The Salt Lake Tribune sends out an SOS

A friend recently told me once things are actually published in the paper, they’re already old news. While I agree with this in part, that doesn’t mean print layout should suffer. “The Salt Lake Tribune” is working hard to make sure its paper is still visually pleasing.

The paper has started creating “story on a story” or an SOS. (I guess SOAS sort of ruins the effect). Visual Online writer Sara Quinn explains it as such

The SOS is a way of tightly editing the information that appears on a section front — basically eliminating the ever-cumbersome jump, so that there is always a complete and containable thought on the cover.

Basically, the SOS is a three-inch mini story. It’s very compact and easy for a reader to digest. If the reader wants to learn more about the topic, they can look inside the paper for the more in-depth article. This eliminates the need for a jump page. The reader gets a small, but satisfting, bit of info with the SOS and then gets a larger helping inside. They don’t have to start reading a story, get bored and not go to the jump page.

Josh Awtry, AME for Niche Publications, explains it in a much more succinct way.

So, in the end, the benefit is that it caters to both types of readers. It caters to the readers who want to spend 10 seconds and then move on with their lives. Likewise, a reader can go into page A9 and there’s your wonderful, anecdotal lead … about half of which would have made it onto the cover before it jumped mid-sentence. That’s for your core reader and we’re not giving anybody any less in that sense.

He also said when the paper redesigns itself, most of the front page will be SOS’. Awtry does address the idea that he is helping kill long form journalism, saying he thinks he is helping it. People don’t get to the nut graph if it comes after the jump. The SOS makes sure people still get the point.

This seems really neat to me. I love the way this format looks. It makes me wonder if it could work at a weekly paper and not just a daily. (Dailies are bigger, hence more jump pages). It would be great to try this out with my paper. Hmm, definitely something to ponder.

Do you like this new format? Or is it killing long form journalism?

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