tampabay.com

For your Times, a new look

By NEIL BROWN
Published October 8, 2006


Your St. Petersburg Times is about to get a vibrant new look.

On Oct. 16, we will unveil a fresh design for the Times, including more modern typography, a new page format and more than a dozen new features. The design will be colorful and offer a bolder presentation of the news. The goal is to better showcase our award-winning journalism, while making the paper easier to use and more fun to read.

These changes are the most sweeping we've made in more than a decade. There are several reasons why:

- The media marketplace is much more crowded than it was 10 years ago. Even a newspaper with a tradition as rich as ours must periodically refresh its style and content to earn your valuable attention and time.

- The Tampa Bay area continues to attract newcomers with varied interests and tastes. We're adding features to keep the paper relevant and interesting to a diverse audience.

- We've found a way to save money - and make the paper more appealing. We're putting much of the savings back into news coverage.

- We've got a popular Web site - tampabay.com - and have designed the newspaper to be a greater complement for those who regularly navigate the Web.

Changing the look of the Times has been a year in the making. We've spent more than $25-million for state-of-the-art technology to enhance our printing quality.

We've spent hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars researching the needs and interests of loyal readers, prospective ones and our advertisers.

Our journalists have used that research to design a newspaper that does a better job pointing you toward interesting and important stories. The new design also makes it easier to find what you're looking for in print and on the Web.

We're proud that many readers think of the paper as an old friend. Whenever I run into Bob Kilbride of St. Petersburg, his parting words to me are the kind we hear a lot: "Take good care of my paper."

Hence, we don't make these changes lightly and recognize everybody's tastes are a bit different. For some readers, the new look may take a little time to get used to.

In the newspaper over the next eight days we'll highlight many of the new features and design improvements. These include:

- More news summaries and graphics to keep you "in the know." Readers tell us they love coverage of breaking news, investigative journalism and powerfully written features. But they also tell us that on many days, they have too little time to read, so they appreciate the column of short news stories on our front page. In response, we're adding more of these "reader rails" throughout the paper. There will also be new "fast facts" boxes and graphics to keep you informed while respecting your time.

- Latitudes - a new weekly section on literature, arts and travel. Each Sunday starting Oct. 22, Latitudes will be a colorful, photo-filled section with news stories, features and consumer information on travel, the fine arts, the performing arts and books. We'll enlist our readers to share their favorite destinations or describe their own great escapes.

- A daily "Fan Page" in Sports. Page 2 of our Sports section will feature expanded listings of sports programming on TV and radio. The Fan Page will also include off-beat takes on players and teams plus rants from fans on the day's biggest sports stories.

- A new Sunday section titled Working. We've dubbed this section "Your source for getting ahead in Tampa Bay." Working debuts Oct. 22 and will report on the local job market and offer helpful stories for those who labor in the workplace or manage a work force.

- The Metro Report. On Page 3B, we'll provide a tightly edited summary of news stories from around the greater Tampa Bay metropolitan area. This quick-read feature grows out of our readers' desire to be informed about not just where they live, but where they work and play.

- Web. Web. Web. Our new look includes a visual cue to direct you to stories, blogs, photographs, graphics and multimedia offerings on our Web site, tampabay.com.

- Ask the Times. Got a question about something in the news? Times researchers will field your queries and offer answers every day on Page 2A.

- A narrower page that's easy to hold. The width of a page in the Times will be 1¼ inches narrower from 13 to 12½ inches). That's the same page width of most every major newspaper in America. We bucked the trend when other newspapers went to the narrower page about six years ago, figuring readers wouldn't like it. We were wrong. Extensive research shows readers find the compact page easier to hold, fold and carry.

The Wall Street Journal has announced plans to convert to a 12-inch page next year. The New York Times says it will follow suit in 2008.

The compact page saves trees and it saves money. We will add two pages to our daily A section to maintain a strong news report.

These are just some of the changes and features we'll begin to roll out on Oct. 16. If you want a preview of the new typography, check out our Gameday football section today. That's where we've been testing some of the typefaces.

Once you've seen the new design, please share your thoughts and suggestions. Drop us a note at thenewlook@tampabay.com or write to me at 490 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.

We look forward to hearing from you.