Redesign offers big impact in smaller format for heroin investigation

By Ron Reason

I’ve always been a fan of the tabloid newspaper format (or “compact,” as some in the U.S. prefer). 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,” creates a more navigable, magazine-like experience, and makes a massive amount of information much more approachable to the busy reader.

Take as an example the recent coverage by my former client Cincinnati Enquirerwhich has 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:  

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Cincinnati Enquirer redesign newspaper heroin

Cincinnati Enquirer page designs heroin news

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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: 

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Kudos to the Enquirer staff and Gannett’s Louisville design studio on the great planning, teamwork, communication, design, photography, writing and research required to produce such an ambitious series.

Postscript: The Enquirer later made heroin epidemic a full-time reporting beat and continues to do notable work on the crisis. Read more from Poynter.

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