Yesterday, I devoted quite a few pixels here to a wonderfully visual treatment of a big story in the Green Bay Press-Gazette, looking at land ownership near Lambeau Field, the home of the Packers:

The designer of that page, Eric Ebert, also designed part two of that three-part series. Which was displayed on today’s front page. But in a somewhat unusual configuration:

It’s easy to see why Eric played it that way — the lead visual was a panoramic view of the Lambeau area, made of 22 separate exposures by staff photographer Corey Wilson (find a scrollable version online here). Across “only” six columns, the photo would have been tiny.

And for those of you who don’t want to turn your head sideways, here’s just the centerpiece. Click for a larger view:

Eric took some time to answer a few questions for us:

Q. So what was behind the reason for turning today’s page sideways?

A. I had originally asked our photo staff to shoot a panoramic shot of the Lambeau Field area for our Monday coverage. Turns out, that panoramic had to be extremely wide and narrow to accommodate all of the land around the stadium. In order for me to maximize the image — and even get an inch of depth for it — I had to run the photo lengthwise down the page. Thanks to your blog post and our colleagues in Fond du Lac, Wis., I had seen this type of treatment before.

Here’s the Fond du Lac page, which I posted back in March:

Q. Normally, I’d advise folks to be aware of the above-the-fold visual. This page pretty much discards that principle. Do you expect to take a single-copy hit as a result?

A. While I know that above-the-fold visuals are important, I dont’ expect today’s paper to take a dive in sales. Personally, I feel that the sideways elements are going to make more people do a double-take as they’re walking by our machines.

Q. How difficult was it to sell this idea to the editors?

A. The biggest push back I got from editors revolved around the the above-the-fold visuals. My original design had the CP on the left side of the page and rotated 180 degrees. My editor didn’t like the fact that this put Lambeau below the fold and only made the second half of the headline visible. After a few tries, we finally came up with the layout on today’s cover. In any case, I knew that with a design like this it was either go big or go home.

Eric Ebert

Q. What has been the response so far from readers? Did the phone ring off the hook? Or were they OK with it?

A. I just talked to my editor about feedback from readers and he said he hasn’t heard a word. Not sure if that’s a good thing, but it certainly isn’t bad.

Q. On Day One of this series, you ran a gorgeous half-page aerial and a doubletruck map. On Day Two, you ran a sideways panoramic shot. What are you planning for Tuesday’s front?

A. Luckily for me the third part in this series isn’t running until Sunday, so I have some time to plan my next cover. It’s going to be really hard to top Sunday’s huge art and Monday’s unique visual display. Guess you’ll just have to wait and see.

Eric is a 2006 graduate of the University of Wisconsin at River Falls. He spent a year as a reporter for the West Central Tribune of Willmar, Minn., before moving to the Press-Gazette in 2007 as a copy editor. He was promoted to his current position in 2009.

Find his blog here and his online portfolio here.

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