Lots of papers did great work today, having a little fun — or paying a little respect — on Independence Day.

But the one front page that everyone is talking about is this one by Sam Hundley of the Virginian-Pilot. Who, as the expression goes, has most definitely “done it again.”

Make sure you click to get a good look at all the typographic details:

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Wow. Isn’t that something?

Sam took some time out of his holiday today to tell his Facebook friends how the page came about:

It all started a couple of weeks ago when the IRS/NSA scandals were really heating up. I was getting the feeling that Washington was completely out of control and I impulsively texted the editor, Denis Finley, that we should run the First Amendment in its entirety on the front page on the Fourth. He wasn’t sold on it, but he liked the idea of doing something special and arranged a meeting the next day where he, Maria Carrillo (managing editor), Paul Nelson (director of presentation) and I tossed around some different ideas.

Maria suggested quotes because even though we all love the First Amendment, there’s not that much for readers to dig into and enjoy, and everyone agreed that was a great idea. So, we started researching and storing quotes we liked and I began designing the page, inspired by the Hatch Show Print poster and 19th-century broadside above my monitor.

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Jakon Hays, Pilot researcher, tracked down and verified the quotes – amazingly many turned out to be apocryphal! I think we must’ve dropped five or six because they were unverifiable! That is a story unto itself and I hope Jake writes something for the paper about it.

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The page went through seven or eight revisions, trying to get the right mix of celebratory and cautionary — I think one nice thing about the page is that, hopefully, readers will feel a sense of gratitude and respect for our founders.

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I came away with a bit of sadness at where we find ourselves today. Did you read the 4th Amendment? Damn.

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But I’m actually happy about the unintended optimism in the look of the page – the overall busy, frantic, loud and cramped type seems to say, “Speak out!” How American can you get?

In addition, Sam tells us:

Would like to add that this bold work is happily encouraged from the top – Finley was a strong supporter of it.

And that’s why the Virginian-Pilot is the Virginian-Pilot: Strong support for visual experimentation from the very top.

Of course, it helps if you have a visual genius like Sam Hundley on staff, too.

Born and raised in Phoenix, Sam started his newspaper career as a staff artist for the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson and moved to the Virginian-Pilot in 1981. In 1990, Sam moved to the San Jose Mercury News where he was named design director of features, but then returned to the Pilot in 1994.

Just a few of his greatest hits:

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Find more on Sam’s web site. Find his Twitter feed here.

Average daily circulation for the Virginian-Pilot is 142,476.

This article has 8 comments

  1. Carole Kay

    I’m in Atlanta. Can I get a poster, copy or reprint of this July 4 page? Will gladly pay for it!
    CK

  2. nick

    Call customer service at (757) 446-9000 or (800) 446-2005, and press “0” to place the order.

    It’ll cost $7.

  3. Genevieve Gibbons

    WOW and BRAVO Sam and your friends and allies in the newspaper biz!! I am an expat living for 29 years in Canada, became a Canadian citizen in 1999 and retained my US citizenship.

    Seeing all that is happening and the real polarities that is splitting our dear United States as I sit in the friendly neighbor-land of Canada, I am deeply saddened.
    I have voted for the president in every election since I’ve been here and hold strong my pride of being an American as well as Canadian.

    One of my personal fears is how the US is trying to make the money grab to get us expats to pay US income tax when we have never worked there. Shocking stuff and only happened after 2008, the most recent economic crash. I would bet you had a journalist on that issue. I will research your findings. Call me anytime if you’d like a personal story. :-)

    Your front page and all of your work is a mastery!
    THANK YOU for your creative genius and putting it all in amazing perspective that makes the hungriest full on food for thought!

    Genevieve Gibbons
    former Clevlander
    now an Ontarian
    Truly blessed in the fact that I am a citizen in two countries that have the liberties and freedoms of which many other people on earth do not enjoy.

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