Big football wins merit big A1 poster front treatment

Among the great college football action this holiday weekend were wins by the nation’s two major undefeated teams: The University of Iowa and Clemson University.


These victories were each celebrated in the school’s respective capital city newspapers with giant page-one poster treatments.

[Full disclosure here: I used to work for the Des Moines paper. Plus, I’m a lifelong fan of Clemson.]

Poster treatments should be used very sparingly. But when the story is big enough — and in Iowa and South Carolina, this story was; believe me — I think this type of play is the ultimate in one of my primary directives. You know it by heart, so please repeat along with me:

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

Here’s a quick look at how these two front pages came together…

Des Moines, Iowa
Circulation: 101,915

The photo on the front page of Saturday’s Des Moines Register shows Iowa Hawkeye defensive end Parker Hesse celebrating after he returned an interception for a touchdown in Friday’s 28-20 win over Nebraska.


The photo is by staffer Bryon Houlgrave. Designer Nicole Bogdas advocated and won approval to give the picture poster treatment.

Bryon also shot the picture played large on the Register‘s Saturday sports front:


Not surprisingly, the paper must have sold out in central Iowa: The Register is already offering reprints of the page.


A graduate of the University of Missouri, Nicole was news projects designer for the Palm Beach Post and also spent a couple of years at the Sun-Sentinel in Ft. Lauderdale. She worked at the St. Louis Post Dispatch before joining the Orlando Sentinel in 2008. She was news editor of the Herald-Zeitung in New Braunfels, Texas before moving to Des Moines in 2010. In 2012, she wrote a wonderful — and brave — first-person piece for the Register. And then, a few months later, she donated a kidney to her dad.

Find Nicole’s portfolio here.

Columbia, S.C.
Circulation: 70,980

The annual in-state rivalry matchup between Clemson and South Carolina was a noon game this year, says Elissa Macarin, who moved to the State from Gannett’s Nashville hub in August. The extra time meant that she…

…had time to comb through our staff photos as they were coming in.

I knew going into the day it would be a poster front of the winner and there were a few minutes there where I thought we might have to come up with a great upset headline. But in the end Clemson won, keeping their undefeated season.

When I saw this photo by Tim Dominick I had a feeling it would be the best to tell the story so I started working with it as soon as the game was over. When our Assistant Sports Editor, Presentation Meredith Sheffer — who also serves as photo editor for football Saturdays — came in, I showed it to her. She agreed we should go with it.


In talking over the headline a bunch of ideas were thrown around, one of the being incredibly straightforward with “Perfect season,” which I decided to go for more impact and just have “Perfect.”

Which, of course, turned out to be just perfect.

Elissa adds:

Next week could be a lot more hectic because we’ll be making on deadline decisions for a full page-poster if Clemson wins the ACC title.


A 2005 graduate of Kent State University, Elissa spent a year as a designer and copy editor for the Dothan (Ala.) Eagle and then four years with the Press-Register of Mobile, Ala. She moved to the Daily Herald of Wausau, Wis., in 2010 and slid over to the Gannett Nashville design studio in 2012. Her husband, Jared Macarin, is also a designer.

Find Elissa’s portfolio here.

The Register‘s sports front was shared via social media by the paper’s consumer experience director, my old pal Nathan Groepper. The two front page images are from the Newseum. Of course.

A coloring page. For grown-ups.

The latest stroke of genius from the folks at the Virginian-Pilot: A coloring page.

For grown-ups.

Click for a larger look:


The instructions say:

The Daily Break encourages you to spend a lazy weekend coloring this page drawn by our own Sam Hundley. You may use crayons or colored pencils. Send your finished work to us. The most creative interpretation will be published in The Daily Break. Also, the top two vote-getters will receive a Crayola coloring kit like nothing you ever had as a preschooler.

Send the page, which also can be downloaded on, to The Virginian-Pilot, attention Daily Break coloring contest, 150 W. Brambleton Ave., Norfolk VA 23510. Include your name, city, age, occupation and contact information. Deadline is Aug. 3. Oh, the most important rule: Relax while you color your heart out.

Sam tells us:

The concept was by features editor, Jamesetta Walker. I did the line drawing in a shift — couldn’t come up with anything better than butterfly people and flowers!

Drew it in pieces on pulpy paper towels to get that bleed effect – to conceal my lack of control and skill! Blew the drawings up 150 percent and kinda built the page.

First all black-and-white page in forever. We’ll see how many entries we get.

My favorite touch is actually below the coloring feature: Sam also drew Jamesetta’s mug shot for her column stripped across the bottom of the page:


Average daily circulation for the Virginian-Pilot is 142,476.

Born and raised in Phoenix, Sam started his newspaper career as a staff artist for the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson and moved to the Virginian-Pilot in 1981.


In 1990, Sam moved to the San Jose Mercury News where he was named design director of features, but then returned to the Pilot in 1994.

He’s also the nicest guy you’ll ever meet.

Find Sam’s web site here. Find his Twitter feed here.

Previous posts about Sam and his work at the Pilot:

  • July 6, 2015: You may not have seen Saturday’s most interesting Independence Day front page
  • Sept. 11, 2014: The three best 9/11 anniversary front pages ever
  • May 26, 2014: The day’s best Memorial Day front page
  • July 4, 2013: The one Fourth of July page you really need to see
  • June 11, 2013: An important historical anniversary observed, Sam Hundley style
  • Jan. 29, 2013: The magical properties of a clever illustration
  • Jan. 8, 2013: When illustrating a controversial topic, it helps to have a real, live visual journalism superhero on staff
  • Sept. 26, 2012: A look at the illustrations for the Virginian-Pilot’s NASA history series
  • Sept. 24, 2011: Newsstand alert: Check out the new National Geographic
  • Sept. 21, 2011: Behind those watercolor illustrations in the Virginian-Pilot this week
  • Dec. 18, 2010: A wacky pre-Christmas illustration in the Virginian-Pilot


A graphic novel approach to recount a disaster from 100 years ago

100 years ago last Friday, the passenger ship SS Eastland rolled over while tied to a dock in the Chicago River.


The Eastland was to take Western Electric employees and their families to a company picnic across Lake Michigan. Already a topheavy vessel, the ship was loaded with 2,500 passengers shifting around on deck. The ship rolled over, drowning passengers mere feet away from the dock.

844 people were killed, including 22 entire families.

Rick Tuma and Ryan Marx of the Chicago Tribune teamed up to present the story in graphic novel style, done digitally with parallax scrolling — inaccurately but admittedly better known as Snowfall-style web design.


While the page itself scrolls downward with the story, Rick’s drawings themselves are static. And beautifully rendered.


Rick writes in the presentation’s credits page:

Many of the details of the Eastland disaster have been lost to time. Accounts and news reports in the immediate aftermath of the event — many by this newspaper — were conflicting and, at times, not accurate.

From storyboarding to the final illustrations, I have made every effort to be as faithful as possible to what has been verified or reasonably believed to be true. The scale of everything I’ve drawn is estimated, and the visual depictions of most characters are not based on real people on the boat.


The illustrations are pencil on smooth Strathmore 2-ply bristol. Pencils ranged from 3B through 6B, but the 4B did most of the work. I love using pencil because it drops extra steps from the process — a very good thing when you have tight news deadlines — and makes it easier to retain the energy of initial sketches. Carefully boosting the contrast in Phototshop gives the drawings a brush and ink appearance.


Rick writes that he chose to keep the color palette for the project low key. He took a cue from the Chicago River itself, using only two blue-greens, two yellow-greens and one grey brown.

