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A few words about our new press

Months before the new press went to work, several of The Journal Gazette’s editors wrote commentaries about what it meant to them and to our readers. This was the first of those commentaries:

Our goal with the new press is not to have smaller pages, though they will be.Rather, the goal is to make the paper easier to handle and to read without losingsignificant content, to add more color, to make the reproduction of everything crisper.

You can’t institute a change so wide reaching without rethinking everything you do. It’s likely that we’ll drop some things. We’ll probably try some new ones.

With the new press, the size of the newspaper will be smaller. Indeed, the editor of the paper and the design consultant took a ruler to the new page size and the old one and found that each page will be about 66 square inches smaller.

That isn’t a bad thing. Newspapers across the country, including the venerable Wall Street Journal and the stately New York Times, are shrinking their page size. Newspapers have been trimming their pages for decades. Today’s Journal Gazette is an inch narrower than the paper that reported the first walk on the moon. The Journal Gazette that told of the bombing of Pearl Harbor was an inch wider than that. Newspapers haven't been narrowing their pages over the years because Americans' arms are getting shorter.

The design consultant helping the paper through all the changes is Jennifer George-Palilonis, a faculty member at Ball State. She grew up in Fort Wayne and, as coincidence would have it, with The Journal Gazette as her family's newspaper, which gives her an emotional connection that many consultants don't have with their client. She has developed several prototypes for us, we combined them into a fourth, and then we submitted it to three focus groups for comment.

Everyone taking part in the redesign has had to adjust to the reduced page size. Not every element now on Page One, for example, will be there when the paper is printed on the new press at the new size. But the stories that don't make Page One will be in the paper.

In any event, because of the new page dimensions, we’ll be changing the headline face to something that’s more condensed. Photographs will usually be smaller, but proportional. The stories will be printed in the same type size. Indeed, there will be some more space between the lines, the effect being that stories will be easier to read. The type face that we use on Scoreboard, in the Sports section, will be ever so slightly bigger than what we have now.

Besides the size of the page and stories that will be easier to read, the biggest difference readers will notice is color. Color on many pages that now don’t have it. More photos in color. We’re even talking about using color in the TV listings to help distinguish kinds of programs.