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In the winter of 1996,Washington City Paper hit the streets with a new look, starring the logo we used until last week. At the time, we had just switched from old-fashioned cold type to desktop publishing. The wholesale redesign was an effort to take advantage of opportunities provided with that change.
It’s with a bit of wistfulness that I now say goodbye to that logo, which I designed. But a change was necessary. Fifteen years later, we’re adapting not to a new technology—technology nowadays tends to bypass print altogether—but to a new page size. Our old design was made for a paper roughly a third bigger than the current version. It all seemed a bit unwieldy on the smaller sheet we currently use.
The paper on streets this week offers a more compact logo and a modular layout that will let us tell readers more—on the cover, and inside. The new design permits us to once again feature uncropped images by our brilliant staff photographer, Darrow Montgomery. And inside, smaller margins and signage gives us the room to provide more content and bigger pictures.
In this redesign, we’ve also done some visual untangling and reorganizing—for example, separating our comments section from the news spread. Overall, we hope it’s a bit less fussy, more urban, and able to do a better job showcasing City Paper’s provocative content.
For all the obvious visual differences you’ll note, what’s most important about the new design is not merely cosmetic. While we’ve kept our most popular features, we’ve also added new items to make the paper a more valuable and enjoyable read:
- Chatter. With this issue, the paper brings back a dedicated reader’s page, where our editors will curate the most interesting responses to City Paper reportage from snail mail, e-mail, Twitter, and around the Web.
- District Line. We’ve replaced the generically named “News” section with a handle that’s familiar to anyone who has read the paper for more than a few years. In addition to traditional City Paper offerings like Loose Lips, Housing Complex, and Cheap Seats, District Line will also be where you’ll find City Desk, a page housing short news and informational items and the Slice-of-D.C. photos we used to run on page three. The section also has room for occasional first-person narratives or analytical pieces that have been longstanding City Paper traditions, but never seemed quite at home under the “News” banner.
- Arts Desk. Like City Desk, this irregular page in the arts section, debuting later this month, will serve as a home for short reviews and features. You’ll find One Track Mind here—or one of a variety of new short pieces we’ll unveil over the next few months.
- City List. You’ll now find our Critic’s Picks and City Lights picks mixed into the listings sections. We’ll break music down by day of the week, which will enable readers to quickly find out who’s playing tonight.
- Comics Page. Like many of our readers, we were sorry to see the paper’s comics go a few years ago. Starting next week, they’ll be back, on a single dedicated page that will feature Derf’s excellent The City, Shawn Belschwender’s Clown Time, David Malki’s Wondermark, and Michael Kupperman’s Up All Night. You’ll still find Dirt Farm in its usual place.
- Website. We will be revisiting the website design and functionality later this year, but we couldn’t wait to implement the new look here as well. We’re also launching a new and improved online listings search this month—a major upgrade.
Finally, while the big type is transformed, you’ll find the small words are still 100 percent City Paper—and they are still set in Monotype’s News Plantin, the paper’s body font since long before I first arrived in 1995. The body copy is the same size and leading as before the redesign.
A newspaper design is a bit like a set for a play—it might be attractive or interesting on its own, but its primary job is to support storytelling. I’m looking forward to helping to tell a lot of new City Paper stories.
Jandos Rothstein Creative Director Washington City Paper