One of the many memorable lines in the baseball comedy classic, “Bull Durham” occurs when catcher Crash Davis (played by Kevin Costner) confronts his loopy new pitcher, “Nuke” Laloosh (Tim Robbins), who has been shaking off his signals. Says Laloosh in an exchange at the pitcher’s mound: “I want to announce my presence with authority!”
Such a sentiment might have been in the back of my own mind last week when the Spirit rolled out a front page redesign that was conceived at least in part to provide a showcase for new sports editor Jeff Brammer and also to take advantage of a lighter than normal advertising week. By making Page A1 a cover, we were able to start all the stories on inside pages and at the same time get more art on the front page. More than anything, I was pleased to highlight what I thought was a pretty impressive photo of Washington Patriot Maleke Jones getting a whole lot of air under his feet with that layup.
Once the paper went to the printers, I asked Christine Snyder to post an image of the front page on the Spirit’s Facebook site to see what the reactions were from readers. I was surprised by how positive they were (most everyone who responded to our post raved about it), — here in the office the opinion was divided about down the middle. My own opinion is that it didn’t quite succeed at being the front page we had conceived.
Here in Jefferson County, the Spirit competes for shelf space with at least four local dailies and more than a couple national ones. We also jockey for your attention alongside a number of special publications, including home sales guides and sports tabs. As I’ve learned the delivery route firsthand, I’ve seen how important it is that the Spirit stand out in the crowd. For one thing, while the dailies rotate a new edition each day, the Spirit doesn’t. When we plan a front page, our goal is to assemble one that ages well throughout the week. Our coverage must appear fresh and timely, but also of enough interest to carry us through until next week’s edition. As a weekly, I believe the Spirit is unique on the newsstand, offering good writing, great looking pictures, a pleasing design and valuable contributions from a host of local voices. If you think so too, or even if you don’t, I’d like to hear your thoughts and opinions. Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ll close with a thank you to all our readers who took the time to call or write with comments about my suggestion to publish a call-in line in the Spirit. Thanks very much too to new reader Sean from Atlanta. You didn’t leave a callback number, Sean, but I appreciated all your comments. Welcome to Jefferson County.
— Robert Snyder