News Design

J4500/7500 Advanced Editing and News Design – Spring 2012

Month: February, 2012

Critique 2: Thoughts on Illustrations

by danramey1

Because we’ve been talking about illustrations recently, that was what was on my mind recently while looking at pages.  This first one is from the Denver Post.  The thing that really drew me to this particular page is the centerpiece. The lead story talks about a new law that allows for a lot more spending on advertisements as long as certain words aren’t used.

It would have been really easy to be lazy on this package and go with a boring photo of the judge who upheld the law or some supporters of the law or something.  However, the Post decided to take a more creative spin on it by surrounding the bill’s number (527) with the different words that you cannot say. Overall, I think that it is a very easy and efficient way to tell the story.  Plus, the use of the red and the large typography instantly draws my eye to the centerpiece.

Also, I think the t-deck under the number is really explains the story well.  These numbers and words could all be a little confusing if it wasn’t explained well.  But, the t-deck explains it quickly and succinctly.  Plus, I like the how the term “magic words” is in red to connect it to the bigger words around it.

Now, while the Denver Post seized a golden opportunity for an illustration, I think this next page missed a golden opportunity. This is from the Steamboat Today, which is one of two papers that covers the town of Steamboat in Colorado.  The lead story talks about the number of avalanches in the area, which has been a huge problem throughout Colorado this year.

My biggest problem here is the lead art, which doesn’t tell me enough.  The caption tells me that there have been six observed avalanches on these mountains.  It only points out the location of one of those six, and it doesn’t even do a great job of explaining that.

I think this could story and the photo could have been much better if the paper had maybe tried some kind of illustration.  For example, maybe there could be some pullouts from around the photo that that point to indicators or an avalanche and then explain that indicator a little more.  Or even, an infographic detailing the conditions for setting an avalanche in motion.

I’ve been following the avalanche story back in Colorado pretty closely because when I’m back there, I do a lot of hiking and skiing, both of which are directly affected by avalanche.  To me, this coverage seems perfect for some kind of illustration, but I haven’t really seem any good examples.  Since the likelihood of shooting an avalanche while it’s actually happening is low, i think an illustration would be a great way to add more value to the story.

-Danny

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Second two critiques – Inside page design

by yoobi55

My second design critique’s theme is an inside page design. The first piece is from the Hartford Courant, which is the largest daily newspaper in Connecticut. The Hartford Courant is a morning newspaper for most of the state north of New Haven and east of Waterbury.

This is the life section of Hartford Courant, which has a dominant graphic treatment in the middle. I liked the triangular text in the center. I think it’s smart and accompanies the graphic at the bottom.However, it could be seen as an excessive graphic that makes the newspaper look like an advertisement.

Although the graphic and the triangular text go together well, I think a less excessive design and a different color would have been more effective because it could have given the page more space and seriousness.

The second piece is from the Politiken, which is a Danish daily broadsheet newspaper and comes third among Danish newspapers in terms of both number of readers and circulated copies.

This inside page talks about the history of West Denmark ideologies. I liked the bulb-shaped text wrap treatment on the center. I think it draws attention to the page and relates to the story very well.

Although I think the design is clever, it seems like it has too much white space. I wonder what it would’ve been like if the bulb was smaller and the pull-quotes were bigger because the lower left corner might be hard to read since there isn’t much space. I think making the bulb a little smaller could have been a considerable option.

– Bi

Five newspapers named Best in the World

by Nathan Estep

I’m re-posting these not just because I’m nerdy, but because the news ties in with our topic next week. Yesterday five newspapers shared the award for World’s Best Designed Newspaper. Four of them were noteworthy for their use of illustration, especially on their front pages:


Excelsior, Mexíco City, Mexíco

Cir. 75,000 – 174-999 (Daily)

National Post, Toronto, ON, Canada
Cir. 75,000 – 174-999 (Daily)

Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Cir. 175,000 & over (Non-Daily)

The Grid, Toronto, ON, Canada
Cir. 25,000 – 74,000 – 74,999 (Non-Daily)

Politiken, Copenhagen, Denmark
Cir. 75,000 – 174-999 (Daily)

New rule for blog posts

by Nathan Estep

The subjects that you critique must be unique. In other words, you may not critique something that one of your classmates has already written about. But you are welcome to comment on your classmates’ posts if they interest you. Just pick something of your own to write about in your own post:)

