LLOYD GRAY: A new look, but rooted in tradition

By Lloyd Gray/NEMS Daily Journal

Change is the only constant, and the pace of change never ceases to accelerate. Yet in the face of change, we need those steady rudders that help us navigate the course.
That’s what we hope we are, in our best moments, at the Daily Journal – a useful guide for our readers to what’s happening in the community, region and state, and a helpful aid in making decisions as citizens and consumers.
That goal – and our stated mission of building community in Northeast Mississippi – will never change. But other elements of what we do need adjustment from time to time to keep up with the swirling change around us and to ensure that we improve our service to customers.
To say that we’re in a period of rapid change in the media world is a vast understatement. The wave of change brought on by the constant proliferation of new technologies has turned into a tsunami.
We’ve changed in many ways here at the Journal. We’ve got a website – NEMS360.com – where we break news every day and where the audience is steadily growing. We’ve got a mobile site and an electronic subscription and other new distribution mechanisms are in the planning stages.
But with all this, we still believe that the printed newspaper will be around – and vitally important – for many years to come. Our readership is steady, and we plan to grow it. We’re investing in new printing equipment to improve quality and expand our capabilities.
But we know that we have to adapt – and change – if the printed product is to continue to be relevant, helpful and easy to use. Tomorrow, you’ll see evidence of that assumption.
Monday’s paper will introduce a redesigned Daily Journal with new typography and a cleaner, simpler, easier to read format. We’re also making some adjustments in page flow and other elements that should make reading more convenient.
You won’t see any dramatic changes in how the paper is organized – just a better and more consistent execution of the basic format we now have. Our goal is to keep more of the same things in the same place each day so that you won’t have to look hard to find them.
We also plan to do what countless industry surveys have told us and other newspapers that we should do, but that few newspapers have done – reduce significantly the number of stories that “jump,” or continue off one page to another. On weekdays, no more than one story will continue off the front page. On Sundays – when stories are generally longer and readers have more time to read – it’ll be two.
That means shorter stories on the front that get to the essence of things quicker and save you time. In some cases, we’ll give you more information on the same topic with an additional story inside the paper that you can go to if you want.
Most readers don’t read “jumps” unless they’re intensely interested in a story. We’ve decided to recognize that reality and do a better job of getting you through the paper in a way that saves you precious time.
We won’t sacrifice depth and context where it’s required. We know that’s a strength of newspapers, and we don’t intend to abandon it. But we’ll also respect your time by getting to the point faster by making many of our stories more succinct.
The last time we did a full redesign of the Daily Journal was in 2002, and it involved a content emphasis shift as well. That was the year we moved local news to the front section and committed to an all-local front page every day. We knew then that a local newspaper’s most valuable commodity in a world of crowded media and information overload would be local news. That is even more so the case today.
So you’ll see with our latest redesign an even stronger emphasis on local, regional and state news – the news we actually produce ourselves rather than what we get from our wire services. We’ll still have a summary of top national and international stories, but we know that what’s most valuable is what we can uniquely provide.
Our goal is to remain a rudder in a sea of change, while making the adjustments necessary to keep us on course with and for our readers. The most noticeable change you will see in tomorrow’s paper – a new Daily Journal masthead, or nameplate – attempts to combine a contemporary feel with the tradition of 141 years of Journal service.
We’ll change, but at the same time we’ll stay firmly rooted in that tradition. That’s the message – and the mission.

Lloyd Gray is executive editor of the Daily Journal. Contact him at (662) 678-1579 or lloyd.gray@journalinc.com.