Dull ink meets new-era design

By Steve Outing

A colleague at the Chicago Tribune was kind enough to send me a few print copies of the newly redesigned paper. I’ve looked over many editions online, using both PressDisplay.com and the Chicago Tribune Electronic Edition for digital replicas of the print pages. But that online viewing just isn’t the same thing as what Chicago readers who still pick up the print edition see.

My first impression at seeing the physical product: No doubt it’s a nice design, put together by a team of talented designers and editors. But I don’t find it to be, as advertised, all that “radical” or “revolutionary.” It’s more like taking a couple steps along the evolutionary ladder for newspapers.

But here’s the big thing that struck me: Here’s this nice design, with lots of fancy graphics, layout tricks, and color … but the whole things looks dull and flat, because it’s on dingy newsprint, and the ink coverage isn’t particularly bright. Despite all that excellent work, the paper still looks like something out of the past because of the printing and paper quality!

Perhaps I’m just so used to seeing sharp and colorful content on my computer screen, and of course on the print magazines I still read, that the newness of the redesign on top of thin, grayish newsprint was a disconnect.

I don’t have a good solution for this, frankly. I’m sure than improving the quality of the paper and increasing the ink brightness are costly tweaks that the floundering Tribune Co. isn’t eager to institute. But for a “reinvented” newspaper that’s supposed to represent 2008 and beyond, it looks to me more like the 1980s.

What do others who’ve seen the physical Tribune since the redesign debuted think?

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!