Tag Archives: newspaper-design

Montreal Gazette redesigns paper, launches new website and iPad and smartphone apps

Monday and Tuesday editions of the Montreal Gazette

Monday and Tuesday editions of the Montreal Gazette

The project called The Gazette Reimagined went live at 12am on Tuesday, with a four-platform relaunch that includes a dramatic print redesign, a new website and new iPad and smartphone apps.

The new website went live at midnight, though it may take a bit of time for the DNS changes to propagate through the Internet. The new smartphone apps are in the Apple app store and Google Play store, and the new iPad app is also in the Apple app store. (The old smartphone and tablet apps will remain available, for those who want to read website stories on their smartphone but don’t want to use the mobile website.)

Editor Lucinda Chodan explains the general changes in a note to readers that appears on Page A2. There’s also a news (well, business) story about the changes and a podcast interview with Chodan an managing editor Michelle Richardson. But for the more attention-to-detail crowd, here’s some nitty gritty about what’s going on that I can finally tell you.

Continue reading

Journal de Montréal radically redesigns, adds busload of columnists

Front page (well, inside front page) of today's Journal de Montréal

Front page (well, inside front page) of today’s Journal de Montréal

In some ways, it looks a lot different. A new headline font, a new logo, new sections. But in more important ways, it’s still the Journal de Montréal, a tabloid with short articles and big photos and Richard Martineau.

The new paper came out on Tuesday morning, with an eight-page explainer section, plus another two in sports. The content of that is reproduced online here, or you can read Quebecor’s press release.

(The Journal de Québec underwent a similar redesign.)

In short, here’s what’s changed:

  • The logo. The lowercase “journal de montréal”, which has been the paper’s logo since 1964, has been replaced with uppercase text, each word in its own red rectangle. Publisher Lyne Robitaille says these four blocks represent the four platforms the Journal is distributed in.
  • The fonts. The headline font is replaced by Tungsten. The narrow, blocky font allows for more characters in one line, which the Journal’s editors believe will allow them to write longer, more descriptive headlines. Other fonts used are Stag Sans for the labels on top of headlines and other display type below, and World Wide for the body type. The Journal also notes it has increased its line spacing a bit.
  • The colour scheme: Rather than a uniform red, the upper folio will have the colour of whatever section it’s in (news is red, others mainly blue or green).
  • New sections and pages:
    • JM: Pronounced “j’aime”, this pull-out section (it’s like you have two papers in one, they say) contains all the arts and life sections, including the weather, horoscope, cartoons, the photo pages and Louise Deschâtelets.
    • Monde: International news is broken off into its own section instead of just following news
    • Dans vos poches: A page in the Argent business section is devoted to practical information for consumers and investors
    • Photo: Because apparently the photos in the Journal weren’t big enough, they’ve promised to make them bigger. The paper will now include a full-page photo of the day, in addition to its weekly best-of photo pics and its photo blog, and it will also publish photo-taking tips and run contests for the best reader-submitted photo.
    • Techno: Also part of the JM section, with technology news and useful information.
    • Grandes entrevues: The Saturday paper will include a feature interview with a personality in the news, by various columnists.
  • Fewer listings: Arguing that this is information better put online, the paper is reducing its stock listings to half a page, and says it will now publish movie listings only on the most popular days: Tuesday, Friday and Saturday.
  • Radio is back: Le journal du midi, which had been off since June, is back, with Sophie Durocher and Gilles Proulx. A new show by Michel Beaudry, about hockey, airs Mondays at 3pm.
  • Contact information for writers now includes Twitter addresses (below their bylines) and email addresses and phone numbers at the end of their stories. The explainer also mentions their Facebook and Google+ addresses. But this isn’t uniform for every writer. Some stories include only an email address, others no contact information at all.
  • Expanded sports: Though the Canadiens will still be the big draw in sports, and more coverage is planned of the bleu-blanc-rouge (including sports-specific Michel Beaudry humour columns and Ygreck cartoons), there will be a larger focus on non-hockey sports, with new weekly columns on tennis, basketball and running.
  • A new tagline: “Le journal qu’on aime lire.”

New columnists

Two pages of the paper are devoted just to listing all the new columnists and contributors. Some of them are big names (though some of the bigger names will contribute whenever they feel like it).

The list of “chroniqueurs invités” includes such big names as Jean Charest, Jacques Parizeau, Line Beauchamp, Gilbert Rozon, Louise Beaudoin, Isabelle Hudon and Dominic Maurais.

