[Sample pages from a 28-page prototype of the Rocky shared publicly today. To peruse the entire thing and offer your own opinions, click here.]
[Dec. 9, 2014] Just across the Twitter has come news that “Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz is exploring the possibility of reviving the Rocky Mountain News.” Hurrah, one might think! Someone believes in the power of print to draw readers and advertisers, and in making a dynamic local news market competitive once again. (A late update to the Business Journal story suggests the notion of a Rocky revival may actually be a ploy to negotiate a purchase of the competing Denver Post.)
In an unusual move, those behind the idea have shared a 28-page prototype online, to solicit comments from … well, who is not exactly clear. Online readers of the Denver Business Journal, where the story broke? Certainly in-person focus groups would also be conducted, with live people holding and using the actual product? Let us hope. If the design exists in PDF only, the idea will never advance.
I’ve produced newspaper and magazine prototypes for a couple of decades, including for the San Francisco Examiner, which Anschutz bought a year after its reinvention as a tabloid, and later sold. (We’ve never met.) And I’ve critiqued others’ prototypes for years, privately, in seminar settings or often, after a client contacts me, not quite satisfied by what an in-house team has produced. But I’ve declined to comment much on my blog about others’ projects in the planning stage, and I do realize this prototype is what I call “wet clay,” and not a product of perfection. But since they’ve put the prototype online, and are seeking feedback, I figured, why not? ‘Tis the season for giving. I really do want all smart newspaper endeavors to succeed.
Here are five free tips for anyone considering creating a newspaper prototype – startup, relaunch or redesign – for private or public consumption:
1. ADVERTISING MATTERS – IN FACT, START THERE
First and foremost, one would imagine that a newspaper startup would live or die on its appeal to advertisers. Read the full post »