The Denver Post Redesign: Underwhelming

Categories: Media

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Our February 1 Message column about the Rocky Mountain News' sweeping redesign, which was necessitated by a smaller page size, noted that the Denver Post would be undergoing shrinkage, too -- but it probably wouldn't "have to change as dramatically as the Rocky." That turned out to be an accurate prediction: The new look Post, which was introduced on September 30, one day prior to the page one reproduced above, hardly represents a radical alteration. The mainly cosmetic tweaks blandly eat up small slabs of space without adding much value.

Here's how Post editor Greg Moore described the shifts in a September 30 note to readers:

Welcome to a new day at The Denver Post. With a nine-month conversion to our new presses now complete, we are implementing some content and design changes today.

The press conversion has resulted in a slightly smaller page size, which is becoming standard in our industry. But these presses give us the chance to revolutionize our look and presentation.

The first thing I am sure you've noticed is the greater use of color throughout your paper. We are bolder and livelier and reflect more effectively the world in which we live.

Some other changes:

We are moving our "people" news from the features section to a new Daily Scene page in Denver & The West. That page will feature Bill Husted's column and local concert reviews and news.

Our Corrections will now appear on Page 2A.

You'll find topic pages in the paper. We have been publishing a daily Campaign 2008 page. We will continue that and expand the format to report on other "topics."

One thing that isn't changing is the size or readability of our story type. We have kept the same attributes of style, size and line spacing as before.

This marks the second significant change to the look of The Post in the past five years. Every section is being upgraded to take advantage of our new capacity for color. And we will continue to evolve while retaining the essence of The Post as the most trusted and authoritative source for news, information and entertainment in the Rocky Mountain West.

So please check out the changes we've made, and feel free to contact us. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you. - Gregory L. Moore, editor

In truth, the smaller-size Post didn't smack driveways for the first time on September 30. The dimensions of most sections have been reduced for months, and as Moore correctly points out, a great many metro broadsheets have already moved in this direction or will be doing so in the near future. However, his use of the word "revolutionize" is highly dubious. There's a bit more color on inside pages than there was previously -- Sunday's Business section offers a good example -- and that's a good thing. But the design elements on section fronts, which consist of relatively narrow colored banners that stretch across the page tops, aren't particularly eye-catching. The hues are rather dull and the white type is far from grabby. From a certain angle, they resemble ad inserts most of us remove so that we can find the actual newspaper. Smaller variations on these banners are also used on inside pages to display pullquotes from articles beneath them, and when they're not in color, they are even easier to overlook. Moreover, it's sometimes unclear to what stories they refer.

Granted, the new page two of Denver and the West looks okay -- it represents arguably the most successful use of the new elements -- and the overall look has been retained. Perhaps that's why what Moore calls a "significant" change had generated a grand total of one reader comment as of this writing -- and even that remark skipped over the visuals. Reader Terri Barker wrote, "I hope that this evolution also includes more thorough investigative reporting..."

Seems like the Post staged a revolution and no one noticed. -- Michael Roberts

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