Readers in Fort Worth get
a reinvented Star-Telegram

On April 29, newspaper readers in Fort Worth got their first look at a redesigned Star-Telegram. But according to AME/Design and Graphics Broc Sears, the new Star-Telegram is more than just a redesign and 48-inch web reduction.

"It is a total reinvention of our print product, featuring brighter, quicker reads, a more contemporary approach to editing and storytelling and an emphasis on news of the region and information to help the reader survive another day in an increasingly complex and demanding world," Sears said in an essay written to explain the new product.

Sears said the reinvention process began two years ago when Star-Telegram executive editor Jim Witt told the staff that based on the state of the industry, the paper would execute major changes, including reorganizing the staff, pushing more resources toward online and, finally, reinventing the print product.

The core reinvention team included managing editors Larry Lutz and Lois Norder, Sears and, for the redesign process, senior deputy sports editor Cody Bailey and deputy sports editor Michael Currie were brought into the mix. "Their familiarity with the alternative story forms used almost daily in Sports and a deep respect and knowledge for the strength of good typography and design fundamentals allowed them to create a design built on simplicity and logic," Sears said.

Witt wanted a "unique, almost radical appearance that was noticeably different from today's edition" when he ordered up the reinvention. And once the major plans were implemented, including the new look and the new focus on alternative story forms, prototypes were distributed to focus groups.

Sears said readers' reactions in six focus group sessions was "overwhelmingly positive. ... By the end of the six sessions, the prototypes had been given a solid 'A.' "

Upon the actual launch, though, the paper found that some readers were unhappy with the new product. Sunday, the paper published a letter from Witt explaining reaction to the reinvention and detailing how the paper wants to rework some things to make readers happy.

But as visual journalists, let's cut right to the fun stuff
  • Typography features three new fonts -- Capitolium for main headline faces in various weights; Freight Micro for section flags, labels and promotion devices, and Freight Sans in alts, maps, graphics and lists; and Utopia for body copy (9.6 pts on 10.8 leading).
  • A gold tone is used behind nameplates and on the "billboards" on each cover.
  • 6-point, red rules (black on BW pages) to frame centerpieces. Allows the designer to emphasize a particular package on each page.
  • Secondary maps and charts always run in black and white.
  • No rules, rather consistent spacing between elements.
  • Cover billboards float, expand and contract as needed.
  • A1 teases to the best stories. No jumps. No containers. Free form. No rail. Flexible.
The Star-Telegram's managing editors fielded phone calls the day of the launch. Sears reports a sample of the responses:
  • Callers were overwhelmingly older readers.
  • E-mails tended to be more complimentary than the callers.
  • "Hate" the changes" ... 163
  • "Loved the new layout" ... 91
  • "Liked the layout" ... 10
  • "Print is too small" ... 76 (Actually the serif and sans-serif body type is larger than before)
  • "Put the lottery back" ... 55 (Done)
  • "Bring back Ed Brice" ... 38 (Ed Brice, named after his telephone number, 332-7423, was a long-standing answer-man column. He's not coming back)
  • "TV listing are more difficult to read" ... 37 (Type size is actually slightly larger. We're working to make the grid wider)
  • "Put the sports TV info back" ... 24 (Done)
  • "Photos are too big" ... 21 (Noted, we’ve turned it down a notch from where we were on Sunday. We had some terrific images the first couple of days, and we played them large. It will not necessarily be representative of our daily presentation)
  • "You suck!" ... 3 (Via voice mail)
Want to read more on the Star-Telegram's reinvention, directly from Broc Sears? Click here to download a PDF essay Sears put together chronicling the steps along the way to a new newspaper in Fort Worth.

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