He writes:

Choosing a limited palette gave me the freedom to maintain areas of clean white, something of which I am fond. Not every face needed color; buildings could be white and the sky light green.


Midway through the coloring stage, I started to believe the panels needed one more color to tie the illustrations together. Recalling initial brainstorming sessions where one proposal was to create a soft water-stained background, I knew what to do: ‘age’ the edges of the panels with yellow. Risking a somewhat cliche solution, we are very pleased with the results.


In addition, Rick was kind enough to answer a few questions for us:

Q. How long ago did you and Ryan begin working on this project?

A. Ryan and I began looking for a second narrative to develop soon after we published the Harsh Treatment graphic essay.

There were three major graphic components to the Tribune‘s enormous Harsh Treatment project:

1. In Her Words


2. …Unsafe Haven, and…


3. …Fight and Flight.


Click on any of the links to see the pieces.

Rick continues:

Harsh Treatment was a visual companion to hard hitting investigative reporting. With Eastland Disaster we were considering a enterprise project that might stand on its own.

Harsh Treatment wrapped up late November and Eastland Disaster was born early December 2014.

Q. How much time do you suppose you put into it?

A. Start to finish, seven months.

Anyone in news will realize that there’s no way we had the entire seven months to work exclusively on this new project! In fact, progress was so stop and start that Graphics editors Jonathon Berlin and Ryan Marx made the determination to dedicate June and July to exclusively working on Eastland.

Q. Did you write it first and then do the artwork (screenplay style)? Or did you develop the visuals and then write around them (Marvel comics style)?

A. Having learned a few things with the first narrative I broke the project into stages.

First stage was a no-brainer: research. As I gained greater knowledge of the event I began to move into the second stage: note-taking and doodling in a spiral bound 9″ x 12″ sketch book.

Stage three was my storyboard. Some false starts in the beginning, but I soon had a story.

Eastland graphic essay story boards

I’m pretty sure that the story formed during my story board penciling. I can’t find a serious outline in my sketch book. Each panel led into the next until everything was said.

Q. Was this assigned to you, or did you pitch the idea? (And if you pitched it — was it hard to sell?)

A. I guess I’ve mostly answered this in number one.

Gathering a consensus to move forward required a good hard look at value for the time required. We discovered that the disaster was approaching its first centennial and found out that Metro and photo were planning coverage, so that helped.

Regardless, the project was a risk. Even after we began the enterprise, there was still concern over its value.

Q. What advice can you give a young artist who wants to try this at their own newspaper?

A. These require intense amounts of work! I would encourage the artist to be absolutely certain that she or he has chosen a topic that their skills can handle.

In my case, for example, I love to draw people. My excitement cools a bit when I have to draw machines and buildings. Someone else might struggle to make their people drawings look confident but totally score a win drawing machines and/or buildings. Choose a topic that plays to your strengths.

If you are going to make thirty, forty, or one hundreds illustrated panels you’d better attempt something you love.

Determine what this is going to look like. This can be choices like realistic drawings vs. loose styles. Black and white panels or color-added? How will it be published? Print or only online?

Ours began as online only, but we were asked to make a version for print. That required a ‘Reader’s Digest’ style, condensed version, removing half the panels.


In addition to retelling the basic story of what happened that day, Rick also spent some of his time focusing in on one family: The Aanstads. Here, mom has a premonition that something bad could happen onboard the ship.


As disaster strikes and the ship rolls over, Mom, Dad and their two little girls cling for life to a railing.


And there they stay until help comes.


Rick and Ryan also mention the oldest living survivor of the wreck…


…and go into detail about how, over the course of days, bodies were recovered from the Eastland and taken to a makeshift morgue.


Yes, that really happened. What’s more: The site of that morgue is now Harpo Studios: Oprah Winfrey’s TV production facility.


Rick wrote on the credits page:

I could not have anticipated how deeply this story has affected me. Sadness and sorrow frequently ambushed me during research and even as I was drawing. I rarely walk past the corner of Wacker Drive and Clark Street without being haunted by the tragedy and courage of the Eastland passengers.

Find the Tribune‘s retelling of the Eastland disaster here.

A graduate of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Rick Tuma has worked for the Tribune since 1983.


A couple of years ago, Rick walked us through how he created wonderful business-page portraits on deadline.

Rick also runs a free-lance studio on the side. Find his web site here and his Twitter feed here.


A 2002 graduate of Lawrence University, Ryan Marx spent two-and-a-half years as presentation editor of the News-Enterprise of Elizabethtown, Ky., and then five-and-a-half years at the Times of Northwest Indiana in Munster — first as display editor and then as graphics editor.

He moved to the Tribune in 2010 as business graphics coordinator and was named assistant graphics editor in 2013.

Average daily circulation of the Chicago Tribune is 414,590.

Those air show poster fronts from Oshkosh? Here’s the complete set.

Last week, I showed you a number of poster pages from the Oshkosh Northwestern celebrating the annual Airventure air show: “America’s largest annual gathering of aviation enthusiasts.”

To recap…

Sunday, July 19:

Monday, July 20:


Tuesday, July 21:


Wednesday, July 22:


Thursday, July 23:


Designer Evan Backstrom of the Gannett Design Studio in Des Moines was kind enough to send along the rest of the week’s front pages.

The theme at the airshow Friday was a look back at the near-disaster of Apollo 13, which took place 45 years ago this past April. Evan used a number of vintage NASA images:

For Saturday’s front page, Evan went sideways again with a photo of the newest fighter in the U.S. arsenal, the Lockheed F-35 Lightning II.

The picture was by staffer William Glasheen.

And the final poster front of the week ran Sunday. Even went sideways for the third time in seven days with this picture by staffer Jeannette Merten of the newest, “next generation” Goodyear blimp, Wingfoot One.


Click on any of those pages for a much larger look.

Average daily circulation for the Oshkosh Northwestern is 14,113.

A 2012 graduate of Ball State University, Evan Backstrom served as chief page designer for the student paper there, the Ball State Daily News


…and interned at Stamprint Printing and the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library. Evan tells us:

I was recruited by the Des Moines Design Studio out of college. In the studio I started on the Metro section of the Des Moines Register. I have since moved to the Wisconsin team where I am the lead designer for the Oshkosh Northwestern.

I wrote about him last month. A few samples of Evan’s work:


1506EvanBackstromSamples03 1506EvanBackstromSamples02 1506EvanBackstromSamples01

Find his web site here, his NewsPageDesigner portfolio here and his Twitter feed here.

A peek at this week’s Oshkosh airshow poster front pages

Every summer, the small city of Oshkosh, Wis., hosts a giant air show. Airventure bills itself as “America’s largest annual gathering of aviation enthusiasts.”

Every summer, the Oshkosh Northwestern celebrates the weeklong event by wiping everything else off of page one and publishing a series of poster-type front pages.

The paper kicked of the week with this huge treatment of a 2011 file photo of an acrobatic plane operating at night.

Monday, the designer on the project — Evan Backstrom — went horizontal with a picture of three military planes: An A-10 Warthog, a World War II-era Mustang and a Cold War-era SuperSabre.


Taking the spotlight Tuesday was this photo of an Airbus A-350.


That display and Wednesday’s are both listed as “photoillustrations” by staffer Danny Damiani. I’m guessing that a little sky was extended to fill out the page.

Wednesday’s centerpiece was a new F-22 Raptor.


And taking the spot of honor today was a skydiver. The picture is by Jeannette Merten.


But, as you can see, there was news Wednesday: A plane crashed at the air show. The story and a small picture ran downpage.

