Front page of the day

There’s a brilliant conceptual centerpiece on the front of today’s Lafayette, Ind., Journal & Courier:

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Ingredients:

  • A question headline — normally, I hate question headlines. But this one is very effective.
  • A wonderful typographical treatment on said headline.
  • What appears to be a little piece of stock art.
  • Lots of white space.
  • Nice decks on the two stories below.

This would have been designed in Gannett’s Louisville design studio. If anyone there can fill us in about details —  who designed it, how it came to be — please share.

This is the same paper — and the same design studio — that produced this page, back in January.

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That, too, was stock art. I sent out several messages at the time trying to get details but came up empty-handed.

Both pages are great examples of how to build powerful, powerful work using stock images. Kudos to the kitchen staff.

Average daily circulation of the Journal & Courier is 25,531.

That page image is from the Newseum. Of course.

A look at today’s most interesting Fourth of July pages

Here’s a look at some of the day’s most interesting Fourth of July pages…


THE GAZETTE
Colorado Springs, Colo.
Circulation: 70,021

The best page of the day, hands down, is an enormous page-one illustration that ran the front of today’s Colorado Springs Gazette.

The Gazette‘s Stephanie Swearngin tells us:

We wanted to do something a little different for July 4, because the holiday always seems to be a very light news day for us.

I threw out a couple of ideas to our presentation director. The original idea that I had was to run quick fun tidbits, history blurbs or by the numbers related to July 4. For example, how many people consume hot dogs on the 4th? Or what’s the history behind using fireworks? But sadly, I didn’t have time to implement that idea since I’m also heavily involved with preparing for our DTI upgrade.

So, the photo staff came in and saved the day. Michael Ciaglo, photographer, created this photo illustration. He was able to shoot sparklers and place a red and blue background behind it to create the flag. Michael and our photo editor called me over to show me the work in progress. At that moment we decided it would run full page.

Click this for a much larger view:

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And they ran it sideways, too! Note how the placement of the nameplate still put it above the fold.

Stephanie continues:

I discussed the new idea with Dena Rosenberry, presentation director, and we ran with it.

We also wanted to run a few promos on the page to inform readers of the news of the day. That part was a little tricky, since I didn’t want to put those directly on the image of the flag. So I worked closely with Michael to extend a little extra blue background to separate the promos without taking away the attention from the flag.

This was just another fun way to celebrate the holiday with our readers.

Excellent work. As is this next one…


DAILY SUN
The Villages, Fla.
Circulation: 44,624

The Daily Sun of the Villages, Fla., ran a big story today on local folks who have ancestors who fought for the country’s freedom, 238 or so years ago.

The paper made a bold decision to illustrate this on page one. With a wonderful watercolor painting…

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…that was done by the editor of the paper herself, Bonita Burton.

I love this. And I’m not just saying that because she hired me to teach at her paper three weeks ago.

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Although that does show she has exquisite tastes.


REDEYE
Chicago, Ill.
Distribution: 250,000

RedEye — the Chicago Tribune‘s free commuter tab — illustrated its Thursday front page with this giant illustration of fireworks over the windy city.

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The photo illustration is by staffer Lenny Gilmore.


THE TIMES
Shreveport, La.
Circulation: 37,666

The Times of Shreveport, La., illustrated page one today with this military-themed piece that highlighted the sacrifices the military have made to secure our freedom.

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I might argue this would seem more appropriate for Memorial Day — but, then again, I might be wrong. Either way, it’s a gorgeous presentation.


TWO MORE

And, while we’re talking about flag-centric illustrations, let’s take note of the two papers that used giant U.S. flag motifs on page one today.

On the left is the Daily Herald of Roanoke Rapids, N.C., that wrapped a few interesting factoids and refers to inside around a flag.

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On the right is the News Tribune of Duluth, Minn., that inserted quotes from local folks on what freedom means to them.

Average daily circulation of the Daily Herald is 8,259 . The News Tribune circulates 30,606 papers daily.
____________________________
GIANT PHOTOS

A few papers chose to lead today with huge photos.


HERALD NEWS
Fall River, Mass.
Circulation: 14,979

The tiny Herald News of Fall River, Mass., led today with a poster-sized photo of a back-lit U.S. flag.

140704BigPicFallRiverMass

The picture is by staffer Jack Foley.


POST-CRESCENT
Appleton, Wis.
Circulation:38,244

The Gannett paper in Appleton bucked the trend set today by the rest of the company’s Wisconsin papers — more about that in a moment — with this fabulous shot of a local family enjoying fireworks last night.

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Now, that picture — by staffer William Glasheen — is just gorgeous.


FREE PRESS
Burlington, Vt.
Circulation:30,558

The Gannett paper in Burlington, Vt., also led today with a picture of fireworks shot last night.

140704BigPicBurlingtonVt

What I really like about that one: The headline.

Yeah, the weather on the East Coast isn’t what folks would have hoped for this holiday weekend. But at least the Free Press got a great line out of it.


USA TODAY  “BUTTERFLY” EDITION
Nationally distributed

One of my favorite pages of the day ran on the front of the USA Today section that inserted in various Gannett papers around the country today in what that company calls “the butterfly edition.”

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The picture was shot at Fort McHenry, Md. — the very fort over which flew the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem that would later become the words to our National Anthem. This year, the caption notes, is the 200th anniversary of that poem — it dates from the War of 1812, as opposed to the Revolutionary War.

USA Today‘s Abby Westcott tells us:

My photo editor, Chris Powers, approached me with what he thought was a different and interesting photo from freelancer Matt Roth. I thought it was a good opportunity to go big with it for the 4th of July and take over the page for America. Everyone loves America.

