Bolton paper redesign gets finishing touches

The new-look Bolton Evening News

The Bolton Evening News has a new look and a new philosophy. Editor Steve Hughes is injecting more depth and analysis into the paper’s content.

On Monday last week, the Newsquest title capped a gradual redesign over a period of months with a new main headline font and a bolder masthead. On Saturday it introduced the 24-page lifestyle pullout, Weekend, which aims to consolidate the paper’s gain in Saturday sales, up 1.6 per cent year-on-year in the latest ABCs.

Since becoming editor 15 months ago, Hughes has been inculcating a new outlook among his 54 editorial staff, one he brought with him from his previous papers, the Western Daily Press, Northern Echo and East Anglian Daily Times.

"I felt very strongly that I wanted to bring a bit more depth and analysis to the paper and that’s what I’ve encouraged the journalists to do," he said.

"But I left it for a little while. Being new to the area, I felt it would be dangerous to move too soon and throw out what might be popular material."

Hughes commissioned research to find out the community’s views on the newspaper. "Some people felt we were a little too parochial and that we should address issues more," he said.    "One of my key philosophies is that we shouldn’t simply report news, we should also try to explain how and why things happen, whether in Bolton or in stories such as September 11.

"Even though we are a local paper and believe passionately in the local community, we’re not frightened to give over some space sometimes to what we think are important national and international issues," he said.

Nor is the paper frightened to exploit its relationship with USA Today, which is owned by Gannett, parent company of Newsquest. On the September 11 story, the Evening News ran a two-page spread and 2,000 words  from USA Today.

Hughes also believes very strongly in good use of pictures: "We have done a lot of work with the photographers on picture cropping and display because I do think we live in a visual age and good pictures draw people in."

He and his team took a long time choosing the main font and titlepiece. "We wanted something that looked a bit more modern and that took the paper a touch upmarket."

Staff from all parts of the paper, not just editorial, came up with ideas for  targeting younger readers with the 24:7 listings guide. Deputy editor Ian Savage supervised the guide’s relaunch, helped by chief sub Dave Rigby, assistant editor (production) John Bird and editorial graphic artist Lisa Hawthorn.

The paper now also has a different columnist each night of the week.

By Jean Morgan

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