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About our new press: Headlines

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 fourth of those pieces of commentary:

It’s been exciting to watch our new press building rise over the last year, contributing to the changing face of downtown Fort Wayne. And as the presses inside that new building come online later this year, the changing face of the Journal Gazette will be just as apparent.

As mentioned in previous essays, those presses handle a smaller page. This will present unique challenges to those of us who edit the stories and write the headlines. I’m responsible for how well The Journal Gazette does that, along with general news judgment.

A good headline effectively captures the essence of a story in only a few words. And when you consider that the space we have in which to fit those words will be shrinking, it will make the correct word choices that much more critical.

Smaller pages will mean fewer stories on those pages, which will place an even greater premium on the story selections we make. Every day, we are compelled to choose among thousands of stories we receive from our news services – the Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times/Washington Post and Scripps Howard news services – to give you the most representative snapshot of what’s happening in the world that day.

The new page size will sharpen the focus on another aspect of the copy editor’s job: the ability to tightly edit a story to maintain its meaning while paring it down to fit in the space allotted.

You might get the impression in reading this that you’ll be getting less for your money in the redesigned Journal Gazette. We’ve spent more than a year in a process to make sure that does not happen.

As we redesign the paper, we are systematically analyzing everything we put in the Journal Gazette, as have other newspapers that have undergone a similar process, including some of the nation’s largest. And while I get mildly annoyed at the Wall Street Journal for having separated its letters to the editor from the rest of its editorial pages, I understand why the decision was made. It turns out a similar placement of letters is under consideration here.

In any event, you’ll continue to see most of what you have always seen in your Journal Gazette. You just might have to get used to seeing it in a different part of the paper.

With, I hope, some good headlines.

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