Catch a wave and you’re sittin’ on top of the world

That first line of a classic Beach Boys song from 50 years ago comes to mind when I look at the front pages today of the newspapers for which I work.

There’s a hurricane — Marie — churning off the coast of Baja this week. It’s created some of the largest waves Southern California has seen in more than a decade.

In short: The surf was up.


Run it big and get the hell out of its way. You gotta love it.

That amazing picture was shot yesterday morning by staffer Jeff Gritchen at Outer Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro, just on the other side of Long Beach.

The page was designed by my old friend Chris Soprych.

If you think that’s good, check out this stunning picture afront today’s Orange County Register:


Is that awesome, or what?

Those were surfers braving “the wedge,” a spot near a jetty in Newport Beach, where the waves kind of bounce back across each other, magnifying themselves. The picture is by Foster Snell. Scott Albert designed the page.

Want to see more pictures of the waves? We have ‘em here.


We’ve seen this storm coming for days. The huge waves were forecast back on Monday. For Tuesday’s paper, Jeff Goertzen put together this graphic that explained how the waves would work.



Jeff’s done several surfing graphics over the years for the Register. Last year, he did a graphic on “the wedge.”


That ran in June of last year.


I don’t work on section fronts, so I had nothing to do with either of those pages. I sit near the news desk, though — in fact, I’m just two desks down from my old Chicago Tribune buddy, Soprych.

However, I wasn’t around when these pages came together yesterday. I had the day off: I was photographing the wedding of my brother-in-law, who flew in from Georgia to get married.

Yesterday. On Little Corona Beach, less than a mile from the wedge.


When Jim (right) planned this thing a couple of months ago, he had no idea this storm would come along and shut down the beaches.


Luckily, we were able to get in and out with no problem. Just a whole lot of noise behind us.


What a day to be out at the beach, though. Wow.

Birthdays for Thursday, Aug. 28

Here’s wishing the happiest of birthdays to six talented visual journalists…


Hemant Bais is deputy design chief at Dainik Bhaskar in Indore, India.


Randy Evans is editorial page editor of the Des Moines Register. A 1972 graduate of the University of Iowa, Randy has worked at the Register 38 years, as a reporter, metro and state editor, news editor and assistant managing editor. He took command of the editorial page in 2011. Find his Twitter feed here.


Mikhail Hathey is a student at Cape Peninsula University of Technology in Cape Town, South Africa, and an employee his dad’s photography studio. Mikhail is studying IT and wishes to be a Silicon Valley-based entrepreneur one day. Find his Twitter feed here.


Suzette Moyer is art director for the Tampa Bay Times. A 1986 graduate of Ohio State University, Suzette spent eight years as an art director for the Hartford Courant before moving to the Times in 2006. Suzette also served as print publications director for the Society for News Design, editing and designing Design magazine for the Society for News Design. Suzette turns 50 today.


Paul Nisely is senior photo editor for the Sporting News in Charlotte, N.C. Before joining TSN in 1995, Paul worked as sports photo editor for the Associated Press in New York and Chicago and as a staff photographer for the Meriden Record-Journal and the Torrington Register-Citizen, both in Connecticut. Find his portfolio here, his blog here and his Twitter feed here. Paul turns 47 today.


Ji Ong Jihad Rokhadi is a designer for for Radar Jogja, part of the JPNN Jawa Pos News Network in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. He’s a 1996 graduate of Advy Yogyakarta and a 2008 graduate of the Adobe Authorized Training Centre. Find his blog here.

Ji, Mikhail, Hemant, Paul, Suzette and Randy share a birthday with actors Thomas Jacob “Jack” Black, Armand Douglas “Armie” Hammer; Jason Bradford Priestley, Daniel Jacob Stern, David Richard Solberg (better known as David Soul), Amanda Tapping, Nancy Jane Kulp and Charles Boyer; musicians Margaret LeAnn Rimes, Eilleen Regina Edwards (better known as Shania Twain), Joshua Ryan “Jake” Owen, Florence Leontine Mary Welch (of Florence and the Machine), Daniel Peter “Danny” Seraphine (of Chicago) and Melvin Wayne Osmond (of the Osmonds); reality TV star Alana Thompson (better known as Honey Boo Boo); sports greats Scott Scovell Hamilton (figure skating), Janet Beth Evans (swimming), Lee McLeod Janzen (golf), Louis Victor “Lou” Piniella Carlos José Quentin and Ronald Ames “Ron” Guidry (all three baseball); photographer Mary Anna McCartney; Catholic school founder Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton; authors Vonda Neel McIntyre, Johann Wolfgang Xion Goethe and Lyev Nikolayevich “Leo” Tolstoy and legendary comic book creator Jacob Kurtzberg (better known as Jack Kirby).

In addition, today is Radio Commercials Day, Crackers over the Keyboard Day and Race Your Mouse Around the Icons Day. Seriously.