But in terms of people we’ll see on a regular basis, they include Josée Legault (who will also have a blog), François Bugingo, on world affairs, and Martine Desjardins. Plus comedians Kim Lizotte and Maxim Martin with lifestyle columns, and Renaud Lavoie (formerly of RDS) in sports.

The Journal has also added some winter sports athletes as columnists focused on the road to the Sochi Olympics: Alex Harvey (cross-country skiing), Dominique Maltais (snowboarding), Alexandre Bilodeau (freestyle skiing), Marianne St-Gelais (short-track speed skating), Erik Guay (alpine skiing), Marie-Michele Gagnon (alpine skiing) and Laurent Dubreuil (long-track speed skating).

The death of Cyberpresse

BEFORE: Cyberpresse.ca

AFTER: LaPresse.ca

When I heard last night about how Cyberpresse.ca was being transformed into LaPresse.ca today, I started planning a post in my head, about how the last great example of the “portal” concept from a decade ago had finally fallen, following in the footsteps of Canada.com and Canoe.ca, who for years forced its papers and other brands to be mere sections of the portal instead of having their own websites with their own domain names.

But … that doesn’t seem to be what has happened here. At least not yet. Instead, they’ve changed the name and the branding (one that has existed for more than 10 years), but not the concept, and for now anyway all the Gesca newspapers still share the same online brand.

Continue reading

Metro’s new look

Before: Last Friday's Metro, Pages 1 and 3

After: Monday's Metro

Gradients! Photo bylines! Giant numbers! Random unnecessary splashes of yellow! BOXY SERIFS!

Newspapers tend to make big deals of their redesigns, even if few people outside the newspaper care about them. Metro is no different. They teased this one for a whole week, and on Monday unveiled the new design with a giant centre-spread guide to it, as if people needed instructions all of a sudden:

Centre spread guide to the new design

The new look comes with a renewed focus on Metro’s original reporting (something that was virtually non-existent when the paper launched in 2001). Considering the reporting staff could fit into a minivan, that means a lot of repeat faces.

The basic design elements that make Metro what it is aren’t going to change though. It’s still littered with by-the-numbers infoboxes, trying to distill important facts into 20-word factbites. But then, that’s the whole point, right?

A day by any other name

When I first saw the tease at one of those orange stands last Monday, I was intrigued. Not so much because they were coming out with a new design, but that they said it would be in five days. My amazing addition skills put that on a Saturday, when the paper doesn’t publish. Were they going to launch a Saturday edition with the new look?

Sadly, that wasn’t to be. There’s no money in weekend editions of commuter freesheets.

Instead, Metro seems to have simply decided that Saturday and Sunday no longer qualify as “jours”, and that five days after a Monday, one day after Friday, is next Monday.

But maybe I’m just a stickler for these kinds of things.

Stands proudly announce the new-look Metro.

And I couldn’t help noticing this minor detail on the sports page:


Trente has some brief words from Metro’s editor, saying the look is great and will help its journalists and make kittens even cuter and stuff.

Something about history and a mountain and changing…

Some other Canadian Page Ones can be found at Newseum’s site, which also has a special video on Obama-related newspaper front pages (if you can watch it, the site is very slow).

Among my recommendations for U.S. covers:

The links are now all old, but the covers have been archived here.

Favourite headline, only because nobody else used it: “Tide of hope“, from the St. Petersburg Times.

The USA-Todaying of newspapers

The Chicago Tribune has become the latest newspaper to unveil a dramatic redesign, which emphasizes dramatic visual elements instead of boring words (the News Designer blog has more).

Sans-serif type, drop shadows, giant cutout clip art overlapping adjacent elements, words over photos, columnist headshots everywhere, and little one-paragraph snippets of text where there were once articles.

The result makes these newspapers look much more like magazines, and conventional wisdom is that the more design-y these pages look, the more interesting they will become to readers.

But these new designs have two problems that you’d think would make them highly unpopular in an age of declining newspaper revenue and tightening budgets.

First, they take up more space, which means either more pages need to be added to the newspaper to fit the same amount of content (this isn’t happening – in fact many of these redesigns are done in order to fit a reduced page size), or dramatically cutting the amount of content that goes into the paper. Where a copy editor’s instinct is to cram as much information as possible onto the page, the designer’s is to waste as much space as possible to make it visually attractive. And it looks like the designers are winning.

Second, these things are complicated, which means design staff have to essentially be laying out all these pages, and in the case of sports they have to keep working late into the night. Where newspapers are shrinking budgets, this increase in staff hours will have to be offset by a drop in the number of copy editors or reporters. It makes me wonder how long these dramatic designs will stay dramatic before we start seeing cookie-cutter default designs used everywhere to save time.