Evan tells us today’s page…

…is actually pretty straight forward. All the stories were mostly flushed out when I came into the office. It was just a matter of assembling the pieces. I just let the art speak for its self as I have with the other EAA pages I have designed this week.

There was some talk about what we would do if one of the crash survivors died but as of writing this none of them had.

Just for fun, though, Evan sends along an inside page featuring a handout photo of a skydiving team in action.


The air show runs through Sunday.

A 2012 graduate of Ball State University, Evan Backstrom served as chief page designer for the student paper there, the Ball State Daily News


…and interned at Stamprint Printing and the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library. Evan tells us:

I was recruited by the Des Moines Design Studio out of college. In the studio I started on the Metro section of the Des Moines Register. I have since moved to the Wisconsin team where I am the lead designer for the Oshkosh Northwestern.

I wrote about him last month. A few samples of Evan’s work:


1506EvanBackstromSamples03 1506EvanBackstromSamples02 1506EvanBackstromSamples01

Find his web site here, his NewsPageDesigner portfolio here and his Twitter feed here.

Average daily circulation for the Oshkosh Northwestern is 14,113.

Fitchburg, Mass., Sentinel & Enterprise turns over A1 to an art project

The Sentinel & Enterprise — a 15,031-circulation daily in Fitchburg, Mass. — is running an interesting experiment on page one this month.

The normal front page pushes inside to page three while the front is taken over by a community art project, spearheaded by a German-born artist, illustrated by more than two dozen artists around the world and supported by a team of six interns from Fitchburg State University.

What’s more: This little project displaces the front page for 26 days.

The project launched more than a week ago: Monday, July 13. Here was the front page of the Sentinel & Enterprise that morning:


That’s right. The theme for Day One was the letter A. Note how the three stories — actually, two stories and a poem — each have headlines that begin with the letter A.

The theme for Day Two? The letter B.


Now, who out there can guess what the theme was for Day Three?


That’s right: The project will depict one letter of the alphabet per day.

The project was commissioned by the Fitchburg Art Museum with an “Our Town” grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.


You’ll notice the museum looks a lot like the artwork for Day One typographical illustration. I’d have to believe that was intentional.

Born in Germany but now based in New Orleans, project leader Anna Schuleit Haber


…has been working for months with her team of interns on “the Alphabet.”


A profile the paper ran earlier this month described Schuleit Haber as…

…a visual artist whose work lies at the intersection of painting, drawing, installation art, architecture and community. Her works have ranged from museum installations made with paint, to large-scale projects in forests, on uninhabited islands, and in psychiatric institutions using extensive sound systems, live sod, thousands of flowers, mirrors, antique telephones, bodies of water and neuroscience technologies.

She studied painting at the Rhode Island School of Design, creative writing at Dartmouth, and was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard. She was named a MacArthur Fellow for work that has “conceptual clarity, compassion, and beauty.”

Current projects revolve around seriality and memory, and include a body of 104 paintings based on Thomas Bernhard’s short fiction, as well as large-scale drawing commissions for architecture.

Ready for another couple of pages? Here was Thursday’s Day Four…


…and this was Friday’s Day Five:


The list of contributors is suitably eclectic for a project of this nature:

A – Felix Salut
Specialty: Multimedia artist
Based: Amsterdam

B – Andreas Schenk
Specialty: Calligraphy
Based: Switzerland


C – Dan Keleher
Specialty: Letterpress
Based: Hadley, Mass., near Amherst

D – Matthew Carter
Specialty: Typography
Based: Cambridge, Mass.

A story about the contributors says Carter is…

… the creator of web fonts Georgia, Verdana, Tahoma and Bell Centennial. He has designed type for publications such as Time, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Boston Globe and Newsweek, and has won numerous awards for his contributions to typography and design, including an honorary doctorate from the Art Institute of Boston.

E – Shoko Mugikura and Tim Ahrens
Specialty: Typography
Based: Munich

F – Nina Stoessinger
Specialty: Designer
Based: Netherlands


Assisting Schuleit Haber on this effort are six interns from the local college. From yet another story published earlier this month by the Sentinel & Enterprise:


Townsend resident Justin Keohane is the graphic design intern, and is helping Schuleit Haber lay out each of the 26 front pages.


Jarad Nelson of Leominster is handling public relations, and will work on the project website, draft press releases and make phone calls.


Fitchburg native Ariana Garcia, Orange resident Shannon Gugarty, who grew up in Fitchburg, and Pepperell resident Johnathan Jena are writing short pieces on Fitchburg and Leominster for the front pages. Each piece will be somewhere between 100 and 600 words, and will focus on history and local culture, looking into things like the history of street names or old buildings in the city.


Jonathan Berglind of Leominster and Anthony Earabino, who recently moved to Fitchburg, will film all aspects of the project, from meetings between Schuleit Haber and community members, to interviews for the written pieces, to the other interns at work.

“Anything that happens while Anna is in Fitchburg,” Earabino said.

“We’re going to put footage up on the website as we go,” Berglind added, “and then hopefully end up with a 10- or 15-minute documentary.”

My favorite of the nine pages published so far was the letter G, which ran Monday:

G – Cyrus Highsmith
Specialty: Typography and illustration
Based: Providence, R.I.


The paper reported:

His “G,” Highsmith said, came about when he was sketching and doodling.

“I was fooling around, imagining it printed big,” he said. “I wanted to do something fun, something to catch people’s eye.”


He initially sketched his design with paper and pencil, then filled in the letter with ripped paper to make a sort of collage. The coloring and precise lines he did on the computer, he said.

Here was Tuesday’s page:

H – Laura Meseguer
Specialty: Typography, logos and book design
Based: Barcelona


And here is today’s page:

I – Therese Schuleit, sister of project leader Anna Schuleit Haber
Specialty: Visual and audio artist
Based: Beirut


If you’re like me, you have two burning questions at this point. Sentinel & Enterprise editor Charles St. Amand took a few minutes this week answer them for us:

Q. Do you have a conventional front page on the inside of each day’s paper? On page three, perhaps?

A. Page 3 has our “regular” front page. Page 2 contains any jumps from the Alphabet Page 1, a brief “About ‘The Alphabet'” explainer, a story about the designer and writers who contributed to the project that day, a profile of the artist leading the project, and photos taken by her interns, my staff and ​submissions from readers. We’re also going to include some reader feedback.

Oh, and “The Alphabet” takes Sundays off.


Q. Do you have a contingency plan for a day you have breaking news? Might the letter of the day get pushed off page one for some reason? What happens then?

​A. We can delay the project for a huge story that must get out front. We haven’t come close to that having to happen — yet. As I mentioned in a Page 1 column to readers the day before the letters began appearing, giving up the ​front page for 26 straight days would not have been possible without our digital-first mission. We don’t hold breaking news for print.

We’ll know when we have to put “The Alphabet” on hiatus. I hope we don’t have to.

There is much more about The Alphabet project on the paper’s web site. Caution, though: The Sentinel & Enterprise uses a metered paywall that allows you to see only five or six stories before you’re hit up to buy a subscription. So take a moment and choose which of these stories you’d like to see before you start clicking:

All of the photos illustrating this blog post were shot by the Sentinel & Enterprise staff and Schuleit Haber’s team of interns. Many thanks to Charles St. Amand for making this archive available to us.

Thanks to Dave Dombrowski for the tip.

A stunning multiple-cover gimmick this week by Sports Illustrated

This week, Sports Illustrated celebrates the big World Cup win by the U.S. Women’s National Team with a cover photo.

