by Michael Boyink/[email protected]
We call it the archives.
Other newspapers call it the morgue.
Either way, it’s a room here in our offices with bound books containing over 100 years of Douglas County Herald editions.
For anyone who is curious or has an active imagination, it’s a time machine.
Open this book, and you are in the 1920s. Pick up that book and you’ve jumped to the 1950s. Over here is just last week.
Being able to jump through time like that makes one thing very clear.
Writing styles have changed. Advertising styles have changed. Products advertised. Hairstyles. Social norms.
The paper itself has changed. The old-timey font we currently use for the masthead wasn’t the choice in the 1950s. We didn’t continue to publish a society column. Contributors, columnists, writers, editors, and publishers have come and gone.
They say the only constant in life is change.
And yet, somehow we can fear change. Or at least get anxious about it.
One way to mitigate that anxiety is to know a change is to know its coming.
So this is me letting you know some changes are coming to the Herald.
As editor, I receive copies of most of the other newspapers in the region. Reading through them each week, one thing is clear.
The Herald needs some updating.
I’ll mention specifics below, but first let me be clear.
What is not changing is our focus. We still aim to be a local paper, dedicated to the interests of the residents of Ava and Douglas County.
We are also not changing the content. We are looking for some new columnists, but we are not presently planning to eliminate any of our current contributors.
The timeline is a bit unclear (the news business being somewhat unpredictable), but expect to see the updates appear in the next couple of weeks.
So what, specifically, are we changing?
Adding whitespace to increase readability.
Increasing the font size of the page numbers and issue dates to improve readability.
Adding page headers (Government, Opinion, Outdoors, etc) to better organize the content.
Implementing a consistent byline style for all in-house articles, submitted articles, letters to the editor, community news, etc.
Implementing a consistent header style for advertising and non-article content (calendar of events, COVID stats, weather, livestock report, etc).
Combining recent weather and the weather forecast.
Implementing a re-illustrated Snoop character.
Grouping featured community-contributed news on one page.
Adding persistent and clarified policy information, news submission instructions, classified ad instructions etc.
Looking at our mockups, I’m excited. I think the result is a more readable, consistent, and fresher-looking newspaper.
I’m hoping you’ll enjoy it as well.