LEO’s change mantra

When creative director Britany Baker came to LEO Weekly a little over a year ago, she brought along a bag of substantive, if a little controversial, ideas: The paper looked crappy and needed to be redesigned from the inside out. The logo was dated and silly, no longer reflective of the content it represented. The website — well, we’d pretty much been ignoring it.

Fast forward. We’re almost to the point Britany, in conjunction with Publisher Pam Brooks and I, set way out in the distance all those months ago.

Next Wednesday, Feb. 4, you’ll see the biggest overall change to the newsweekly in LEO’s 19-year history. Because this newsweekly has always prided itself on its relationship with readers, I’ve decided to enumerate the changes in advance. I know as well as anybody that no matter how much you think of yourself as open-minded, change can be difficult.

Here, point-by-point, is the new LEO Weekly:

• In your hands is the final newsprint edition of the paper. (Or, if you’re reading this online, act like you’re holding the paper. There.) Next week, we’ll be printed on what’s called coated stock — in other words, magazine paper. It’s fancy. We can’t wait for you to see it.

• Get a good look at the logo — this is the last time you’ll see us print it. We’ve never changed the logo, with its splatter and other early-’90s detritus, so this was a big one. It took about a year of discussion and fine-tuning to arrive at designer Ron Jasin’s logo: mature and refined yet still with some kink. Take a sneak peek at leoweekly.com, or wait until next week’s print edition.

• We decided to roll out the new logo at leoweekly.com because, if you haven’t noticed over the past couple months (it’s OK, we’ve executed the most understated marketing campaign in history), we redesigned and relaunched our website. We’re still tweaking and will always be, but it’s getting close to where we want it. You’ll find four blogs — including c d kaplan’s on-point sports blog “Score” — photo galleries, web-exclusive stories and other content updated daily, as well as everything in the current print edition.

• We’re going with a new, expanded Staffpicks section, because we figure you pick us up (or dial us in) each week as much to find out what’s going on around the city as to actually read this stuff. We don’t blame you.

• Sections will be ordered differently, and you’ll see a new, much-improved table of contents up front to help you navigate — so you may De Soto it, if you will.

• In the coming weeks, we’ll also be adding some new features. For example, we’re expanding our music and dining sections. You’ll also notice a new weekly photo feature by photographer Marty Pearl. We’re guessing it’ll get your attention.

• It’s not all giveth. This is the last time you’ll read an “Editor’s Note” in print. While I still may opine from time to time at leoweekly.com, my newsroom services are better utilized reporting, given our limited staff and resources. It’s why I came here four years ago, and why I’m still here. LEO has enough columnists.

The change in paper, like the new logo and our redesigned website, is a major component of our long-term strategy to thrive in a changing media landscape.

Rather than sit idle while newspapers lose economic viability and consume themselves with cutbacks and layoffs, we’re aggressively pursuing what we believe will prove a more successful model for a newsweekly. We want to provide you with a clearer, cleaner and more stimulating aesthetic while offering our advertisers the highest quality presentation in our market — after all, we’d also like to keep this thing free.

The change in paper also ushers us back into a mode of being that jibes with our ideals: Our new printer, PublishersPress, has been Kentucky-owned and operated for five generations. It was important for LEO to get back to a local printer, just as it was to continue printing on 100-percent recyclable paper (as well, portions of LEO Weekly will be printed using paper that would’ve otherwise been trashed).

As always, let us know what you think about the changes by e-mailing or writing. Speaking for all 18 staffers at LEO Weekly and leoweekly.com: Thanks for rolling with us all these years. See you next week.