This Old House Gets a New Coat of Paint

Posted April 23, 2010 at 5:38pm

Today when you picked up Roll Call you undoubtedly noticed some big changes inside and out.

[IMGCAP(1)]We’re excited to bring you the first major redesign of this newspaper since the late 1980s. We hope you’ll find that Roll Call is now easier to navigate, more enjoyable and more informative than ever.

When we set out to redesign Roll Call, our goal was to have a more contemporary look, while honoring our heritage as Capitol Hill’s most-read and most-trusted newspaper for 55 years.

The process was a little like the public television show “This Old House.” The foundation was sound, but, let’s face it, the old paint and wallpaper were peeling a bit. Some readers have speculated that we were keeping our outdated Reagan-era look intentionally, hoping that someday the design would become in style again, in a retro sort of way. That’s not the case, though I admit we were often tempted to retain certain design elements that harken back to Roll Call’s earlier days.

Thankfully, our terrific designers — CQ-Roll Call Group’s art director Jamie Baylis and our hired-gun design chief Michael Stanaland — kept us looking forward. “The same rules for retro fashion apply here,” Stanaland told us. “If you’re old enough to have worn it when it was first in style, you don’t get to pull it out of the closet and wear it again.”

Our logo was one design element we did not want to change too drastically. We experimented with many different kinds of lettering, Dome designs and placements. We even pondered returning to our original logo from 1955, when founder Sid Yudain plunked down $90 and started Capitol Hill’s campus paper. Ultimately, we decided on a more modern, updated logo that retains some key features of our previous emblems: The Capitol Dome remains at the center of the page — symbolizing our fierce nonpartisanship — and the serif “feet” on the letters still invoke the columns of the Capitol. Most importantly, our moniker remains: “The Newspaper of Capitol Hill Since 1955.”

What you see on Roll Call’s pages is the result of scores of interviews with readers and advertisers over the past few months, as well as input from our reporters, editors, photographers and other CQ-Roll Call Group colleagues. Here are some of the highlights:

• A new front-page feature called Morning Business, which will let you quickly scan what’s inside.

• Fewer story jumps, which means less paper-rattling when you’re sneaking a read during a less-than-exciting committee hearing.

• Full color on every page.

• New full-color maps of this election year’s hottest Congressional races, updated regularly.

• White, and green, paper. In March, we switched to a whiter paper stock and became the first Washington newspaper to print on 100 percent recycled newsprint.

• Bright new designs for our community coverage in Around the Hill and our must-read gossip column Heard on the Hill, as well as for the columnists you’ve come to depend on, including Morton M. Kondracke and Stuart Rothenberg.

• More links to supplemental material on rollcall.com and CQ.com.

•The fonts, Lyon Text and Lyon Display (for headlines), reflect a contemporary approach to digital typography design, while, according to Stanaland “giving a serious nod to 16th-century French typography. It’s that balance of historic and modern elements that gives Roll Call the well-heeled yet fresh look.” Lyon Text made its debut in the New York Times Magazine’s 2009 redesign; Lyon Display makes its first appearance in this very issue.

What hasn’t changed, of course, is our commitment to providing you with the most reliable, agenda-setting journalism on Capitol Hill leadership, lobbying, politics and community to be found anywhere.

We hope you enjoy our new look.

Mike Mills is senior vice president and editorial director of the CQ-Roll Call Group.