The Daily Siftings Herald, a small GateHouse Media newspaper in Arkansas, has launched a redesign full of new features, more color and new entry points.
The paper took part in the GateHouse Media News & Interactive Division Newsroom Incubator program, which helps newsrooms through redesigns and product development. Find more information about the Newsroom Incubator program on page 22 of theNewsroom Handbook.
Editor Dan Marsh answered a few questions about the project.
Newspaper: Daily Siftings Herald, 3,100 circulation
Web site: www.siftingsherald.com
Why did your newspaper get redesigned?
We redesigned basically in order to freshen up the look of our paper, which had had the same organization and design for several years. Fonts and packages are now better coordinated and the paper has a more uniform look, as opposed to parts from here and there. We wanted a more contemporary style.
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What were the major content changes you made?
We repackaged various daily features such as Dear Abby, our daily calendar, our meetings list, our rail; created a new skybox and banner; created new head styles for regular features (police blotter, Dear Abby, letters to the editor); reorganized the presentation of Today in History and the calendar; updated the calendar on our sports page; and most importantly created a new format for the front page that is, in my opinion, easier and faster to fill, and easier for readers to follow and digest.
How have readers reacted?
To my great surprise, our readers have reacted positively to the redesign. Change is hard to accept in our community, and the Siftings has had the same basic look for many years. Longtime readers have called or written to say they love the new paper; I got very favorable reviews from the mayor and city manager; a former editor of the Siftings Herald, whose previous design we replaced, called on the first day of the change to say he really liked what we'd done, and I received a written note from a new subscriber in a nearby community who said she likes the changes. I have not received one complaint about the redesign. I count that as a success.
Advice for another newspaper going through the process?
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When doing your redesign, do it wholeheartedly. There is no point in changing the makeup, organization, etc., of your paper if you're not going to do a thorough change. In other words, don't retain elements from the previous design. It will confuse readers. Go with a bold statement and stick with it, but do your best to retain the same content. Readers care more about what is actually in the paper to read, less about the style (at least that is the experience I've had). No matter how fresh the Siftings Herald looks, if we cut out certain long-standing features, or if we cut down on the local news, it would all be for nothing. So be sure you know your community and readers well and make a good decision based on what they're going to want in the paper. Then be bold and go for it and stick with it.
Below are some recent pages
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Joe Greco is corporate design director for GateHouse Media.
Contact him at email@example.com.
Check out his design blog here.
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