, Cindy DeJonge, Joel Taylor and Mike Winter.

Ultimately, I simplified our concept to three elements:

1. No body copy above the fold, the idea being that all top-half type should be readable from a distance at a newsstand.

2. Main art should always sit above the fold. A photo can extend past the fold, as in this example…

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…but the meaningful area of the photo or graphic should never be folded.

3. I added the Below The Fold box. The box accomplishes two things: All headlines get a shot above the fold to nab a reader’s attention, and it’s a reminder that we’re not a tabloid. Headlines are copied into the box using the exact wording, so readers don’t have to process the information twice.

A closer look at the top half of a St. Pete Trib prototype:

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As I started to pitch my ideas, I kept expecting push back that never came. All our executives responded with, “Great! Let’s do it. When can we start?”

I expected resistance from reporters and editors, but that never materialized either. One of our metro editors, Dennis Joyce, dubbed our new look The Blast, since words such as “display” or “centerpiece” just didn’t cut it anymore.

Here were the launch day front pages that published Jan. 5.

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My goal from the start was to develop an architecture that would in no way compromise our decision making. No content has been lost, and we still build our pages around the best three or four stories each day. If the day’s biggest story is not visual, a rarity it turns out, we still have layouts that feature one story’s headline and display big art for another.

The rest of the redesign was more a series of tweaks. We simplified our head fonts, dropping Miller-serifs. We dialed back on color, banning most tan and light blue boxes that tend to remind me of Richmond. Red is now the signature color, and we mostly stick to that.

Here are three more sample Tampa Tribune pages. From left to right: Jan. 8, Jan. 11 and Feb. 13.

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And here are three more sample St. Petersburg Tribune pages.

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From left to right: Jan. 24, Feb. 21 and Feb. 23.

Horace concludes:

The response has been wonderful. We’ve had a couple of negative letters, of course , but most have been really positive. And I’ve been gratified by the support from longtime subscribers, since this new concept wasn’t really for them. They appreciate that we’re presenting a bolder face and are back to playing offense against our rival.

Average daily circulation for the Tampa Tribune is 144,510.

Green Bay Press-Gazette launches a redesign

Sean McKeown-Young, Wisconsin Design Team Leader at the Gannett Design Studio in Des Moines, Iowa, wrote to us late Saturday evening:

We are just typesetting our last pages of a redesigned Green Bay Press-Gazette. It was motivated by the addition of USA Today local sections that will now be an added part of the daily and Sunday edition.

On the left is a page from December. On the right is Sunday’s debut front.

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Click that — or any page here today — for a much larger look.

That said, it gave us a great opportunity to rethink the way that we present news in a market that is historically married to pro football.

That inspiration was how we started the visual part of the redesign process. We injected subtle nods to sports history and paired it with a more modern and accessible feeling – more white space, cleaner fonts and better color-coding and iconography.

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Sean continues:

This was really a joint project between the incredible team that we work with at the Green Bay Press-Gazette and the united design talents of the designers at the Des Moines Studio. Executive editor Mike Knuth really has been ‘chomping at the bit’ to try out some really exciting ideas. I can’t say enough about how great he was to work with and community editor Amber Paluch as well. The two really challenged us with some spectacular new ideas, an excitement for fresh design and indomitable attitudes. Bill Wambeke, Green Bay’s lead designer here at the studio was an incredible teammate on the design side.

The biggest change is a new stacked version of the Press-Gazette masthead. This allows us to put our branding front and center to readers.

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We also created a State and Local inside (page 2) News Feature that will include a daily ‘numbers’ package that’s colorful and engaging. We anticipate that this will be a hit with readers.

Since this one is labeled “Tuesday,” I presume it’s a prototype page:

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Page 3 will be our Local cover, ‘What’s New.’ It has a more ‘graphic’ presentation, faster reads and useful local information.

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Here’s the Sunday A section  jump page…

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…the Sunday business section…

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…the Sunday features section…

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…a prototype “diversions” columns page for inside features…

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…and a prototype food page.

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Sean writes:

The sort of funny part of all of this is that I was the last person to get “on board” with a redesign. A few month ago, when we started the process, I kept saying “this is just a freshening, not a full redesign.”

Well, somewhere along the line it became a pretty substantial redesign. I’m really glad we did. It really gave us the chance to take something that was good and make it really good. I wanted to create templates that were very “designer friendly” – offering ample opportunity to go very bold and flex our muscles.

I’m really thrilled to see what the extremely talented team of designers including Bill Wambeke, Jake Lovett, Jordan Voigt-Norberg, Garrett Evans, Amanda Holladay and Arnie Brown can do with the new templates.

Average daily circulation for the Press-Gazette is 41,767.

Gannett has been applying anything from slight visual tweaks to complete design overhauls to its papers nationwide as it rolls out daily sections containing content from USA Today.

I’m happy to post samples of all these updates, of course. But the Des Moines studio has been the most forthcoming so far.

Other recent redesigns by the Des Moines design studio:

Go here to read more about “the Butterfly project” — Gannett’s project to spread USA Today content around the rest of its papers.

