A look at air show poster fronts this week in Oshkosh, Wis.

Sean McKeown-Young — Wisconsin team leader at the Gannett Design Studio in Des Moines, Iowa — bragged this week about one of his young designers.

Sean writes:

Part of staffing the studios was that we could take some chances. We could hire people that weren’t necessarily “safe.”


Dave Lafata was one of those hires. He had no background in newspapers but he did have an impressive portfolio and he struck us all as the kind of guy you would want around while launching 10 daily newspapers. [Creative director] Nathan Groepper was an early supporter. Dave has really good instincts and I was excited to see what would transpire.

Dave is a 2012 graduate of Central Michigan. His degree is in Fine Art. Part of what makes him so interesting is that he comes at design and presentation from that Art background; less hard angles and perfect justification and more unusual photo play and painterly headlines. His innate understanding of color and composition are incredibly impressive for a designer that is still in the early part of his career.

And, in fact, I have several of Dave’s pages in my collection. On the left, here, was a great page from the NCAA Tournament last year.


The page on the right I called:

My favorite front page of the day…

…f0r last Oct. 1, the day of the government shutdown over Obamacare.

I wrote:

Several papers, over the past few days, have used images of the power players in Washington. But the designer here — I’m told it was Dave Lafata, a recent graduate of Central Michigan — used an old trick to focus on just the eyes of John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama and Harry Reid. Think of it as a cinematic treatment, but on paper.

And then, nearly a year ago, I posted a blog item in which Sean praised Dave’s work on a series of covers for the week-long Experimental Aircraft Association “AirVenture” air show.


Sean called them…

…some of the most exciting covers I’ve seen. I love everything about them. I love the really measured volume the amazing use of great photography, the variety and the cohesiveness.


And he was right. Those covers were terrific.

So that’s the background. Sean picks up the story again:

After an impressive set of designs for the 2013 Oshkosh Northwestern EAA covers, Dave started lobbying us to design them again in 2014. We would have been fools not to let him continue.

He was already showing signs of stress (good stress) by New Years. As the weeks have lead up to the 2014 EAA I could see Dave agonizing over the details and sweating through a variety of dummy layouts.

But the ulcers look like they’re worth it. Dave’s first two designs are getting me really hyped up for the continuation. You know how ‘easily excitable’ I am – so, that’s not a big leap.

This year, Dave has dropped the rest of the page and turned the entire front into a poster presentation. Given the importance of this event to the city of Oshkosh, that’s not a problem at all.

Nor is using fantastic photography this large. Man, is this page gorgeous.


(Side note: Air Force Thunderbird pilots are insane.)

That was Sunday’s front page. Here was yesterday’s front:


Today’s front page features a Boeing V-22 Osprey.


Sean tells us:

Dave’s a great designer — or he is on the road to becoming a great designer — but without brilliant content and an awesome site to work with, we could get really stuck. We’re incredibly lucky to work with the Oshkosh Northwestern team. Editor Jim Fitzhenry has been a huge advocate for creative conceptualization and encourages unexpected and exciting design and editorial ideas.  His excitement and positivity has really set the tone for the design that we aspire to deliver to them on a daily basis.

To top that all off, the photography that the site generates is absolutely breath-taking, particularly for this event. In a way, I sort of feel like I just have to keep from screwing it up.

The photos are awesome. The site is awesome. The designer is young and hungry. If I’m smart, I’ll stand back and let it happen.

I’ll keep you updated on how it goes.

Find all the Northwestern‘s AirVenture coverage here.

Average daily circulation for the Northwestern is 14,113.

Interesting front-page Gaza fatalities graphic from Belgium

We’ve all seen graphics that quantify the number of fatalities in the ongoing hostilities between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

But check out the full-page data visualization piece that ran on the front of de Morgen of Brussels, Belgium, Monday.


Roughly, the text at the top says:


There have been more than 1,000 deaths so far in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Of the 206 children killed on the Palestinian side, 179 have now been identified.


The blue icons represent boys and the pink girls. The age of each child is listed below — the “j” stands for jaar, or years old.

