As I get ready to enter the daily battle for the hearts, minds and eyes of Washington area readers, I can't help but take a side by side look at my paper and the paper most suited to compare it to. A few thoughts, maybe some answers.
- The New York Times has come a long way in recent years. The old gray lady ain't that any more - there are big, colorful pictures and smart design everywhere; many pages look like life captured on paper, as if you could step right in and be in the scene.
- The Post, on the other hand, wears the old gray lady mantle with some kind of miss-guided sense of pride - over or under sized text abounds, with pictures often in only two sizes - small or smaller. The visual style of the paper feels like it's from the 70's; which is to say that it has almost no style that is relevant to the visually literate readers of 21st century D.C. The Sunday Source and Sports stands out as the lone sections consistently attempting to swim up this visually shallow stream.
- The eyes of our community, as well as those of most of the Western world, have been raised on a diet of graphically rich web sites and 50 inch home theater screens. They expect to get information from large, detail-rich pictures and graphics, and to use them as entry points to the rest of your content. They reject any publication, print or online, that doesn't offer that.
- To survive in this new century, we in the printed and on-screen media worlds must morph into each other; but if there is a choice to be made, it will be better to err on the side of the graphically sophisticated rather than that of the visually challenged.