A cover photo not just of superstar goalkeeper Hope Solo


…and not just of Houston Dash player Carli Lloyd, who scored a Hat Trick in the 5-2 championship win over Japan on July 5.


No, Sports Illustrated produced 25 alternate covers for this week’s edition — one for each member of the team, plus the coach and one featuring seven key players.

Click this for a much larger look:


Chris Stone — managing editor of Sports Illustrated — said in a staff story posted on SI‘s web site Monday:

By the time we settled on the idea, the team was in [Los Angeles] for an event that would end mid-afternoon. The photographer we wanted to shoot it, and who had shot the [World Cup final], Simon Bruty, was headed home to D.C. It wasn’t going to happen on Tuesday.

Then, New York City delivered, big-time, by planning Friday’s [gala, ticker-tape] parade, which would bring the entire team to a single spot.

So the team agreed to be shot in New York’s City Hall, both before and after the parade Friday.

Much of the media buzz about this project calls the effort “unprecedented,” but I recall a similar project that was smaller in scope — slightly — but also done by a newspaper with significantly fewer resources than Sports Illustrated.

Matt Erickson — who, 11 years ago, was presentation director of the Times of Northwest Indiana in Munster, Ind…


… built alternate covers for the paper’s 2004 high school football section so that all the area schools could be on the cover that year.

The catch: There were 29 schools in the area. So Matt built 29 covers.

Insane, perhaps. But a hell of a talker.

The project earned two silver medals and judges’ special recognition in the annual SND contest. If you’ve got a 26th edition of Best of Newspaper Design handy, check it out on page 43.

Matt is now assistant editor of — part of the USA Today sports group — where he covers mixed martial arts fighting.

Boston Globe sports graphics maestro Luke Knox moving to ESPN

Luke Knox — for the past five years, an ace visual journalist for the Boston Globe — announced Friday on social media:

In a year of exciting changes, I have another one to report: I accepted a job this week with ESPN The Magazine and we are moving to Connecticut!


Starting next month, I will be Associate Art Director for Infographics and will build graphics for the mag and It’s an absolute dream job, working for [creative director] Chin Wang and alongside folks like Paul Wallen.

I’m sad to leave all the incredible colleagues at the Boston Globe from the past five-plus years, and I owe that place everything. But for Jen, the kids and myself, it’s an amazing opportunity for everyone and we are ready to get to know our new home state!

Luke tells us:

I finish [at the Globe] at the end of the month and start [at ESPN] Aug. 10.

A 2002 graduate of UNC-Asheville, Luke spent two years with the Pensacola News Journal in Florida and then a year-and-a-half at the Albuquerque Journal before joining the Arizona Republic in Phoenix in 2005.

He moved to Boston in 2010 as a sports design supervisor. He moved to graphics in 2013.



In particular, I love that Tom Terrific piece. I dissected it here in the blog when it ran — in February 2011 — and I still use it in many of my slideshows. In fact, I sent a JPG of it to a friend just this past weekend (Hi, Marcia!).


In addition, Luke reportedly works for my design firm. Heh.

Find Luke’s portfolio here and his Twitter feed here.

Columbia, SC, State went sideways with its Confederate flag coverage

The newspaper in Columbia, S.C. — the State — went sideways Saturday with an enormous photo of the Confederate flag coming down from its place of honor on the grounds of the State House.

Click this for a much larger look:


More than 10,000 people showed up to view the brief ceremony by the state highway patrol color guard. You can see a bunch of ’em in that picture by staffer Tim Dominick.

There, in the middle of the shot, is the moment.


Friday morning, the State observed the upcoming morning ceremony with an illustration of an empty flagpole and poet Nikky Finney.


The State is selling reprints of both of these pages. Find them here.

I’d be much obliged if anyone out there can tell me who designed either of these pages. All of my contacts at the State have moved on.

UPDATE: I’m told both pages were designed by Meredith Sheffer.

The place from which the Confederate flag was removed Friday was a special monument on the grounds of the State House in Columbia. It was placed there 15 years ago after being removed from its previous spot of honor: Atop the State House itself, just under the U.S. and state flags.

On the day it was removed from atop the State House dome, the State ran this awesome front page:


As I wrote a couple of weeks ago: No headline was necessary — if you lived in South Carolina, then you knew instantly what was missing from the picture.

Average daily circulation of the State is 70,980.

When you use a free tool, you might get what you pay for

A few weeks ago, the Huffington Post posted a fascinating article about our field:


Gets your attention, doesn’t it?

The author — who happens to be the head of communications for Canva, a maker of free online data visualization software — explains why today’s journalists really need, y’know, free online data visualization software. He uses visual aids — presumably created by the software he peddles — to show why we need to reach out to social media…


…what percentage of journalists use various social media…


…and the retention rate of visual information vs. good ol’ prose alone.


There’s just one little problem with all these graphics. And I’m hoping you spotted it right away.

They’re not accurate at all. In fact, they’re laughably incorrect.

Visual journalist John Telford recently blogged about the Huffington Post story, going into great detail about picking it apart each piece.

For example, that bubble chart I just showed you. John writes:

Notice anything wrong with the proportions of the bubbles relative to each other?


The most obvious issues are that the 16% and 14% orange bubbles are way off compared to the 30% gray bubble. However, just about all the proportions for every bubble are off to some degree. Let’s take a look at what the chart would look like if the proportions were correct.


When the scale is off as badly as this, you lose credibility. People are more skeptical today than ever before, and if they catch what could simply be an innocent mistake but they perceive it as an intentional misrepresentation of the facts because you have an agenda to push, you’ve lost them.

Bubble charts have become extremely popular over the last few years, but they’re rarely the best choice to allow for easy comprehension (as is often true for most forms of circular charts). It’s almost always better to use a bar chart as they’re more easily understood and make for easier comparisons between categories.

Bubble charts are so easy to screw up. This is just what we need: A tool to help us screw them up more efficiently than ever before. Sigh.

John also has harsh words for the third example at the top of this post:


John writes:

I’m not even sure what kind of chart it’s supposed to be exactly. However, since the author went to all the trouble to attach the data points to the arrow, it would have been good to use proper proportions to space the data points evenly.

…A much better solution would have been to use the humble bar chart:


Wow! Now there’s an impressive looking statistic displayed in a chart that holds some impact and meaning.

Excellent analysis by John. Read his entire blog post here.


A former artist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, John now runs a freelance infographics and design business based in Florida. Find his web site here.

Deeper in his writeup about bubble charts, John mentions one of my blog posts. In fact, I’ve written about bubble charts time and time and time again.

Deeper in his writeup about bubble charts, John mentions one of my blog posts. In fact, I’ve written about bubble charts time and time and time again.

Several years ago, I took issue with Dipity, a free tool that gave journalists a way of creating illustrated interactive timelines. Poynter had written about that tool in glowing terms. Find that blog post here.

Hey, free tools can be a great way of helping visual journalists make ends meet when you have zero resources and zero budget. But make sure you check back over the results those tools give you — just like you’d check back over anything you write. Don’t assume the developers of these tools know what the hell they’re doing when it comes to content going out via your site, your feed or under your byline.

On the Mississippi state flag issue, no fence-sitters allowed

The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss., attempted to find out whether state lawmakers were for or against removing the Confederate Battle Flag imagery from the state flag.


Sixty-seven legislators went on the record for or against. But 106 of them weaseled out by claiming to be undecided or not responding at all, despite repeated contacts.

