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What Do You Think of the A-Section Redesign?

Above-the-masthead sky boxes, a thousand headline-fonts blooming, a mix of 21st century sass and old-timey newspaper ALL-CAPS ... plus an intriguing note from new Publisher David Hiller. Thumbs up? Thumbs down?

And stay tuned tomorrow for the Opinion Section's inaugural appearance in the back of the A section, which will be accompanied by various editor's-note explainers and manifestos letting you know the who, where, when, why and how of what we do.

 

Comments () | Archives (42)

The comments to this entry are closed.

william.wray@verizon.net

Dear LA Times,

I guess it was bound to happen. How can the Times cut costs and cover that heavy handed move? With a coat of junky, 10 years later graphic icing to fool dumb old Times readers? Why didn't you junk the logo? It doesn't fit a new "cool" newspaper. I say one way to save money is to remove a boss who thinks so little of his readers that he wants a great newspaper to look like USA today. "Different fonts, splashy photos, more adds, more previews, less stories, that’s what they want."
Nope, I'm out, cancel my subscription. After reading the paper at home to subscribing on my own, for a total of 40 years. I value continuity in this changing world., but I guess I have to change.
The regular reader doesn't want something dishonestly new sold to us in empty speak, and the "new" reader who would be attacked by flashy graphics is a myth. I know I worked in publishing for 30 years. I think I could go along with the change if it wasn't so obviously giving us more of less. Newsflash! Readers notice when there is less to read! Four cover stories instead of seven...
I'll re-subscribe when you go back to the old paper. I hate to do it, but I think it's the only way to be taken seriously. You guys made a history raping decision. Bush stuck in Iraq bad. Like him, you will have to eventually crawl back, If you do it quick you can save yourself, if you stay the course, you will be f****d. Sober up, there is still time, the bravest can admit their mistakes. Oh and Dave? You can go home now.

William Wray --

Matt Welch

So that would be a Thumbs Down?

A reminder, kids -- Please try to refrain from using the F-word & related unprintables, don't use the comments here to advertise your unrelated websites (though you can certainly throw a URL into the URL form), and if at all possible use your real name. Comments are "moderated," which means three things:

1) They have to be approved before they're posted.
2) It's me doing the approving (for now), and sometimes I'm not around a computer.
3) I (or others) can and will edit comments for seven-dirty-words language and gratuitous self-promotion.

That said, we are glad to take as much brutal criticism as you've got.

Tim McGarry

My initial reaction this morning was negative. To be honest, however, it could simply be resistance to change.

FWIW, I still dislike the graphics on "Current" and I've had time enough to get accustomed to them.

I don't think the Times problems have much to do with the paper's look. I would rather see you invest on expanding the utility of the Web site.

Again, thanks for inviting responses.

Edward Padgett

As I heard my LA Times hit the driveway loudly, at six this morning, I rushed downstairs half dressed and out the front door in anticipation of how the new format would appear.

Once the plastic wrap was peeled away I searched through all the sections until I found what I was seeking, the Los Angeles Times famous front page. My first reaction was negative, seemed to look like an East Coast newspaper. But I had not consumed my morning cup of coffee and could not really be honest, as I am grumpy before having my fix of coffee.

After reading the Times Opinion Blog tonight, I placed the new section A out on my desk and have to admit, I like the changes the newspaper has made.

Coach Bob said:
“Someone once said that a definition of insanity goes something like this: doing the same thing over and over again the same way and expecting a different result.”

The Los Angeles Times must evolve, as we see it’s attempting to do.

Great Job everyone.


DeAnn Morris

I agree with William Wray, the man above who is planning on cancelling his subscription.

I am not going to do that,at least not yet, but I do want to post a complaint about what you have done. I think that basically you have gone from tasteful to garish in the way the A section now looks. I am just simply dumbfounded that someone thinks that the new look is an improvement.

I am alarmed by what is happening to the paper. I worry about finding out that someone else has been axed.

