Our new look is more than a cosmetic change.

Anew design isn’t the easiest thing to say a few words about. An introduction seems superfluous, since you’ve already been looking at our new format by the time you’ve gotten to me. It’s as if we were standing at a cocktail party and an elephant walked up: By the time either of us could say anything about it, there really wouldn’t be much point.

If you’re a longtime reader you know we haven’t been careful in observing the rule of magazine publishing that says one should never, never fiddle with the cover design or logo. We’ve changed ourdesign before, and our sales have gone up each time. The reason, I think, is that our readers have seen each change as a new stage in the growth of the magazine. A magazine’s design is its way of packaging and presenting information, and we’ve been presenting more information each month.

Credit for this new design, both cover and inside pages, goes to Woody Pirtle, a creative director at the Richards Group. His commission was to establish a format which would meet the demands of new growth while maintaining a consistent look throughout the magazine. Our problem, as we saw it, was twofold: We enjoy providing a showcase for our advertisers (we’d better; it’s our bread and butter). On the other hand, we had the feeling that, as the magazine got fatter, editorial material was being lost among the ads. Working with art director Carol Burke and managing editor Mike Greenberg, Woody gave the magazine a total overhaul. It came just in time – this issue is the largest we’ve ever published.

We’re introducing more than a new design with this issue. We’ve revamped our approach to various sections of the magazine, discarding old ideas and bringing in some new ones. The first thing we did was to beef up our Previews with considerably more information and opinion on events around town: For example, we’ve added short takes on movies by Charles Schreger, who also reviews movies for Variety.

Meanwhile, we got to thinking about the place of columnists in our magazine and decided that we hadn’t been giving them enough space or attention. It’s almost impossible to put together a combination of feature articles that will appeal to everyone, every month. So we’ve established a group of regular columnists whom we think our readers can come to depend on. Our old friend Jo Brans (whose column will be called Families)

will be joining staff columnists Charles Matthews (The City), David Bauer (Sports), Wade Leftwich (Health), and an anonymous writer who will continue this magazine’s never-ending search for the perfect souffle and other dining delights. Next month this group will be joined by two other contributors, David Dillon (Arts) and A.J. Love (Manners). Occasionally an editor or friend from the outside world will pop in with a column; this month it’s Jim Atkinson with some thoughts on the latest developments in the battle between the News and the Herald. Our regular travel and consumer columns will continue in the back of the book.

If that’s not enough, former associate publisher Susan Hoffman and I concocted the idea of turning the last page into a compendium of the offbeat and sometimes incomprehensible ways people try to communicate with one another in the city. Since she was partly responsible for the notion, it seemed only fair that Susan be required to manage it, so she returns to the fold this month as Back Page editor.

Along with these changes I’m pleased to announce the addition of Leonard Reed to our editorial staff. As our newest associate editor, Len will be concentrating on education and related matters. He comes to us from the Herald, where he covered the education beat. While we were gaining a new reporter, we lost a longtime associate: Senior editor John Merwin, who was here with the first issue four years ago, has left the magazine to pursue another career opportunity.

While all this was happening on the editorial side, we had a welcome reunion on the other side of our offices: Jerrie Smith, who helped to start the magazine and is a former member of our board, rejoined us this month as associate director of national advertising.

Now, are there any questions?


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