Winter is the perfect time to explore the natural stone shelters where native Arkansans once lived
That's right, your eyes aren't failing you, your memory isn't fading: The paper looks different this week. For the first time in nearly 20 years, we've redesigned it. Not merely for the sake of change, which happened fairly regularly in the Times' first 15 years of existence. But also because, as the Arkansas Times continues to evolve into a multi-faceted media outlet with daily reporting, we're more conscious than ever about how we present our content, of how we take advantage of all the very different mediums through which we reach readers.
If you're only a print reader, you may be scratching your head. But consider our coverage of this recent news story. Two weeks ago, arktimes.com and the Arkansas Blog broke the news of the momentous West Memphis Three hearing before any other outlet. When the WM3 were officially freed, subscribers to our e-mail newsletter got an immediate alert, as did our thousands of Twitter followers and Facebook fans; Max Brantley and I offered commentary on the developments on our weekly podcast; those who weren't able to attend the panel discussion of participants in the case that we co-hosted with the Clinton School last week could follow it live on Twitter at @ArkTimes, where we posted several hundred updates; the day after the panel, readers could watch video of the discussion on our Facebook page.
As publisher/founder Alan Leveritt is fond of saying, the Times is platform agnostic. We don't care if you access us through our mobile-optimized website, our Facebook page or the print addition — as long as you're reading.
Despite our embrace of technology, we're still big believers in print here. We'll be committed to the weekly edition as long as our readers and advertisers are.
As a means for finding out what happened last week and what's happening in the coming weekend, an alt-weekly tabloid is hard to beat. But our old design was cluttered, with styles rooted in daily newspaper design. For our new look, we've aimed for something clean and more in the spirit of a magazine. On the cover, we've updated our logo — by which I mean the words Arkansas Times — in a way that we think better complements our new cover design philosophy. Inside, we've freed up more space for art and pictures and tried to improve readability.
None of these changes mean we're running fewer words anywhere. Aside from moving our opinion spread forward, shifting a few other features around in the front of the paper and jettisoning the table of contents, the biggest substantive change is on page 11. We've retired our Smart Talk feature and reconsidered The Insider, which began its life as a space for breaking news briefs. We break news every day at arktimes.com and aren't interested in holding it back for our weekly edition. Look for The Insider to advance the news we develop online as well as deal in the facts, figures and commentary previously found in Smart Talk. On the same page, we aim to take a couple of items that might otherwise appear in the new Insider and illustrate them in a way that hopefully will make you pause as you're furiously flipping through the paper trying to find out what movies are opening on Friday.
A lot of publications that undertake significant redesigns employ outside consultants. We didn't need to do that. Our supremely talented editorial art director Kai Caddy knocked it out over the last several months in whatever small spare time he had between putting out the weekly issue. Kai's already put his deft touch on the look of our covers and cover stories since assuming his position last year, and he's received accolades. In July, the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies gave him first prize for his cover-story design for our "Big Ideas" issue last year. We're confident that, with this new design, it's merely the first among many awards to come for Kai. We hope you agree.*
Thanks for reading.
*But let me know if you don't. We're still committed to constantly looking for ways to improve our design and reporting and will be as long as I'm editor. E-mail me at email@example.com with your thoughts.