The Asbury Park Press went sideways today on page one. But the huge story — and the amazing picture — didn’t just warrant the unusual play, it rewarded the unusual play.

Tim Frank, director of the Gannett Design Studio in Neptune, N.J., tells us:

After the Seaside here became the symbol for the ravages of Hurricane Sandy, it was unimaginable when the entire Seaside Park boardwalk caught fire Thursday. How do we capture that emotion on a page?

New Jersey art director Suzy Palma, thinking that the art might be extremely horizontal, started the conversations about possibly turning the page. Sure enough, the best of Pete Ackerman‘s images were dramatically horizontal.

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Suzy mocked up four versions, I think, and everyone over in the newsroom agreed that the scale of the nearly full-page image really helped capture the emotion of the day. Along with designing the extra coverage, Dana Stewart saw the page to completion.

Here’s the shameless plug part. Asbury Park editor Hollis Towns (yeah, he’s also my boss) and publisher Tom Donovan have been very trusting and willing to let us try things with the paper. And if we can get them some good numbers, it’ll be good reason to do more.

Find the paper’s online coverage here.

Average daily circulation for the Asbury Park Press is 98,032.