Region 4 update

Was 2009 difficult? You bet it was. But in a year that saw so much upheaval (I’ll let you define what was destructive and what was constructive) Region 4 was as active as ever with bold changes happening at our publications in both print and digital versions.

Rethinking print

The redesign wave of 2008 that saw so many publications in the region participate, finally broke in 2009 with very few making changes recently.

The publications that did change, did so in dramatic fashion.

The Chicago Tribune kicked off that wave in 2009 with the creation of a tabloid edition for street sales in January. Later in 2009 we would see the Aurora Beacon-News make a similar move from broadsheet to tab.

In March, both the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News redesigned not only how they looked but how they went about business, trimming home-delivery days and turning their focus to online. Web width changes at the Wisconsin State Journal pushed the need for change there but I would argue that few have ever taken the incredible shrinking page better than the redesign of The Plain Dealer, which launched in June.

June also saw a cross-country move as the Spanish-language publication Hoy shifted its focus from Los Angeles to Chicago and built a new visual team to lead the twin publications through a redesign.

The digital future

2009 also saw a number of publications doing dramatic overhauls to their websites (Detroit Free Press, The Detroit News, Chicago Tribune) and launching apps in the mobile market place (Indianapolis Star).

While it should be expected that many more with revamp their websites in 2010, I would look for a surge of publications to expand their mobile presence this year as we have an explosion of options in the space with the surge of Android options to join along with all those iPhone you see circulating around your newsroom.

Where members meet

Region 4 had a number of events take place in 2009 which Chicago hosting @SNDChicago, the near-famous Web Design Boot Camp and a a couple of other small meetups.

This is all great stuff, if you live in Chicago.

The focus in 2010 has to be pushing these events away from the Windy City and into the backyards of our membership. But I will need your help in doing this. Meetups and training sessions don’t happen without the support of facilities to host them in and good promotion of events at a local level. If you are interested in helping host an event in Region 4 (Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois & Wisconsin) feel free to contact me at [email protected] and we’ll get this train rolling into a town near you soon.

Region 4: Like a rock

Region 4 is perfect just the way it is—at least in the eyes of the SND board.

While the other regions in the US went through fairly dramatic shifts and geographic growth through the consolidation of regions, Region 4 remained the same. And while the economy has nipped at our numbers a bit in terms of membership, Region 4 remains a stronghold for the Society.

About Chris Courtney

is a news applications developer at The Chicago Tribune.

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