Editorial: Welcome to your NEW newspaper

Published 6:00 am Sunday, May 11, 2014

Some newspapers hardly change their design. What happens is they end up looking pretty much the same in the 2010s as they did in the 1980s.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Sunday, May 11, 2014

What’s crazy about that is newspapers cover change every day. They report on changes in filmmaking and fashion to the changes planned for the street in front of your house. Yet many newspapers are reticent to change themselves, to show they are leaders in the community. Words alone do not establish how people interpret information. How a newspaper looks says a lot about how the publication views itself and how the readers regard that publication.

We feel we have an excellent relationship with our readers. Our readers — just like the communities we cover — do not shy away from change. Neither should their local newspaper. In fact, we held a reader advisory forum back in March to get feedback. Many of the changes you see today are a result of that input, plus some ideas that people provided via mail, email, telephone or just in person.

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For instance, see the item on Page A2 that states how to fly flags the next day? That wasn’t our idea. It was yours. See the bigger obituary photos? People have been asking for that for years. It’s about time we did something about it, to be candid. How about getting rid of type on top of brown or gray backgrounds? There is none of that nonsense, and it sure makes reading easier, especially for folks perusing the small type in the Scoreboard on the Sports Page. Plenty of these changes came straight from you, our dear readers.

Lifestyles is now Arts & Culture, a response to more of an emphasis on getting arts and related fields such as local history into the newspaper. Besides, what does “lifestyles” mean, anyway? It’s a vague term. Arts & Culture is more direct.

So after all that feedback, why did we redesign the paper? Newspapers do a good job of teaching and storytelling. It’s a calling, really, to assist readers with information they need to leave better lives. If we can frame our information in a more navigable, easier-to-consume manner, that helps you dig through the information we provide.

A common phrase Editor Tim Engstrom tells new reporters is: “You don’t write for your sources. You write for the readers.” He also says, “No one goes into journalism so they can become mouthpieces for the government.” In other words, don’t just regurgitate the comments spoken by officials. Be skeptical and kindly ask the tough or detailed questions for the sake of the public. He also calls on his reporters to seek out not merely the problems but also the solutions.

What does this have to do with the design of a newspaper? A fresh design gives the Tribune news staff greater flexibility to present local news in that same forward-thinking, mature-minded manner. Let’s not forget modern-looking, too.

At the same time, we want, want, want your submitted content — engagements, weddings, births, kids catching fish, check passings, hand shakings, multiple-generation photos, new person at the office, holes-in-one, 300 bowling scores, youth sports trophy winners, adult sports trophy winners and so on and so on. This layout gives us wonderful flexibility to get more of you in the paper.

You might notice a few more changes as time passes. We aren’t done with welcoming your ideas. Keep them coming. Anyone can call Engstrom at 379-3433 or email him at tim.engstrom@albertleatribune or just mention your idea to a Tribune staff member when you see one in the community.

As always, thank you for reading.