Karen Peterson

Karen Peterson: New design plays to newspaper’s strengths

Deep stories on important local issues. They are The News Tribune’s specialty.

They give context to the news of the day or explain to readers how they will be personally affected.

They’re stories about the South Sound you don’t often get on Seattle TV or radio. Unlike the TNT, broadcasters don’t have more than two dozen reporters working beats from a newsroom in Tacoma.

Beginning Wednesday, we will focus even more of our resources on these deep stories. That’s when we launch a new print design showcasing an in-depth local story every day on Page 3.

The front page will continue to be a place for the news of the day. In Depth will be a place where we help readers understand.

You’ll notice some other changes this week in the look of the paper, but the sections will remain the same so you can still find your favorite features.

The new design includes:

▪ New headline type and story type that’s bolder and easier to read, according to extensive testing done with readers. It should appeal to those who find our current story type a little too gray.

For the first time, we’ll use the same headline and story type in our newspaper and online, so we look like your TNT everywhere you read us.

▪ More visual space between stories for a cleaner look and easier read.

▪ More boxes and photographs on the front page highlighting important stories inside the paper.

▪ A local columnist every day on Page 2 (exactly where you’re reading this column in today’s paper.)

▪ South Sound In Depth on Page 3 Monday through Saturday. (Sunday’s lineup, with an in-depth story on the front page, will remain the same.)

▪ The local news section continuing on Page 4.

Three items that currently appear on the weather page will move to new locations: the national entertainment story to Page 2; celebrity birthdays and Today in History to the TV page in our Classifieds section.

Online, where reader habits change quickly, we’re also making minor adjustments.

The first addresses a big challenge: figuring out how to serve the same story to one reader with only seconds to catch up on the news and another who’s sinking into the couch for a deep read.

Our new online story pages try to serve both.

Beneath each headline, you’ll find three highlights that give you the gist of the story. If that’s all you want, you can leave with a basic understanding. If you want more, keep reading the full story. The design works particularly well on a cellphone.

Expect a steady stream of local news breaking at the top of our home page. Further down, we’ve set aside a special section for the daily South Sound In Depth story. These more complicated stories are surprisingly well-read online.

Behind the new print and digital designs is a new way of thinking about how we cover the news. Our emphasis will be on two newsroom tempos we’re calling Quick and Deep.

Quick stories are for people who want to catch the latest breaking news as it pops continually through the day and night. We’re redoubling our efforts to be first with local breaking news online (while taking time to verify our information).

The print edition is no longer the way to deliver breaking news, but it’s hard to beat for Deep reporting. Plenty of readers still appreciate sitting down to leaf through a collection of stories. The newspaper makes the news sit still so they can catch up.

Our staff is uniquely well-suited to this two-tempo challenge.

On our local news and business desks alone, we have 18 reporters. Each is working a beat with sources who feed them new information every day, perfect for Quick updates.

Each one also has gained expertise that allows them to go Deep on a South Sound topic, from Debbie Cafazzo on education to Adam Ashton on the military to Melissa Santos and Jordan Schrader on state government.

We’ve scheduled reporters so that about once every two weeks, each of them will tackle a story for the In Depth page.

We ask that you give the new designs a try and then tell us what you think. Wednesday’s paper and website will tell you how to provide feedback.

More important are the things about the TNT that won’t change: our commitment to local journalism and serving this community.

We have been Pierce County’s most trusted news source for more than 130 years. We plan to keep it that way.

Karen Peterson: 253-597-8434