Today, the Philadelphia Daily News launched its most sweeping redesign in almost a decade with the goal of providing a clean, modern blueprint for the future that’s uniform across print, web and mobile platforms, said Editor Michael Days.
“We’ve got a new look ... and new content, with more to come, “ Days said. “We thought it was time to do a bit more than just a freshening up.”
The long-standing ‘flag’ containing the Daily News logo on the left corner of the front cover now spans the top of the page horizontally. The cover less white space and clutter. The physical size of the paper has also been shaved to what amounts to about an inch off the bottom to trim costs.
Finch Brands, a marketing company, was hired to help Daily News management hone its brand, said Assistant Managing Editor Michelle Bjork.
“I think it’s exciting when you look at the cover and the back page,” Bjork said of the Daily News’ iconic sports section that begins on the back cover.
But Days and Bjork said the new look is part of a much larger effort to tackle larger issues being experienced by newspapers, such as declines in circulation and the frenzy to keep pace digitally.
As part of that initiative, The Daily News launched a free app for the iPad and free app for Android tablets last week, with future plans for an iPhone app.
The Daily News plans to relaunch its website in the first quarter of 2013, Days said. The website has been dormant the past few years because all content instead flowed to Philly.com. Now, the paper will produce its own website, while also contributing to Philly.com. The Daily News, Philadelphia Inquirer and Philly.com are all owned by Interstate General Media.
Like most newspapers, the Daily News is in ferocious competition to remain viable in not only print, but online. Days said it needs to return to its mission of providing comprehensive coverage of the intricacies of Philadelphia’s large neighborhoods - something he acknowledges it had drifted away from over the years.
“We’re really taking the Daily News back to its core to focus on the city and its neighborhoods,” Days said, adding that reporters' beats are being realigned to accomplish that.
“We want to write not just about the challenges the neighborhoods face,” Days said, “but also the wonderful things there too.”
Stories and content will now be conceptualized from the start with print, online and mobile in mind, rather than starting with print and figuring out later how other platforms mesh.
Days said the People Paper plans to continue aggressive investigative reporting. It won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting for exposing a rogue police narcotics squad.
Among the changes slated for the Daily News:
-The role of Reuben Harley, who produces a weekly fashion-on-the-street column ‘Street Gazing,” will be expanded. Harley will produce four columns a week to include capturing local people through his lens, and a Monday column focusing on city parties.
-The Conversation page will expand to two pages and will include gossip columnist Dan Gross and Harley.
-The business section will be revived with a personal finance focus. Veteran court reporter Michael Hinkelman will cover entrepreneurial enterprises, long-time financial columnist Harry Gross will have a spot, as will nationally syndicated columnists Michelle Singletary and The Motley Fool.
-Current columnist Jenice Armstrong’s role expands to include stories of successful people, businesses and institutions throughout Philadelphia. Local personal trainer Kimberly Garrison’s column will return for ‘Workout Wednesday.’ Solomon Jones returns with a column focusing on family issues. And Helen Ubinas, formerly of the Hartford Courant, debuts a new column in December.
Days said the changes in design, digital, and content will realign the Daily News with current realities.
“We’re here for the present, we’re here for the future however you want it: in print, mobile or on the web,” Days said.
Meet Daily News personalities on Monday morning
To celebrate the launch of the Daily News redesign on Monday morning, readers can meet our columnists and photo contributors, and get free coffee and a free copy of the Daily News.
Photo Contributor “Big Rube” Harley will be at Spread Bagelry, 262 South 20th St. in the Rittenhouse District from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., where he will take his legendary photographs.
Columnist Ronnie Polaneczky will visit Sabrina’s Café, 1804 Callowhill St. from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. to meet readers.
Columnist Jenice Armstrong will meet readers at La Colombe, 1414 South Penn Square from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.