Robert Hale is publisher of the Juneau Empire.
If you notice a difference in the Juneau Empire that arrives at your home - or that you pick up at our newsstands - next Friday, we're counting on it being a positive one throughout.
As of next Friday's edition the format of our newspaper pages will take on a different feel and a different look. Many of the changes we're making are minor and won't be immediately noticeable to our readers; others will be more pronounced.
The most important change is that the width of paper on which we print will be slightly narrower. The page also will be slightly taller than the pages we're now producing.
The format change is one that most newspapers of daily and weekly frequency in Canada and the United States began making several years ago. The move to a narrow page, which began in Canada, was met with such reader approval that the new format was rapidly adopted by newspapers all across America. Here in Alaska, for example, the daily newspapers in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Kenai have long since converted to the new size, which actually became the industry standard four or five years ago.
From a readability standpoint, the newspaper will be easier to use; if you're reading your newspaper in a restaurant or a plane, for instance, it will be easier to handle and to navigate. With regard to what's on each of our pages, readers will notice few differences.
The type faces we currently use for headlines, sub-heads and photo cutlines won't change as part of the new format. The type face we use for stories will change only slightly; we've chosen one that is designed to make a story of 18-inch length within one column on an existing page come out to almost the same length within one column on the new page. The difference between the two 18-inch stories will be a loss of but three lines from one format to the other.
On our sports pages, agate type has been modified to compensate for any loss of content; any loss there also will be negligible.
Our classified advertising pages will have a new look as part of the conversion; some additional changes will come right after the conversion to make our classified pages cleaner, crisper, easier to read and easier to use.
A narrower page also will help us achieve some gains in print quality; it will be easier for our press crew to maintain quality on a newspaper "web" width that is easier to handle. A cleaner print job also translates to greater readability, and over the next few months we will make even more changes to the paper to make it more readable.
As always, we are interested in feedback from our readers. We hope you'll let us know what you think of the changes we're making.
Robert Hale is publisher of the Juneau Empire. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.