A closer look at the Boston Globe’s redesigned Saturday edition

On October 3, the Boston Globe launched a redesign of it’s Saturday edition, aimed at highlighting enterprise stories and infusing the pacing and look of magazines into the weekend edition. I asked Dan Zedek, assistant managing editor for design, to share a look at the second week’s pages, the philosophy behind the redesign and how readers are reacting to it with SND.

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Courtney Kan: What factors led to the redesign of the Saturday edition?

Dan Zedek: We redesigned the Saturday paper front-to-back to better reflect the reading habits of our audience. Like most papers, we’d long treated Saturday just like Tuesday or any other weekday, when clearly those days feel quite different for readers. As a result, the new design feels more like a weekend edition, with more good reads and enterprise stories and a more magazine-like feel to the news section.

CK: So many papers are known for having larger weekend editions with multiple news and features sections. Tell me more about the philosophy behind the three section split — News, Sports and Good Life. Has the overall size of the Saturday paper changed much with the new direction?

DZ: That first section now incorporates all of our news — Metro, national, foreign, business, and opinion, though Sports still is a standalone. To make room for the bigger play that enterprise stories get, we adopted a more digital-first approach to the news report: some of our local stories break and are updated throughout the day on BostonGlobe.com on Fridays, but are essentially old news by the next day. We made these articles into briefs in the Saturday paper. By doing so, we were able to tighten the page count, an unfortunate necessity. We also launched a new section called Good Life with features on food, travel, style, autos, and more. It’s big, bold, and all-color.

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CK: To make room for longer enterprise stories, the Boston Globe adopted a more digital-first approach. Can you tell me more about what this means for the print product and how it has changed the workflow for producing the Saturday edition?

DZ: We’re essentially writing or editing some local stories at three different lengths: in many cases, a short bulletin version on BostonGlobe.com as news breaks; a longer updated online version as the story develops; and — if warranted — a tightly edited brief version for the Saturday paper. One example of this type of story might be a water main break in Harvard Square: we deliver a quick bulletin for those driving or taking public transit through the area, followed by an extended update that talks about causes and when it might be repaired; and finally a brief version in print on Saturday that recaps what happened.

CK: The new design has a much more magazine-like look. Can you tell me how you achieved that feel while maintaining the visual identity of the Boston Globe?

DZ: We built the Saturday paper on a 12-column grid which allows us to add channels of white space to set off features and enterprise stories. We also paid a lot of attention to creating inside pages with a lot of impact and visual nuance, and tried to think about pacing and flow between pages and sections. Those are qualities we associate more with magazines, though I think there’s still a classic newspaper look to the pages.

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CK: Many of the covers feature highlights or breakout numbers. While the Boston Globe has a strong history of graphics and data visualization, is this something you identified as a key part of the redesign of the Saturday edition?

DZ: We thought about what readers might look for in the Saturday paper if they’re getting breaking news online throughout the day on Friday and emphasized those stories. This is the flip side of trimming some news stories to briefs: we wanted to give more, better, bigger play to important news, enterprise, and analysis. Graphics, pullout boxes, and other informational features add depth and context to those stories. We hope to do even more of that in coming weeks.

CK: What has been the reaction to the changes so far?

DZ: Overall the reactions have been mixed but mostly positive. Newspaper reading is a deeply-ingrained habit and big changes like this can understandably be upsetting. We definitely heard from passionate and loyal readers who think we’ve gone too far in the magazine direction or are upset at the overall lower page count. We’re adjusting some aspects of the design and typography based on very good suggestions that we got from readers and within the newsroom.