On Monday, The Tampa Tribune joined the list of redesigned US newspapers. But Tampa, under editor Janet Coats, went farther with the rethinking than most, putting all the news and sports into one main news section on most weekdays.
Soon after the papers hit the street, though, the backlash began. Here’s Coats, from their web site tonight:
On Monday, we asked you to tell us what you think about the Tribune’s redesign, Boy did you take us up on that invitation.
In brief: a lot of people hated it. They called. They emailed. And they canceled. 300 cancellations and thousands of complaints.
So, why is this great news? Despite the fact that this made for a miserable week for everyone from the publisher down to the page designers, the passion that readers and subscribers demonstrated proved the strong connection between a paper and its readers.
The silver-lining here is the anger and outrage that readers displayed when they felt management at The Tribune had gone too far in tinkering with their paper. Their paper.
As long as readers still feel that proprietary sense of ownership, there’s still hope for newspapers.
Given the newspaper industry assumption that each paper is shared by two or more readers, I wonder why nobody on the redesign team thought that shoving all the news and sports into one section might cause problems in a lot of subscribing households.
But the good thing is that in just four days, Tampa redesigned the redesign, and will be delivering the next iteration to readers tomorrow. They listened, they learned, they adjusted. Now it’s back to the readers for their reaction.