Warren Buffett’s good taste in community news, dynamic design

Maybe Warren Buffett knows the value of good design, as well as solid local community news? Link via the image above or here to review an inspiring portfolio of the Media General dailies and weeklies acquired this week by Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. The papers (whose redesign I directed in 2010-2011) sport solid, inviting and often very dynamic design and editing, particularly considering the small size and local focus of many of them. (From Poynter: About the acquisition, which precludes sister client Tampa Tribune. Also see earlier blog post, “Virginia community newspapers redesign: A success story.”)

Note: The former Media General papers, about two dozen circulating throughout the Southeast U.S., are produced from two centralized design and editing centers, in North Carolina and Virginia. For many of the smallest titles, the transition in production strategy to a centralized location – a technique often derided by newsroom traditionalists, largely due to  accompanying staff restructuring and downsizing – gave access to far more professional design standards and skill sets than they might have had access to before.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch, a mid-market Media General paper which I also redesigned in 2010-11, was included in the sale. Read more about that project here, and view design samples from the Times-Dispatch and the Winston-Salem Journal.

Semi-related: I’m currently working with the Cincinnati Enquirer on a transition to the new Super Compact/Three Around format (which I sometimes call the “tall tab” format) to debut in October 2012. The Enquirer is also produced from a centralized “Design Studio,” in Louisville, KY. Read about the early stages of strategic planning for this ambitious redesign (and rethinking) project, with an update as of May 2012 on press testing, focus groups and next steps.

Ron Reason News Design provides affordable consulting to newspapers, magazines and digital publications. To inquire about prototyping, over-the-shoulder consult on your own work, organizational consulting or other services, email ron (at) ronreason.com


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