Nansi Taggart

I too have been a Times subscriber for many years, and been saddened by continuing slippage in quality. The Times is now in free fall. The statement on the front page which says "on weekdays, the changes are even more pronounced".......These changes will highlight our best work" is so incredibly sad and pathetic. That men and women who consider themselves journalists consider this combination of enormous fonts, photos, ads and little substance in the Sunday A section of a major city paper as their "best work" is an embarrassment. My subscription also is being cancelled first thing tomorrow.

Evan

All of the new features strike me as having absolutely nothing to do with what is most important to me in the paper--the quality of the journalism--and in fact it seems that these gimmicks will take up space for actual journalism. Combined with the Times' penchant for full page underwear ads from Macy's, can we soon expect articles to be the secondary mission of the paper?

I must agree with Nansi above. The redesign just seems like a desperate act, one that wasn't necessary in my opinion. I feel as if the Times has an insecurity problem, that we as readers must constantly be reminded that the Times is Significant, that it is just as important as the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal.

The disconnect between the Times and those papers was symbolized when I looked at the front section of the Times next to the Sunday NYT, which I also subscribe to. On the left, the NYT front section looked staid, predictable, and somewhat boring. All of which would be negatives if I was looking for innovative design in my newspaper, but I'm not. I'm not saying that a newspaper must be boring looking in order to be good, but it also doesn't have to be snazzy. If anything, I think the new changes takes the Times away from its ambitions and the great papers that it likes to think of itself alongside.

Guillermo Benavides

What a dissappointment with the front page. I feel they should bring back our famous Eagle on front page. Our paper looks like a refurbished USA TODAY.

Ben Sullivan

I like it a whole lot. Just a gut reaction, and no Doug Arellanes-level psychodynamic data to back it up. But the front page looks like it can kick more ass than before. And in a newspaper, I think that's a good thing.

Marcia Ho

The L A Times has been trying too hard to appeal to the younger crowd that doesn't read, can't read etc, etc.... and probably never will subscribe to the physical paper. They need a different medium to attract them like the web and other future tech-driven devices. This current re-design alienates every reader who embraces quality journalism/content of the paper. This is a poor tummy tuck and face lift that is not necessary. The L A Times without the Eagle is not the L A Times. Change and evolution is good, but do it in a way that maintains the quality that has attracted us readers for many decades. We will stick with you and encourage the next generation. Please do not alienate us.

Anonymous

Re: The new changes at the LA Times
In a word - dreadful.

Lee Gross

Reminds me of a major healthcare company I used to work for. When things got bad, they changed their name and moved. Looks like the Times is trying to glaze over some significant in-house problems by changing the "look" of the paper. I really like the Times (especially since I live in the OC) and wonder why a major, good paper has to have such a facelift when one was not needed in the first place. Seems to me your time and effort could be spent better addressing what's "in" the paper as opposed to how it looks.

Michele

I have to laugh that Nicholas Goldberg thinks people don't understand the editorials are biased. Any twit knows that. The bias people dislke is in the "News" section, which is subtle (and not so subtle). And I see it every single day.

Due to lack of time, I haven't thoroughly perused today's paper. But I did have time to read this story in today's Times:

"Attacks on French police rise."

What group is attacking the French police? The article mentions some of the officers claim they are facing a "permanent intifada." (Oh, yay! The Times is now just giving us hints in place of news) And the article mentions problems with Ethnic Integration and minority youths....

Great! We have to guess...Is it a problem with the Dutch imnigrants? The Chinese? Is it the Buddhists who are attacking the French? You know if it were the Christians attacking the police you all wouldn't just give hints, but put it right in the headline. And I say this as someone who's never gone to church.

I happen to know that the hints at "Intifada," "gangs," "Ethnic integration" are all written in place of stating the facts: The French police are being attacked by MUSLIMS. Are you afraid to state this? Because if fear is going to lead your reporting, what good is reporting? Why don't you start giving us less scary stories about the world's best chocolate chip cookies or drawf tossing contests in Ireland.

I see this all the time. I believe this is one of the major problems people have with your paper and many other newspapers...and why people go to other sources that will state (without fear) what is going on in the world.

Changing around your font styles and editorials isn't going to change that people need to KNOW what is going on...not get hints which lead us to seek our news elsewhere.

Michele

One more thing...And, yes, I see I spelled immigrant wrong. But I was like a dervish of passion and my m's and n's were a blur...