This was the front page the Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss., ran this past Saturday. Click for a much larger look:

This was truly a team effort, says Merry Eccles of the Gannett Design Studio in Nashville tells us:

It was Executive Editor Sam Hall’s idea to poll the legislators. After the lack of response, he thought it would be good to publish the names and faces of those who weren’t responding and dodging the question.

The first round of emails and a good portion of the first calls were done by their intern, Royce Swayze. Political editor Geoff Pender also contributed a good bit to it, as did reporter Sarah Fowler. After a few days, they divided up among the entire news staff the names and contact info of all those who had not responded. Everyone called and emailed four, five or six people in an effort to mark more off the list.

I pulled the mugs, and did the layout. And Richard Mullins double-checked me.

Sam said they  will continue to call, email, Facebook, etc. for the foreseeable future. And the poll is live updated on our website and remains on the front page of the site.


Average daily circulation of the Clarion-Ledger is 57,710.

A couple of weeks ago, I showed you two front pages Merry did for the Clarion-Ledger on this topic.

Also, I wrote about the day in 2000 they took the Confederate Flag down from atop the State House in Columbia, S.C., and how the State newspaper covered it.

Washington Post’s Alberto Cuadra moving to Science magazine

Award-winning infographics guru Alberto Cuadra has left the Washington Post.


Alberto tells us:

I will be the Managing Editor of Graphics for Science, in their digital division.

The idea is to bring their culture — very print-centric at this moment — to a more web/mobile/social/ multimedia zone. Very exciting and very imposing at the same time

I will start on July 20.

Alberto’s colleague Richard Johnson posted this sketch Richard did of Alberto at work during his last week at the Post:


Alberto worked his last day Thursday.

A 1992 graduate of the University of Navarra, Alberto worked with el Mundo in Madrid and then Reuters before joining the Houston Chronicle in 2004 as a senior graphic artist. As then-graphics editor Jay Carr wrote a few years ago:

With an ability to create a wide variety of stunning visuals and a constant drive to never do anything “ordinary,” Alberto put the Chronicle’s graphics department on the map. In 2006, the Chronicle was one of four papers worldwide to be cited for “use of graphics” in the annual Society for News Design competition. Without Alberto, this wouldn’t have been possible.

Alberto moved to the Post in 2010. A few samples of his work:





The aging brain

In addition, I have a fairly extensive collection of Alberto’s work that moved on the Washington Post wire that I used on my Focus pages in California. Typically, I’d re-edit the heck out of them — because, y’know, I rarely had room for both the graphic and the story. So I’d edit the story down to an intro graph, punch up the headline and then move things around just a bit to make the graphic the lead element — or the only visual element — on the page.

Here are three modest examples of this:


Find Alberto’s portfolio here and his Twitter feed here.

A lush graphic look at a biodiverse mountaintop rainforest

Have you ever heard of the Google Forest in northern Mozambique?

Me, neither.

Botanists from the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens near London theorized there must be some virgin biodiverse rainforest-like territory near Malawi and Mozambique, nearly a mile above sea level.

They used Google Earth to search for likely spots and eventually zeroed in on Mount Mabu.


Bingo! The area proved to be as biologically diverse as hoped. Scientists have been studying it ever since.

This happened ten years ago. My friends at Graphics24 in South Africa celebrated this anniversary with an ginormous graphic that explains how what’s become known as the Google Forest was discovered and some of the species found there.

Click this for a much, much larger look:

Google Forest new

Graphics24 graphics editor Andre Gouws tells me:

I had an idea for this one when I read an article that this forest was discovered by Western scientists ten years ago. I thought it would be great to show this amazing forest in all its beauty in an infographic.

I did the research, found the names of all the new species, and told Hanlie Malan about my idea to sketch the forest filled with all these beautiful creatures.

I love doing these kind of arty graphics with Hanlie.

Hanlie picks up the story:

This graphic was Andre’s great idea. He asked me to make sure to create the feeling that when you look at it, it must feel like you are inside a forest.


First I made a study of all the trees — I found a great site with all the info, then I proceeded with a rough drawing to be able to figure out where each bird/plant/insect etc must go. I discussed it with Andre first, and then I started the detailed drawing of the trees, after which I added the colors and effects. This took me one whole weekend and the following Monday nonstop.

After that was done, I started drawing each animal/insect separately, knowing it would facilitate the process as I go along, in case it needed to be made bigger or smaller or moved to add info later on.



The snake took many hours to draw.


Andre supplied a lot of info which helped me to me able to illustrate a lot of the newly found fauna and flora. I used a few different artist pens for all of the drawings. I added each one’s colors separately as well, and these took me an additional two weekends, but I also worked on this a few times during the weeks, when I had time, between my other work.

Yes, you are 100% correct by saying I drew it first, scanned it in and then added the colors in Photoshop. I drew everything quite big so that it could have a lot of detail afterwards, when scanned and reduced in size. I tried to make it look hand-colored with the effects I used.


And yes, I added the ‘halo’s’ to make them stand out, I am glad you say it works.

Andre finishes the story by adding:

I sent the graphic to the researcher, Dr. Julian Bayliss (he is in Malawi now)…


…and he very kindly responded with some additional info. He also asked for a copy of the graphic. He says he likes it a lot.

Graphics24 is the infographics division of South African media giant Media24. Among the company’s many holdings: Daily Afrikaans-language papers in Johannesburg, Bloomfontein and Cape Town, two large nationally-distributed Sunday papers — one publishes in Afrikaans and one in English — and a number of tabloids. I did quite a bit of teaching and consulting work for the company’s print operation between 2009 and 2011.

This graphic ran in the English-language Sunday paper, City Press. I’m told it’s possible it might also appear in City Press‘ Afrikaans-language counterpart, Rapport.

Hanlie Malan works out of the company’s Port Elizabeth office.


I posted about her work from time to time during my trips to South Africa. Here’s an example of her graphic work.

Here’s what I wrote about graphics editor Andre Gouws back in 2010, when Media24 appointed him to be graphics director:

Andre is very sharp and very organized. He has a ton of experience as both and editor and a manager, having worked in Cape Town and then at the Gulf News in Dubai.


When I was here [in 2009], I helped write a job description and recommended criteria for a departmental leader. Seems to me they’ve chosen wisely.

In November of last year, Andre and Hanlie teamed up to create a nice piece on the Berlin Wall. A month later, they worked on a piece that observed the 10th anniversary of the gigantic tsunami that affected the Indian Ocean.

Find the Graphics24 online graphics archive here.

The day’s nine best gay marriage front pages

Here’s a look at what I feel are the nine best front pages today dealing with Friday’s landmark Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage.

Newark, N.J.
Circulation: 278,940

If you haven’t seen this page already, then you’re probably not spending enough time on social media.

This is the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., which elected to lead today’s front page with a charmingly simple illustration of a rainbow heart and the closing lines of Friday’s majority opinion, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy.


That was designed by the Star-Ledger‘s sports designer, Kiersten Schmidt — who is soon leaving the business, she says, to go to grad school at the University of North Carolina.

Kiersten wrote last night on her Facebook timeline:

In my last few months as a newspaper designer, I’ve been fortunate to design pages for some pretty cool events — the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years, the 29th player in MLB history to reach 3,000 hits (who also happens to be one of my favorite players) — but this one was far and away the best.

As I move onto North Carolina and a (ever-so-slight) career change, this is the page that will stay with me.

To be honest, a lot of days it feels like what I do doesn’t really matter. Not today. Today I decided to stray away from what you’re “supposed” to do when big news breaks because I felt that today’s news deserved something a bit more.

I hope when the people of New Jersey pick up their papers on Saturday, they feel the happiness in their heart that I felt when I designed this page. I hope they think of this page and Kennedy’s words when they remember the day we all became a little more equal.

