The Observer Gets ‘Face Lift’


Published: August 30, 2007

FCLC – This past June, members of The Observer’s editorial board gathered for a backyard retreat on a Sunday afternoon. Seated in a circle of assorted patio chairs, members of the board shuffled through newspapers from around the world, analyzing everything from the size of a headline to the font of a byline. After trying to figure out just how the look of a newspaper characterizes that newspaper, the editorial board attempted to answer one question: “Who is The Observer?”

Beginning with the first issue of this academic year, The Observer answers that question with a completely revamped design. The Observer is professional, updated and contemporary, easy to read and navigate, and always abundantly informative.

“I’m extremely pleased with The Observer’s new look,” said Jennie Nau, FCLC ’08, editor-in-chief. “The redesign embodies all of the characteristics that the editorial board believes The Observer should be. It is fresh, edgy and contemporary.”

The redesign was led by Brooke Burdge, FCLC ’10, layout co-editor of The Observer, under the guidance of Josh Penrod, layout advisor, and with input from Callie Fisher, FCLC ’10, also layout co-editor.

“We redesigned The Observer with the intention of making it more modern, clean, and reader friendly,” Fisher said.

The editorial board approved the redesign at a special summer meeting held at Fordham on Aug. 4.

Burdge committed three months to the redesigning project. “We had to update every element of the newspaper using the new set of typography—from The Observer flag on the front page to the small type on the photo captions,” Burdge said.

While the newspaper has not changed its name or its general content, about 40 elements of the paper have been redesigned in order to better serve the reader.

A simpler and more sophisticated palette of typography that complements, rather than competes with the photography and visuals is now used to better distinguish different sections of the paper, from bolder headlines for News, to lighter headlines for Features. Statistics and other supplemental information in sidebars and boxes are given to let readers know exactly why and how the stories they read affect them. Cues on the front cover are provided to help direct readers to more stories and all that the paper has to offer inside. More references to the newspaper’s Web site are dispersed throughout the paper, reminding readers that The Observer’s coverage does not stop with its bi-weekly printed version. Regular listings such as Calendar of Events, News in Brief, and Crime Blotter are now designed to be easily located, and quickly scanned and digested.

“In general, we’re excited to see where this new look takes us as a newspaper staff,” Penrod said. “We hope it conveys more succinctly to our readers that we better understand who they are through understanding who we are.”

“I spent a great amount of time on this redesign project and I couldn’t be happier with the final result,” Burdge said.