Javier Torres, on his new Gannett role in Nashville

Javier Torres, AME Presentation at the Fort Myers News-Press and SND’s Diversity Director, is heading to Nashville to head up recently accepted the role of creative director of Gannett’s Nashville design studio. He’ll be working with Jeff Glick, who will be leading the studio. It’s one of five Gannett is forming around the country; the others will be in Asbury Park, Des Moines, Louisville and Phoenix.

Javier moves into his new role on Feb. 1. We asked him his thoughts:

On the challenge
It’s going to be a challenge but this is one of those cases where I’d rather have a challenge than waiting and seeing what’s going to happen in six months … I have a lot of energy and ideas and we’re going to put together a strong team and we’re going to have a lot of success.

On the job
I’m going to oversee all of the presentation of as many as 16 publications from the Nashville studio, from daily newspapers to magazines. I don’t know yet how far that will extend to other areas, such as weeklies. We’re going to have a group of design team leaders, that will be management positions. And we’ll have levels of designers and paginators. My role will be to work with them, to help them achieve creative thinking and achieve strong presentation for all the newspapers, but also to help the papers maintain their own personalities – we don’t want cookie-curter papers. We’ll be working with small papers, some that don’t even have designers right now, so they should see results right away.

On how he plans to begin
The first assignment will be to listen. To learn the needs of every location, to get all the information we’ll need on the markets, and to develop strong connections and communication with every one of the editors. I’ll be working as quickly as possible on a redesign of the Jackson, Mississippi, paper.

On the new “Gannett look”
We have a font list – there are still adjustments being made so I’m not sure if it’s the final list. ITC Franklin Gothic, Century, I think you will see a combination of newer fonts with these more established fonts. We’ll use the ones that better fit the readership. In Fort Myers for instance, readers are a little older, more conservative, the fonts will reflect that, we’ll emphasize readability. When you look at Nashville, all those college students, you can be a little more aggressive with type, and they have better presses as well. We’ll need to keep in mind the newsprint, the presses, in each market.

On the staffing levels in the Nashville studio
I don’t think we have a set number yet. We have to go paper-by-paper to look at their needs, and determine whether magazines will be coming with us as well. I think at a point in the future they want about 70 designers but that isn’t set yet. We’re in the recruiting process now. We’re going to reach out to everyone, we’ll of course look at Gannett designers right away, but the application process is open, anyone can apply. As you know, I’ve done a lot of work to promote diversity through SND. For me diversity is going to be very important as well – diversity of ideas, diversity of people, diversity of opportunities.

On leaving Fort Myers
The good thing about this, I will still be connected with Fort Myers. We’ve been through hurricanes, breaking news, very challenging times together. For me it’s going to be very special to continue working on The News-Press. And this is a guy who moved here from Mexico City – I really enjoy challenges.

On how he spent the holidays
I got the offer on Christmas Eve. I had mixed feelings – on the one hand we just tried to enjoy the night, my family, and then we also had to ask – are we ready to move?

About Stephen Komives

Previously served as Executive Director of the Society for News Design, from 2009–2019.

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