Saying farewell to an old friend
December 5, 2007
You might think we simply snapped our fingers and decided one day to change the nameplate of The Aspen Times. You might think that our parent company told us to change the “flag” that appears at the top of page one every day, and that we simply followed orders.
If only it were so easy.
The Aspen Times’ nameplate, the big, blocky letters that change colors from day to day on our front page, have identified this newspaper for many years. The letters themselves, which seemed to have been pulled from the false front of some mining-era saloon, had character. And the fact that the letters changed color every day lent a certain funk and spontaneity to this historic ski-town paper.
In many ways, those letters defined The Aspen Times for more than 20 years. And, as Aspen’s “soul” came under siege during those years, the funky letters came to represent something to many Times’ employees. The Times, as reflected in its odd, multicolored nameplate, was a bastion of funk in a town that had been gentrified beyond recognition. Not unlike an old and trusted friend.
So, when the idea of changing the nameplate came up in a discussion with our design consultants, Creative Circle Media, it became something of a wrestling match. Older members of the staff defended the flag and lamented “change for the sake of change.” They argued that the flag was fun and gave the newspaper character; a cleaner logo would only make The Aspen Times more like all other papers.
Younger staff members countered that the old flag looked outdated and cartoonish, and didn’t connote journalistic values like accuracy, credibility and professionalism. We think the new flag is dignified without being stodgy; it respects the long history of this newspaper and, without being trendy or garish, reflects a 21st century newspaper. The word “Aspen” is purple because we wanted some color, and we’re proud of our old purple building.
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In the end, we opted for change. Nothing lasts forever, and most staffers seemed to agree that the real soul and substance of this newspaper resides not in a type font, but in the stories, photos, columns and letters that fill our pages. The mission of this paper has not changed. We are as committed to community journalism as we ever have been. The same writers and photographers and columnists still reside in these pages ” nobody has quit or gotten sacked as a result of this internal debate ” and they still hope to enlighten, entertain and challenge readers every day; if they’re doing their jobs, they’ll even anger you from time to time.
We hope you like the new flag and the redesigned newspaper. Even if you preferred the old version, we hope you’ll keep reading.