Do you see that your esthetic changes will be akin to South-Central's name change to South Los Angeles? It still the same violent blood-bath every night - but, hey! Now it's got a brand-spanking new name.

Good luck...and I mean that. I love Sunday's West section, Thursday's Weekend Calendar, the indepth personal stories - I hope you guys actually improve more than your design.

wendy rossen

Thumbs down--The Sunday Magazine was already dumbed down and made into supposedly a more trendy format that would appeal a young audience--who actually never read paper news anymore anyway. Now you're starting on the newspaper. The "new" front page looks very tabloid--very offensive to a long time subscriber who has been on the verge of cancelling for quite some time. Meanwhile, I'll keep my subscription to the NY Times for the news. That's why I still read a newspaper!

David Kopf

A new font package and some “me-too” redesign isn't going to replace all the reporters and editors the Chicago-based owners have slashed.

As a long-time subscriber, I see that while the LA Times is profitable, the Tribune Company still tries to increase margins by destroying the one thing that truly makes a paper great: its newsroom expertise. And yet, my sub rates continue to rise? Why is that?

The only thing that keeps me subscribing is that 1) I want my children to grow up in a newspaper-reading household (your circulation managers can thank me for seeding your future market), and 2) the Orange County Register is a joke. If there were a decent competitor to the Times, I’d have dropped my sub to your paper in a heartbeat back during the first cuts, or perhaps when you dropped Robert Scheer.

I noticed that we’re not supposed to use the “F” word, so I’ll be more gentle. If the penultimate rule of publishing has been “know thy reader,” I’m going to have to assume the clowns back in Chi-town figure the adage meant “know” in the Biblical sense.

Nice knowing you?

Jake Skell

Much of the new look is garish, choppy, chaotic, tabloidesque. Impression: Trying too hard.

But then I remember recoiling when the Times initiated its own special new font a couple/few years ago. I guess I like it just fine now.

Sunday's debut was made all the more awkward by a confusing front-page headline referencing "lax" standards for something -- the all-caps headline made it look like a story about LAX, but the words around it didn't add up to aviation... confusing... caused my wife and I separately to read and re-read the head a few times. Message: beware the wording of all-caps heds.

David Warren

Maybe due to my age (43) or my long-term association with the paper (I subscribed even before moving to LA 20 yrs ago), I view the current re-design as nothing more than an identity crisis, similar but deeper perhaps than a mid-life crisis. Like it or not, new people from Chicago, you have to carry the baggage of the folks who came before you - the many and recently departed. And now you are contributing in the exact same vein as they; where they moved the world news from front to back and back again, you're changing fonts and adding strips of screaming ads on the tops and bottoms of pages. They added two page "overview/index/synopsis" of the entire paper and you are just plain printing less stories. I ask you: what is the LA Times' identity? What do you want to be? Maybe you need to spend some time in the desert communing with your inner editorial soul to find out. A recent comment from one of your own writers suggested you focus on your strengths in west coast high tech/finances and the entertainment biz, all of which is relevant--albeit not particularly competitive nor urgent like world politics--but nonetheless important to your readers. Like those above me, I urge you to stop straddling the very large abyss that exists between USA Today and the NY Times, and instead, reach over, grab a spine and stake a claim: declare what it is you want to be and then just do it. But stop making us suffer through this crap.

P J Evans

First thought: It's ugly.

Second thought: The typeface you're using for the top right corner is really bad; doesn't go with the rest of the page, too narrow, too tight to read easily - and that's the one you're using to sell the paper.

Third thought: Why are you going back to the NINETEENTH CENTURY for your front page design? (I've seen enough newspaper from that era to recognize it when I see it - and they covered local news much better than you guys have been doing.)

Marty

Okay. I'm going to lay this out there: I think that anyone who cancelled their newspaper subscription because of a change in fonts or type is a muppet.

Maybe there is a new look, Mr. William Wray, but last time I checked there were the same number of articles/column space devoted to international events and national news. The paper might look different, but the content (which is pretty good compared to most American papers) is still quality.

