The Daily Aztec
San Diego State's Independent Student Newspaper
Sterling Alvarado


August 28, 2011

The Daily Aztec, redesigned and redefined

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Written by: Daniela Anderson

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Tools of the trade: this redesign was fueled by: approximately 8 gallons of iced coffee & Lady Gaga's Born This Way album. | Daniela Anderson, art director. Album artwork courtesy of Interscope Records

You may have noticed a few changes to your paper. As a student-run organization, the Daily Aztec is staffed by ever-changing layers of undergraduates. As generations move upward and onward to (hopefully) more permanent careers in their fields, newer students take their place. This constant motion has molded our newspaper into a (hopefully) more efficient, fluid framework that is continually evolving to suit the needs of its writers and readers.

The Daily Aztec will be 100 years old in 2013, and I’ll be long gone (hopefully). This paper will probably go through 100 more changes, but I’m sure each and every one of them will be a direct reflection of the changes the student body has gone through. Because that’s who we are.

Plenty of design changes have been made throughout my years here. Mostly minor tweaks to specific features, but nothing major, just some streamlining. Still, our designers have been consistently pushing the boundaries of what newspaper design can do and mean. With several special issues published per month, creativity has always been a requirement for our team.

When Allie Daugherty was promoted to Editor-in-Chief, she encouraged me to make over the look of our paper with a complete redesign. My creativity has never been more challenged. But with the help of my Assistant Art Director, Richard McPheters, we’ve created something new.

In Frank O’Hara’s poem “Mayakovsky,” the speaker laments: “Now I am quietly waiting for the catastrophe of my personality to seem beautiful again, and interesting, and modern.” Granted, this verse is taken out of context. The entirety of the poem is full of anguish, and I would hardly consider our previous newspaper designs to be anywhere near catastrophic. But O’Hara was certainly on to something about what we all yearn for. As a designer, I am perpetually obsessed with what is beautiful, interesting and modern. This is what I kept in mind while redesigning The Daily Aztec.

Our overall concept was motivated by a desire to highlight the content. We wanted the paper’s identity to interact with and complement whatever the day’s article or photographs were about. Well-integrated design always makes the content shine. In the case of The Daily Aztec, that means you shine. Because that’s what this paper is about. Your campus. Your community. You.

Good editorial design is almost invisible in that sense. It should be so obvious, so simple, and so entirely customized for the content you shouldn’t be thinking about how nicely we’ve used vertical rules. Even though they really do look quite nice. But it’s not about that, it’s about the quotes they highlight. It’s about cuts to your department’s budgets. It’s about the best breakfast burrito within five miles of campus. It’s about your spiritual experience at Coachella.

So we’re just updating the way you look at content. With a little edge.

Our nameplate looks a little like a speech bubble, because we’re a voice representing many. It’s also a little bit directional, guiding your eye immediately to our lead story. It’s a little bit dimensional, like a banner, proudly announcing our identity. We’re Aztecs, just like you, and I hope that connection is as honest and strong as this redesign.

- Daniela Anderson is a graphic design senior and a Little Monster.

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Daniela Anderson


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  1. Roman Koenig

    It’s exciting to see a progressive news design for The Daily Aztec.

    As a former grad student and occasional journalism department lecturer, it’s the best the paper has looked in a long time, in my opinion.

    Well done.

  2. Sandy

    Hi Prof. Koenig!

    Glad to see you’re still picking up the paper :)

    Sandy Coronilla
    Assistant News Editor (and former student of Prof. Koenig!)

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