Commonwealth Journal

Local News

May 6, 2014

Redesigned CJ will be launched this weekend

Somerset — The CJ staff has been itching to tell our readers about a secret we've been keeping under wraps for months: This Saturday will mark the launch of a completely redesigned Commonwealth Journal!

"It's been more than two decades since the Commonwealth Journal underwent a comprehensive redesign," said Managing Editor Ken Shmidheiser. "Over time with the changes in staff and content, coupled with advances in design technology, this cherished paper began looking tired and muddled.

"Earlier this year, management seriously critiqued the appearance of the Commonwealth Journal and decided it was time for a comprehensive facelift. We also decided that rather than approach a redesign in-house, we would retain an expert designer with a fresh eye to guide us.

"To that end, we were fortunate to convince national newspaper designer Ed Henninger to help oversee the redesign. Henninger worked closely with News Editor Jeff Neal to develop a clean and fresh new look for the CJ that will enhance your reading experience.

"We are excited in anticipation of unveiling the new Commonwealth Journal with a special edition this Saturday. And we are grateful to our advertisers who are helping make that edition a reality."

Composing a newspaper in 2014 is a far cry from the process just a decade or two ago. What once took a half dozen or more people, can now be accomplished by one skilled paginator thanks to 21st Century computer technology.

However technology has brought with it new complexities that can overwhelm streamlined design. With thousands of font faces available at the click of a mouse, choosing a handful that represent ease of readability and clean design becomes an art. And since we live in a world bombarded with images, how can we best select and play photos and graphics that will enhance the reader's understanding?

There is a host of other issues—page structure, column width, text justification and size, labels and folios, captions, and much more—which may go unnoticed by the untrained eye, that had to be evaluated and adjusted.

For instance, one problem with the CJ is a loss of continuity. The appearance of many sections strayed from the original uniformity. Our exciting new look will restore the continuity of design, and theme elements and design style will now be retained from section to section.

Over the next couple of days we will discuss some of the other challenges and decisions we faced that resulted in our new look.

But first a little about the person who guided our staff during the makeover. Ed Henninger is a career newspaper veteran. In 1989 he founded Henninger Consulting with a mission to provide high-quality newspaper design services and consultation. Henninger has served hundreds of dailies, weeklies, business journals, church-affiliated newspapers and niche publications throughout the United States, Canada and Europe.

Henninger's clients consistently win state and national design awards. Better yet, they win the acclaim of readers, advertisers and community leaders. In the end, Henninger's input helped the CJ staff accomplish its goal: An exciting fresh and appealing new look.

In anticipation of Saturday’s reveal, Thursday’s CJ will contain more details about the redesign process.

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