02/06/2011

Regina Leader Post's New Coat of Paint


To much self-congratulation the Regina Leader Post unveiled their new format to readers this week.

Rob McLaughlin, the editor in chief of the Leader-Post tells us it is “...a thrilling opportunity to try new things, to meet new people and to go new places. Redesigned and refreshed from front to back, the new look of the Leader-Post is the first of many steps we're taking to better represent a city and a province in the middle of a significant transformation.


Brighter, bolder and easier to navigate from section to section, it's the first major overhaul of the paper in just under a decade. Our new look starts with a revised masthead on page one and extends through the paper with cleaner page tops, improved readability and better spacing of our columns and lines of type. And while we're preserving many of the existing features you've come to expect, we've also added a few new elements.


We hope it better reflects how we now connect with each other to express our opinions and debate the challenges facing our communities.”

Well, I’d say, it will take more than a fresh coat of paint to fix the old LP and based on the comments I’ve seen so far most readers agree with me. They find it disjointed and confusing and the new format uses too many conflicting fonts. The most common refrain is “Go back, go back.”

Format, shormat, I judge a paper by its content, the weight it gives to stories, its political biases and what it puts on the front page.

Anderson Clipping
Yesterday the northern Saskatchewan community of Wollaston Lake was served with an evacuation order because of threatening forest fires. There is no summer road in and out. Using small planes the town’s people were being airlifted out until smoke closed the airport. Now the only hope is that the still frozen lake has enough open water along the shore to boat the folks out.

Pretty dramatic front page news if you ask me but the editors stuck the story on the bottom of page two and it appears the LP couldn't even bother to send in a photographer. If Wollaston goes the way of Slave Lake perhaps the Leader Post can buy something from Reuters later.

This morning the Leader Post front page featured a large, poorly printed colour photograph of U2’s Bono and The Edge along with a story about a Regina woman who plans to attend eleven U2 concerts while they are on this tour. I have to ask why anyone might be interested in anyone who is dumb enough to do that and who at 34 should know better.

Next there is a story about the fact that veteran football player Chris Szarka has been cut by the Riders. Whoop de do. Why should I care? Szarka has already moved on and last year was elected to Regina’s City Council.

Next there is a story about a hockey player being charged as a result of a fatal accident outside Calgary.

So here are a couple of hints for publisher Marty Kline. Start with hiring some more reporters, assign more reporters to beats, so news isn’t reported by journalists who start each day with a blank slate, use less wire copy and if you have to use it at all rewrite it to give it a local slant and use a few op-ed pieces from people who actually know how to write.

If the LP wants to become relevant, it needs more than a new coat of paint

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