On print redesigns

Brothers and sisters in the print design world, you know I love you.

You bust your collective ass day after day to dress up content that may or may not be as award-winning as your design work, and in the end, you usually just get laid off for your troubles.  Because when management looks around that newsroom and sees you drawing pretty pictures, they usually don’t quite understand the importance of your work, compared to, say, an education reporter. (Your mileage may vary, of course.)

All this is just to say, hey, redesign away.  Make beautiful pages.  I lust after your hot L and your reverse-type flags.  I wish every paper looked as cool as yours.

But try not to mistake fresh design for fresh content.

A print redesign — or an online one, for that matter — needs to be accompanied by training for the whole newsroom, especially if you’re designing using different story forms.

If you’re going chart-crazy, make sure you train reporters on how to format data for different types of charts.  If lists are your thing, give the news staff some good examples of A1 lists to follow.  Putting a set of briefs in rail?  Try training the copydesk to distill stories down to the right word count in a hurry.

This should be obvious, but is it?  You tell me.

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