Best wishes, all! Have a wonderful birthday today!

More Michael Brown-related front pages from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Last week, we took a look at front pages from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch since the start of the Michael Brown incident.

Tempers here have cooled a bit and things are starting to settle down. However, the work done by the Post-Dispatch photographers and by assistant managing editor for presentation Carlos Ayulo and his staff has continued to be strong.

Let’s pick up where we left off, shall we?


The nightly conflicts were still going strong last Monday night. This lead art by staffer David Carson looks like something out of a video game.


Design by Evan Hill.


As you can see by the first bit of labeling at the top left of the page, the violence eased a bit after that.


The picture of a peaceful protest march is by staffer Robert Cohen. Wade Wilson designed the page.


Thursday’s lead art by Huy Mach was another gorgeous shot — this one of peaceful protests with lightning in the distance.


The design was by Wade Wilson.


Friday’s front page art of a candlelit vigil was by Christian Gooden.


Laura Black designed the page.


Robert Cohen shot Saturday’s lead art.


The page was built by Wade Wilson.


For Sunday’s front, the paper went in a completely different direction with this data-oriented presentation.


Carlos explains:

Our Sunday story looked at the diparity between African-American population vs. African-American police officers in 31 municipalities.

Josh Renaud and I discussed a couple of ideas but many seemed too complicated or incomplete to display for our readers. The obvious idea of publishing a map with a key and a list of districts would have taken too much space on the cover. Plus, that display would have made our readers works too hard to match the information.

Josh mentioned a previous package I designed last year featuring school district performance percentages (below, left):


He was right. That previous design was the blueprint for telling Sunday’s story.

We wanted a simple and effective display for our readers to navigate through several numbers. We hit our mark.


Finally, Monday — two weeks and two days after Michael Brown was killed — you can see life just starting to return to normal. Just a bit, at least, with the first big front-page treatment that did not refer to the unrest in Ferguson.


The bad news: The Rams’ quarterback is out for the season already.

The photo of the woman crying at Sunday church services is by J.B. Forbes.


Monday, of course, services were held for Michael Brown. Huy Mach made the picture that led Tuesday’s paper.



Today’s front page reinforced the nonviolent theme even further.


The lead photo is by Laurie Skrivan.

Go here to follow the Post-Dispatch‘s coverage of the shooting in Ferguson and its aftermath — the latest stories, extensive photo galleries and videos.

Average daily circulation for the Post-Dispatch is 187,992.

Find the previous Post-Dispatch Michael Brown pages here.

Inside the recent redesign of the Newport News, Va., Daily Press

The Daily Press of Newport News, Va. — circulation 57,642 — launched a redesign back on Aug. 10.

On the right is the Sunday, Aug. 17 front page — a week into the new format. On the left is a front page from last winter.


Click on that pair — or any page here today — for a much larger look.

Kevin Goyette, night editor of the Daily Press, did the work on the redesign. Previously, he redesigned the weekly Tidewater Review and the bi-weekly Virginia Gazette, both also owned by Tribune.

Kevin tells us:

We were overdue for a visual refresher, but the big driver behind this project is to enhance our focus on local news. Readers we surveyed felt like they weren’t getting as much local news as they had in the past from all the communities they care about. So we revamped zoned news sections we had created a while back to include only calendars, submitted photos, news items and the like…


…and pumped up our local news section with more stories produced by a beefed-up reporting staff. We added more substantial local labels and added thumbnail locality markers to reinforce the idea.


Stylistically, we tweaked some of the typography (more all-caps headlines and page labels) to be reminiscent of classic newspaper styling. We couldn’t really stray from the Tribune faces, but the idea was to be a bit more traditional and clean, while still allowing room for creativity and pop when opportunities arise.

Here’s a look at the Wednesday, Aug. 13 front page — Day Three of the new design.


The paper lost its colorful blue nameplate — which, frankly, I kind of miss. But it gains the opportunity to do fun stuff with larger skyboxes. Here is the front page from the very next day: Thursday, Aug. 14.


Kevin writes:

The new nameplate is a modestly revised version of one that ran from the paper’s inception more than a century ago until the 1970s.


It features an old woodcut of the shipyard with the seal of Virginia in the center. The intent here is to help give our brand a sense of place and tradition, and, again, evoke classic styling. New section flags echo the visual approach.

Here’s a before-and-after look at the sports front…


…and the Friday entertainment section.


There are many other changes throughout — to furniture, column sigs and the like — but I won’t bore you with the minor details.

Ah, but we love minor details. Kevin sent along the clean, new editorial page…


…and a new Page Two. It was pretty clean before, but now it seems just a bit more structured. The flatter (house) ad stack helps tremendously.


