News Design

J4500/7500 Advanced Editing and News Design – Spring 2012

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.


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.

Diario de Morelos: March 21

by apiamonte



This newspaper design is incredible, but I do have some issues with it. The designer chose to move the flag down and have a large tease on top of it. I like that they did this, but then it creates a lack of hierarchical focus for the reader. The reader is drawn to so many stories, there is not one center focus.

I do however love the type faces used in this newspaper. They consistently used a wider san-serif typeface as their headlines and a less bolder serif font to label the secondary story.

The color palette is too bright for my taste and not content-driven at all. The neon colors appear for the front page to have a happier tone. Plus, there are too many colors on this page that makes it appear too busy.

The vertical dash marks as keylines could’ve also been more subtle by being smaller.

Overall, the page is composed well and has plenty of gimmicks. I just think for the newspaper design to be more efficient and clean, they needed to utilize LESS gimmicks.

Esquire Magazine: March 2012

by apiamonte

Esquire magazine has one of my favorite magazine cover designs. They are extremely creative and unique in their designs. Not to mention, they use innovative methods to display this content. For example, in this month’s issue, Esquire featured TWO covers. They did this by making their cover have an open flap that split through the middle. The cover you first see is a photo of Jon Hamm dressed in a chic plaid jacket. Once you lift this flap, there is another cover under the original cover featuring a half-nude Kate Upton with the same chic plaid jacket adorned over her left shoulder. The left portion of the shoulder is the connecting design element between the two covers. The designer also manipulated the headline to fit both covers.

Check it out here:

Check it out here:


Not only is this design effective and well-executed, it’s completely different from any of the other covers on the market. Esquire has been known to push the limits and start trends with their innovative covers. The fact that the designer chose to conceal Kate Upton and originally highlight Jon Hamm, shows how provocative Esquire can be. Because it’s a men magazine, it’s like when you lift the flap, you get the pleasant surprise of finding the half-nude Kate.

The bold, san-serif typography choice for the headline is perfect for the cover because it works well with both covers. It’s a plain typeface that could be manipulated in weight, size and width to fit the flap.

The cover also features limited sell lines to focus mainly on the Jon Hamm and Kate Upton flap gimmick. Too many sell lines would’ve complicated the cover and made it look too busy.

This design is an inspiration to not only come up with creative designs, but also to be creative with the paper and format.

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

by eelisa314


Civil War pages

by kbrynsvold

A famous battle in the Civil War — the Battle of the Ironclads — happened 150 years ago today/tomorrow. The Virginian-Pilot and the Daily-Press, among other papers in the east Virginia area, commemorated the event. I decided to look at the jump pages, not the fronts, because they were a tad more interesting/feature-y.


This is pretty awesome. I like maps in general, so I could really spend a lot of time with this page. The choice of typography, a real old-school cursive type, is perfect for this story. I’m sure this isn’t in the Pilot’s everyday font selection, but that doesn’t matter. It works for a 150-year-old story. I love it. The key for the map is perfect and really illustrates the maps in a simple way. The teal color they chose for the main border color is a good map color. It makes me think of the sea, which is where this battle took place.

One thing that kind of irks me is the way the ‘f’ in ‘of’ on the second part of the headline surprints on the map. This is the only place it happens on the page. If they wanted to go for that look, which would be fine by me, they should have done it in more than one place. By doing it in just one place, ever so slightly, it becomes distracting instead of endearing.


This is an example of a much more straightforward jump page for this type of story. But even as it is straightforward, it is more cluttered and busy than the Virginian-Pilot’s. That’s because the Pilot’s interesting idea was executed in a simple way. This normal news page from the Daily-Press has too many photos/illustrations without choosing a dominant one. I suppose the graphic on the left page could be considered the dominant one, but it just doesn’t command my attention. That could be because of all the white space in the graphic. I think if the graphic had a different background color, it would bring all the separate elements of the graphic (I count 8 or so) together into one package.

