Doppelgang Bang

Doppelgang Bang

Last week's Flash item on the Millennial Arizona Republic's redesign prompted a swift and indignant response from daily newspaper executives -- at the East Valley Tribune. That Flash morsel contained a parenthetical reference to the Trib's own redesign, which is uncanny in its resemblance to the Republic's. Or vice versa.

The Flash wrote: ". . . the news whizzes at Tribune Newspapers got purloined copies of the redesigned Republic weeks ago and pre-empted their Phoenix foes with a startlingly similar redesign of their own."

Two newspapers. Two independent designs.
Two newspapers. Two independent designs.

Which is all true.

However, Trib editor Jim Ripley insists that the similarities are coincidental. He says East Valleyites didn't see the Republic's new design until after the Trib had rolled out its own new look, on December 12. The Millennial Republic debuted on January 1. Ripley wrote to the editor of this rag:

What makes the two papers look similar is that we both went to under-the-flag tease boxes on A1. These are sometimes called skyboxes. I first noticed last winter that some European papers were using this style. I had toyed with the idea of introducing the change then, but the matter waited until late last summer. That's when we decided to change our flag to more closely identify with the communities we serve and to use black instead of blue ink. We looked at several newspapers for ideas, including a paper in Canada that used the under-the-flag skyboxes effectively.

We knew, of course, that the Republic was undertaking a major redesign and that they were going to introduce their changes on Jan. 1. So that our changes would not compete with theirs, we decided to go to press with our new look on Dec. 12. I did see a prototype of the redesigned Republic on Dec.14 or 15 -- two or three days later. Copies apparently had been distributed at a VIP sneak preview. I was stunned to see the similarities in the looks of the flag and no more happy about those similarities than I am sure Republic editors are.

Ripley gave details of how he got his hands on the Millennial Republic's redesign prototype in a subsequent e-mail:

My understanding is that the Repub's VIP party was Monday night Dec. 13. Our launch was Dec. 12. I don't know where the prototype came from, but it wasn't through an editorial contact. I think it might have been through an advertising contact. Somebody at the VIP party gave a copy of the prototype to a Trib person. Somehow it worked its way to Richard Davis, our marketing VP who then showed it to me. . . . The point is we didn't know what they were up to -- except for what they had told everybody in ("Reader Advocate" Richard) De Uriarte's column -- until at least two days after we had gone to press with our changes.

So there you have it. The Trib and the Republic arrived at their dreadful and redundant redesigns independently.

The Flash wishes the Trib had carried its Euro inspiration even further and begun publishing in Norwegian.

In any case, this proves beyond doubt that great minds do think alike.

 
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