I don't care about the flashy new packaging. The LA Times still gives me the quality read that I've always found and that's okay.

csufbomb

Perhaps you could run a reader contest to see who can accurately guess how many different fonts you used on the front page?

It's time for a new look to an old newspaper, but you really should have brought in some bold design talent to destroy the old archetype instead of merely mixing and matching fonts.

Kyle Baker

I saw nothing wrong with the way the Times front page looked in the first place. I thought it was terrific, worthy of mention with other top papers in the US, e.g. noted East Coast papers. The content and writing matched the look.

Now, aesthetically, I'm confronted with several disparate fonts and the notion that merely changing the look will somehow improve the paper and increase circulation. The new look is dumbed down, USA Today-ified, McPaper. I don't need more pictures, more graphics, different fonts, etc. to enjoy the paper. And those whom you are obviously trying to attract are, well, probably not going to be constant readers/subscribers anyway, no matter how it looks.

mszeto

i hate the design. pulling my subscriptioin becuase of it. the paper now looks like some cheap second class newspaper, usa today, pasadena star, etc... The Los Angeles Times used to stand for quality journalism but now it's going down. Improve the quality of the journalism. Don't change the design. It's just so awful. I can't even look at it let alone read it.

Joe Reid

Ask anyone who ever did professional graphic design . . . too many fonts was THE hallmark of amateur desktop publishing!

Andrew Mollenbeck

My perceptions of the redesign are decidedly mixed. On the affirmative side, I am thrilled to see the editorial / op-ed page moved to the back of Section A, where it belongs. I also liked the different fonts on the headlines, namely the New-York-Times-esque all caps. The sub heads also looked good, though I wish the lines separating them were justified center.

The most confusing addition of the new look to me is why someone finds bold black lines so visually engaging. I believe one of the aspects that makes a paper visually engaging is how clean it looks. Having (10?) pt. lines at the top of sections and extra bold lines between stories buries the actual pieces of journalism. To me, the bold lines make the paper difficult to look at. I think the fonts and point size of lines are what make the Washington Post so sharp. (Would you ever consider its font for the copy? It's the easiest to read I've seen of any paper.) Regardless, I will certainly not cancel my subscription, as I believe the journalism produced in the Times rivals any paper in the country. (Just wait for the reactions when the New York Times leaves its broadsheet format.)

Karima

I thought for sure I had the wrong newspaper. As an East Coast transplant who has thoroughly enjoyed the LA Times for it's expansive stories, I have been frustrated that the Tribune continues to devalue the LA Times and its audience. The new look is just the latest insult. Big boxes on fashion and sports, with 3 different types and boxes for headlines?!!! This looked like some crap high school student job.

Before the Tribune bought the Times, the Times was truly one of the three best papers in the US, alongside the Washington Post and the New York Times. Reporting was detailed, news could be found that was hard to find elsewhere and one could take comfort that journalism wasn't completely lost to commercialism. That certainly isn't the case anymore and one more reason Americans find themselves less educated about the world we live compared to other free nations. The Tribune should have a little more respect for the country and actually realize the moral thing to do is sell the LA Times to people who care about providing news to the West Coast instead of a pretty, inferior product that will never realize its potential under Tribune ownership.

Ben Chapin

I must say that I'm more than a little upset about the changes currently taking place with the Times. As a university student in San Diego, I have always been thankful that we are able to recieve the Times down here, even if it is the OC edition. With an "official" hometown paper that, for the most part, barely passes for journalism, the Times has always served as beacon of integrity and honest, intelligent reporting in this otherwise barren landscape. Until recently I have stuck with reading the print version of the Times, even though there are other national papers available on campus. Now, with the seeming emergence of USA Today II, I am just going to have to rethink my loyalties. Please, rethink this new format. We don't need another McNews here in Southern California

Robert Diaz

If this were to happen, say, in Chicago, one would understand it. But how can Los Angeles, one of the world's capitals of visual culture, end up with such a tacky, amateurish, cheap and grotesque look? The one good thing is that latimes.com now looks as serene as a Vermeer.

taylor hines

Wow! You've cheapened the look of the LA Times even more than you've cut expenses, quality, etc. Whoever out there told you that things look better when you throw tons of different font types (itallics, etc.) should be thrown out onto the cold Chicago streets.

