- The Washington Times - Friday, May 17, 2002

Visual impact in grand design

I have had the luxury of working for a newspaper that, from its inception, appreciated the importance of good design in heightening readability and impact. This was a relatively new value in the newspaper industry back in 1982, when The Washington Times was founded.
The design of The Times was developed with close attention to the legibility of the typography and the organization of content. We used photographs more aggressively as information; added color to what primarily had been a black-and-white environment; and increasingly employed charts, maps and diagrams to convey information in a more sophisticated manner.
This new visual awareness integrated design into the daily news gathering and presentation. It encouraged interaction of designers and photographers with the editorial staff to present the reader with a more visually interesting, accessible newspaper that was easier to enjoy as a functional and entertaining source of information.
The major redesign of The Times in 1987 as well as the design of the weekend editions introduced in 1991, both of which were my responsibility, have been highlights of my tenure. It was gratifying for our work to be recognized by positive reader feedback and numerous awards within the industry.
Through much internal discussion, supplemented by reader "focus groups," we developed prototypes, then debated their merits and redeveloped them with the goal of making The Times more usable and functional. We further delineated the difference between hard news and softer, more entertaining aspects of the paper through the choice of typography and images.
We gave the feature sections a more aggressive visual presence, often using illustrations and caricatures as alternatives to photographs. We reorganized the content of the news sections and found ways that photos and "infographics" could make events and situations more easily and clearly understood by the reader. We are constantly reassessing and tweaking the design, adjusting content and design philosophy.
A design is only as good as the people who implement it, and I have had the good fortune to work with many talented, dedicated designers. My current staff includes two men who have been here since Day One, Alexander Hunter and Henry Christopher, and two others, Greg Groesch and John Kascht, who have been with us more than 15 years each. These award winners and many others have been instrumental in the daily design and creation of The Times that arrives every morning.
Joseph W. Scopin,
assistant managing editor

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