Waiting to be impressed

Don Rogers

Congratulations to the Denver Post on their big redesign, heralded by a full page advertorial from their editor and house ads touting everything the overhaul is supposed to accomplish. It has all the whiff of a used car lot.

The Post has evolved from a design that looked pretty much like every metro paper in America 10 years ago to looking pretty much like any other metro in America today.

All that fanfare over what isn’t so much a grand “redesign” as simply fussing? It’s right up there with The New York Times spending a million dollars to tweak its nameplate so that it was impossible to tell they’d done anything at all to it.

Nothing notable has changed in Denver’s leading paper. The type has been prettied up, they’ve discovered white space, the same old columnists have different logos. Everyday readers are unlikely to notice much difference. Sorry.

Newspapers don’t innovate so much as ape each other. We’re better than McDonald’s or Wal-Mart at providing extremely standard fare in every town. Pap. Any wonder that America’s newspapers collectively have continued to lose circulation each year?

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We do tend to make a big deal out of these things, like we’ve really gone out and accomplished something. We tell the readers we’ve done all these nifty things for them, perhaps not realizing that when we’ve truly achieved the goals, they’ll let us know.

Did focus groups really spend hundreds of hours telling the Denver Post that what they needed to do was look just like the Colorado Springs Gazette?

An irony is that today’s most distinctive-looking papers are the ones that haven’t changed much over the decades, like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Funny, that.


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