Today is what I call an “odd-year” anniversary — rather than the 5th or 10th or 20th, this is the 13th — of the horrific terrorist attacks of 9/11.
A handful of papers did large front-page displays today. The best I saw was this one by the Villages Daily Sun of Florida:
That page was designed by senior designer Adam Rogers. The image is from the Newseum. Of course.
If you’d like to see more, Poynter’s Kristen Hare compiled a roundup of 9/11 anniversary pages. Find those here.
Three years ago, many of the nation’s newspapers went all-out observing the tenth anniversary of 9/11. I thought I’d observe the day by showing you two of those plus an earlier anniversary page.
Cleveland Plain Dealer
Andrea created what I called “the most stunning 9/11 image” of the day on the tenth anniversary of 9/11 with this illustration for a special section cover.
Andrea told me that day:
The editors at the paper told me a while ago that I would be doing this cover. So I had been carrying it around in my head. I knew it was going to be practically impossible for one image to say enough.
Finally, I decided to just make an image that expressed how I felt and hope others could relate. I tried hard to make something that didn’t exclude others in the world, even though it is an American tragedy.
The editors had me write some words to accompany the art. The whole experience was just a terrific opportunity.
Here are those words, that also ran in the section:
I made many drawings for this, but in the end, I was left with no flags, no planes, no buildings. Just the human toll.
This image is at once a plea, a scream, an admonition. It is loss of innocence. But it is also conviction. Conviction that we will reach past this and any other tragedy.
TIFFANY PEASE, ALEX FONG and JAMI SMITH
San Jose Mercury News
This one, too, published on the tenth anniversary.
Initially, I was a bit confused by this cover: Words? What th’…
But then I downloaded the PDF and took a closer look. Boom — the next 20 minutes instantly disappeared. This page really sucked me in. But I had to actually read it to “get” it.
So please click on this and check out the readable version:
This wrapped around the Merc — in fact, it wrapped around all three of the Bay Area News Group papers that day.
Design director Tiffany Pease told me:
The story is really amazing.
Our reporter, Julia Prodis Sulek, was given access to voicemails left for Flight 93 passenger Mark Bingham as the events of 9/11 were unfolding. The cover is the transcript of those voicemails, which were provided by Bingham’s mom (the hands at the top).
The page was designed by Tiffany, deputy design director Alex Fong — whose birthday happens to be on 9/11— and picture editor Jami Smith.
The entire story is still posted on the Merc‘s web site. Find that here.
Unlike those first two pages, this one ran on the fifth anniversary of 9/11.
That won a gold award from the Society for News Design.
I wrote about this page at the time, but that blog post is long gone. Instead, let’s take a look at what Sam wrote on his portfolio web site about this page…
While trying to come up with an idea for the front page of The Virginian-Pilot on the fifth anniversary of 9/11, I sketched out four vertical lines with a diagonal line crossing through them, showing “5″ – and it dawned on me that there was something there, something important, but I didn’t know what. I remember that as I looked at the sketch, I actually heard a voice, rising up from my subconscious, screaming at me from within, “It’s the Twin Towers! And a plane!”
I was mortified. I felt that “thud” in my heart, as if all the horror of that day was happening again, for the first time.
If possible, I wanted other people to feel that way when they looked at this front page.
It continues to amaze me that Denis Finley, the editor of The V-P, and Deb Withey, then Director of Presentation, got behind this very subjective graphic image and cleared everything else off the front. They put a lot of faith in the readers to make that leap. Underneath the image, in small type are the words, “The World Trade Center | 2,749 killed.”
It was controversial, to be sure, and I’ll never know what percentage of readers saw the double image. But I hope a majority did…
I was graphics editor at the Pilot when this page ran. I had nothing at all to do with this page. But I can vouch for what Sam said: The first time I saw a proof of it, I felt the air suck out of my body — as if I had been punched in the stomach. The page just seemed so… perfect.
There was a bit of discussion on how to render the five lines. Sam tried several. In the end, it was decided the spontaneity of Sam’s original sketch worked best. So that’s what they went with.
The second thing that stunned me about this page: There’s no nameplate. Just a tiny folio line across the top. This was the first time I had ever seen anyone do this.
What a page by Sam. What boldness by Denis and Deb.
What a result.
FOR FURTHER READING
The ninth anniversary…
The tenth anniversary…
The eleventh anniversary…
- Go here to see the Newseum‘s collection of pages from the day after 9/11
- Go here to see the Newseum‘s collection of tenth anniversary pages from Sept. 11, 2011.