A Brand New Look

Behind the scenes here at 551 Jefferson St. for the last three months, we've been cooking up a big change ' and the results debut in this week's paper. When you turn to Page 6, you'll see a completely overhauled and redesigned news section.

The old mantra says, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Our front section wasn't broken, but we wanted to give it a fresh coat of paint, for a number of reasons.

Some of the best journalism comes from thinking outside the box, and our revamped front section practically blows up the box. In a nutshell, it provides us with much more space and flexibility with our news coverage. While you'll still see the narrative journalism and in-depth stories we strive to bring readers each week, our new design allows us additional room for a substantial amount of news briefs. These briefs are a mixture of breaking news, our take on the notable stories in Acadiana each week, and humorous items on the more absurd developments around town.

Speaking of around town, Staff Writer Nathan Stubbs' column of the same name will no longer be running. And Editorial Director Leslie Turk's "Turk File" column will now run on the fourth week of each month, as part of The Independent Weekly's monthly business section and Acadiana Consumer Confidence Index package. But Stubbs and Turk will continue to contribute the hard-nosed beat reporting they brought to their columns every week ' their stories and scoops will simply be mixed in with the redesigned "Word on the Street" section. So fans of Stubbs' government and political reporting and Turk's business and media reports will still have plenty to look forward to in every issue from both writers.

The changes in our news section complement some subtle redesign changes we implemented in January in our Living Ind section. These include moving away from a rigid horizontal format for our arts and culture stories and incorporating bigger photos and graphics in our "Party Girl" section. In our "The Week" calendar section, we've arranged our live music listings by venue and separated family-oriented events into their own section in the daily listings.

The MVP in this process was Independent Weekly Art and Production Director Jason Roy, who's logged some looooong hours during this process. It's not a stretch to say he's been designing two papers since early January. Between designing and producing the paper weekly with his usual flair and keen eye, he's been constructing new templates in his, ahem, free time, and methodically constructing this redesign piece by piece. It hasn't been unusual to find Jason here in the office on the weekends or until 8 p.m. on weeknights.

We'd be remiss in not thanking New York Pizza & Deli, The Filling Station and Jefferson Street Pub, who provided inspiration in other ways during some of those late nights.

Of course, looks aren't everything. While making The Independent Weekly more visually appealing is essential to our mission, it won't mean a thing if there aren't compelling stories and essential news that readers can't find anywhere else in Acadiana. And I'd humbly suggest that this week's issue offers multiple examples of that kind of quality journalism. Contributor Kristi H. Dempsey's in-depth examination of Lafayette's rocketing real estate prices is a revealing look at a number of market forces creating the high cost of living in Lafayette; Senior Writer R. Reese Fuller reports on the strange downtown battle brewing over long-time street vendor Faramarz "Frankie" Yaghobi; Turk lays out the scenarios for Lafayette's next television station; the details of the multi-million dollar new Acadiana Technology Information Center contract comes courtesy of Stubbs; and Staff Writer Erin Zaunbrecher and regular contributor Mary Tutwiler teamed up to report on some of Acadiana's most vibrant gardens, just in time for spring.

As always, we welcome your feedback. Email me at [email protected] and let me know what you think of our new look, and we'll publish your comments in an upcoming "Indbox."