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The young and the restless

News & Record's new design tries to grab them

Staff report

To Gate City accountant Neil Lewis, the Greensboro News & Record's dramatic redesign has taken it from Model A stodginess to new-car excitement.

"They've got a lot of features they didn't used to," says Lewis, 30, a principal in Lewis Accounting Service Inc., an eight-accountant family-owned business. "They've got more pictures, more color."

Lewis is the kind of reader - and advertiser - that a newspaper publisher would die for, especially one who's spent thousands of dollars on a makeover. Some in the industry loved the News & Record's March 1992 remake, too. "Easy to read, lots of color, well-organized," said a North Carolina Press Association awards judge, naming it the state's best-looking newspaper.

"Newspapers can't be the old gray ladies anymore," says UNC journalism professor Jay Anthony, a specialist in newspaper design. "The News & Record is 180 degrees different, and they've gotten all kinds of flak."

Almost all of North Carolina's 52 dailies, from the biggest, The Charlotte Observer, to smaller ones such as The (Kinston) Free Press, have tinkered with how they present news and advertising. But the most dramatic change is under way in Greensboro, where the state's third-largest newspaper, with an average daily circulation of 108,000, now mostly features short snippets of news instead of in-depth stories.

Indeed, Circulation Director David Berrier says, the remake of the 102-year-old News & Record was intended to create a 25-minute newspaper for a 90-mph BMW-and-bagels generation.

But the News & Record remains willing to devote newsprint to pet projects. Its series of stories on smoking-related health issues earned the North Carolina Press Association's Public Service Award earlier this year.

Meanwhile, competition is getting intense. The News & Record has expanded its longstanding High Point bureau to 15 employees with four pages a day devoted to Guilford County's second-largest city.

The High Point Enterprise, with circulation of about 32,000, is fighting back. "They're making us work harder," Managing Editor Ken Irons says. The Enterprise has undergone a lesser design change and added three news staffers.

For News & Record Publisher Van King, the redesign is just starting to pay off. "Advertisers are happy young people are reading it because that's one of their targets," he says, citing the newspaper's internal survey. "We're happy because we want people to read."

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