Thursday, December 2, 2021
Dec. 2, 2021

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From the Newsroom: New year, new look for paper

By , Columbian Editor

The new year is a time for self-improvement. Even if you’re a newspaper.

So beginning on Monday, you’ll notice some improvements to the print edition of The Columbian. We’re also revamping our website; you’ll see that rollout later in the year.

The new look for The Columbian has been a newsroom-wide project led by our news editor, Merridee Hanson. It began almost three years ago when she started looking at modern designs for newspapers, such as The Spokesman-Review in Spokane. She formed committees to look at various aspects of design, and these groups met throughout 2018. By the fourth quarter, she had mock-ups for everyone to look at and critique. After a few more changes, she’s spent many, many hours developing all of the style libraries and other things needed to carry out the plan. I really hope you will like what you see; I think it looks terrific. It’s cleaner and more modern, but without making too many changes that might confuse readers.

In fact, if you like the way things are now, don’t worry. Here are some of the things that are not changing: The content. The typeface or type size used for stories. The size of the page. The number of sections and pages we publish. The same commitment to bringing you the local news every day of the year.

Here are some of the things that are changing: The design of the front page, section fronts and the editorial page will look fresher and less dense. Some of the photos, particularly the lead photos, will be displayed larger. We are going to try to get more of the story onto the cover before it jumps to an inside page.

We’re getting rid of the blue boxes at the tops of section fronts, and those beige boxes that we sometimes use. You’ll often see blue type used in labels, so that you can pick out regular features quickly and easily. Photos of columnists will be oval, like their heads, and not rectangular.

Perhaps our best and biggest change will be to page A3, which we’ve dubbed “In the Know.” It will contain the biggest regional, national and international stories of the day, the kind that are sometimes crowded into the back of the A section or onto Page C2. Readers tell us they value Washington state and Northwest news, and this display space will make this content easier to locate.

To accommodate the changes a few things are moving. The New York Times crossword puzzle and the People column that now appear in the A section will be moved to Page D2. This gives us more room in the A section for national and international news. Merridee moved the D5 puzzles and TV grid to D4 so that you and your spouse can still work both puzzles at the same time. Comics move from D4 to D5.

To give readers more advance notice of events, our local Life stories will appear a day earlier. Here’s the updated weekday Life section lineup: Monday, health; Tuesday, home and garden plus science on the back page; Wednesday, food; Thursday, local life and music; Friday, local life and pets; Saturday, community and religion. (Community was formerly called Neighbors. The content will remain the same, but we think the new name will be less confusing.) Sunday Life content will stay the same, with a local cover story and regular features including an historical photo.

Be sure to drop us a line to let us know what you think: or 360-735-4448.