Posted in Media, Navel-gazing, Technology

Welcome to the new Gazette

Notice a difference?

Before After

Tuesday

Thursday

Wednesday

Friday

If not, the designers have done their jobs right.

The Gazette is in the middle of major technological transition behind the scenes, from Macs using QuarkXPress (version 3.32, circa 1996) and other specialized programs to PCs using Adobe InDesign under a system called Saxotech. Tech business reporter Jason Magder has been describing a bit of the process, particularly from a reporter’s point of view.

The changeover has been happening in stages, as staff in various sections get training on the new system (while other staff, including additional hired help such as myself continue to put out the paper every day). The features sections went first, then business. This week was the go-live for the A section. The pages on the left (Tuesday and Wednesday) were created in QuarkXPress. Those on the right (Thursday and Friday) were done in InDesign.

Because the transition is being done in phases and not all at once, the designers had to create templates and stylesheets in InDesign that matched the old Quark pages. Some minor changes were made to clear up inconsistencies or make things easier for editors, but as you can see most of it basically looks the same.

To be clear, readers should not notice any major changes to the design, and no changes at all to content. (Although a bug in a process that is supposed to make it easier to copy articles from print to web causes random words to appear in the middle of sentences, which has peeved a few web readers.)

The next – and last – section to be moved over is sports, which has the latest deadlines. That’s next week.

I wish I could say more about how the system works, but I’m in the very last group getting training (in a group that incidentally includes the editor-in-chief, so I guess I should be on my best behaviour). This puts me in the odd position of knowing less than almost all my colleagues when it comes to a computer system. You can’t imagine how frustrating that can be for a guy with a computer science degree. But I’ll muddle through these last couple of weeks.

19 thoughts on “Welcome to the new Gazette

  1. Josh

    So, uh, when did news stories all but disappear from the front page?

    I feel like when I left Montreal in early-2009, you’d still see three or four actual articles starting on A1.

    Reply
  2. wkh

    How do you not know InDesign? (*gives you funny look*)

    I hate “redesigns” where it looks almost the same. What’s the point? Do something different. A new font. A new masthead. And I don’t mean a single line instead of two between the banner and content. Blah.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      First, the InDesign I’m familiar with is a few versions back. Second, the issue isn’t so much InDesign itself but the Saxotech system built around it.

      As for it looking the same, the point is that this isn’t a redesign. They may decide to do a redesign in the future, but this is just a technology change. The idea is not to make it look different, because a redesign would have made a process that already lasted months last even longer.

      Reply
    2. Tim

      I’m reminded of someone talking about a band who had recently covered a song from the 80’s. I had commented that it sounded exactly the same and there had been no innovation, to which my interlocutor said: “It’s even harder to make music sound exactly the same as someone else’s performance than to cover it well in your own way.”

      My frustration was pretty much the same as yours… “Yeah, but… What’s the point?”

      Steve, is that version of QuarkXpress the same as the one we were using at The Link in the day? Because unless there were updates or third-party plug-ins, the exporting to HTML was terrible back then. I remember spending evenings pretty much just replacing br’s with p-slash-p’s. Its code was about as well-formed as a post-modern sculpture.

      Reply
      1. Fagstein Post author

        Actually, the version of Quark used by The Link was 4, which is more recent than what The Gazette is weaning itself off of 10 years later.

        Reply
  3. ATSC

    It still looks like a visual mess. The top three main headlines stories should be on the cover only. And any picture should be visually linked to that headline.

    Reply
  4. emdx

    Silly question dept: is the picture for the “20,000 leagues under the asphalt” taken by Pierre Obendrauf?

    Just asking, because we’ve been SCUBA-diving together… :)

    Reply
  5. MTLskyline

    I agree with Josh. Why aren’t there more actual news stories on the front page instead it is over-sized pictures and fancy graphics. It looks like a tabloid on steroids. That Metro newspaper has more front-page article space than the Gazette does.

    Reply
  6. David Pinto

    You say:
    I’m in the very last group getting training (in a group that incidentally includes the editor-in-chief, so I guess I should be on my best behaviour.)
    As the editor-in-chief is also the publisher, you had better be on your super-best behaviour.

    Reply
  7. MarkL

    I agree with the comments that I’d like to see more actual news stories on the front page. Make it look more like a normal page inside the paper. Does The Gazette really need single copy sales so much that they have to mess up their front page so drastically?

    It looks like they have changed the typeface for the news story text, and it is a bit denser and harder to read than the nice font that was previously used. I’m not 100% sure because I read the PressDisplay version online, but comparing today’s version to that of a month ago, the typeface looks different.

    But if the goal was to make this switchover invisible, congratulations because I wouldn’t have noticed except for your post.

    Reply
      1. MarkL

        It must be the effect of the extra white space around the pages created by the new system when the pages are uploaded to PressDisplay. They used to fill the computer screen to the edge, and now there’s a small border, which has the effect of slightly shrinking everything else.

        Reply
  8. Joe Clark

    So. Again:

    Turn on full conventional-ligature support or just revert back to Quark. We have automated high-quality typography in InDesign for a reason – so it gets used.

    Next, resign yourselves to the learned helplessness of Windows users, who are always afraid their computers are out to hurt them possibly because they are. Staff will continue to be unable, until the day this system is shitcanned, to type correct quotation marks (including opening single quotation marks), apostrophes, dashes, spaces other than word, and, importantly, diacritics.

    Reply
  9. Shawn

    Changing one outdated operating system for another (XP) is a bit of a drag. On the other hand, it’s kinda nice to have a job… so I guess anything that saves Canwest money is good.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>