Loved seeing this grand gesture in this week’s Sunday Arts section of The Dallas Morning News, a former and beloved redesign client. Through 80 illustrations (mainly portraits) the newspaper marks the 80th birthday of country-western-folk-jazz legend Willie Nelson (a personal fave). They’ve done this before, with Elvis and others, but this effort truly stands out. Peruse the illustrations, with credits, on the web here. (Page design image above via Romenesko.)
“Do you go to work every day and try to master your job and feel deeply that it matters? Do you believe that you can, through sheer excellence, make it matter even more? Roger Ebert did.”
When big news breaks (and in Chicago, Roger Ebert’s death has been big news), those who still love newspapers, in print, often focus on the best front page designs that surface. Today is a day to celebrate a fantastic and memorable back page, of this morning’s Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert’s employer for 46 years.
The editorial is elegantly designed in print and readable online here. (Registration may be required, but if you click on the image above to enlarge, you can pretty much read it.) It serves as powerful and heartfelt punctuation to the paper’s 12-page special section, which wraps around the regular edition inside. Read the full post »
I’ve always been a big fan of the tabloid newspaper format. I especially like how, for an important investigative series, the smaller page can shine a spotlight on the news in a way that a multi-topic broadsheet front page, with all its distractions, might not. The tab format, when information is smartly “segmented,” also makes a massive amount of information much more approachable to the busy reader.
Take as an example the recent coverage by the Cincinnati Enquirer, which launched an ambitious series about the scourge of heroin in its communities. Photojournalism, infographics, bold headlines all shine, and draw quick attention to the smart text underneath it all, thanks to design tools adopted in the paper’s recent redesign and conversion to the smaller “Super Compact/Three Around” format.
Sample daily front pages and spreads from the main section of the paper:
On Sunday March 24, the paper debuted its special series with a pullout, magazine-line special section. Here are the cover and inside spreads of that section: Read the full post »
Near the end of the first day of the new look/format/spirit Cincinnati Enquirer, Editor Carolyn Washburn forwarded a selection of reader comments, which I’ve interspersed below with live page designs from the second and third day. (Kudos to Gannett Louisville Design Studio manager Ryan Hildebrandt and his crew.) From my experience in years of redesigns around the world, happy readers tend to submit feedback more than the grumblers, but, Carolyn reports that this is pretty indicative of a high level of satisfaction among readers.
With its new design, the paper converted from the gangly, anorexic broadsheet dimensions now in vogue in the U.S. to a new folded “tall tab” format called Super Compact/Three Around. A big concern might have been the reduction in page size, and the inevitable decrease in “story count” off the front. But the addition of pages, and new editorial features, easily counters that risk, and in the end, readers overwhelmingly report loving the new handier format. This is typical of readers in most every market where broadsheets are converted to smaller, more magazine-like products. (When, if ever, will this trend take off in the U.S.?)
Don’t miss the best feedback of all, at the bottom of this blog post, from the checkout gal at Kroger!
TRADITIONALISTS, DADS AND MOMS WEIGH IN:
“So my father, whose daily routine includes hitting up his neighborhood coffee shop and buying our paper (rather than just getting a subscription), sent me this text this morning: ‘I do like the new paper. Crisper pictures, good stories, puzzles on one page, more compact and easier than reading on a smartphone.’ ”
“My father, a lifelong subscriber, holding his new Enquirer. His comment: ‘Truly Awesome.’ ”
“Brilliant. Very well done. I am a bit of a traditionalist and have long enjoyed the broadsheets, however, I welcome your new format with open arms. You and your staff are to be commended.”
“I just received a call from a reader who wanted us to know she was extremely pleased with the Kentucky edition’s new format. She was gushing about it really and saying it is ‘wonderful, just wonderful!’ She said her mother in Grant County loves it too. She simply wanted to call to say thank you.”
ON THE NEW DESIGN IN GENERAL:
“This is exciting stuff! I like the contemporary look – it changes the way I think about a newspaper. Long overdue…”
“Love the new layout! Just changed our weekend subscription to everyday… Kudos!”
Read the full post »
Congratulations to Editor Carolyn Washburn, Gannett Design Team Supervisor Ryan Hildebrandt, and their teams today as they debut a new look, format, and spirit for the Cincinnati Enquirer. The paper is the second major title in the U.S. to convert to a folded, tall-tab format called “Super Compact/Three Around,” and Washburn took the opportunity over 18 months to 1) rethink the content, placement and tone of editorial elements, 2) reconsider new ways to recruit and display advertising; and 3)reimagine how teamwork, collaboration, and leadership could be nurtured in her newsroom to make it all happen.
Click the image above or click here for a 14-page Readers Guide(pdf file) that appears in this morning’s paper, designed by Jeff Ruble and edited by Spencer Holladay. It clearly and colorfully explains what’s new, and introduces (or re-introduces) readers to the staffers who put out the paper each day. (Even the photographers! The copy editors! The good folks who answer the phones!) The special section in the culmination of many months of educating readers, advertisers, and staff about what the changes in format and content would mean for them.
