Voices
Illustration by Krieg Barrie

Never good enough

Some thoughts on the new-look WORLD and our future as a news organization

Issue: "Gulf toil," June 5, 2010

I've noticed in my 20-year career with WORLD that the talented men and women called to work here are never satisfied with "good enough." As publisher, it is my privilege to meet lots of long-time readers around the country, and frequently I hear that "WORLD just gets better and better." That's not just a polite way of saying it needs to. What they are saying is what I have seen demonstrated: For this editorial team, good enough isn't. This commitment to continuous improvement is at the heart of the magazine redesign I trust you've started by now to notice.

But there's more to it than that. With all the media options-mostly electronic options-available today, the choice we've made to preserve a vital ink-on-paper version demands we make the most of the medium. I marvel at the immediacy and convenience of the internet, but a print magazine is not the web's "dead-tree" analog. A print magazine should be both thoughtfully and practically designed, but also elegant. We want to be good, true, and beautiful. So we thought now was a good time to freshen and improve the look with crisper, easier-to-read type, open it up with fewer column gridlines and boundary boxes, and make better use of photography, graphics, and custom layout. Any change takes some getting used to, but I suspect many of you will welcome these changes right away.

But these visual changes indicate something else going on at WORLD: an expansion of our journalistic vision from news magazine to news organization. As the news industry retreats from the task of reporting the news-with fewer reporters and less factual reporting-we see the urgent opportunity to fill that void. We envision growing our corps of reporters and finding new ways to push our brand of biblically objective news reporting into the public conversation. That will continue to happen here in the pages of WORLD, but also in an increasing way on the web, into digital reader and smartphone apps, with audio and video podcasts, and even on the radio. The opportunities are immense and we need more WORLDmover partners to help us push forward our vision to build a strong, nonprofit news organization.

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A change of this magnitude is a reflection of our fealty to the founding vision, but our visual presence needed a re-evaluation. In building a new visual identity, we started with the logo and are moving outward into all expressions of the WORLD brand-as you will see when you visit our website, worldmag.com. The new logo required a symbol that could over time be readily identified with WORLD, in addition to the customized name treatment, or logotype. Our brand designer, Matt Steel, together with art director David Freeland and his associate Rob Patete worked many hours together to create an appropriate symbol: one that conveys a global presence, a Christian perspective, and a means of navigating today's news. Our solution was to take the common symbols of globe, cross, and compass, and combine them into a unique and memorable shape. The accompanying WORLD logotype is sturdy, economical (takes up less space on the magazine cover), and authoritative. We wanted it to be both modern and timeless-in the hope that through God's grace, WORLD will have many years ahead.

Through God's grace is the crucial part of the sentence. I will confess that when I was studying journalism in college, Newsweek was my favorite magazine. I never thought I'd see the day of its demise, to the point where that esteemed publication would become a shell of its former self and today the owners who put the magazine on the sale block can't get rid of it fast enough.

It's a helpful reality check to watch the mighty fall. But to my way of thinking it's also confirmation that God has set before us an opportunity to grow, be heard, make an impact on the culture-and not to be satisfied that good enough is good enough.
Email Nick Eicher

Nick Eicher
Nick Eicher

Nick lives in St. Louis, loves the Blues (as in the NHL), is executive producer of WORLD Radio, and co-hosts WORLD's radio news magazine The World and Everything in It. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickEicher.

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