Note the names at the top of each icon. Cases in which several children in the same family were killed are grouped with tint boxes — like, for example, this family.


Six children in the same family — from age 17 down to 18 months old — were lost.

There is no byline on the graphic, so sadly, I can’t praise the designer by name. If anyone in Belgium can enlighten me, I’d be happy to dish some credit.

The data is from the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights — an organization that is most definitely oriented towards the Palestinian side. Please note: I’m complimenting only the design of this graphic. I’m neither vouching for nor arguing against the accuracy of the numbers.

Average daily circulation for de Morgen is 53,860.

Birthdays for Tuesday, July 29

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


Amy Barnette Cunningham is a wire and copy editor for the Gannett Design Studio in Louisville, Ky. A 2011 graduate of the University of Memphis, Amy worked on the copy desk of the student paper there, the Daily Helmsman, and freelanced for the Commercial Appeal. After serving an internship at the Pioneer Press of Saint Paul, Minn., she joined the studio in late 2011. Find her web site here. Amy turns 29 today.


Rayanne Duchane is communications coordinator for the Nacogdoches (Texas) Independent School District. You might know her better by her previous name: Rayanne Schmid. A 1997 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University, Rayanne spent four years as a reporter and then lifestyles editor of the Kerrville, Texas, Daily Times before becoming news editor of the Monitor in McAllen, Texas. Two-and-a-half years later, she moved back to Kerrville as managing editor. In 2010, she was named editor and publisher of the Daily Sentinel in Nacogdoches. She left the newspaper business in 2012. Rayanne turns 40 today.


AnnMarie Martin is communications director for the Huntsville Madison County (Ala.) Public Library. A 1984 graduate of Alabama’s University of Montevallo, AnnMarie spent nine years as an arts writer for the Huntsville Times. She went back to school in 1995 at the University of Alabama at Huntsville and became a copy editor, books columnist and editor of the books page in 1996. She left the Times in 2011.


Bill Marx is a sports copy editor with the McClatchy Publishing Center in Charlotte, N.C. A 1982 graduate of the University of Central Florida, Bill spent 16 years as a copy editor and then chief of the sports copy desk at the Orlando Sentinel. He moved to St. Louis in 1992 to work for the Sporting News but also worked part-time on the sports copy desk of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. When the Sporting News relocated to Charlotte in 2008, Bill moved with it. He spent six years as senior managing editor for NASCAR coverage and then nearly a year-and-a-half as assistant managing editor of the digital desk before the Sporting News laid him — and a lot of other terrific folks — off in 2013. He joined McClatchy last summer. Find his Twitter feed here. Bill turns 55 today.


Carole Miller is staff development editor and features editor of the News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C. A 1974 graduate of the University of Oregon, Carole spent two years at Popular Mechanics magazine, six years at the North County News and two years at the Journal News of White Plains, N.Y., before moving to Raleigh in 2000. She’s also served as editor of the N&O‘s Q section and manager of the conversion to CCI.


Barry Reeves is a broker with Keller Williams Realty in Charlotte, N.C. A 1992 graduate of the University of Kentucky, Barry spent a year as a reporter and copy editor for the Houston Post and another year as college editor for ESPN.com before joining the Sporting News in 1996. He, too, relocated to Charlotte when the Sporting News did in 2008. Barry served as senior editor of what eventually became SportingNews.com, assistant managing editor for pro sports, managing editor of the web operation, editor-at-large, NFL editor, and college hoops and soccer editor. Like Bill, two paragraphs above, he was laid off in 2013. He started selling real estate last summer. Find his Twitter feed here. Barry turns 45 today.

