Orlando redesign may be bold, but it’s not original

There is much being made of the Orlando Sentinel redesign.

Yes, it’s shocking. It’s bold. It’s wild.

But original? Hardly.

Just take a look at the Bakersfield California’s front page from today.

Orland’s plans seem tame by comparison, and Bakersfield launched that format on March 1, 2006 (I know, I was there; it was the same day we launched the current design of Bakersfield.com).

I’m surprised so few people have noticed the copy-cat nature of Orlando’s new design — and asked more questions about how well it’s worked where it was first tried.

It would be interesting to see what the BC’s current circulation numbers look like. After a major marketing push (Radio, TV, Billboards) launched contiguous to the redesign, the initial returns were not impressive. But maybe things have turned around. I don’t know.

In defense of Bakersfield’s circulation declines linked to above, it would be fair to note — the bakersfield.com site upgrade was substantial (in all modesty), and may have pulled readers from print; Bakersfield has long been aggressive with other online and print products, which could pull readers from the core product; and in an unfortunate coincidence, the Bakersfield economy took a nosedive immediately after the redesign was launched (contributing, in no small measure to the fact that my former Bakersfield home was sold in a foreclosure auction today, at about $125K less than we paid for the house (UPDATE: I assumed it sold at the time of post; but it didn’t, so the bank just took title — so it’s still on the market if you want a great home in Bakersfield at a bargain price).

UPDATE: Steve Yelvington tells us how to look up ABC circulation numbers.  For some odd reason, I’ve never been able to find that link myself, though I knew it was out there and have searched for it (so, Thanks, Steve!).  From the search, we learn that BC’s circ has fallen to 59,433.

Again, we can’t say for sure what impact the redesign has had on BC’s circ.  There are any number of factor’s at play.

Doug Fisher posted this:

Past experience shows newspaper makeovers don’t necessarily translate into financial success. After the Bakersfield Californian underwent a drastic redesign two years ago, the 60,000-circulation paper in California’s Central Valley saw a small initial jolt to circulation and revenue, sparked by the brighter look and expanded coverage of hot topics like immigration. But the gains have been erased as the area economy struggles. Bakersfield Californian Chief Executive Richard Beene says the steps were necessary to keep the paper relevant, but he has advice for others considering a similar redesign: “Don’t expect it to turn around circulation or revenue overnight. It’s not a magic bullet.”

Which originally came from the WSJ