These pages just kind of makes me not like this newspaper at all. They had a lot of time to work on this, I’m assuming, and it looks like something that you’d come up with on deadline without much thought.

I think this package would have worked a lot better if there wasn’t half a page of ads. It kind of muddies up the special thing I’m assuming this is supposed to be.

Alysha’s second batch of critiques

by Alysha Love

Inline image 2 

Inline image 1

Expresso is a Portuguese newspaper I stumbled across when looking through designs online. I really like this front page for how bold, calm, simple and clean it is. It has touches of color — the deep blue accentuated by calm shades of yellow, green, light blue, purple, pea green and red. But those colors are barely noticeable at first glace at the page. They surprisingly don’t make the page busy. Instead, once you’re already in the page, they give you nice direction, easing you in the most important stories. The amount of white space really gives the page room to breath. The interesting part is the amount of information packed on the page despite the soothing layout. There are four teasers at the top, what looks like a series of seven briefs with art along the left side, and three story starts on the righthand side. Oh, and the centerpiece with massive art and room for advertising at the bottom. I really like the functionality, as long as the rest of the newspaper is well-organized enough to handle all those jumps. Based on this inside page accompanying the cover page I found, it looks like the paper continues to do a great job packaging an incredible amount of information into a clean, airy design while maintaining its readability and functionality. Kudos.


Jessica Hische's daily drop cap project. Jessica has made the entire library freely usable for non-commercial projects.

This is another Pinterest find, from a while back. It’s the Daily Drop Cap Project from 2009 by designer and illustrator Jessica Hische. She completed 12 alphabets of cool and original drop caps for bloggers to use. I’ve spent years doodling out words and letters, doing things like making “i” into disjointed ice cream cones, drawing “s”-shaped snakes and creating intricate script letters. I have no idea where you even begin learning how to translate those kinds of ideas onto the computer, but I would love to learn how. How great would it be if I could create a clever illustration for a front page or my own fancy drop cap for a classy story? 

The risk we’d run with learning how to do drop caps would be overusing them to the point that they’re cliche or cheesy or kitch. But this — and generally creating basic illustrations for designs — is a skill I’d love to pick up.

 I love this H because it combines the plain and whimsical; the heavy stroke of the capital beautifully contrasts the light stroke of the lowercase letter. It’s clean but engaging.

 I love how happy this “Q” is. Again, it’s simple, but it’s also fun without being over-the-top or annoyingly cutesy. 

 We’re publishing a panorama on Friday about how kids aren’t able to write cursive anymore. This would be a pretty good art drop head idea to accompany a story like that. 

 I like how round this “E” is — very bubbly. It’s also visually intriguing; the white strip on the inside can play tricks on your eyes. The bold color and simplicity (no pattern to the color) make it a striking character.

 I just love this. WHO wouldn’t?




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.)

Design Critique

by willguldin


This first page is one I found on the news designer site I noticed the woman from Gannett using. This page is from a Turkish newspaper Today’s Zaman. This appeared on as the cover for the Sunday Health section. Since we’re working on conceptual designs, I’ve been looking for examples. This one seems more creepy than anything else.

The article is about how your hair can act as a warning system for other health problems you might have, but I can’t see that reflected here at all. I’m not sure what a zipper is supposed to convey and the illustration just looks weird. Also, the shaded textbook above the thicker column of body copy draws attention to the woman’s eye, which has nothing to do with the story. Not very succesful in my book.

Cleveland Plain-Dealer

This next example works much better. The heart missing on notebook paper says so much to me. And although it works with the story, you don’t need to read the story to understand what it is saying, in fact both tell something a little bit different.

The design of the piece also complements this conceptual picture. Serif typefaces, a magazine-type lead and a good use of white space give it a refinement and solemnity that reinforce the simple look of the photo illustration. If I had to critique it, I’d say that some extra room might’ve suited this better. Why not knock out that column next to it and make the main article take up the whole page?

Sorry for the weird spacing, not sure what is up with word press