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Be honest: What do you think of my new face?

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Editor’s note: This is my Inside Story column from The Christian Chronicle’s May print issue. It may make more sense to the 131,159 subscribers receiving the dead-tree edition in the mail.

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• • •

OKLAHOMA CITY — My parents must be so proud.

I’ve finally arrived.

That’s right: I’ve reached cartoon status in an international Christian newspaper.

Over the past 19 years, I’ve written more than 150 Inside Story columns for The Christian Chronicle. Readers have become accustomed to seeing my mugshot on Page 3.

“You look just like your picture in the paper,” I’ve heard repeatedly in my reporting travels.

Bobby Ross Jr.

But now my photo is gone — replaced with a professional artist’s rendering of my, um, interesting face.

My first reaction was: Is that what I really look like? My wife, Tamie, said no. My adult children shared giggles and disparaging remarks in the family group chat.

Related: Religion News Association honors Bobby Ross Jr. with Supple Award for Feature Writing

Then I showed the image to my granddaughter, Norah, who is almost 3. She recognized the face immediately.

“That’s Papa,” she said without hesitation.

Well, if a toddler can see the resemblance, I guess we’ll go with it. It could be worse. My cartoon could picture a guy in serious need of a beard trim (sorry, Erik). 

Bobby Ross Jr.

Bobby Ross Jr.’s cartoon rendition.

All joking aside, change can be hard.

This edition of the Chronicle marks the launch of our first major redesign in 24 years. The headline fonts and text styles are new (our old ones had outlived the technology we use to lay out the paper). The page sizes are slightly taller and thinner (I wish I could say the same of myself).

As we previewed last month, the Chronicle hired Metaleap Creative, an award-winning design agency in Atlanta that has redesigned faith-based publications such as Christianity Today, World and Sojourners.

Months of consultation followed with Metaleap’s design team, headed by José and Nikolle Reyes, and with the Chronicle’s printer, Gannett.

I first met José and Nikolle at the Evangelical Press Association convention in Lancaster, Pa., last year. In a workshop, they noted that most publications engage in a redesign process at least once every five years. Suffice it to say that we were a bit overdue.

Working closely with Chronicle staff to retain the paper’s purpose and identity, Metaleap developed the new design to be organized, professional, engaging — and, most importantly, trustworthy.

We hope you like the new look. We expect you’ll find it cleaner, less crowded and easier to maneuver. No longer will you need to flip all over the place to find stories that jump from the front. This should make for a more cohesive and enjoyable reading experience.

And here’s the best part: Our commitment to “real news that honors God” remains the same. Our journalists — devoted to the Lord and the Chronicle’s loyal audience — will keep pursuing our mission of informing, inspiring and connecting members of Churches of Christ. 

Here’s the best part: Our commitment to “real news that honors God” remains the same. Our journalists — devoted to the Lord and the Chronicle’s loyal audience — will keep pursuing our mission of informing, inspiring and connecting members of Churches of Christ.

That’s evidenced by the stories in this month’s pages, from Audrey Jackson’s cover story from earthquake-ravaged Turkey to my National section piece on a Nebraska conference offering hope for small churches to Erik Tryggestad’s International section feature highlighting a revitalized church in Uruguay. 

Keep thumbing, and you’ll find all your favorite content — from the crossword puzzle, games and Brenton cartoon to Erik’s column, the book review and the editorial. Speaking of the editorial, Erik will share an additional thought or two on the redesign there.

So here’s our humble request: Please give our new packaging a chance? If you’d like to share feedback on it — positive or negative — feel free to email us at [email protected].

And if you’re so inclined, go ahead and weigh in: What do you think of my new cartoon face? 

BOBBY ROSS JR. is Editor-in-Chief of The Christian Chronicle. Reach him at [email protected].

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Filed under: Evangelical Press Association Inside Story Inside Story Metaleap Creative Opinion Perspective redesign The Christian Chronicle Top Stories

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