Don’t get me wrong, I love good design. I think far too few stories are told using charts, maps or illustrations, in many cases where they are desperately needed. One of my pet peeves is opinion poll stories, which include a couple of paragraphs of opinion from the pollster and then hundreds of words trying (and failing) to translate a table of numbers into prose. Whenever I can, I try to convert those back into tables, which are easier to read and easier to analyze.

But I look at newspapers like Metro, which has coloured boxes with numbers all over the place, tied to articles that have only a handful of sentences to them. I wonder, looking at this: At what point does substance throw in the white towel against the towering forces of style?

Infographics infographics infographics infographics

Sun Sentinel travel front by ex-Gazette design director Nuri Ducassi

Sun Sentinel travel front by ex-Gazette design director Nuri Ducassi

The South Florida Sun Sentinel, which has been getting noticed for a “bold” change to its page design (and the journalists it is cutting along the way), launched its redesign on Sunday. The Visual Editors blog has images, including the Travel section front above, designed by Nuri Ducassi, who recently left her job as design director for the Montreal Gazette for sunnier Florida pastures.

The redesign looks way cool, but seems to rely way too heavily on turning every bloody story into an infographic of some sort. Eventually, they’ll be putting more effort into the look of the story than the writing of it.

I don’t know if that’s a good thing.

Good designers think outside the court

Gazette sports section, Monday, July 7

My newspaper employs an entire department of people whose sole function is to make it look nice. Mainly, they focus their efforts on the front page of the paper, meticulously adjusting every headline, deck, skybox, label, photo and other element to make it most appealing to people passing by with a dollar to spare for the guy running the news stand. But they also design important internal pages, and usually have a hand in cover pages for feature sections.

Sports doesn’t usually get that kind of treatment because of how last-minute it is. Aside from the web pointers above the banner, the rest of the page is designed by the editor in charge, and usually consist of a large photo, a main story, a smaller story or column along the side and a feature with a small photo at the bottom.

But on Sunday, with one major story dominating the sports news, I had a problem in the section’s design. The photo I wanted to use, of tennis player Rafael Nadal collapsed on his back in exhaustion and celebration of having just won his first Wimbledon title and unseating five-time champion Roger Federer, was horizontal (mainly because Nadal was horizontal at the time), and the layout was vertical (since the paper is a broadsheet and it was the only story going on the page).

So I turned to the design desk for help, gave the design editor on duty a headline and she went to work. The page shown above is what came back, and is much better than anything I could have come up with on my own. The photo turned out very grainy (due to the fact that there was almost no light at Wimbledon when the game finally ended), but the message got across loud and clear.

And that’s what good design is all about.

National Post redesign: That’s it?

Well, today is the big day. The New Toronto National Post hit doorsteps across the GTA nation today, with an Amazing New Redesign That Changes Everything. They’ve been advertising it in their paper and others for days now, so I was really excited to see what Canada’s Most Pretentious Newspaper did with itself:

The New National Post

It put its flag down the side. That’s about it.

Calling it a “bold, new design“, the new Post keeps the same headline fonts, same body text font, same flag design (though rotated 90 degrees) and the same elements.

Of course, why should they fix something that isn’t broken? The National Post “earned 38 international design awards from the Society of Newspaper Design (sic), approximately twice the number of any other English-language Canadian newspaper.” — Translation: We beat the Globe and Star, but lost to La Presse.

The only other noticeable design changes are a slight increase in font size, a very noticeable (I might even say excessive) increase in leading (Torontoist has comparison pictures), and a few other so-hard-to-see-that-I-can’t-see-them changes.

The “redesign” also comes with editorial changes, most of which are vaguely described:

  • A new section on Mondays dealing with small businesses. (Kind of shocking that they don’t have this already.)
  • More “Investing” and “Marketing” coverage in the Financial Post.
  • Three new columnists: American atheist and Wall Street Journal columnist Christopher Hitchens, Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum, and This American Life’s ex-Montrealer Jonathan Goldstein. (It’s unclear which of these will write original columns and which are syndicated, but you can take an educated guess.)
  • Page Two of each section will be devoted to printing stuff they blogged about the day before. You can see an example in the Arts & Life section with posts from Ampersand.

As part of its Big Launch, the Post even managed to get one of Canada’s TV news networks to do a two-minute package glorifying it. Go ahead, guess which one. If you answered “the one they own”, you’re right.

The Post is seeking comments on its blog. Perhaps I can use the comment feature to get them to stop making crappy videos of talking reporter heads awkwardly reading the articles they just wrote that morning.