In journalism, it’s all about change

jredecker@theolympian.comNovember 18, 2012 

The Olympian newspaper – including its direct predecessors – has been publishing since 1860. The one constant in that time has been change: change in name, change in days of the week, change in afternoon or morning delivery and, increasingly, change in the way readers engage with us.

Today’s news consumer is apt to get breaking news on Twitter or Facebook or a mobile app, as a direct message from The Olympian or a link from a friend. That has changed how we cover and produce the news; from a once-a-day cycle to around-the-clock.

Through it all, we continue to provide the largest news-gathering team in the region, with reporters and photographers who have spent decades covering the events in Thurston County and the surrounding areas. Our veteran reporters can speak with authority about the community – its politics, schools, neighborhoods, environment, recreation and businesses.

Even traditional “big news” events such as elections have changed. Some things, like waiting for the vote count, are the same. But this year, instead of waiting until the next morning’s paper to get local results, Olympian readers found out nearly instantly, first on Twitter, then with an online breaking news alert and then throughout the night with full stories posted on our website. (One election tradition that hasn’t changed is an overload of pizza. The Olympian reporters, editors and photographers, like journalists across the country, did some serious carb-loading while waiting for the votes to come in.)

As we learn more about how readers use our information in whatever format they choose, we’ve found that the dedicated readers of the printed newspaper have preferences that can best be served in that medium.

With that in mind, we are refining our printed newspaper. Starting Tuesday, you’ll see:

 • New headline type, and a new headline philosophy. The new headline font is called Miller. It’s also used by The Boston Globe and is more authoritative than the type we use now. Rather than run a big headline at the top of the page every day, as we do now, the lead headline will be big when the news is big, smaller when the news is not so big. This will provide a visual cue to our news judgment. And it will allow us to run more local stories at the top of the page.

 • More stories each section front, offering you a greater variety of news and arranged in a way that helps you find what you need quickly.

 • Same easy-to-read story type. We are keeping our Concorde story font in the same larger type size we run now. Columns will run ragged right, rather than justified. That way we don’t have to squeeze letters together or spread them apart to make the lines match up. We’re also inserting vertical rules between columns to help guide your eyes.

 • A “Looking Back” historical photo on Page 2 every Sunday, honoring the rich history of Thurston County.

 • More “What’s Happening” items on Page 2 listing celebrations, lectures, fundraisers and community events.

 • More columns. You may have noticed more frequent Soundings columns from senior reporter John Dodge. In coming weeks, he will continue the transition from environmental reporter to full-time columnist. But don’t worry, he’ll still have his deep sources in the environmental community and draw on them for columns and stories. Business reporter Rolf Boone also will step in occassionally as “Busy Papa,” giving a counterpoint to Lisa Pemberton’s popular “Busy Mama” column.

And, finally, this column. As senior editor at The Olympian and a staffer since 1982, I hope to give you a look into how and why we do things. Look for my column on the first Sunday of each month.


Look deep inside your paper today for a complimentary issue of our weekly TV section. We’ve added specialty pages for food, decorating, outdoors and sports shows and expanded movie listings.

We offer the section as a subscription add-on, but included one for every subscriber this week as a way to show you the improvements. If you’d like to get the TV section every Sunday, call 800-289-8711.

Jerre Redecker:360-754-5422

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