News Design

J4500/7500 Advanced Editing and News Design – Spring 2012


by eelisa314

I really enjoy this section from the Indiana Daily Student (Indiana University), which I stumbled across on Charles Apple’s blog. As an avid crossword puzzler, this clever, interactive design really appeals to me. What a diversionary treat for IU students during their last week of classes, and an excellent way to tease to an interview with IU grad and puzzle master Will Shortz. I’m not sure how many students would have heard of Shortz, but I think this design is an excellent way to draw readers in. The giant IU logo hidden in the puzzle’s center shows the level of thought that went into this project. I’m not an expert on the Hoosiers, but I imagine the same attention to detail can be found in the clues (hope the answers are right!).

Also shown here is the tease to the puzzle from the front page. The tie-in with the grid is very cute, but I wish they’d made it look even more like a crossword puzzle (ie. no random spaces, use of clue numbers). A lot of thought clearly went into this design, and I only wish they’d taken it all the way in both the actual design and the tease.


For my second critique, I’ve chosen this sports front from the Chicago Tribune, also from Apple’s blog. This page is very different from most everything I’ve seen — especially with regards to the very vertical photo. I think it’s a very interesting choice, and I like it here, though since I’m not a regular reader of the Tribune, I’m not sure how often they do this and I could see it easily getting overplayed. But it’s a very dramatic treatment and an expressive photo for what was a very exciting day in MLB.

I also really respond to the use of type on top of the image (though I wonder how the page would have looked if they’d used a massive cut out instead). I think the photo is big and bold enough that the type doesn’t overpower it. The touches of red are also subtle and sparing enough not to distract from the image. I do find myself wishing the text at the top (near his face) were a bit more symmetrical and not cutting in as close. I think everything below his mitt is well sized and well placed.

Thought you guys might be interested in looking at this ‘type guide’

by eelisa314


Critique #4: The Ampersand Collection

by eelisa314

Alysha and I loved this collection of highly designed ampersands, which we spotted on Pinterest (where else?). There are several “&s” here that I really respond to — in particular the fox “&” in the upper-right corner. I find it cute without being too cutesy. The neutral palate and tiny bowler hat give it an old-timey feel (1890s?) that I really respond to. I also really like the factory “&” fourth down on the left. How cool is it that the design of a single character can tell a story about the flow of production? Very cool. And clever. I like that the illustrative pieces of the design create the shape of the “&.” I also find the muted color palate somehow soothing.

It’s weird I guess to say that something like this is effective, because I’m not sure what (if any) purpose these “&s” serve. I wonder how/if these “&s” were used in any larger design, and then I wonder if that even matters. What I liked most about this display is that it gave me an entirely new way of thinking about design (a more artistic perspective). That someone would put this much effort into designing a single character fascinates me. It amazes me that people can be so creative.

(Clicking on the image opens a larger version in a new tab.)

Critique #3: College Football Preview (Alabama)

by eelisa314

 For my first critique, I chose this college football preview from a young designer at The Huntsville (Ala.) Times. What an awesome collectors’ item for Alabama football fans! I really respond to the many mini-tiled images. There’s such a great variety of images and it has a very powerful effect. They give me a great sense of the scope and sense of history revolving around the sport in the state. My main complaint about this treatment is that it’s not clear from the page or from Charles Apple’s blog (where I first found the page) whether there’s any kind of guide to the images available for readers. I probably wouldn’t seek out information on all the photos, but there are certainly some I would be curious about. Because there’s no numbering system on the front, I’m curious if such a guide exists, and if so, how clear it could be. I would be very bothered as a reader if this information weren’t available.

I also really respond to the thick rules and use of reverse type; I think it has a dramatic effect without being complicated, and it complements the photos nicely. It definitely emphasizes the poster quality of this special section, and as a reader, I think I’d be very likely to save a copy of this page.

(Clicking on the image will open a larger version in a new tab.)

Critique #2: Boston Globe’s treatment of Patriots’ Super Bowl loss

by eelisa314

I thought it would be interesting to compare the Globe’s amped up Super Bowl preview with its treatment of the Patriots’ defeat. Overall, I like this page, too. It seems much more subdued, which I think matches the mood of the team and the fans (and thus the likely readership). I think the lead photo is very strong. Tom Brady looks miserable. Some of the other New England papers I glanced at took a punnier approach, and while I have no problem with this (and even enjoyed it in a few cases, ie. a reference to the win slipping through the Pats’ hands), I think this treatment is very classy and in a way sportsman like. The overarching headline and dek are very informative about the game and about the bigger meaning of this loss for the franchise.

My main complaints: The score seems to be buried on this page. The only place I see it is in the lead photo’s caption, in tiny print and below the fold. True, many people reading this story might have watched the game or already been aware of the outcome, and the loss is evident in the overall display. But it seems like a very key factoid, and I question the decision not to make at least a little more noise about it.

Also, I do not care for the secondary photo. I like the idea of showing fans, but I think a more telling image could have been selected. (I can’t tell if the girl in the bottom right is in shock or stuffing her face…)

— Elisa

Critique #1: Boston Globe’s Super Bowl preview

by eelisa314

In general, I respond really well to this special-section front (a Super Bowl preview from The Boston Globe). What initially drew me to the page is the bold use of a bold color and the dramatic superimposition of photos of QBs Tom Brady and Joe Montana. Both features give the front a very magazine-y look. Additionally, I think the cutouts do a great job of conveying meaning (the cover story is about Brady following in the footsteps of Montana, his hall-of-famer childhood idol). The chart and dek are also very informative, even at a glance. (I also really like the quiet teasers at the bottom of the page. They don’t detract from the overall display, but still draw sufficient attention to themselves with bold font and significant white space.)

There are, however, several elements I find rather confusing. I am, admittedly, not the world’s most informed football fan. I haven’t followed the careers of either of these players. But I like the game, and this sounds like a story I might like to read. “Standing room only” is meaningless to me, the lay reader, in this context. I even took a few moments to Google it’s origins (something most probably would not do), and came up with nothing. Additionally, the four white blobs above the display text have little meaning to me upon first, second and third glance. It’s only after fairly careful inspection of the page that I notice the tiny Super Bowl trophy in the upper lefthand corner that I understand the blobs to be silouhettes. It takes significantly more work than I think the average reader would put in, and therefore I’m not sure it’s all that effective.

All in all, I think this is a highly engaging page. But I think it could be a bit more effective if the designer had paid more attention to a more general readership.

— Elisa