A commitment to better print

Port Charlotte area papers redesign look, coverage

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In the digital age, the Sun Newspapers in southwest Florida are betting on the future of print.

Under the new ownership of Adams Publishing Group and after nine months of planning, the Port Charlotte Sun and its new sister paper, the Punta Gorda Sun, roll out Wednesday with a new look, new sections and new approaches to news coverage intended to expand what readers are getting for their subscriptions.

"Overall, we wanted to create a much better newspaper for our readers, and we wanted to grow our circulation, to modernize and give it a new exciting look and feel," said Publisher Glen Nickerson. But it isn't just one newspaper, it's several.

The biggest change is that the Charlotte Sun will be split into two editions. "It will become the Punta Gorda Sun and the Port Charlotte Sun," Nickerson said.

Circulation will be about 10,000 apiece. Also being redesigned are the papers serving Arcadia, Englewood, North Port and Venice.

"We decided that the Punta Gorda market and the Port Charlotte market are unique. As far as their circulation size, we felt that they needed their own daily newspaper in each of those markets," Nickerson said.

The consultant on the project is Creative Circle Media Solutions, which is not only overseeing the redesign, but has also provided training for the advertising, copy desk and reporting staffs.

Nickerson said readers can expect different story styles, better photographs, and better headlines and cutlines. Prototype pages show a cleaner, bolder, less cluttered look. Sun Newspapers has hired a new features editor and a new lead designer.

Bill Ostendorf, president and founder of Creative Circle, said news coverage must be relevant to readers in addition to an attractive design. Telling the same stories the same way just isn't working.

"It's great to see publishers like Adams investing in print," Ostendorf said. The notion that print is dead is ridiculous. Print is only dying because we're killing it.

"When television came on the scene, every expert said radio was dead. It was fact. Last time I checked pretty much every car built still has a radio in it. And movies were dead when the VCR came along. And aren't record players making a comeback?

"Mediums don't die. Print isn't going anywhere."

Readers were told to expect something new through a weekend column from Mike Beatty, president of APG Media of Florida and a four-page insert in Tuesday's paper explaining the changes.

Among those changes:

  • Bigger, easier to read fonts and type sizes, including sports listings and classifieds.
  • Zoned page 1 and local fronts in four papers Monday through Saturday.
  • Four sections seven days a week, making stories and features easier to find.
  • Expanded sports coverage.
  • A new daily feature section called Daily Break, and the Sunday version, called Sunday Break.
  • More comics and advice columns. Puzzles and games will continue.
  • Eight sections in the Sunday paper, including a new Perspective section with expanded opinion content.
  • Grouped advertising and marketplace sections emphasizing local businesses.
  • More color.

"I know a lot of newspapers seem to be getting away from print," Nickerson said. "It's hard to say what the readers of tomorrow are going to be, but we still have a lot of readers in this market that love the printed product."

Jane Nicholes

Jane Nicholes is a regular contributor to the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association's eBulletin and is a freelance writer and editor based in coastal Alabama. She is an award-winning veteran of more than 30 years in the newspaper business. Reach her at jbnicholes@att.net.

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