News Design

J4500/7500 Advanced Editing and News Design – Spring 2012

Final critiques

by yoobi55


Since posting my previous critiques, I’ve been thinking about what I should critique because I wanted my last critiques to be meaningful. And I thought it would be interesting to blog about the Missouri community newspapers that I visited this semester for my community newspaper class.


The first newspaper is Washington Missourian, which is the Franklin County paper based in Washington, Missouri. The paper is owned by the Missourian Publishing Company, a family-owned company. I think it’s a very nicely designed page that gives a local flavor. The problems that I have with this page is the focus of the page and the design of the nameplate and flag. Although I understand that the use of cropped images was necessary and it’s been done for while, I think it’s kind of overdone. To me, those cropped images even made the flag hard to recognize. In addition, I think it would’ve been better if the typeface of the nameplate was a little lighter. Secondly, I’m not really sure about hierarchy of the page. Even though that lead story, “Races for Council, City Judge,” has the biggest headline, it is still hard to see which story I should look at first because there is a story on the top and another story on the left with the biggest photo.


The second is Unterrified Democrat, a bi-weekly newspaper that serves Osage County. There is a funny story behind why they got the name Unterrified Democrat even though they are firm Republicans, but I’ll go straight to the critique. I like the clean and nice-looking flag and nameplate. The thing that bothers me, though, is the eight-grid column module, which makes the text a little crowded. In addition, I think it really needs some structure or style that separates stories, maybe a line that separates each story. Unless you start reading from the very left, it’s hard to just jump into the story that you want to read because it’s hard to find where the story begins.

Given that those two newspapers have a lot less budget and circulation than our Missourian, I think the little details that I pointed out might sound even a bit too arrogant. Maybe this kind of less refined quality is what makes a community newspaper look like a community newspaper.


(Apologies for the non-scanned images; I don’t own a big scanner)

– Bi



Third two critiques – Alternatives Story Formats

by yoobi55


Since we learned about “alternative story formats,” I thought it’d be interesting to critique about other publications’ ASF.

My first ASF is from Journal of Sioux City, Iowa. This was done for Mother’s Day special edition, and overall, I like the idea and the organization of the page.

I like the fact that the dominant illustration (Marge Simpson) doesn’t seem too overwhelming because if it did, it would’ve been preposterous. In that sense, I think the size and the typeface of the headline played a huge role in providing focus on the page.

I find it strange that they chose “hair” as an important defining characteristic — I can see how the other categories are important “mom” factors, but hair is a universal trend, not necessarily a defining “mom” characteristic, and including it is also redundant because we can clearly see their hairstyles in the pictures.



The second ASF is from the Arizona Republic, Phoenix. The story is a list of 21 children who drowned in swimming pools over the past year.

Only nine kids are shown, but every one is listed in the text below, with their age, the date they drowned and what was the deal with whomever was supposed to be watching them.

I think it’s powerful, moving and I think the typeface of the hammer hed suits the story well. The white space given around the rim of the story adds a more solemn atmosphere. Hopefully, it’ll stick in the minds of parents, babysitters and older brothers and sisters.

Still, the big block of text is difficult to read. The description for each child jumps to the next line and creates visual interruptions, so I think that information could’ve been organized a bit better.

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

Critique #2: Fitting Farewells – Express

by yoobi55

This other Steve Jobs center piece is from Express, which is a free daily newspaper distributed in Washington. It is printed every weekday and is owned by The Washington Post Company.

I chose this because the design was very experimental and interesting, and I thought it would generate interesting conversation among the class. Although what they wrote on the subhead is kind of exaggerated, I think the presentation and the use of the old digital graphic icon that represents the early version of Mac computers were very smart.

The dominant white space played the role of a double-edged sword in the piece. It might have seemed weak for some people, and at the same time it could have been an attention grabber. Out of curiosity, I asked my friends what they thought of this piece. One of my friends said the photo of Ryan Gosling on the left was the attention grabber. My other friend said that it’s a bit nerdy, but he liked it because he is a self-proclaimed geek.

Nonetheless, personally, I think it was a good attempt and they did a good job symbolizing Jobs and even bringing some nostalgic feelings to those who played 16-bit games.

– Bi

Critique #1: iMOURN – Republican American

by yoobi55

When Steve Jobs died, I remember how the news media outlets responded to his death dramatically. I witnessed various news designs relating to his death, but didn’t have chance to talk about them. Since Jobs was a well-known design fanatic, I thought it would be interesting to share how newspapers designed the news of his death.

Republican American used traditional organization on its page, which resembles Mondrian’s Composition II, yet they did a bit of experimentation in the center, using a very thick and red kyeline along with the art headline that reminds me of an Apple product.

I think the formal organization of the center piece was very effective. This design would have been weaker if they had used a different photo. The cropped Apple logo, which bears a resemblance to the moon, and Jobs’ silhouette that amplifies a melancholic atmosphere supported by the magenta background, worked well with the whole piece.

The only thing I wish was different is the floorboard’s background color. I think it would’ve been better with a white background since it takes one and a half columns.