Alysha’s design critiques

by Alysha Love

Fort Payne, Ala. — Times-Journal

I was drawn to this page as I was looking through the Newseum website because of its strong, bold nameplate in the top left corner. I thought this was a really gutsy and original way to brand the paper and give it an updated feel. It also frees up a lot of space — the two teasers next to the nameplate get a lot of room, which means they can be more designed and seem more meaningful to the page instead of looking like an inconvenient afterthought. I think the red stripe across the bottom of the teasers nicely separates them from the rest of the content and prevents them from making the page looks cluttered. I’m not a fan of the paper’s typeface, which seems a bit too childish. Its tone doesn’t seem to fit with serious news, I think because of the curved bits on the bottom of some letters, such as L and T. I’m fascinated by the paper’s decision to justify all their headlines, decks, bylines and jumps … but I’m not sure that I like it. I think it would work better if all the columns used justified type rather than ragged type because it would give the other elements a more even space to be centered  on top of. The mugshots on the page are close to the same horizontal space on the page, but they’re just off, which is distracting. The weights of the type for the headline also seems strange to me; they’re all so heavy that I’m not sure where to look. The dummied layout of the page itself seems fine though, it was just poorly executed. The best part of this page by far is the nameplate and teasers.

Mobile, Ala. — Press-Register

I followed the Press-Register for a couple weeks during the editing/design class with Maggie because I was again drawn to the original nameplate and teaser layout at the top of the page. I’m often a fan of the paper’s layout, but I’m not today. The teaser strip below the nameplate usually pops with a colored background and creates a more distinctive separation between it, the nameplate and the news design below. However, it was resized and given a white background in today’s paper to accommodate the three-person cutout from the Alabama basketball game. It’s certainly a dynamic image, and I like that they were bold enough to cover a good part of the paper’s name with the ball. However, the rest of the design seems too busy given the action of that large cutout. I think the paper would have been better served to break its normal design layout (the three stories running vertically with the widest in the middle) in favor of running one story across the page to calm down the layout. The three different headlines, decks and two clarifying titles for the pieces just make it far too busy directly beneath a busy image. I also think there are too many rules on the page, making it again feel cluttered and jumbled instead of coherent and authoritative. On a copy editing note, I’m about to die from the use of not one but two exclamation points on the front page. Horrors.

Election Coverage – St. Louis and St. Paul

by jasonbrynsvold

My first critique was of this morning’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Overall, I’m not a fan of the typefaces and fonts that the Post-Dipatch uses, but that’s not incredibly important to expand on in a single critique.

The big news of the day was the Missouri primary, even though it didn’t count for any delegates. The first thing that stands out to me in their primary centerpiece, specifically the photo. It isn’t a particularly impressive piece of art, but it does grab my attention, which is good. It’s tough to get engaging photos of political candidates.

The infoboxes showing results from all three states that held primaries or caucuses are nice and informative, but not visually appealing at all. I feel like more could have been done to bring attention to them, since it shows that Santorum did well on Tuesday.

The clip art on the right side is pretty lame and they could do a lot more with the weather at the bottom of the page. Weather is a visual thing, so there should definitely be some kind of imagery there. Also, the photo on the bottom-right story bleeds into the page, which is quite distracting.

Finally, what is going on with that random tease halfway down the first column? It unnecessarily breaks up that column and has no place there. Put it at the top of the page, if anything.

Overall, the page isn’t very impressive and I feel like there is a lot that could be done to improve it. The art is questionable at best and the story hierarchy isn’t too clear.

I promise I’m not usually this negative.

My second critique of the day was St. Paul’s Pioneer Press.

The first impression I have of this page is a positive one. The main headline is clever and makes me want to read the story. The image to go along with the story is also good, but I’m a sucker for photos with American motifs. Still, it is composed well and is better than just a stock photo of a politician. Good thinking out of the box.

The stats above the first story that show what percentage each candidate got is informative and visually appealing while not being too overwhelming. The most important part of an election is the numbers, so it’s good to see that on top of the headline.

I’m a fan of the “drumroll please” tease at the top of the page, but the other tease to the right of it isn’t dominating enough to earn my attention. Honestly, it looks just like another ad.

Other than the first headline, the hierarchy isn’t very apparent among the other stories. I can’t tell which one is the most important and which order I should read the stories in.

Also, besides the centerpiece, there are 4 other stories on the page. I just find it a little busy and there is too much trapped white space because of all the separation in between the stories. It just doesn’t feel very complete.

To fix that, they could get rid of the story under the centerpiece, bring the photo of the dolphin up and make it larger and just make that story take up the space of the story above it and the space it is in now. If you think the gay marriage story is too important to bump off the front, just move it in the place of the SUV story.

Overall, solid page that is a bit cluttered, but is visually appealing for the most part.

Minnesota caucus coverage

by kbrynsvold

Minneapolis Star-Tribune
I enjoyed the centerpiece package the Star-Tribune did for multiple reasons. The main headline dominates the page; it immediately grabs your attention, and it is well written. The three-column design below the main photo is organized well. The rail down the middle with the photo of Ron Paul is informative and organized. It tells me all the main information I need to know about Tuesday’s primaries/caucuses, in Minnesota and across the country.