Love wins. And good design matters.

Nicely done.

Find Kiersten’s web site and portfolio here.

Cleveland, Ohio
Circulation: 246,571

The Cleveland Plain Dealer also led today with just the text of Justice Kennedy’s


The text against the stark black background is very sharp indeed.

This was designed by Josh Crutchmer, I’m told. Which explains why it looks so awesome.

Norfolk, Va.
Circulation: 142,476

From a stark black background to a stark white background: The Virginian-Pilot today also used that same excerpt.


Notice how designer Wes Watson used the same trick Josh did in Cleveland: He emphasized that last emphatic sentence.

Wesley tells us:

As I understand it, Paul [Nelson, design team leader] and new editor Steve Gunn had the idea at the same time to use the excerpt as the front.

So Paul had me work it up quickly to see how it would play out. I knew I didn’t want to knockout text; I wanted it as light and fresh as possible. We tried a couple of versions where we had another story and refers, and then just refers. My feeling was if we’re going to dedicate this much space — because we’re saying this is important — having anything else out there takes away from that message. And everyone seemed to agree.

So we removed everything else we could all the way down to the barcode. Simple and clean.

Mountain Home, Ark.
Circulation: 9,156

I realize this is probably stock art…


But, hey: I’d argue it’s the perfect piece of stock art, used in the perfect way on the perfect day.

UPDATE: I’m told this was designed by Valeria Rodriguez of the Gannett Design Studio in Des Moines.

San Francisco, Calif.
Circulation: 229,176

In San Francisco — ground-zero for the fight for same-sex marriage — the Chronicle published this fabulous front page today.


That is Jewelle Gomez and Diane Sabin, who were plaintiffs in a 2004 lawsuit involving gay marriage, at a City Hall news conference. Staffer Tim Hussin caught them in silhouette, against what appears to be a gay pride flag.

Omaha, Neb.
Circulation: 135,223

A number of papers went out to find local folks rushing to be the first married under the new world order.

In Omaha, Jenna Stanley and Kelly Brokaw had planned to get married in Iowa this weekend. But the ruling Friday morning caused them to move up their schedule and to stay at home.


The picture is by staffer Ryan Soderlin.

Note how clean that page is. When you have a gorgeous picture like that and it tells your story well, you know the drill: Play it big and get the hell out of its way.

UPDATE: I’m told this page was designed by Tim Parks.

Clarksville, Tenn.
Circulation: 14,596

That’s exactly what the folks did at the Leaf-Chronicle of Clarksville, Tenn.

Meet Travis Arms and Michael Vanzant, now husband and husband. Staffer Autumn Allison photographed them getting married by the Montgomery County Commissioner himself.


Nice headline, too.

Victoria, Texas
Circulation: 26,531

My former colleagues at the Victoria Advocate — deep in conservative South Texas — also ran their lead art big today and got the hell out of its way.


That’s Nicole Dimetman and Cleo DeLeon at Central Presbyterian Church in Austin Friday evening, photographed by staffer Jaime R. Carrero. The local significance: DeLeon is a descendent of Victoria’s founding family.

The wonderful Jessica Rodrigo had superb access to Ms. DeLeon for several months and wrote a great piece for today’s paper. Read it here.

That terrific page: Run it big. Get the hell out of its way. Right? That’s Kimiko Fieg, who’s semi-retiring this month after a decade or so as the Advocate‘s presentation editor.

Also, for what it’s worth, I left the Advocate with an exhaustive — but, sadly, incomplete — timeline history starting with the birth of the modern Gay Rights movement in New York City in 1969 and running through… well, my last day on Wednesday. My former colleagues updated the timeline and ran it in today’s paper.


In addition, my pal Jordan Rubio converted my work into an interactive version. Find that here.

Springfield, Mo.
Circulation: 35,531

But the award for luckiest shot of the day — which made for perfect lead art, if somewhat accidental — is this picture by Valerie Mosley of the Springfield, Mo., News-Leader of a rainbow after a Friday afternoon rain.


Does that sum up the story perfectly, or what?

UPDATE: This page, I’m told, was designed by Eric Fields and Sean McKeown-Young.

I put out a few messages this morning, seeking names of designers and so on. If you have any information to share — especially a few sentences on how the page came together — please send it to me. I’ll add it here as quickly as I can.

These front pages are all from the Newseum. Of course.

The debate over the Confederate flag moves to Mississippi

I mentioned on Tuesday the state flag of Mississippi, which incorporates the old Confederate battle flag — a symbol of hate and derision throughout the South during the fight for Civil Rights in the 1950s and 1960s.


And, in some cases, to this very day.

Monday, the speaker of Mississippi’s House of Representatives — a Republican — announced he thought it time to begin talking about changing Mississippi’s flag.

The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss., led Tuesday’s edition with a story about that shift.


That page was designed, I’m told, by Richard Mullins of the Gannett Design Studio in Nashville.

Wednesday, the Clarion-Ledger came back with two stories — one on the division among Republicans on whether or not to start this discussion. And one on the background of the flag and how people feel about it.

This page and the illustration were by Merry Eccles, also of the Nashville studio.


Merry tells us:

I wanted something that wasn’t inflammatory or biased to either side. Trying to visually bridge the gap for readers with an image that would convey “coming together,” the dove came to mind.

I pitched having a single subject front without any skybox and [the editors] were on board. I didn’t want a Wednesday Taste refer to take away from the seriousness of the page.

Gorgeous work.

Average daily circulation of the Clarion-Ledger is 57,710.

A few samples of Merry’s work:






I’ve written about Merry a number of times over the years:

A blast from the past: The removal of the Confederate flag from the S.C. state house dome

Unless you’ve been living under a rock over the past few days, you’ve seen the controversy in my home state of South Carolina over its continued reverence for the Confederate battle flag.


The Confederate flag flies from a special memorial on the grounds of the State House in Columbia. I was a bit puzzled when I saw reports last week that noted the U.S. and state flags were flying at half staff after the church shooting Wednesday in Charleston, but the Confederate flag was still at full staff. They’re on separate flagpoles.

But that wasn’t always the case. For 38 years starting in 1962, the Confederate battle flag — or, at least, a bastardized version of it — flew from atop the State House dome itself.


I grew up with us having three flags atop the State House. That’s just the way it always was.

But then one day nearly 15 years ago — July 1, 2000 — the battle flag came down and was moved to its current spot. On that day — for the first time in my lifetime — only two flags flew above the seat of state government.

The next day, the paper there in Columbia — the State — ran this awesome front page.


William Castronuovo — who, at the time, was deputy editor of the State — took the time to tell us about that page.

I’d planned it two months before and had two photographers positioned (backups to each other) to get the shot.

Before my idea was introduced — ideas were solicited and nothing was original in idea, concept or realistic. There was one suggestion that the front page be an illustration.

I got a lot of flack because folks were freaked that there was no headline. My argument was the headline was in the photo itself… …the flagpole sans the Confederate Battle Flag of Northern Virginia.

And I would agree with that, 100 percent. Now, if you were driving through the state that day and happened to stop and buy a paper, you might be baffled by that front page. But if you had lived in South Carolina any length of time, that image alone was nothing short of stunning. No headline needed.

I show this page in my Art of Being Brilliant presentation. It was bold and brilliant 15 years ago and it still is today.

William continues:

Now, page A3 was the “actual” front page with the same format that’s expected.

In other words, this was what we’d probably call a “wrap.” In theory, could pull this page off the paper and still have a standard-looking front page.

