New KM is aimed at busy readers

By Sarah Lagan

All ten paid-for weeklies in the Kent Messenger Series have been
redesigned to try to grab the attention of busy readers by using
sidebars, story synopses and fact files.

A number of the group’s Extra Series free titles, including the Kentish Gazette and Kentish Express, will also be redesigned.

It
is the group’s first major overhaul in ten years. The biggest-selling
paper, the Kent Messenger, now has its entire second page devoted to an
index aimed at helping readers to navigate their way through the paper.

The
papers have a higher story count and will be broken into colour-coded
sections. There is a new masthead and one main lead story on the cover
with a column of briefs. The print size has been increased by 0.25 of a
point for easier reading. Picture stories are placed on a grey
background and fact files on a sand background to break the page up.

The
redesign was led by Kent Messenger Series group design and development
editor Steve Bodycomb and group editorial manager Ron Green.

Green
said: “We wanted to create more points of contact to pull the reader
into the page. Where a page lead used to be around 400 words, our lead
stories may be broken up to 250 words but will also have a fact file.

“People
look at papers and use their time differently these days. There is more
competition from different media outlets and people have less time. We
want people to read more of our stories so we are just presenting the
news in a more attractive, accessible and digestible way.”

Responding
to reader research, it was decided that stories should be more visually
compelling to grab the attention of younger readers with less time
while remaining familiar enough to retain the traditional readership.

KMG
editorial director Simon Irwin added: “It’s a tremendously big step for
a paper to change its appearance. Our traditional readers are unlikely
to be scared off by what we have done but I believe it will make our
papers more appealing to younger readers.”

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