News Design

J4500/7500 Advanced Editing and News Design – Spring 2012

Final round of critiques

by danramey1

The first page for my final critique is this one from the Star Advertiser in Honolulu.  First off, I really like the lead package as it immediately grabs my attention. The headline is big and seems to demand an appropriate amount of attention considering how big the package is.  I also like the little graphic that explains the drilling process. Overall, I find this package really compelling and it gets me interested in the story, even though I normally wouldn’t give a story about drilling a second look.  My one problem is the teases just below the headline on the right side of the story.  They have absolutely nothing to do with the package, yet their placement on the page suggests that they are part of the package. I wonder if the teases were absolutely necessary, or if they could have placed them somewhere else (maybe above the flag or something).

The second page is from the Sunday San Jose Mercury Times.  I really like the lead illustration for this page.  I really like how the illustration drives the point of the story (sort of that everyone’s dragging behind apple) in a very simple way.  The cartoony nature of the illustration also draws my attention and interest very easily. Overall, it’s a very appealing package.

-Danny

Illustrating rising fuel costs

by danramey1

There were quite a few papers today that ran feature stories dealing with the reasons and effects of rising gas prices.  So, I thought I’d look at a pair of those.  What was really interesting was the different takes each paper took in illustrating the story.

This first page is from the Indianapolis star.  It may be a little hard to make it out, but the story focuses on how to reduce paying too much for the gas and there’s a bunch of pennies coming out of the gas pump.  One of my favorite things about this page is the pennies, because I think it’s a clever way of illustrating paying less for gas.  I also like how there is some white for the pennies to fall into, because it gives the page a nice sense of movement and flow.  The other thing I like about the centerpiece, and it may be hard to see this, is the infobox on the left side.  It breaks down some quick ways to save some money.  I think it pairs well with the main story, and also allows a quick scan for those readers who don’t want to read the full story. 

This next front page is from the Lansing State Journal in Michigan.  This centerpiece has a different angle in that it looks at how rising gas prices are causing other prices to rise.  First off, I really like the monster gas pump illustration.  It’s a unique way to illustrate the story, and it instantly grabs my attention when I look at the page.  I’m not in love with the rest of the package, though.  It seems a little cluttered, and a little more white space and less text on the front might have helped with that.  Also, I’m not sure what’s going on at the bottom with the picture and the screen.  The text in that screen is the third category of price the story looks at.  However, there isn’t much difference between that category and the others. So, it doesn’t seem to make much sense to screen it and set it off from the rest of the story.  Also, the photo down page isn’t overly exciting (it’s just two guys standing in an RV).  The package might have been more effective if the photo wasn’t there and the package was given more space to breathe.

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

Critique 2: The Bakersfield Californian and foxes

by danramey1

For my next critique, I chose the front page for Tuesday’s Bakersfield Californian.  What really caught my eye on this page was the large picture of the fox that, along with the other fox photos, takes up a lot of real estate on the page.  I have to admit, I do like the pictures of the foxes as I think the images are all well done.

However, I wonder if it was really necessary to devote so much front-page space a fairly novel story.  The stories below the fox photo seem rather important, but they are just overwhelmed by the fox photo.  Plus, there is really no type other than display type on the page.  It may be because I’m not familiar with the stories or the area but there isn’t enough context to pull me into those two stories.

Finally, I feel like there is too much art on the page and my eye is overwhelmed by it.  After the looking at the dominant fox photo, I’m not sure where to look next because so much is happening on the page.

I think the easy way to describe how this page makes me feel is too say that it overwhelms me.   I feel like it just gives me too much visual information and not enough typographical information to create contrast.

Critique 1: The Denver Post’s primary coverage

by danramey1

For my first critique, I decided to take a look at the primary preview (PDF is at the bottom) from my home state’s top paper, the Denver Post.  The first thing that strikes me about this page is how the photos of the four candidates work together to create a dominant image for the page.  That is definitely what my eye is drawn too when I first look at the page.

However, I feel that there is a disconnect between the headline and the photos.  I feel as if Romney and Santorum should be on a similar level if the primary is truly a competition between those two as the headline says.  By placing Santorum below Romney and not on the same level of the page, it seems to contrast the headline in my mind.

Aside from that, I like this page quite a bit.  Everything is cleanly squared off into modules and the headline fonts and sizes allow me to easily tell the hierarchy of the stories and how important each is.  The other thing I like about this page, which is something that I’ve noticed the post does a lot, is the inclusion of labels at the top of the stories.  These really provide for a nice context on what the story is about and gives me even more information to decide if I want to read the story or not.