Today’s the Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Pa., responded to the heartbreaking sex abuse scandal in the Penn State University athletic department with a full-page editorial

Click for a readable view:

Editor David Newhouse tells us:

It’s a rework of the inspired 9-11 front from our sister paper, The Star-Ledger. If front page designs had credits, we would have loved to have said that.


Here’s how it happened: we decided to write a front page editorial calling for the resignation of Penn State President Graham Spanier and for Joe Paterno to step down after this season ends, due to the way they responded (or didn’t respond) to the Sandusky situation.

Once the editorial was written, we could see that at more than 35 inches, it would not simply sit in a strip or centerpiece position unless we wanted to jump it, which we were adamantly opposed to. At that length, I knew it would take up much of the page and immediately thought of the Ledger‘s 9-11 front which I loved. I showed it to our design editor Chris Boehke, and he reworked it to as needed match our content.

Kirk [publisher John Kirkpatrick] took some convincing — I’m sure he’d be the first to say it. But he asked what all the top editors thought and everyone was unanimous. In the end, he felt it was a gamble (in terms of community reaction, not design) but trusted his staff’s instincts and okayed it.

Interestingly, quite a few people lobbied hard to put some art on the front. In particular, we had a great shot of Spanier and Paterno talking together, all alone on the football field before a game.

Graham Spanier and Joe Paterno before the 2010 Iowa

game. Photo by Nabil K. Mark of the Centre Daily Times.

But we felt strongly that the all-type treatment was the source of the design’s power.

By the way, we expected a deluge of calls and emails this morning angry that we turned our front page over to our own opinion. Instead, nearly all the feedback has been positive, some extremely so.

Read the editorial online here.

Here are the Patriot-News front pages for Sunday and Monday. Click on either for a larger view.


The Newark page and those last two Harrisburg pages are from the Newseum. Of course.

Average daily circulation for the Patriot-News is 71,834.