How Do You Like Dan’s Papers’ New Look?

If you are a regular reader of Dan’s Papers, you were surely surprised last week when we rolled out our new graphic re-design. The paper had last received a re-design in 1990. It was time.

It is hard to put into words exactly how the paper has been re-designed. But a picture is worth a thousand words. So just flip through our pages and see for yourself.

Back so soon? What did you think? I thought so. We have brought all the different parts of the paper together in a 21st century retro design, which we think will keep the generally loveable qualities of Dan’s Papers, while at the same time remove some of the more poorly done graphic qualities that people used to trip over. In other words, it’s now first class.

I suppose there are some of you who like things that are not first class. But honestly, if you can recall how we used to look, you’d turn the pages to certain features—the photo pages come to mind or the movie timetables—and you’d think, uh oh, this isn’t right. Indeed some of those bits and pieces dated back not only to the re-design of 1990 but also to a re-design that took place during the Presidency of Dwight Eisenhower. So, we fixed those too.

Toward the end, sample pages of the new re-design filled the 10-foot long table in our new board room. Anyone could walk in there and see what was what. And many did.

I think a critic of the new design would say we did a smart, over-the-top good job. All the column headlines match one to the other in a kind of retro style, which, to me anyway as a connoisseur of design, sort of reminds me of steamships, blue blazers, beach clubs and bathing suits. Our essay section echos the new style, and I think Beyonce or Alec or Billy will be very proud—even more proud than they were earlier—to have their picture in our new photo section.

The design re-do was not done by some amateur. To tackle the job, we hired Walter Bernard, one of the great graphic designers in the country (New York Magazine, Time Magazine, Atlantic Monthly). And, to coordinate the project, to keep the trains running on time, we empowered Eric Feil, our Digital Director as Design Project Chairperson. Working on this committee were, besides myself, Bob Edelman, our publisher and CEO; Stacy Dermont, our senior editor; Art Directors Kelly Shelley and Ty Wenzel; Gen Horsburgh, our production manager; and on certain occasions, both Richard Burns, our chairman and Joanne Harras, the COO. My job on the committee, for the most part, consisted of making helpful suggestions, having brainstorms and getting upset if the re-design went too far away from the basic concept of the paper, whatever the hell that is. And, the job of my dog Bella, who occasionally sat with us in the boardroom, was to thump her tail loudly when she liked something.

Amazingly, the project moved along smartly on its pre-planned schedule from its beginnings last November right through to just before launch when several new sections shadowed the regular paper at layout for several weeks while not actually being in the paper. And then, finally, with our fingers crossed, there came the launch, on time, which was our issue of May 18, 2012. It was a very exciting thing we were doing.

I mentioned there were some new sections. In the front, there is a page called START HERE. It is a sort of pre-reading pop quiz about what you haven’t yet read. Hopefully it intrigues you. It also refers you to pages inside that either answer or ask the questions asked. Except there is one piece of START HERE that does not do that. This is the “hors d’oeuvre.” It is a complete essay in 120 words, the Dan’s Papers equivalent of an expanded Japanese haiku or, if you are a more gastronomic sort, the sort of little bitty thing a chef serves up at a restaurant unannounced and as a surprise before you begin.

Our Table of Contents page is expanded, and includes not only two- or three-sentence explanations of the featured essays inside, but also, in some, a drawing or photo.

We have a photo page called PAGE 27. It is not on page 27. It is on another page and the contents page will direct you to it. This is not an original idea. It’s the New York Post’s idea, revised to feature the main road out here.

We have an expanded real estate section, and we have one new column that didn’t make it into this first re-designed issue. It is to be called THE HOUSE HOPPER, the journal of a fabulously wealthy man looking at houses out here. We are soliciting sponsors for this column. If we get them, it runs. If we don’t get them, it won’t.

It’s been great fun messing with this newspaper I founded as a twenty-year-old 52 years ago. I am proud to be a part of the re-design, and I am particularly proud of how this re-design came to look, respecting the longtime character of Dan’s Papers, and bringing it all into, as they tell me, the 21st Century. Doesn’t anybody care anymore about the 20th Century? I know I liked it. Bah!

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