This ugly, ugly, cheapening of my hometown paper has finally pushed me over to the "Tribune-must-sell" camp. I think I'll even start booing the Cubs -- and who hates them?

Whoever you are, go back to Chicago and leave our paper alone!

Darren Brenes

Thank you for taking one of this country's best newspapers and turning it into USA Today. Thank you for multi-colored pie graphs, for gigantic photos of stuff that we can just as easily see on TV, for maps that will show us PRECISELY where to find the Panama Canal. And I thought things had gotten bad when half the Sunday editorial section was taken over by cartoons.

Splashy graphics, bold black lines and sub-sub-sub-headings don't make quality journalism. When Angelenos want news fluff, we turn on the TV. What we loved about the Times was the seriousness, the intelligence, and the depth of coverage. Otis Chandler must be turning over in his grave.

Evan

Now that this is accomplished, when will the Times' redesign its website?

Steve

The USA Today comments are spectacularly wrong and show a fairly stunning lack of sophistication from what seems like a pretty educated audience.

Look, if you don't like it, fine. But throwing up the old "it looks like USA Today" as a substitute for some kind of thoughtful analysis is just poor.

Realistically, it looks nothing like USA Today. Nothing at all.

And to those who think this was some kind of mandate from Chicago . . . again, substituting some kind of corporate bugabear for rational criticism is just dumb.

william.wray@verizon.net

Listen Matt,


Grow up would you? Be bigger than an angry reader. Your an adult, make some kind of counter point about what the issue rather than a thin bait a swich. Lecturing me about the F word and my signature. How brave. Gratuitous self- promotion? What are you guys doing in your fawning lies to sell us this shrink- job? Talk about it what you have really done, justify less news and bigger fonts. You are going along with the systematic gutting of a once great newspaper, soon your head will be on the block. I'm more loyal to the paper thatn you are and I don't work there. Open your nostrils smell the stink, wake up and organize a strike before it's to late.
--
William Wray


Sierra Madre Ca.


Matt Welch

William -- You misunderstand me. I was making a mild joke, along the lines of "tell us what you really think," while explaining for your & everyone else's benefit what our comments-moderating policies are, because indeed I edited your comment. I personally have zero problem with F words and the people who use them, especially as concerns newspapers (and especially as concerns this newspaper).

As for defending the newspaper's redesign, that's just not my job; I work as an assistant editor for the Opinion Section, which is separate from the newsroom, and what I'm trying to do here more than anything else is enable discussion.

Donna

I do not like the LA Times "new look"...reminds me of USA Today or a rag paper. It reflects a lack of focus on serious news reporting. As a long-time subscriber, I have wondered in recent years why I even subscribe anymore. I can get all the news I want from the internet and cable TV news.

I think that instead of changing the "look" of the LA Times, focus should be given to the type of news reporting. I have found the LA Times to be very bias in their reporting and controlled by their liberal leaning journalists.

As for attracting a younger clientele, they're wasting their time. Everyone knows that young people do not read the newspaper, they get their news from TV or the internet.

So it's thumbs down on the new design

Eric Daniels


My overall reaction to the redesign was very negative. The two top stories seemed to compete with each other in a disturbing way; I got the sense that they were in different categories (like hard news vs. human interest piece), but my eye kept going back and forth struggling to determine which was which. It was as if they were both shouting for my attention in different languages.

I even wondered for a split second if one were an advertisement.

I'm pretty sure this is entirely due to the font choice. I know sans-serif all-caps condensed is a classic headline look, but for some reason it looks cheesy when surrounded by the more relaxed & classy serifed u/l case headlines...

I do, however, like the occasional use of a double-wide column, spanning two of the six columns. I think the layout flexibility it provides is a good thing.

Thanks for listening...

-- Eric

tim1724

The all-caps sans serif hurts my eyes. I can live with everything else, but please get rid of that one particular font choice.

David Ehlers

Unfortunately, I don't see the reason for the number of different fonts used in the titles. Is there some sort of hierarchy I am not seeing. I am all for continuing to improve the design, but it truely needs some help. The inside the times section needs more seperation/distinction.

