Community Planning: Methods
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Newspaper supplements are one of the most effective ways of spreading planning and design ideas to large numbers of people and generating public debate. They are particularly useful for presenting proposals from action planning events, especially if combined with other coverage before and afterwards.

A working relationship is established between those promoting community planning initiatives and the local paperšs editors and journalists.

Standard newspaper coverage is used to publicise activities and generate debate: news stories, feature articles, letters, legal notices, guest columnists.

Special supplements are used to provide in-depth coverage of planning proposals and community planning activities.

Feedback is generated through the letters pages, readership polls and follow-up features.
Madison Courier, USA, 1986
Public profile for planning

Public profile for planning
Supplement cover (above) and inside page illustration (below) showing analysis of an area..

Public profile for planning

  • Persuade editors to allow design teams to help lay out supplements. This forces architects and planners to communicate better and will cut the newspaper¹s costs. It can also provide a useful educational experience for students.

  • Order extra copies and distribute to schools and to specific audiences.
  • May well be free if newspaper treats supplement as a commercial venture and incorporates advertising. Subsidy may be required, particularly if extra copies are wanted. Full cost still cheap compared with printing a special report. An 8-page supplement in black and white might typically cost around US$650 for 6,500 copies, ie 10 cents per copy.
Advantages of a supplement
  1. Cheap.
    Inexpensive compared with producing and distributing a special report.
  2. Coverage.
    Reaches a very high proportion of the population (in most areas).
  3. Credibility.
    Has greater credibility than a report produced by consultants.
  4. Familiarity.
    Feels less threatening than most specially produced planning reports.
  5. Format.
    Large format allows drawings to be published at a reasonable scale.
  6. Immediacy.
    Very quick publication and distribution. The results of one day's workshop can be distributed the next day.
  7. Skills.
    Brings expert journalistic skills to bear.
    "Newspapers can play an innovative role in citizen awareness of the planning and design process. They avoid the stigma of being considered an outsider's 'propaganda sheet' - a phrase sometimes attached to planning documents and special publications."
Anthony Costello, Professor of Architecture, Ball State University, Small Town, Jan/Feb 1983.
clear graphics

Clear graphics
Double-page spread from a special 8-page supplement produced during a 3-day planning weekend. Published and distributed with the local paper on the final day of the weekend, a few hours before a public presentation by the design team. Key features: concise writing; clear and understandable drawings; simple sequence.

Thanks: Anthony Costello

Last updated on: 4 July 2008