Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Will New Web-Like Front Page Click?

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Will New Web-Like Front Page Click?

Article excerpt

Readers of The Janesville (Wis.) Gazette who are looking for news stories on the front page won't find much. But that's the whole idea, according to editors who recently redesigned the paper. Now, nearly all of Page One is filled with summaries of inside stories, and other teasers aimed at giving readers a quicker news fix and more reason to go beyond the first page.

"We wanted to make a commitment to readers that if they only have five minutes, they can get the news they need to stay up to speed," said Scott Angus, editor of the 22,000-circulation daily. "We need to get light readers to read us more."

Launched Sept. 27, the new look is a far cry from the Gazette's previous front-page layout, which often carried five stories, many jumping to inside pages. Under the new design, a wide, right-hand rail offers summaries of inside stories ranging from news to sports, while the bottom section promotes upcoming pieces and another area teases weather. Even death notices and obituaries are given a highlight mention.

"It is a bold move and not without an element of risk," said Sidney H. "Skip" Bliss, publisher of the paper, one of four dailies owned by his family's company, Bliss Communications of Janesville. "Little of its former self remains."

The only typical front-page news story will be in "The Window," a centerpiece space dedicated to a main visual element, which may not even offer a text story on some days. "We believe that once people look at the front page, they will look at more," Angus said, adding that about 20% of the paper's sales are single-copy buys. "We want to get people beyond the front page, and beyond the obstacle that they don't have time. Much of this makes the paper easier to read, easier to navigate."

Angus adds that the traditional front page is still in the paper, on Page 3, which offers the top news stories of the day. …

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