You may have noticed Chalkbeat looks a bit different today. Nope, we didn’t get a new haircut. We got a new brand identity!
As Chalkbeat embarks on our strategic plan for 2025, we recognized the need for a new visual identity that reflects who Chalkbeat is now — and for a design system dynamic enough to grow with us as we expand from seven locations to 18 in the next five years.
After talking with readers, we landed on four features that make Chalkbeat Chalkbeat: local, innovative, inclusive, trustworthy.
We are local. Each of our bureaus represents a community, and we wanted to design the site so that those communities could dive deeper into the issues that matter most to them. Throughout our site, you’ll find easier ways to find local stories and topics.
We are innovative. As one of the largest nonprofit newsrooms in the country, Chalkbeat is defining how to solve the local news crisis by reimagining what a local newsroom can look like. Instead of bundling multiple topics (sports, crime, education, classifieds) in one location, we report on a single subject across many locations, which has allowed us to connect local communities of parents, educators, and curious citizens who care deeply about education. To reflect this trait, our new branding has a modernized aesthetic. Our palette is still bold — just like our journalism — but we’ve chosen less bright tones that feel more mature. And we’ve simplified our layouts, so they’re easier to scroll through on mobile.
We are inclusive. At Chalkbeat, we believe every child deserves an excellent education, and through our journalism, we’re working to build an informed and engaged community that will improve schools for all children, especially those who have lacked access to a quality education. Each year, our local bureaus host listening events to hear directly from stakeholders. Our First Person series gives voice to diverse perspectives, so that we can have powerful conversations about challenging issues. And we are committed to hiring a diverse staff that reflects the students, teachers, and parents we report for and with. Like our journalists, our product team is committed to inclusivity. We tested our new colors to ensure they’re easy for readers with color blindness to distinguish and read — tests our old color palette failed time and again. We also optimized the reading experience on our article pages with larger fonts and research-backed optimal line-lengths.
We are trustworthy. Our newsrooms are nonpartisan and fiercely independent. That means we do not pick sides or have a predetermined position on how to achieve better schools. And our business model is built to safeguard that independence by creating a diverse array of revenue sources, being transparent about who supports us, and following a strict code of ethics. We’ve added new features, so that our journalists can highlight topics of interest for their local community, and particular stories that readers shouldn’t miss. And we chose a sleek, yet traditional serif font for our base text to give our stories gravitas.
While you see our reporters’ bylines every day, you don’t always hear about the folks behind the scenes who help make their work possible:
- Gabrielle LaMarr LeMee, a digital Swiss Army knife, who thought about our readers’ needs in every decision she made while designing and building our new site
- Chris Hickerson, our code master, who worked tirelessly to clean up our code and build new features to improve our internal workflows and highlight content for readers
- Chris Schwing, the fantastic designer who helped us identify our unique personality and transformed it into our new brand identity
- And a special thanks to Kary Perez, whose name you might recognize from our membership emails, for her thoughtful insights and for connecting us with readers to test our new website before launch.
Thanks to the team for bringing this work to life — and to our readers for holding us accountable to our mission. We can’t wait to hear what you think!