A Webby Paper

I’m a bit of an anachronism. I subscribe to three newspapers, two national papers (one Canadian and one U.S.) and my local city paper – so I’m always interested in the changes the papers make to keep themselves relevant.

On Saturday the Globe and Mail announced that it’s Monday edition would be the start of the new look – one designed to integrate the web into its information presentation.  It was a recipe rooted in brand and implemented such that both cultural and business aspects of the paper flourished as a result of the transition.

On the brand side the Globe sees itself as Canada’s paper of record – where you go to find what you need to know. Internally the paper had developed the concept of serving what they called “The whole reader”. The goal of the transition was and to deliver a better balance between ‘what you need to know ‘ and ‘what you want to know’. It wanted to take its reputation serving readers as citizens and economic players and extend that to their lives as individuals with interests in health, fitness, food and a range of relationships. In a sense they wanted every paper to feel like their Saturday edition.

On the cultural side the paper’s management made sure that the employees were not only kept abreast but were actively involved in the new process. It was teams of employees from every level of the company that defined the new look and process. For instance the design group suggested that the best way to develop the creative flow between various parts of the organization was to redesign the office not just the page layout.  As a result the web team moved into the center of the newsroom and the writers and visual people were mixed together in every department. 

On the business side there was a multitude of changes aimed at keeping operating costs the same while on adding sections to the paper and the web. First simple things like removing the stock listings both save print & paper costs and directed people to the website where the content is both much richer and more timely.  Next shaving 3in. off a full sheet made the paper easier to hold, while allowing a multitude of savings – from paper to shipping. None of this would have been possible without a transition as old as presses themselves – a new type face. This typeface allowed the same number of words to fit on the new smaller pages.

Today was the first of the new editions. Here’s a list of some more all changes:

– Headline fonts – more impact at small sizes
– Headlines easier to scan and articles boxed for scanning as well.
– Left justified but ragged right for easier reading and less hyphenation
– New sections in the paper and on the web

On the web side, aside from the traditional clean look and impressive content the papers site has been know for some really interesting things – being able to comment on EVERY article and a link on the most popular discussions. Oddly though you have to be a subscriber or pay a fee to see editorials and published letters to the editor. Another thing that’s odd is that thought the web version of the story include lots of additional information (links to related stories, sites, pictures etc) these aren’t referred to in the print edition.

Anyway it’s a pretty impressive start – to a pretty webby paper.


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