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Lila Littlejohn: At 91, Signal gets a makeover

From the editor's desk

Posted: March 4, 2010 10:48 p.m.
Updated: March 5, 2010 4:55 a.m.
“A new look for The Signal,” the front-page headline proclaimed.

“Local readers may not recognize The Signal when it arrives next week,” the story began, “but most of them will like it better than ever. The old newspaper will get a bright new look for the New Year.”

It was January 1964 when The Signal — then nearly 45 years old — adopted the American eagle as its mascot, along with the mantra “Vigilance Forever.” The story announcing the revamped newspaper promised “everything ... will be changed for the better.”

We doubt you’d fail to recognize The Signal you picked up this morning, despite our new look. Still, as Scott Newhall did back in 1964, we are changing things up. Our goal is to make the paper more modern, interesting and relevant to today’s busy Santa Clarita Valley resident.

We’ve retained the American eagle as our mascot and the mantra “Vigilance Forever” as our creed. We pledge anew that we will, to the best of our ability, live up to each, as The Signal pledged in 1964.

Scott Newhall saw the eagle as a “traditional symbol of fierceness, freedom and individuality.” Our new front-page eagle unveiled today was drawn by local artist Ryan Metlen, and we think it expresses all of those character traits. Ryan’s name may sound familiar — he’s a CalArts graduate who has produced editorial cartoons for us in the past, published two books and is currently developing the comic Hope & Death, distributed by Creators Syndicate.

We’ve modernized our headline fonts, our column designs and our information boxes. Those photos at the top of Page 1 that point you to what’s inside — we newspaper types call them “skyboxes” — have been improved to provide you with more information more quickly, and to look better while doing it.

It’s our goal to bring you more attractive front pages through the use of bigger photos from our fine photo staff, and a better range of photos throughout the paper.

Popular Escape columnist Jim Walker is moving from the entertainment section to the front section so more readers can enjoy his curmudgeonly sense of humor. Walker has pledged to continue writing for Escape, too, so hold him to it — just don’t take him seriously.

As to the best SCV bathroom contest he alludes to, you can take that seriously.

Inspired by a press release announcing a nationwide search for the best public restrooms, we’re launching our own contest with a local angle. See today’s Qwik-e for details.

And if you don’t get the Qwik-e — The Signal’s weekday afternoon newsletter — you can sign up by visiting and selecting “Interactive,” then “Qwik-e signup” from the navigation bar.

Local and syndicated columnists whom you previously enjoyed on page 2 have moved to page 3, although you’ll find their order changed up a bit. If you’re a 2 Minute Signal fan, that feature is now on page 3, also.

On page 2 we’ve added a feature we hope you’ll find particularly useful — a daily calendar of events in the SCV. The Signal has long offered calendars on our feature pages, in Escape, on the Faith pages, in sports and in other sections of the paper, but we recognize that the busy reader doesn’t always have time to hunt around for various listings. Here you will find them consolidated in one convenient place.

Other features on our new page 2 include the traditional and popular birthdays listing and Today in History, now known as 2day in Hostory, along with some new and fun content, including AP’s news of the odd and celebrity tidbits. To make room for all of this, we’ve downsized the weather fixture and added our favorite photo of the day.

Keep reading The Signal if you’re a Santa Clarita Valley photographer. During the summer we plan to open up this choice A2 spot for a local photo contest.

In fact, one of our goals is to make the entire paper more interactive. On today’s Opinion page you’ll find an invitation to send us questions for the upcoming Santa Clarita City Council debate hosted by The Signal, KHTS-AM 1220 and SCVTV.

We’re grateful for local weather-watchers who have been sending us rainfall totals from their backyard rain gauges this wet winter.

And we appreciate local youth and community sports aficionados who have logged onto Community Sports Desk at and recorded their teams’ victories (and defeats) for publication in The Signal’s community sports pages.

Our next community sports page publishes Saturday.

We’re also encouraging readers to send us news tips by calling or sending text messages to The Signal’s tip line: (661) 480-NEWS.

Next time you see something you think would make a good story — be it a big drug bust next door or a strange local quirk — feel free to text it to The Signal.

As The Signal embarks on its 92nd year, our goal is to provide a more user-friendly, attractive and fun newspaper for your enjoyment — while remaining vigilant about what you need to know.

Send us an e-mail to let us know how we’re doing or to make suggestions; just put “improvements” in the subject field.

And stay tuned for a few more surprises.


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