News Design

J4500/7500 Advanced Editing and News Design – Spring 2012

Jason’s final critiques

by jasonbrynsvold

Well, I’m going to use these final critiques to try and point out some things I learned this semester and how I could use those things to improve the two pages I’m going to be looking at.

First page (Dallas Morning News):

Click for PDF: TX_DMN

The things I notice most here are the lack of white space in the centerpiece and the unusual headline hierarchy.

While the centerpiece doesn’t look feature-y, it could still use some space around it to show that it is different than all of the other news stories and is more long form. The centerpiece itself also has a lot of other problems, starting with the overline on the photo that really isn’t that interesting. Which headline am I supposed to look at first? The one on top or the one that is more bold below the photo? I say pick one and go with it.

The headline hierarchy on the rest of the page is pretty questionable too. If you are going to strip a story across the top, it is probably pretty important. So why make the story below it on the right have a MUCH larger headline? I would understand if it was like 2 or 4 points, but this is a 10 to 15 point difference, which is a little ridiculous.

Being from Dallas, I know that the DMN runs really shallow stories, like the two downpage and the news lead strip at the top, so this is not unusual to see, but I don’t like it. Why put only 3 inches of a story on the front page? If it’s important enough to go there, the story start should be longer.

I do like the labels on every story (although those can be overused) and I like the rules between the stories. Overall, it’s a not very appealing page. A lot more could have been done.

Second page (Fort Worth Star-Telegram):

Click for PDF: TX_FWST

Wow. The first thing that stands out is the unbelievable amount of white space on both sides of the supertease. I am not a fan at all. Since the supertease takes up so much space, the editors were only able to budget 3 stories for the front, which is not good at all. They’ve got to be able to stretch that picture out and decrease the depth of the banner at the top. I know Yu Darvish is awesome, but come on.

In the centerpiece, the secondary photo cuts up the two legs of type, which I would consider a cardinal sin. A simple fix would be to bump the photo to the right and just have two normal columns of type.

The hierarchy is good after I move away from the supertease, as I move from the news lead easily to the centerpiece, where I stay for a while, then I look to the left hand column. I appreciate that a lot now, since it is not easy to do, especially with hard headline specs.

Overall, the balance of the page is good. The weight of the centerpiece is appropriate and it is given a fine amount of breathing room on the page. The photo is large and it is visually appealing. With the exception of the supertease, this page is better than the DMN.


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.