The Newseum‘s Paul Sparrow asks today via Twitter:

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Here’s the page to which he refers:

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The story in today’s Herald-Tribune of Sarasota is about a long-awaited, 880,000-square-foot shopping mall going up in the area. Folks there are getting excited because it’s looking nearly done. But it won’t open for another four months.

The choice to go sideways with the presentation was a bold choice — and, I think, a good one — because that’s what the story was about: The visual of that mall, just sitting there, taunting eager shoppers. But not quite ready yet for business.

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Notice how the headline plays off of the story beautifully. And the headline and story are turned sideways to match the picture because: How else would you play it?


UPDATE – Noon, PDT

Herald-Tribune graphics editor Jennifer Borresen tells us:

We have a great photo editor, Mike Lang, who shot the new mall that is going in here. It’s going to be a high-end mall/destination place.

He stitched the photos together. I think they realized early on yesterday that it would not have as much impact horizontal on the page.

Nicely done.

The downside of that package: There’s precious little above the fold to suggest to readers what that story is about. You could argue that space might be better used for a headline or picture that might help sell the paper out of a rack or convenience store.

But I’d argue this story is a talker. Playing it in an unusual way just enhances the viral nature of the story. I wouldn’t suggest doing this every day. But once in a while, when the content just begs for a horizontal treatment? Sure.

And, to answer Paul’s question — As a matter of fact, I have seen it before. But only because I’ve been collecting unusual pages like this for so long.

Folks turn features pages and infographics sideways all the time. Here’s a features front from the Virginian-Pilot in January 2013, for example.

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I try not to do it too often, but if the content works better horizontally, I’ll turn my Focus pages in the Orange County Register sideways. My page for this coming Monday will be sideways, in fact.

And several papers have gone sideways with their sports fronts. There’s even a designer at Gannett’s Des Moines studio who’s done this so often — with spectacular results every time — that I started calling him “Mister Sideways.”

That would be Jeremy Gustafson. I’ve known him since he was a college student.

Those are just a few examples. Search my blog archive for “sideways” and you’ll pull up something like 40 or 50 posts.

But on page one? Going sideways on a front page is not something I’d recommend for the faint hearted.

  1. One of the primary duties of page one is to sell the paper. And when you go sideways, you don’t necessarily get an attractive (literally attracting potential customers) image above the fold. So you might be kissing off a few single-copy sales.
  2. The content has to be served perfectly by using the horizontal dimension. If not, then going sideways isn’t serving the content or the reader. It’s just a gimmick.
  3. Is the sideways content the only element on your front page? It’s a lot easier to go sideways on any page — especially the front page — if you’re not asking the reader to switch back-and-forth between sideways and vertical on the same page.

One of the first sideways front pages I had ever noticed was this one in the Reporter of Fond du Lac, Wis., in March 2010.

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The story was a huge wall mural in a local school. The photographer stitched several shots together to make a very wide picture of the whole thing.

Four months later, Fond du Lac’s larger sister paper in Green Bay used a similar treatment for a story on businesses around the NFL stadium there.

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In March 2011, Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer stripped a panoramic shot of tornado damage down the side of page one.

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The St. Louis Post-Dispatch went sideways with front-page wraps several times during the 2011 World Series.

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Here’s one I didn’t like: The Idaho Press-Tribune ran this impressive picture sideways on page one in October 2011 of Boise State’s famous blue-turfed football stadium stuffed with fans.

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But the whole thing was really a big reefer to an online presentation. In particular, the skyboxes down the side of the page seemed weird. It would have been better to put those atop the nameplate, I think.

A month later, the student paper at Iowa State University published a web-only edition after a huge overtime win over No. 2-ranked Oklahoma State. The first three pages were sideways poster pages.

The paper doesn’t normally publish on Saturday, so they went with a web-only edition.

In May of last year, the Palm Beach Daily News ran a huge sideways graphic on page one.

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In September, Asbury Park went sideways when that city’s famous boardwalk went up in smoke.

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And two papers produced sideways poster front pages for Christmas Day this past year. One was the Colorado Springs Gazette

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…and the other was my paper, the Orange County Register.

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So don’t be afraid to go sideways.

If you need to. But only if you need to.

Most of the pages in this post were from the Newseum. Of course.

This article has 1 comments

  1. Tom Lynch

    Great concept. Wouldn’t it have worked better flipped 180 degrees and played down the right side of the page, with the “SOON VERY SOON” hed above the fold?

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