"If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
That advice has come this way a time or two since the May 1 overhaul of Oil & Gas Journal's organization and appearance.
All comments from readers about OGJ receive close attention here, especially negative ones.
There have been some of those. The numbers aren't overwhelming. But that doesn't diminish the importance of the comments themselves.
Two months and nine issues following the change seems like a good time to address them and call attention to a few adjustments.
Fixing and changing
Refraining from trying to fix the unbroken is sensible. But refusing to change to suit a changing business climate is not.
Readers who loved OGJ the way it was want to know why we changed.
As explained in this space on May 1, OGJ's new design coincides with an upgrade of OGJ Online, the web site operated by pennNET Inc., a subsidiary of OGJ's publisher, PennWell Corp. (OGJ, May 1, 2000, p. 23).
The new web site enables the OGJ-OGJ Online team of editors to do things never before possible in a weekly print magazine, such as report on events on the days they occur and forget physical limits on story word count.
We have long relished the chance to deliver industry intelligence in real-time electronic formats, to expand the service we offer our professional audience. But to have taken this step without refreshing a print product that hadn't received a facelift in more than 8 years or been reorganized in decades would have been complacent at best.
A few readers who don't want information via computer apparently suspect that our changes shirk print in favor of the web site.
Not so. The page budget didn't shrink on May 1. What goes into the magazine didn't change. What changed in print was mainly the package and how things are organized within it.
So if all you read is the print magazine, the redesign doesn't diminish the amount of industry information available to you. But you can get much more than we can offer in print alone if you both read the magazine and visit the news area of the web site, which doesn't require a subscription.
And if you subscribe to the magazine, visit the web site, and sign up for any or all of the free, weekly e-mail newsletters available there, you'll have access to more news and technical information about the oil, gas, and electric power industries than any print magazine ever could squeeze between paper covers.
That's why we changed.
Also available on the web site, of course, is an electronic version of OGJ, which requires a subscription. For the (not really very much) money, you receive access to the current issue of the magazine as well as to a searchable archive of OGJ issues back to 1990 plus exclusive features written by OGJ editors only for the web site.
As it happens, some OGJ readers do prefer to receive information via computer.
Concerning the print design itself, some readers like the new look, and others don't. That's normal.
Some readers question the new organization, which arranges articles in sections labeled Exploration & Development, Drilling & Production, Processing, and Transportation, in that order, following an expanded Newsletter and General Interest section.
The old organization, after the Newsletter, had sections entitled News, Technology, and Exploration.
Maybe it's just a matter of taste. But which organization looks more like the industry OGJ covers?
As always, readers have had good ideas on several subjects. Because they cared enough about OGJ to let us hear them, you'll notice some tweaks this week.
For one thing, type in the Newsletter is larger than it has been since May 1. It should be easier to read-and still leave the redesigned Newsletter the most information-rich five magazine pages you'll find anywhere.
The Newsletter's Quick Takes, which replaces the old Industry Briefs, have new navigation graphics, bold-face company names, and other devices aimed at letting you find what you want without having to read everything-something readers said they want.
And sidebars-those short articles that appear with longer pieces inside shaded boxes-have a new type face.
On the subject of type, because several readers have asked, the new main body type is larger than what it replaced (10 points vs. 9 points) and has more space between lines (1.25 points vs. 1 point).
Overall, we don't think we fixed anything. We think we made something that wasn't broken better. In the age of the internet, and with readers who care enough about OGJ to always let us know what they think, the process will never cease.