A look at the redesign of the Des Moines Register

Nathan Groepper, creative director of the Gannett Design Studio in Des Moines, Iowa, writes:

I know I just sent you an e-mail about Sioux Falls [last week; read about that here], but the design studio also launched a redesign for the Des Moines Register last week. I figured you’d be curious to see what we came up with.

Not much changed on page one, so let’s get that out of the way first.

On the left is a Sunday front from 14 months ago. On the right is this past Sunday’s front page, designed by studio staffer Alicia Kramme.

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The first thing that strikes me: No skybox.

I’m guessing that’s not permanent. I’m guessing the skybox disappeared Sunday because of the second thing that strikes me about that page: The ginormous page one promo about the changes in the paper.

Sure enough, some of the page prototypes the Register is using in its marketing materials about the changes shows continued use of skyboxes. Or promos that wrap into the nameplate, like this one does:

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Or, better yet, consider the skybox+nameplate atop today’s front page.

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I’m guessing on a normal day, that “What’s New” space on Sunday’s front will be taken by a third and possibly a fourth story out front.

Nathan tells us that the first big change we’ll notice inside…

…is to the section flags. We wanted something cleaner and more modern that would allow designers more flexibility.

On the left is the state-and-local front for Sunday, Feb. 2. On the right is the live state-and-local front for this past Sunday.

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Ditto here for sports, designed by Dave Robbins.

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Notice how the clutter up top of each page is reduced quite a bit. Notice how with the old format, your eye was drawn to the “Sports” flag. Now, “Sports” kind of sits there in the background like good little pieces of furniture and the reader’s eye is drawn instead to the content.

Nathan writes:

We stripped out the color coding, the bulky refers and the two small ads that were incorporated into the top of the page. You’ll also notice the “R” now at the top of many pages. It’s used as a branding device throughout the paper.

Here are a couple more section fronts from Sunday: Biz and features. Notice how it’s easier for the centerpiece art now to slide up into what used to be stacks of refers in the old flag.

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That biz page was designed by Liv Anderson while Iowa Life was designed by Nicole Bogdas.

And here is the new Opinion front, designed by Sue Fritz.

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Nathan goes on to point out a number of other new features of the redesign. Here’s a before-and-after look at the new page two.

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Nathan writes:

Good Morning, Iowa: This mix of content should help get conversations started across the state.

Iowa In-Depth: This is a new section on Sunday that will be the home to great investigative reporting and storytelling.

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That page was designed by Erin Baker Crabb.

Iowa Sketchbook: Inside that new Iowa In-Depth section is a weekly sketchbook from Mark Maturello.

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I was a bit surprised by the description of my old friend Mark. I mean, he’s quite a bit older than 26.

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Of course, what they meant was that he’s worked at the paper for 26 years. Read more about Mark here.

Nathan continues:

Around Iowa: As you know, the Register considers itself a statewide newspaper. This daily feature highlights news from all corners of the state.

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(And, yes, that map takes some time.)

The redesign was spearheaded by team leader Karla Brown-Garcia, who also worked on the Sioux Falls redesign. As I mentioned before, she designed pages in San Diego and Palm Springs before joining the Design Studio in January 2011.

And, of course, all this is augmented with news sections produced by USA Today. These daily sections are being rolled out to all Gannett papers this year. Read more about that project here.

If you’d like to know more about the Des Moines Register‘s changes, you’re in luck: The paper ran a full page explaining all, helpfully entitled: More.

Click this for a readable version:

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Or, read an online version here. Back on Feb. 2, publisher Rick Green wrote a column about the new changes. Find that here.

Average daily circulation for the Des Moines Register is 101,915.

 

Charleston, W.Va., Daily Mail launches a redesign

The Daily Mail of Charleston, W.Va. — circulation 17,879 — launched a redesign today.

On the left is a a Monday front page from December. On the right is today’s new-and-improved front:

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Hmm. The Daily Mail removes its skybox, cleaning up clutter atop page one right away. I wonder if that’s permanent or will be done on a situational basis. I’ve long maintained that more than half the skyboxes I see around the country don’t really sell the paper, which defeats the whole purpose of a skybox. All too often, they’re used as incentives for editors, rather than a way to reach out to readers.

So perhaps this is a good thing.

According to an unbylined story posted to the paper’s web site last night:

Most of the changes are subtle, with the addition of a couple of new typefaces, as well as revamped section front nameplates and inside feature labels.

The body copy remains unchanged, but 1A quipster Charley West is bigger.

The columns and margins on the section fronts are wider and allow for more prominent use of our award-winning photography and graphics. In addition, the sports agate on page 2B and, on occasion, the opinion page on 4A will feature funny and topical tweets from the paper’s lively Twitter feeds. (That’s @charleywest and @dailymailsports, if you want to follow our feeds.)

The story goes on to cite managing editor Philip Maramba as being responsible for the thought behind the new design. This is the first makeover for the paper in ten years, the story says.