Bill says:

The photo on that page was of the hostile crowed the State Police had to keep separated. I have a 40-minute video I made — I was right at the edge. You’d have thought my video was recorded in 1962.

William is a 1983 graduate of the University of Maryland, where he served as a reporter and then design director of the student paper there, the Maryland Diamondback.


He has worked at a number of places over the years: The Washington Post weeklies, executive editor of the Reston (Va.) Times, graphics editor of the New York Daily News, art director of the Washington Times, sports art director of the National sports daily, publisher of a number of local D.C. suburban papers, design director of the Miami Herald, associate editor of the Gary (Ind.) Post-Tribune and then ten years as associate editor of the State of Columbia, S.C.

Bill has been working since 2007 to launch the Washington Reader in Washington, D.C. In addition, he’s working on a book that he hopes to publish soon.

A few moments ago, I called that flag a “bastardized” version of the Confederate battle flag. Why?

Because the official Confederate battle flag wasn’t shaped like a rectangle like that flag is. It was a square.

That’s one way to tell whether the person flying a Confederate flag is sincere about his or her respect for Confederate history. If the flag is rectangular, then it’s the type that came into common use in the south in the 1950s and 1960s as a symbol of resistance against integration and Civil Rights.

I’m not generally the type to fly a Confederate flag. But If I were, I’d insist on flying the real “Stars and Bars” — the first national flag of the Confederacy, shown below:


Five or six times in my career as a visual journalist, I’ve done graphics on the history of the Confederate flag. That one is the most recent — I built it a couple of weeks ago for my current paper, the Victoria (Texas) Advocate.

Also, while I’m on this topic: The state of Mississippi still uses the Confederate battle flag as part of its state flag.


Last night, news reports stated the legislature there is considering changing the flag. Finally.

This was the case in Georgia, several years ago. In 1956 — in the height of the Civil Rights movement and the white backlash to that struggle — the Georgia state legislature redesigned the flag of that state to include the Confederate battle flag. Every year, black state legislators would call for that symbol of hate and racism to be removed. Every year, white supporters would claim the flag was changed in order to honor our noble Confederate forefathers.

At the time, I was a graphic artist and editorial cartoonist for the two dailies in Athens, Ga. — the Banner-Herald and the Daily News. Wanting to sound off on the issue, I decided to hit the clip files first. And I was appalled by what I found there: I read the speeches made by Georgia lawmakers as they pushed to add the battle flag to their state flag. Those speeches didn’t really go much into their ancestors and their war losses. The speeches were all angry retorts to the Federal court system and especially Brown v. Board of Education, which called for the integration of schools.

So I drew up an editorial cartoon showing this. And despite the relatively conservative bent of the editorial pages there, my editors approved it.


That ran 28 years ago last month.

They finally changed the Georgia state flag in 2001:


If that looks like something designed by a committee, then you’re quite right. That’s exactly what it was: A compromise. My complaint at the time: That’s not a flag, that’s an infographic.

Two years later, the Georgia legislature took another swing at it. This time, they got it right:


That’s the state seal in the blue field. The rest of the flag looks a bit like the original national flag of the Confederacy. But then again, it also looks a lot like the state flag of Georgia before they went and changed it in 1956:


In fact, those three red-and-white stripes have been part of Georgia’s state flag since 1879.

It took many years, but Georgia finally took steps to distance itself from the racist and sometimes violent backlash the white citizens there had to the Civil Rights movement. It sounds like Mississippi might be doing the same.

It’s time South Carolina fell into line. Honoring your ancestors is one thing. But honoring a racist and divisive past is quite another.

Honor the past. But enable the future. Dump that flag.

Inside the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier’s church shooting coverage

Mitch Pugh, the editor of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier, took some time this weekend to send along pages his paper published regarding the tragic attack on historic Emanuel AME church last week.


The attack happened around 9 p.m. Wednesday night. The Post and Courier responded quickly with assistant digital editor/visuals Matthew Fortner there to shoot police officers, guns drawn, at the scene that night.

The A1 designer  that night — Chris Tabakian — ran Matthew’s picture big and got the hell out of its way.


Click that — or another other page here today — for a much closer look.


Friday’s paper led with mug shots of the nine victims and a quote from Charleston mayor Joe Riley.


That wonderful picture of a woman and her three-year-old granddaughter is by staffer Paul Zoeller. The page was designed by Maureen Hartshorn.

Mitch tells us:

Our entire visuals team has risen to the challenge, from designers and copy editors to a terrific photo team led by Assistant Digital Editor-Visuals Matthew Fortner.

But the whole visuals team has been great: staffers Grace Beahm, Leroy Burnell, Brad Nettles, Wade Spees and Paul Zoeller and intern Lauren Prescott.

I would also bring attention to videographer Chris Hanclosky, who has done some terrific work including this emotional piece he created on Friday.

Page six contained stories dealing with President Barack Obama‘s reaction, the history of the church, a column by the Post and Courier‘s Brian Hicks and a story stripped across the bottom on the Confederate flag issue.


Page seven held the jump of the lead story, anchored by Leroy Burnell’s photo.

Pages eight and nine took jumps of sidebars from A1, on the vigils and this being the deadliest hate crime in the history of South Carolina. That rail down the right side from the AP lists other attacks on black churches.


Page 10 held three shorter stories about events being canceled and other churches in Charleston’s historic downtown area showing their support.


Page 11 was devoted to the suspect, who was caught on Thursday in Shelby, not far west of Charlotte and a good four hours’ drive up I-26 from Charleston.


Saturday’s front page was also designed by Maureen Hartshorn.

The stunning lead art of a woman in anguish at a prayer service is by Grace Beahm.


Grace also shot the picture of the church framed by a twilight sky.

Go here to read the lead story by Andrew Knapp.

Mitch writes:

Headlines were often born from the teamwork of terrific desk people and frontline editors. Cindy Cloutier and Fred Rindge can likely take credit for Saturday’s choice.

However, I would be remiss not to mention that we employ one of the best headline writers in the business – Beth Harrison. She’s a regular award winner. In a time when the value placed on copy editors and headline writers seems to be diminishing, it’s a privilege to work alongside a copy editor like Beth. Most everything beyond the banner heads was written by Beth.

Also you might have noticed something by now. As Mitch tweeted Saturday:


When another editor saw my retweet and pushed back, Mitch explained:


Damn right. This is why God created inside pages. My former colleague Steve Buttry feels the same way.

Page six — below, left — holds a story about reaction from South Carolina’s governor and then the jump of the lead story. A couple of sidebars help fill out the backstory of the suspect.


Page seven — above right — addresses the prayer vigils and lists other memorial events to be held throughout the weekend. The pictures are by Paul Zoeller. That one showing folks joining hands as they sing We Shall Overcome is worth a larger look:


Page eight holds an AP story about how the suspect was identified and trailed by a woman in Shelby. Downpage is a story about commentator Glenn Beck, who came to town.


Page nine held the jump of the tick-tock story you may have read by staffers Doug Pardue and Jennifer Berry Hawes — it went viral in a big way this weekend.

Here’s a closer look at the graphic at the upper right of page nine, drawn by former MCT graphics assistant art director Robert Dorrell.


Page 10 held what I’ll call the political angle: Stories about the Confederate flag and whether or not the attack is to be considered terrorism.



The Post and Courier cooked up something really special for Sunday’s paper: A four-page wrap.

Mitch tells us:

We began to explore the concept after designer Krena Lanham came to us Thursday afternoon with an idea for the Faith & Values page – a stark and powerful list of the names of the deceased. We liked the idea but felt an inside page diminished the concept. Instead, we began exploring how we could do this as a four-page wrap on Sunday and put the names on the front of the paper.