Emerson Schwartzkopf

I've searched the archives and can't find the article from last week about the explosion at the local type foundry, which would account for all of the remnants finding their way to the new front page.

No, this isn't a case of the paper going USA Today; if anything, it's a paper that's too easy to consume. The new L.A. Times front page is visually distruptive and violates a simple rhythm of readability. This is great if you want to make a statement, but there's sometimes a wide gap between statements and real communication.

The horribly condensed fonts harken back to the days when hot-lead typesetting physically restricted (as in set type sizes) what anyone could do with layout. Electronic printing eliminates that. Using the all-cap SQUEEZE AND SHOUT headlines can only lead to more-verbose, lazy headline writing, along with occasional bouts of confusion. (Or was I the only person who looked at the lead headline on Sunday and wondered where LAX fit in with a non-airport article?) This strategy got an back-of-the-paper tryout occaisionally with the Calendar section, and it looked crummy back there, too.

The riot of headline fonts causes readers to stop and adjust; it's only a momentary perception, but if you throw four or five of these into the start of an article, there's a degree of difficulty that makes the eye start to wander for something easier. Doing this four to five times on the front page, with literally every article, is a formula for readers giving up and turning the page -- a total defeat of the front page's purpose.

And what's with the four-deck-deep subheads? Are we returning to Civil-War-style layouts, where all the deck heads took up half of the article's length? (Which, if the Times management is looking to make articles shorter and the newsroom payroll slimmer, might be an effective strategy.)

All of it -- the riot of typestyles, the font stolen from Virginia Slims advertisements for the factoid boxes, the bad and uneven use of negative (white) space -- contributes to a jumbled mess. The lack of uniformity in headline styles decreases the impact; the ability to change fonts for an important emphasis is gone when it's done everyday.

And, it's the attitude. The front page didn't need fixing, because I don't believe it's going to make newsstand purchases jump up; the crowd that bought the daily off the rack to get the movie schedules and classified ads now have cell-phone alerts and Craig's List and something called the Internet. It's a redesign because, well, the L.A. Times can do it, and those stodgy subscribers will just have to live with it. They'll take the change, and who cares?

Today, I gave up. I just turned the front section around and read the editorials. Good job, folks.

Mike Havnaer

To all you who are cancelling their subscriptions:

What are you going to subscribe to instead?

The Herald-Examiner? (oops! too late)
Press Telegram?
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin?
San Bernardino Sun?
Redlands Daily Facts?
San Gabriel Valley Tribune?
Pasadena Star-News?
Whittier Daily News?
The Grunion Gazette?
Los Angeles Daily News? (Loved the "Dude, your Mom is So Hot" piece)
The NYT? (Lots of coverage of Mayor Bloomberg, not so much on on Mayor Villgarosa - and do they back Schwartzenneger or Angelides?)

Or are you giving up newpapers altogether?

Mike Havnaer

I can't help but feel that every single objection to the new format is simply a revolt against any kind of change. Despite the detailed descriptions, everyone just wants the paper to look the way it used to. Back in 1947.

There probably is a visceral feeling out there that copying the East Coast papers is somehow more respectable than copying the Midwest papers. If only the Times would remove all advertising and all photos, then the bigshots back East would REALLY take us seriously.

We ain't them.

We're not like the rest of the country and we shouldn't try to be like them. I think the new look is a good start, but it doesn't go far enough. Our paper should reflect who we are, not pretend to be the NYT West.

Keep evolving...

Tina Kosha

The new look of the LA Times is not good. It makes the paper look cheap, like a knock-off of a news rag that doesn't have any depth to its stories but can scream catchy headlines. PLEASE return the front page to its former classy, iconic self. The Old English font for "The Los Angeles Times" was elegant; the new font is a cartoon shadow. On page 2, the "Overheard" section doesn't work for me. It looks like you had extra space that you couldn't sell to advertisers so you went to Plan B. "Overheard" works better in radio or magazine formats but is not effective as a teaser or lead-in to stories.

The time and effort spent on re-design would be better spent on increasing breadth and depth of reporting and to recapture the level of journalism that made The Los Angeles Times a Pulitzer prize winning, Big League newspaper that we could brag about.


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