Doing some Slimp-icity
June 9, 2014
By Ed Henninger
I recently had the distinct pleasure of sharing a full workday with news guru Kevin Slimp.
Kevin calls himself “the news guru.” I too, have been called a “guru” occasionally. And, yes, I’ve been called many other things, too.
Kevin had been asked by the publisher of a group of papers in New Jersey to evaluate the operation and offer his suggestions for improvement.
Kevin and I had done a couple of presentations jointly and so he invited me along to help out. On a day in early May, we met a bit west of Asheville, NC, to spend the day together reviewing 10 papers.
It was a delight working with Kevin and discovering that we shared many of the same thoughts about what we were seeing.
What follows is a brief look at the key points we suggested. I believe many of you will find that a few of these will apply to your publication.
TEXT TYPE: Throughout these papers, text was in a face that was too light, a bit too condensed—and way too small.
PHOTOS: Many were poorly cropped and some were muddy and dark. Often, there were too many in a package and none had a dominant photo on the page.
STORIES: Far too long. Remember, readers will only give you 12 inches-15 inches before they quit a story.
STANDING HEADS: Not well designed and inconsistent.
PAGE LABELS: Too strong and often they competed for attention with the lead headline on the page.
HEADLINES: Often the same font and size, page after page after page. Definitely need to use other fonts in the family for more contrast.
ORGANIZATION: Some events listings packages jumped from page to page to page—occasionally to more than eight or nine pages.
NAMEPLATES: All needed tweaking, some were badly in need of a complete redesign.
We did find that editors in most of the papers were trying their best to offer a package that was comfortable and easy to read. We appreciate those efforts. But there’s a sense that some of those editors are “swimming upstream” because of a lack of design training.
It was fun working with Kevin and we’re planning to do more of these evaluations as time goes by. © Ed Henninger 2014
ED HENNINGER is an independent newspaper consultant and the director of Henninger Consulting, offering comprehensive newspaper design services including redesigns, workshops, staff training and evaluations. E-mail: email@example.com. On the Web: henningerconsulting.com. Phone: 803-327-3322.