According to editor Marisa Porto, a number of other changes took place with the new design:

Other features of the new design include:

  • Williamsburg — 45 minutes up the interstate — will now be included in the Town Square zoned editions.
  • Those zoned pages will stay at two pages per community every Thursday, but more of that local news will be spread throughout the week.
  • The regular local news sections expands by two more pages on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
  • Additional reporters have been added, Marisa says, to cover biz, real estate and state politics. Plus, watchdog reporting has been beefed up, Marisa writes.

Find Marisa’s column here. Find a news story about the changes here.

Marisa was bold enough to share some of the feedback she’s gotten about the format. Some readers have complained they miss the old nameplate. Others say they think some of the typography is too small or that they miss features that were changed. Find collections of feedback here, here and here.

Here are a few that ran on Aug. 12, just two days into the new design. These are from the sample of page two, above — the one that has the reader-submitted photo of the moon on it.


Occasionally, though, you come across comments that are very interesting — and helpful — indeed:

Jerry, Hampton: I don’t know if anyone else has noticed that you have gone in the local section to sometimes four columns, and usually no more than five columns. It’s much easier to read because there are more words per line. I wish you could convince whoever does the Nation&World section to get away from the six columns that only have sometimes three words on a line. If there’s any way you could put forth that word, it would certainly be appreciated. But I want to thank you for increasing the number of words per line and decreasing the number of columns. Thank you very much.

Kory, Newport News: In an era where newspapers are constantly under threat from Internet-based news sources, it makes no sense to look “traditional”. You may think the Flag is retro, but really it’s just old looking and is a terrible choice. The addition of maps for each story is a huge improvement, and is almost what it needs to be. I have gotten in the habit of bringing my smartphone with me to read the paper just so I can look up the locations since the stories provide no landmarks to figure out where an obscure street is. I shouldn’t have to. You need to take the maps one step further by adding a dot, a star, or an arrow in the general location of the event. Why do residents of the Virginia Peninsula need to be reminded where Newport News is four times in the front section? County-scale maps would be helpful for stories in other parts of the state, since it’s impossible to keep a working knowledge of Virginia’s more than 100 cities and counties.

Lloyd: I read the Daily Press every day, especially the sports section. My concern is that box scores print is too small. I have problems reading box scores and I am sure that I am not the only one. Any improvement would be appreciated. Thanks.

Marisa received a number of comments from folks who missed the celebrity birthdays that used to run on page two. Those have been brought back.

Find the Daily Press‘ web site here.

Birthdays for Wednesday, Aug. 27

Here’s wishing the happiest of birthdays to a pair of wonderful visual journalists…


Mia Bush is a writer and editor for Voice of America in Washington, D.C. A 1986 graduate of Drake University in Des Moines, Mia spent 16 years as a copy editor, page designer and finally news editor of the Des Moines Register before moving to the Portland Oregonian in 2003. She started there as a copy editor, was promoted to wire news editor and then home page manager two years ago. She moved to VOA in April. Find Mia’s Twitter feed here.


Ashley Sullivan is a web designer for Crate & Barrel in Chicago, Ill. You might remember her better as Ashley Fogle — she got married in 2012. A 2011 graduate of Bowling Green State University, Ashley spent two years on the staff of the Bowling Green News as a page designer. A visual communication and technology major, Ashley managed the college’s recreation and wellness web site and worked as a computer lab consultant, a student trainer and a supervisor for student employees who worked at the tech lab. She spent a year as a web designer for Coffee Communications of Walla Walla, Wash., before moving to Illinois last year. She started work for Crate & Barrel last winter. Find Ashley’s web site here and her Twitter feed here.

Ashley and Mia share a birthday with actors Aaron Paul Sturtevant (better known as just Aaron Paul), Blake Alexander Jenner, Paul Rubenfeld (better known as Paul Reubens, or Pee Wee Herman), Sarah Chalke, Chandra Danette Wilson, Alexa Ellesse Vega, Barbara Goldbach (better known as Barbara Bach), Susan Ker Weld (better known as Tuesday Weld) and Herbert Streicher (better known as Harry Reems); musicians Aleksandar Živojinović (better known as Alex Lifeson of Rush), Daryl Frank Dragon (“the Captain” of the Captain and Tennille) and Margy Reed (better known as Martha Raye); filmmaker Samuel Gelbfisz (better known as Samuel Goldwyn); industrialist Charles Stewart Rolls; one of the original MTV VJs, “Downtown” Julie Dorne Brown; dog trainer César Millán Favela; sports greats James Howard “Jim” Thome (baseball), Chris Armas (soccer), Darren McFadden (football), William Mack Brown and Francis William “Frank” Leahy (football coaches); artist Emmanuel Radnitzky (better known as Man Ray); White House press secretary Stephen Tyree Early and president Lyndon Baines Johnson.

In addition, today is Tug-of-War Day and the Duchess Who Wasn’t Day. Seriously.

Have a truly great birthday, you two! Best wishes!