On Tuesday, April 28, my hometown newspaper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, unveiled its drastic redesign. The change began several months ago with a new, more modern logo, and culminated in a total overhaul of the look of the paper itself.
The new AJC is now narrower, with a more vertical layout and cleaner typography. It is gratifying and encouraging to see a local newspaper make such an investment in its future, considering the constant heralding of the end of the printed news industry.
As a bit of a news junkie and newspaper snob, I always considered the AJC nearly superfluous and irrelevant. I got my news online throughout the day, and read the New York Times on Sundays for more in-depth and unusual stories. Yet this redesign has me rethinking my anti-AJC bias.
Where the old paper was flat and staid, the new one feels dynamic and fun. And to me, an unabashed Europhile, the new font (Publico) feels fresh and hip. The hierarchy is denser yet simplified, allowing the reader’s eye to skip easily around the page. Colors are brighter, and are used deftly to create areas of focus and interest.
A recession redesign is a brave bet, but one I believe will pay off. The new AJC stands out among its peers, and looks more like a paper from a trendsetting international city, rather than just another so-so local paper.
Interestingly, the new design is extremely polarizing. I showed it to several design-minded people where I work, and two of them thought the new paper actually looked old/worse. Of course, good creative work always elicits strong reactions, both good and bad.
I applaud the AJC and its design team on this impressive accomplishment. If you’re interested in reading more, Charles Apple, a journalist/designer, wrote an extensive blog entry a couple months ago detailing the process that led to the new look. It’s quite informative, and interesting to see the other options that were considered.