Johnston Press is looking to create five different design templates for its newspapers as it prepares to relaunch all its 170 paid-for daily and weekly newspapers and of its news websites by the end of the year.
Press Gazsette understands that the new design templates for Johnston titles will be locked in to the company’s Atex content management system – thus reducing the ability of individual editors to design pages around stories and pictures.
But editors are in negotiation with management over retaining a limited amount of access to Indesign licences to enable them to create page designs locally.
Some editors have voiced concerns about the changes.
One well-placed source told Press Gazette: ‘Restrictive use of InDesign will still see things like story, pics and headlines not leading presentation – ie. we’ll now use headlines that fit rather than the best one, pics as they come in rather than cropped.
“One thing is clear, there’ll be no, or very little, room for designing our own pages.
They don’t trust editors not to mess the design up. In fact they seem to treat editors as an obstacle to change.
“We don’t know how or if we’ll be able to incorporate our individual local quirks, columnists, etc.”
Johnston chief executive Ashley Highfield said, in an email to staff: ‘I want to help you make your titles the best they can be; titles you’re ever more proud of (across all media); titles our readers and audiences buy in to (literally and metaphorically) and remain loyal to; and products that our advertisers – both locally and nationally – find indispensible as the most relevant and cost effective way of reaching their target audiences.
‘To this end, I am genuinely delighted by the overwhelming positive feedback to the re-launch proposals. There are a number of minor issues that we can work together to overcome, and one big one – the proposed removal of InDesign.
‘I understand your concerns. I do not want to make anyone’s life harder. If we are going to improve the look of our titles, it must not come at the expense of total inflexibility.”
Johnson Press is currently surveying editors to look at ways to address any concerns raised about the move.
It is proposed that Indesign will be used to alter set design templates only ‘in extremis’and Highfield has suggested in his email to staff that: ‘Editors who are unjustifiably in breach of the guidelines will need to account for them at local management meetings/business review sessions.’