Tribune Co. Gives ‘Hoy’ Second Redesign This Year

By: Mark Fitzgerald

For the second time this year, Hoy has undergone a thorough redesign.

On Monday, Tribune Co. launched the redesigned Spanish-language daily tabloid with editions in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles featuring bolder headlines and typefaces, clearly defined section fronts, and new editorial content — including a horoscope from Latin America’s favorite seer, the flamboyant Walter Mercado.

Hoy’s last redesign came in January, in the months following the circulation scandal that led to the censure by the Audit Bureau of Circulations and Tribune’s decision to convert the paper from paid to free-distribution in Chicago and Los Angeles. Back then, some rigid page labeling — requiring, for instance, space dedicated only to news from Mexico on one page and from Puerto Rico on another — was torn down, on the theory that there weren’t always enough good stories from a particular nation to justify an entire page of content.

But Hoy Editor Javier J. Aldape, who arrived at Hoy in late February after serving five years as publisher of the Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram’s Diario La Estrella, said he wanted more certain story position to aid in navigating readers through the tab.

“I didn’t think we were always clear,” he said in a telephone interview Monday afternoon. “The [top] story of the day wasn’t always on page three, and I think that’s where people expect it to be a tabloid.”

Hoy also conducted some 3,000 interviews with readers, and found “tremendous interest in country-of-origin news,” added Aldape, who is also Hoy’s vice president of product and audience development. “What was not very high on their list [of preferences] was news from other countries in Latin America, so we made it so there was one place to find it,” he said. The new “America Latina” section front is one of four: “Al Frente,” for top stories; “Vida Hoy,” the weekend entertainment and features section that will now run daily; “Negocios,” a business page; and “Deportes,” the back-of-paper sports section.

“I’m very big on interior front pages,” Aldape said. “I think they really help organize space within a newspaper [and] … help people get through the paper a little quicker.”

The paper, which had cut back some content in the wake of the circulation scandal, is adding some revolving features produced by the Mexico-based news service Escrito. Most of that content will be news-you-can-use for Hispanics relatively new to the United States. For instance, “Tips,” the first feature published in the Monday edition, was a full-page, very graphical feature on how to behave at a funeral. (The word “tips” is not exactly Spanish, but Aldape said he’s OK with it for now because alternative words may not convey the feature’s purpose.)

A weather graphic that had been downgraded from a nearly full-page map to a small icon with the day’s expected high and low temperature, has been expanded to include a six-day forecast and temperatures from the U.S. and Latin American cities.

Perhaps the biggest splash for readers, though, will be the addition of Walter Mercado’s horoscope. Mercado is wildly popular through television appearances as a kind of Liberace of astrology in Latin America.

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