Publisher P.J. Browning, President of Shared Services Ron Cartledge and others acted quickly to help us determine a way to make this happen.


Those are Palmetto roses on the front: Nine of them.

Mitch continues:

In addition to the front with the names of the nine victims, we decided to craft short anecdotes for each victim on the inside pages. We envisioned these as brief glimpses into their lives that would show readers their true character.


Three Pulitzer Prize winners and a Pulitzer finalist were among the teams working on these profiles, evidence of the great care we took to get them right.

We are also forever grateful for the contribution from South Carolina Poet Laureate Marjory Wentworth. Reporter Adam Parker contacted her Thursday afternoon to see if she was willing to write an original piece for this edition, and she immediately agreed. Within 24 hours she produced the beautiful and profound poem that you see on the back page of the edition.


I was floored when I read it and still can’t believe she was able to craft something so perfect in that amount of time.

I couldn’t find an online version of this poem to link to, so here’s a tighter and larger crop:


Mitch tells us:

Chad Dunbar and Maureen Hartshorn worked with the concept over the weekend to develop the final product. The inside pages and back page were designed by Chad.

The wrap was printed on premium, white paper, Mitch says.


And today’s front page features a huge photo by Paul Zoeller of worshippers at Emanuel AME Church on Sunday.


And the pictures of that “Bridge to Peace Unity Chain” event last night are spectacular. Between 10,000 and 15,000 people gathered on the Ravenel Bridge over the Cooper River. Find the story and pictures here.

Average daily circulation for the Post and Courier is 87,817.

From designer to design editor to sportswriter to… photographer for a young adult book cover?

Matt Erickson really gets around. He’s assistant editor of, which covers mixed martial arts fighting. That site is also part of the USA Today sports group.

You might remember him as a truly awesome sports designer for the Munster, Ind., Times of Northwest Indiana. The visuals project for which he’s best remembered, perhaps, was when he built alternate covers for the paper’s 2004 high school football section…

so that all the area schools could be on the cover that year.

All 29 of the area schools.

It was an amazing effort that earned him two silver medals and judges’ special recognition in the annual SND contest. If you’ve got a 26th edition of Best of Newspaper Design handy, check it out on page 43.

On the side, though, Matt has a hobby: High Dynamic Range — or HDR — photography. Matt explains that HDR…

…allows for a much higher range of luminance between the dark and light areas of a photo. This is done, typically, by combining three or more exposures of the same shot — one overexposed, one underexposed, one neutral. The resulting images are a closer representation of what your eyes would have seen — though perhaps not always all at once.

The technique has been around for more than 150 years, believe it or not, though [now] it’s a little bit easier to do the post-processing in a digital darkroom than it was in the 1850s.

The result is something that looks a lot like a painting. Except it’s not, of course. It’s a photo.

Matt says:

That shot is three exposures layered on top of each other — 1/640, 1/160, 1/40: One underexposed, one neutral, one overexposed. Because of the technique itself — three exposures merged into one image — it obviously isn’t “photojournalism.” Rather, it’s just an artistic photographic technique.

Matt has been experimenting around with this stuff for years.

Matt even sells prints of his work. Find his site here.

Today, however, I want to draw your attention to this HDR picture of a high school football field that Matt shot a while back:


Matt writes via his Facebook page that this is…

…an HDR photo I shot before covering a game in 2010. I was stringing for The Times as a writer and wasn’t there to shoot photos; I shot it on my own, killing time waiting for kickoff.

A major book publisher spotted that picture and bought it from Matt for use on a book cover. He writes:

It’s called Until Friday Night, and it’s the first in what, I guess, will be a series of Young Adult books in the Field Party line.


The Simon & Schuster cover designer added the foreground image of the kids in the truck and the fence and bushes and Photoshopped out the logo on the field, and then went and put words all over my beautiful clouds and sunset.

The book will be released Aug. 25. It lists for $17.99, but Amazon is preselling the hardcover for $13.85.

A 1997 graduate of Eastern Illinois University, Matt immediately joined the the Times and worked there for 13 years as a designer and, eventually, director of presentation and visuals. He spent time as a regional director for the Society for News Design and coordinated the SND annual contest in 2005. Matt left the Times in 2010 to strike out on his own as a freelance sportswriter specializing in MMA. He spent a year or so working with and joined in 2012.

How the Clarion-Ledger honored Mississippi’s own B.B. King

Lindsey Turner — creative director of the Gannett Design Studio in Nashville, Tenn. — writes to share something from a couple of weeks ago:

This was the 1A (and cover of a special section wrapping the paper) of the Jackson, Miss., Clarion-Ledger the morning after everyone learned B.B. King had died.

The ever-thoughtful Merry Eccles designed it. Those are song titles there, forming the contours of Mr. King.


Merry tells us:

I knew The Clarion-Ledger had been working on some content because B.B. King is a native Mississippian but we hadn’t talked about design. I had heard he went into hospice and I was going on vacation the next week and I really wanted to do something for their readers and King’s Mississippi fans.

I did two options. One was typographic approach with a silhouette of King overlaid on the complete list of his songs. I wanted to show his enduring contribution to music and when I was doing some research I came across a compilation of his songs over the years and it was massive, so I thought what better way to show it then use it in some way.


The other option I did was a little more conceptual. It mimicked the shape of a guitar with the Bs when you looked at the page as a whole, but in case The Clarion-Ledger wanted to show photos of King, I wanted to give them the option.


Q. How did the page come together?

A. Probably equal parts taking the initiative to do it before it was needed and having great bosses and editors who allow me the time and opportunity to be creative and really push for something bold and unconventional on their special projects.

Q. Was this a difficult concept to sell?

A. Not at all. The executive editor, Sam Hall, liked both options but was won over by the song list version. The design studio has done a great deal of progressive designs for the The Clarion-Ledger and they’ve been open to them.

A few samples of Merry’s work:






I’ve written about Merry a number of times over the years:

Average daily circulation of the Clarion-Ledger is 57,710.

The story behind Manitowoc’s cool sideways Monday front page

The Herald-Times of Manitowoc, Wis., ran an unusual time-sequence series of photos on page one Monday. And they did it sideways.

Executive editor Kevin Anderson tells us:

The page grew out of a photo montage – an analog animated GIF of sorts — created by a freelance photographer, who used to be the features editor for the Herald-Times and has a great eye for photos and layout. He created the montage and posted it to Facebook and offered it up for print.

After seeing the photo montage, designer Evan Backstrom offered up the idea of radically going horizontal.

Evan adds:

I was given a stellar photo and my immediate thought was to design the page on its side so we could run the photo series as large as possible.

Click this for a much larger version:


Kevin picks back up the story:

I am always game for something different, and my only reservation was readability, an issue raised by some of our readers when we have reversed text. However, Evan and our design team leader Bill Wambeke produced a great design that didn’t sacrifice copy clarity so I instantly thought that we’d start marketing this as a collectible edition.

Find video of the demolition here.

Average daily circulation of the Herald Times Reporter is 10,253.


A 2012 graduate of Ball State University, Evan Backstrom served as chief page designer for the student paper there, the Ball State Daily News, and interned at Stamprint Printing and the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library. He went to work for Gannett three years ago.

A few samples of his work:

1506EvanBackstromSamples03 1506EvanBackstromSamples02 1506EvanBackstromSamples01

Find his web site here, his NewsPageDesigner portfolio here and his Twitter feed here.