One problem with the centerpiece package is the main story doesn’t have a deck. We’re just supposed to know that it is the story that goes with the headline above the photo. I’d like to see a t-deck there. Another small problem is the lack of space between the two stories and rail in the centerpiece and the “For the latest from the caucuses…” More white space would help that tease to online stand out a little better.

Otherwise, a pretty standard page. The downpage photo is put in a good place to help bring some color to the right side of the page. Personally, I don’t mind side-saddle floorboards (in this case, I guess a wallboard).

St. Paul Pioneer Press

The Pioneer Press took a different approach to the front page. I don’t like the lead photo at all. The headline speaks about Santorum, but the photo is just of an American flag in front of a crowded auditorium. However, I do like that they put the percentages on top, leading with Santorum bolded with the other candidates faded out.

Five stories on the front is too crowded, especially with big news like the caucus results. With the four non-centerpiece headlines, I can’t tell which one is bigger than the other. They seem to look exactly the same. I don’t know where to look after the centerpiece. The photo draws me downpage to the dolphin story, while the placement draws me to the nuclear plant story up top.

The skybox is a bit clunky, overall, but that’s just the template and my personal preference. Having a coupon above the fold on the front page is really tacky.

Island Packet and Klamath Falls critiques

by willguldin

Island Packet, Hilton Head, South Carolina

Overall, I think the dominant story is effective because it packages quite a bit of information on the front page for the reader. So much information in fact, that I think it could all use some sort of secondary deck to tie it together and give me a “so what” statement.

Although it looks nice together, more standard column widths would give it some more unity. Right now, we have the really wide lead-in column, then a standard text column, and, finally, the skinny sidebar column. Makes it seem separate. Other nit-picky things that detract from the whole page: the super-sized dropcap, the tiny part of the art head and the really long caption on the boring meeting photo.

The rest of the page is pretty good. I was a little confused about which story that infobox belonged to on the bottom left since there is no vertical rule (weird because they have horizontal rules on the page and vertical rules in the floorboard). But that aside, these other stories easily communicate with the reader. There aren’t any major hierarchy issues either — it is clear what is the big news and the big feature-type story.

Herald and News, Klamath Falls, Oregon

This was one of the Newseum’s top pages for the day I grabbed it. I really like the way it looks and the take the paper took on the Super Bowl was perfect for them. After all, they’re in Oregon, so creating a “semi-fan’s” guide is both useful and a funny take on the whole ordeal.

First impressions were that the design looks clean, but I’m a little confused about the subject of the main article. The subhead says two things, and one of them is highlighted in red and positioned over the story. So is that the article’s focus? If both parts of the subhead make up the article, why was the red color used? I also thought the shaded box was part of this package, even though it isn’t. It looks better without a rule there, but I wonder if one is needed to make a clear contrast with the Super Bowl content.

Other than that, this page is really effective. Lots of information communicated in a clean package.

-Will

Critique Numero Dos: The San Francisco Examiner

by Ben Kupiszewski

Critique Numero Dos is of the San Francisco Examiner.  The page is comprised of just teases again, but I think this works better than with the Daily Sound because of its execution.

The first thing I notice is the use of color.  The rainbow in the background of the centerpiece grabs my attention immediately.  The color in the teases above the flag give them appropriate second place dominance.  I like how the color was taken from the images in the teases.  It’s the same shade of blue from Tiger Woods’ shirt.

I also like the typography on the centerpiece.  It accentuates the key words of “still,” “waiting” and “altar.”  Moreover, it leaves no doubt as to what is the news of the day.

The teases on the side work too.  I feel, however, they could replace the ad on the bottom and the centerpiece could have been spread across the entire width of the page.  It might be a little cramped as it is.

In conclusion, I like the implementation of color and typography.  They establish the page’s hierarchy effectively.  Apart from the goofy expression on the couple’s face and the centerpiece maybe being expanded, the page is attractive.

Critique Numero Uno: The Santa Barbara Daily Sound

by Ben Kupiszewski

I chose the Santa Barbara Daily Sound for my first critique.  The whole front page is a mega-tease.  The majority of the page is used to tease to the mayor and her reforms.  The upper right-hand corner is reserved for tease to a story about woman arrested for alleged sex acts on a minor. My first issue comes with the implementation of a mega-tease.  Granted, I’m not familiar with the general layout of the Daily Sound, but the news doesn’t seem to warrant taking up this much space.  Mayors propose reforms all the time.  It doesn’t seem to be earth-shattering news.

I’m also not a fan of the execution of the headline and deck.  I feel like a hammer-head is better suited with a skinnier  T-deck moved down.  In this design, they encroach upon her head.  Secondly, the photoshop cutout job by her shoulder is sloppy.

What do you guys think?