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Changes in Observer emphasize depth

We continue our rollout Sunday of a Charlotte Observer redesigned to be more engaging, more in-depth and easier to use.

The depth starts on the front page, with extensive profiles of two men at the center of Charlotte’s closest watched criminal trial in years. Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Officer Wes Kerrick is charged with voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of Jonathan Ferrell. On the eve of the trial, you get to know them as individuals through the authoritative reporting of Michael Gordon and Elizabeth Leland.

Depth is also our goal in a new daily section called Insight. Its stories and columns will take you beyond the headlines, to get to the “how” and “why” of a news development. Today, faith and values reporter Tim Funk explores why 20 percent of North Carolinians now claim no religious affiliation and how organized religions are addressing that. Insight is also the new home for our Opinion pages.

Also new today:

▪ We’ve expanded the Carolina Living section to add Style to the already popular lineup of Arts, Travel, Books and Celebrations. We’ve worked to make the content more local. And on today’s pages, you’ll find Passion, an occasional feature in which the writer shares something inspirational or indispensable.

▪ Sunday Business, which formerly shared space with local news, moves to its own set of pages in the A-section. You’ll still find the popular column on development by Ely Portillo, who focuses on how the Blue Line extension of light rail is triggering new construction in the NoDa neighborhood. A “Workplace Coach” column offers practical advice on managing your career.

I want to thank all of our readers who have offered feedback on the Observer’s new look in both our print and digital editions. More than 350 of you have either emailed or called since we moved to the new formats on Wednesday.

Most everyone agrees the print redesign is bolder and more colorful. Many welcome that. Others find it disappointing.

“I really like the change,” wrote one reader. “The print jumps out at you, makes you want to grab it and read it.”

“Newspaper looks better,” wrote another. “More color. I like it,”

Another reader disagreed: “All the color does nothing for me; I need the news, not decoration.”

Major national and world news is still featured on the front page at times. But our readers have many sources for that. On the other hand, the Observer is among your primary sources for in-depth local news. So we re-ordered the A-section to start with local news and conclude with news of the nation and world. Some readers said we’ve got it backwards.

“I just don’t like the fact that more important stories are off the front page and local stuff is still run on 1A,” said a reader. “I think this will take a lot of getting used to.”

We introduced a new typeface for headlines and text. It is designed to be especially readable in newsprint. Some readers found it to be just that. Others found it harder to read.

“Please restore the font from the previous Observer,” one reader pleaded. “I can live with the other changes.”

Reactions were also mixed about the updates to our digital editions on phone, tablet and desktop. Changes include a cleaner look for easier navigation and faster page-loading times. Some liked the larger photos and less cluttered design. Others said we should pack in more content to reduce the need to scroll down a page.

What comes through in all of the comments is that the Observer – regardless of the format – still matters so much to so many. We are grateful for that, and we’ll keep striving to do right by you.

Contact us

If you would like to comment, fill out the form on www.charlotteobserver.com. If you prefer to talk to someone, call 1-800-532-5350 before 2 p.m. Sunday or 7 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays.

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