The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

New look at

The Rapid City Journal's website has a new logo. Why is this significant?

Back in the 1970s when Rusty Swan took the helm at the paper from his father, Joyce, Rusty had the idea that he was to take the Journal into the next century with a new and modern look. He enlisted the help of one Hayward Blake. Hayward was a nice enough guy who had been working as a package designer at one of Chicago's top ad agencies.  He had recently opened his own shop when he was given the task of designing Chicago O'Hare's terminal signage.

We have Hayward to thank for those now-universal gender-specific toilet signs. Hayward designed the Journal logo to be an awful pea green with a lower case Universe font nearly replicated here.
People in the newsroom – specifically the page designers on the copy desk – hated the new design (and they should have). Not only was the green putrid, it was just wrong from the staid old newspaper professional's point of view. Hayward didn't just design the logo, he designed the entire newspaper, removing any possibility of creative use of typography in the design of the daily paper. It was six columns wide with three choices of Universe type to be used for headlines. No color, except for the putrid green. The page design was distinguished by it's severe horizontal skeleton. It looked horrible. It was difficult to read, and was a daily disappointment for designers. Sometimes a two-column headline would have the story wrap across six columns with four columns of bare type and trapped white space galore.

The design won every newspaper design award known to the industry. It seemed that everyone in the industry – except the designers who had to execute it – loved it. Oh yeah, the readers hated it too.

I worked at the Journal from 1979 to 1988. Upon my arrival, fresh from KSU with a degree and everything, I took it upon myself to make a copy of Hayward's guidelines and send them to my newspaper design professor, Carol Oukrop. Dr. Oukrop's respect in the newspaper industry far outpaced that of Mr. Blake. She, at no expense to the Journal, sent a detailed critique of Hayward's very restrictive design specifications. It got the attention of then-editor Jim Kuehn and publisher Rusty Swan. When Oukrop called the design "dull dull dull" Swan and Kuehn called Hayward, who immediately came to Rapid City to assuage any fears Journal management might have that his design was dull. He agreed to meet with the copy editors who were charged with designing the daily newspapers.

The result of the meeting was that we would be allowed to experiment with other colors. But he gave us the palate. We could use no color other than those he gave us. One blue, one orange and one red. No new fonts. No ability to grade the news with the use of a more vertical design.

And, it really wasn't until the Journal got a new press, that using color was ever discussed seriously. And, some time after that a new logo was developed.

I do not know if Hayward had anything to do with this design, but I suspect he did, since it uses the square logo he designed and he maintained a tight hold on the rights to mess with it.

The new design can be seen at It's a good design. I hope to see it in the dead tree version of the paper soon. It would end decades of a stifling of creativity.

1 comment:

Bob Newland said...

I had full artistic control over the Buffalo Chip Gazette for 11 years, except for that year I was in jail. I used it to devastating effect.