Among the challenges this project faced: the startup of Gannett’s off-site design studio, in Louisville, Ky., that would produce the new look and came to innovate a productive and creative working relationship with the staff in Cincinnati. (Semi-related: blog post on redesign and hubs.) It was so great to help out with and to observe the early stages of that process.
As hub manager Hildebrandt told blogger Charles Apple: “Change from tradition is tough, but the journalists in Cincinnati have been fantastic partners in crafting this new approach. This product is a perfect reflection of the great work being done by the Enquirer staff, who have created a better newspaper for their readers.” More background about the launch from Charles Apple’s blog (with a great list of links at the bottom for true newspaper, design and/or history junkies).
Following are some live pages from this morning’s debut. Read the full post »
Publisher: “We’re going like hell and trying to do something great – there are no rules here.”
It’s always great to see a client move into the second week and beyond after a new launch, and not see any evidence of working out the kinks. Thus is the case with this batch of pages from Grid, the new weekly business magazine from Sun-Times Media Group in Chicago. Printed on magazine stock, it stands out from routine newspaper supplements. You can read an earlier account of the project launch (Feb. 3, 2013) here. Interspersed with these images of excellent Week 2 pages (from Art Director Bryan Barker) are some thoughts about the strategy behind the new publication, shared by Brandon Copple, Grid publisher and General Manager for Sun-Times parent company Wrapports.
Ron Reason: With all the challenges and cutbacks the Sun-Times has faced in recent years – the paper’s business pages have been particularly hard hit at times – how hard has it been to get a new product like this off the ground?
Brandon Copple: Getting something new off the ground is always incredibly difficult – but we’ve had tremendous support from the company. Grid was conceived as an attempt to reverse the decline in business coverage, to speak to an audience that has become underserved. Read the full post »
My recent post dissecting the process of prototyping brought an interesting question from a blog reader: How realistic should the text and photos be that are used on prototypes? I think this is worth addressing in its own separate post about the mechanics of prototyping.
I’m a designer and a consultant, but first and foremost, a journalist, so it’s important to me to work on, and read, prototypes as though they are living creatures. I aim for what I call the “80% mark.” Try to aim for at least 80% of what you produce reading or at least looking pretty realistic. You want to develop an accurate look and feel, so that as you are reviewing pages through the process, you can see the new publication come alive. The voice of the headlines and decks (some call them subheads) is important, as is the flair and pacing of the visuals. Dummy heads and gray boxes indicating “photos to come later” won’t cut it. Read the full post »
When asked by Chicago Sun-Times Media Group late last year to help with the creation of a new weekly business supplement, I was a bit skeptical. Nice to have the work, but hadn’t the paper been cutting back on business coverage (and staff)? And with the Crain’s flagship business weekly in town, the Trib down the street, and others on the scene, wasn’t the market saturated with business news?
But Brandon Copple, formerly of Crain’s and newly hired from Groupon to head up new product development for Sun-Times parent company Wrapports, immediately convinced me he had something new and interesting cooking with the magazine – actually a cross-media brand – that ultimately became Grid. In about a month, working with Sun-Times Art Director Bryan Barker, we had prototyped quite a number of possible covers and inside features, and sent a complete test edition to press. The new product hit the streets Sunday, Feb. 3. (Good riddance to the days when a new supplement or standalone product took eight months to bring to market!)
It’s always great to see anything new that tries to move journalism forward in fresh ways. But, what – in my view – makes Grid, and the process of creating it, stand out?
Format. In our first meeting, I lamented being asked to help design another thin newspaper supplement that would get lost in the Sunday paper shuffle, to be met with a yawn from readers and advertisers if they could find it at all. I urged that Grid be positioned as a true magazine, at that size and on that paper stock, stapled. Especially after learning that extra copies may be sent to premium advertisers (say, banks) to distribute in their workplaces, I thought: Newspaper sections don’t say ‘premium’ to the business world. The square shape of most newsprint tabloids (forced by the switch to print broadsheets on a narrower web) is bland and dull – nothing dynamic or interesting about it from a graphic perspective – and face it, newsprint paper stock and printing says “cheap” to some people. Not really something most readers would care to set aside or keep.
Name. A number of titles were prototyped, but never “Chicago Business Weekly” or anything routine like that. Some early options even struck our team as a bit outlandish. But what stuck was Grid, which worked perfectly with the mission of creating a cross media brand focused on the networking worlds of business. Short, catchy, unique, hopefully a bit hip to catch the attention of (yes) a slightly younger demographic – workers on their way up.
Cross-media products and ventures. From the start, a weekly print product was envisioned as just one part of the Grid world. Not just a website, app, Twitter feed and the usual digital channels. Even before launch, Copple commissioned a video series featuring Chicago innovators sharing lessons of success. And lots of cool peripheral ventures Read the full post »