Amy, Rayanne, AnnMarie, Carole, Barry and Bill share a birthday with actors Richard William “Wil” Wheaton III, David Warner, Allison Mack, Génesis Rodríguez Pérez, Joshua Michael “Josh” Radnor and Clara Gordon Bow; musicians Vivienne Patricia “Patti” Scialfa, Martina Mariea Schiff (better known as Martina McBride), Brian Joseph Burton (better known as Danger Mouse) and Gary Lee Weinrib (better known as Geddy Lee of Rush); choreographer Paul Taylor, poet Stanley Jasspon Kunitz, novelist Newton Booth Tarkington, comedian Irwin Corey, economist Daniel McFadden; sports greats Chad Ryan Billingsley (baseball), Dick Harmon (golf), Robert Blake Theodore “Ted” Lindsay (hockey); political wives Marilyn Tucker Quayle and Mary Elizabeth Alexander Hanford “Liddy” Dole; diplomat Dag Hjalmar Agne Carl Hammarskjöld; Italian dictator Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini; celebrity lawyer Melvin Mouron Belli, illustrator and comic book creator Dave Stevens, documentary maker Kenneth Lauren “Ken” Burns and TV newsman Peter Charles Archibald Ewart Jennings.

In addition, today is Rain Day, National Chicken Wing Day and Lasagna Day. Seriously.

Best wishes, folks! Have an excellent birthday today!

For your consideration…

One hundred years ago today, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. This was the official start to what would become known as the Great War and, later still, World War I.

The Daily Sun of the Villages, Fla., commemorated this with a gorgeous poster display on page one today:


Editor Bonita Burton gave credit today to designer Adam Rogers.

So why did Austria-Hungary declare war on Serbia?

The previous month, the heir to the Austrian-Hungarian throne had been assassinated by Serbian nationalists in Sarajevo. That assassination had turned into a bit of an Inspector Clouseau operation itself: A bomb failed to do the job. The Archduke and his wife went on to make their daily appointments. A gun attack later that day also failed.

At some point, however, the Archduke’s driver made a wrong turn and doubled back, giving one lone assassin — a 19-year-old kid — yet another opportunity. Which he took.

In return for the assassination, Austria-Hungaria made a series of ultimatums. Serbia failed to honor those ultimatiums — in fact, no one was really surprised when they didn’t.

As a result, thanks to a dizzying array of treaties throughout Europe, a series of dominoes began to fall…

  • JULY 28 Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia. Russia immediately begins mobilizing
    for war.
  • AUG. 1 Germany declares war on Russia …
  • AUG. 3 …and Russia’s ally, France.
  • AUG. 4 Germany starts toward Paris via the quickest route: Attacking Belgium.
  • AUG. 4 England honors a 75-year-old treaty with Belgium by declaring war on Germany. England’s entry into the war, in theory, pulls in its colonies and dominions: Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand and South Africa.
  • AUG. 19 U.S. President Woodrow Wilson declares the U.S. to be neutral.
  • AUG. 23 Japan honors a treaty with England and declares war on Germany.
  • AUG. 25 Austria-Hungary retaliates by declaring war on Japan.

Eventually, 40 countries were dragged into the conflict — including the United States, somewhat reluctantly — in 1917.

That list was part of a Focus page I built last month to run on the anniversary of the assassination:


Perhaps the very best take I’ve ever seen on this topic, however, was by the Onion. Check out the decks on their faux page:


That pretty much sums it all up.

Average daily circulation of the Villages Daily Sun is 44,624.

That Daily Sun page is from the Newseum. Of course.

Volunteer effort uses a 3D printer to build a child a ‘robohand’

Adam C. McHugh, national and special projects manager for the GateHouse Media hub in Austin, Texas, writes to point out a story that ran in Sunday’s Rockford (Ill.) Register Star.

He tells us the story…

…is about how a group of high school students used a 3-D printer to design a prosthetic hand for a 9-year-old girl, saving her family tens of thousands of dollars and helping her feel like a normal kid.


Reporter Corina Curry and photographer Brent Lewis spent  a lot of time with the family and students, and worked with the Center for News & Design to put together the two-part series.

Here was Sunday’s front page…


…which jumped to the doubletruck…


…and then wrapped up on page 10.


Here’s a closer look at the graphic by Christopher D. Foster.


The two-day series concluded with today’s installment.


The story jumped to the bottom right of page four of today’s paper.


Adam writes:

I handled the design with the help of G.W. Babb, who has been a great addition to our team in Austin.

The photographer, Brent Lewis, also designed the interactive version.


Average daily circulation for the Rockford Register Star is 65,224.