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The truth well told: An inside look at The Meridian Star

By By Buddy Bynum, Editor
The Meridian Star
Dec. 23, 2001
Nine days from today, after more than a year of reader surveys, focus groups and professional design services, The Meridian Star will launch a new, refreshed look.
The new design will feature a number of elements readers have told us are important to their enjoyment of their daily community newspaper. For example, the design is more organized, open and attractive. We have incorporated many of our readers' suggestions into a design we hope will serve them and attract new readers well into the future. Among the new elements are these:
A bolder nameplate across the top of page A1.
This nameplate, also called a flag or logo, sets a higher standard in terms of design and is a central element of the new look. It is the first change in the nameplate in nearly nine years. Readers who have previewed the new flag have told us it lends a more credible, authoritative design element and we believe it helps illustrate our mission to become a better daily newspaper.
A sample of one of the prototypes produced earlier this month appears today, in reduced size, as an illustration of the front page.
Body copy and headline styles that are easier to read.
Many readers who have previewed these new elements have told us the text copy appears larger than the print currently used and is much easier on the eye. Making the newspaper easier to read was a fundamental requirement of the redesign effort.
Better organization of news articles.
The news in the paper starts on the front page, known as page A1, where the emphasis will continue to be on major stories of community and area interest. The successive pages will contain other local news, followed by news items from our east Mississippi-west Alabama region, state, nation and world.
As part of the new look, the items now contained in the left column and across the bottom of page A1 will move to an "Index &Summaries" feature on page A2. Page A2 will be the place to find out what's in the rest of the paper.
Stories that jump from the front page will most often jump to page A2 or page A3, a feature readers told us saves time and helps them follow the story.
In keeping with the theme of creating a better organized newspaper, the editorial page will move to a page near the back of the A section. For example, if the A section contains a total of 12 pages, the editorial page will appear on page A10. Readers may want to get into the habit of checking the Index on page A2 so they can quickly locate their favorite feature.
Photography and page design.
Moving some of the items now on page A1 to the top of page A2 opens up all of the front page for news and more creative page design opportunities that readers have told us they find more attractive and interesting. We expect to incorporate more photos and graphics to help illustrate news stories, giving our readers more options on finding stories they want to see in a highly readable, comfortable format.
Sports, Connections, Classified
New section "headers," the headline at the top of a section front, will help readers quickly locate daily Sports pages, daily Classified ad pages, Connections on Wednesdays and Sundays and other highly-read features pages.
A brief description of the page's major stories will appear at the top of section fronts, distinguished by color bullets.
We want our readers to know we appreciate their suggestions and influence over The Meridian Star's new design. Publisher Paul Barrett and I are especially grateful to the hundreds of readers who responded to a survey last year and the many others who have played active roles in redesign decisions by indicating what they want and expect in The Meridian Star.
We are working hard to get even better at what we do with the hope that The Meridian Star will continue to build readership by publishing news and information of interest to our community, region, state, nation and world all in a more reader-friendly format.
Look for the first edition of The Meridian Star's refreshed design on Jan. 1, 2002.