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U-T Redesign Not Impressive

Most women (and quite a lot of men) would agree that periodic renewal of one’s image, look and presentation is a good thing. If you don’t change, you look dated and old, in danger of irrelevance. Just ask Blackberry. Or Lady Gaga.

So I approached the new design of the U-T (nee San Diego Union-Tribune) with interest. Newspapers are struggling and trying to reinvent themselves, and change is evident everywhere. The new U-T is changed utterly - in size (narrower) and the design, layout, and typefaces are totally new. The paper doesn’t look like its former self in the least, and I have to say that I am not a fan.

What they have done with their all-cap, san serif headlines is create an entire paper that looks like a bunch of ads trying to blend in with the rest of the editorial. You know those ads, the ones that are mostly type arranged in newspaper-style columns with headlines like “All-Star Real Estate Has Best Month Ever.” The U-T now looks like an advertorial - with smaller photos.

Also, announcing loudly in a 3” X 3” block that this is section B, C, D, etc. is not helpful. Do I care what letter it is? Where’s the local news? I found that info in small type underneath the huge B.

Finally, the narrower paper has reduced the advice columns to just one-inch wide in what looks like agate type. Older readers are not going to love having to get out a magnifying glass to read "Dear Abby."

On the positive side, there seems to have been no more layoffs since the last bloodletting a few weeks ago. If the U-T can manage to hold that line for a while, I’ll still take it, advertorial and all.

The U-T explains the redesign on their website.

What do you think of the new redesign? We'd love to hear from you in the comment section below.

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Avatar for user 'pam'

pam | August 20, 2010 at 12:37 p.m. ― 6 years, 7 months ago

Hear, hear, Pat! I agree on all counts. Even my 7-year old recognizes problematic design and layout when she sees it. She is upset that the sports page is so hard to read now.

Still, I like getting a paper delivered to my doorstep each morning so I guess they need to remain profitable.

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Avatar for user 'keppie64'

keppie64 | August 20, 2010 at 12:45 p.m. ― 6 years, 7 months ago

I feel like I'm back in grade school with the big capital B, C, D at the top of the sections. Also agreed on "Dear Abby" - that type size is ridiculous. There wasn't much to read in the old design and the new design add anything!

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Avatar for user 'biogeek'

biogeek | August 20, 2010 at 4:37 p.m. ― 6 years, 7 months ago

The design wastes space. Printers would be happy since less ink is required to print it, but on the whole, it looks as if they have less real content and are trying to fill space. It is akin to students adjusting font sizing and margins in order to meet a "page minimum" for an assignment.

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Avatar for user 'Len'

Len | August 20, 2010 at 5:08 p.m. ― 6 years, 7 months ago

Never a better example of putting lipstick on a pig. (And making the pig uglier.) Do the design wizards not even know that black type on a gre background is difficult to read, and will subscriptions including magnifying glasses to read agate type? The money spent on rearraging the Titanic's deck chairs would have been much better used to improve the ship. If I wasn't addicted to a newspaper with my breakfast, I'd cancel it. (It now barely gets me through the orange juice, in any event.)

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Avatar for user 'Kay'

Kay | August 21, 2010 at 6:54 a.m. ― 6 years, 7 months ago

I couldn't agree more Pat - I absolutely hate it. I have decided to show my complete disappointment by discontinuing my subscription of the UT. It's not worth continuing; I'm so frustrated trying to figure out if I am reading an advertisement or an article; it's cheapened and juvenile style offends me.

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Avatar for user 'SueB'

SueB | August 21, 2010 at 9:07 p.m. ― 6 years, 7 months ago

That is EXACTLY how I have felt about the paper since the first day it arrived. It looked like a bunch of ads. I originally thought it was just ads and almost threw the whole paper out until something made me take a second look and I realized that it was a real paper masquerading as an ad supplement to a real paper. Even now it continues to give me the same feeling. It is something about the quality of the headlines, combined with the print style and quality of the paper it is printed on.

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Avatar for user 'Pat Finn'

Pat Finn, KPBS Staff | August 23, 2010 at 8:02 a.m. ― 6 years, 7 months ago

Thanks, everybody, for weighing in. A week later, I still find that I think I have picked up a fake paper. If anybody out there likes the design, I'd like to know about it.

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Avatar for user 'rdotinga'

rdotinga | August 23, 2010 at 4:09 p.m. ― 6 years, 7 months ago

I don't mind it too much. There's clearly a lot of method to their madness.

The big letters on section fronts, for example, are there to allow most of the horizontal space at the top of the page to be used for stories. (As compared to "Our Region," or whatever, in a huge font size hogging space.)

Their challenge, and it's a huge one, was to try to fit in the same amount of content on pages that are now about 15 percent smaller due to the narrowing of the paper. (This change is very common in the newspaper business, and the U-T is actually behind the times in going to a smaller size.)

Headlines, bylines, etc., simply have to get scrunched, and they need to free up as much space as they can. There's no way around it.

The new logo, though... ick.


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Avatar for user 'SueB'

SueB | August 25, 2010 at 9:19 p.m. ― 6 years, 7 months ago

By the way, did everyone catch the advertisement heading the column on the left side of the front page? Does any other city paper actually print an ad in a news column above the fold?

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