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.
So far the Democratic agenda includes proposals to expand Medicaid; increase the minimum wage; offer equal pay to women; heighten regulations on predatory lending practices, like payday loans; and add more transparency in the governor’s office.
Hot-button education issues ranging from Common Core to charter schools have some lawmakers pushing to scrap the appointing process and go back to electing the state's super.
Police say the handcuffed man fatally shot himself in the back, but his family isn't buying the story.
Gov. Bobby Jindal offered a budget proposal that suggests new education and health care spending, pay raises for state workers and an incentive fund to encourage colleges to enhance their science, engineering and technology training.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday, March 11, 2014:
Hopefully he’ll be better prepared today than he was in that Feb. 20 deposition.
They came by the hundreds, arriving from all regions of the state to gather on the steps of our Capitol in protest of the Legislature’s long tradition of giving industry the go-ahead to abuse our air, our water and our coastline, all in the name of good economics.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s recent rhetoric against President Barack Obama has failed to boost his standing among the conservative base.
Louisiana's annual legislative session begins.
The state has hired marksmen to shoot feral hogs from helicopters at two wildlife management areas in south Louisiana.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.