My editor was on board and loved the design.

And I love Abby’s work. I gushed over it at length here.

____________________________
GIANT INFOGRAPHICS

Several papers today chose to lead page one with giant Independence Day-themed alternative story forms or graphics.


NEWS & RECORD
Greensboro, N.C.
Circulation:57,274

Perhaps the most fun of these was this one by Margaret Baxter of the Greensboro News & Record.

140704InfoGreensboroNC


BIRMINGHAM NEWS
Birmingham, Ala.
Circulation:103,729

Advance’s Alabama papers led today with a roundup of factoids focusing on Alabama — or, to be more precise, the region that became Alabama. Since, after all, Alabama wasn’t a state yet during the Revolutionary War.

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I think the Birmingham version was a bit more effective than the Huntsville version, which saw its page topper eliminated to make room for the larger ad across the bottom of the page.

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Average daily circulation for Huntsville is 44,725


NEWS-POST
Frederick, Md.
Circulation:32,472

The News-Post of Frederick, Md., cited a handful of “big number” factoids and illustrated them with a collection of local Independence Day photos from their files.

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I like that quite a bit. It’s clever, it’s local and it’s attractive.

The word cloud at bottom right: Not quite so much.


UPDATE – 5:40 p.m. PDT

I’m told this page was designed by News-Post news editor J.R. Williams, formerly with the Pensacola News Journal.


GANNETT

The folks at the nation’s largest newspaper company also built a really great Fourth of July infographic that ran today in at least nine papers.

The largest and most elaborate version I could find of this was this one, afront the Reporter of Fond du Lac, Wis., circulation 10,186.

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Click that for a larger, readable view.

There is, in fact, a lot of really fun stuff there. Unfortunately, I have no idea who put it together. If any of my Gannettoid friends out there can enlighten me, I’d love to dish a little credit here.

I suspect this came out of the Des Moines design studio, because it ran in five of Gannett’s Wisconsin papers, which are all designed there in Iowa.

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From left to right:

  • News-Herald, Marshfield, Wis. – Circulation 8,139
  • Daily Tribune, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. – Circulation 7,924
  • Northwestern, Oshkosh, Wis. – Circulation 14,113
  • Press-Gazette, Green Bay, Wis. – Circulation 41,767


UPDATE – 3:50 p.m. PDT

Sean McKeown-Young of the Gannett studio in Des Moines confirms this was his work:

It started as a small graphic that I shared out. Green Bay asked if I could blow it up into a centerpiece. Then, on Tuesday, Appleton asked if I could make it into a full page. It evolved.

The package — or major pieces of it — also ran in at least four other Gannett papers around the country.

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From left to right:

  • News-Star, Monroe, La. – Circulation 23,884
  • News Journal, Pensacola, Fla. – Circulation 40,435
  • Democrat, Tallahassee, Fla. – Circulation 35,238
  • Bulletin, Baxter, Ark. – Circulation 9,156


ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Santa Ana, Calif.
Circulation: 162,894

And what did my own paper do today for the Fourth? My good pal Kurt Snibbe took great care of my Focus page — inside the A section — in my absence this week, building this quiz with which to test your knowledge of the Declaration of Independence.

140704InfoOcRegister

Unfortunately, that’s the largest copy I have of this. If I can get ahold of a PDF, I’ll replace this image with one that might be clickable and readable.

That page would have also appeared in today’s Los Angeles Register and in the Press-Enterprise of Riverside.

____________________________
A FUN NAMEPLATE

But just to prove you don’t necessarily have to be quite so elaborate with your Fourth of July package in order to catch a few eyeballs, consider the nameplate play today by the…


CLARION-LEDGER
Jackson, Miss.
Circulation: 57,710

140704FunJacksonMiss

There! Wasn’t that fun?

With the exception of the USA Today butterfly section front and the OC Register Focus page, all of these images are from the Newseum. Of course.

  • From 2013: The one Fourth of July page you really need to see
  • From 2012: Today’s five best Fourth of July front pages
  • From 2011: Thirteen wonderful front pages for the Fourth of July
  • Also from 2011: It’s hard to beat a Fourth-of-July presentation like this

Today’s example of sloppy web publishing

Q. What’s worse than using dummy text in your headline?

A. I’ll show you. See this web page published this past weekend by the Wisconsin State Journal of Madison?

Check out the little piece of stock art used to illustrate this story.

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Can you see the cutline beneath that photo? Here’s a closer look:

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Yep. That’s no cutline: That’s the descriptive text the stock art agency used to describe the picture.

“With clipping path.” Sigh

Ten interesting takes on the end of the federal shutdown

A deal has been struck. The government shut down has been — well, shut down. A deal to raise the debt limit has been reached.

The Republicans went into this debacle having made unrealistic promises to the citizens who elected them and they came out of it looking petty and foolish. The Democrats came out of it looking marginally better — but only because they didn’t talk themselves out of losing their advantage of numbers.

But not from a lack of trying. Man, those Democrats sure run their mouths a lot.

Make no mistake, though: The Democrats didn’t win — Instead, the Republicans hurled themselves off a cliff. I’d argue that there were no winners at all here. Certainly not the American people.

And in just a few months, we’ll do it all again. Sigh.

In the meantime, here is a look at ten interesting takes on the most important government news since… well, since the Fiscal Cliff deal on New Year’s Eve.


1. DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE
Rochester, N.Y.
Circulation: 114,502

For the past two weeks, a lot of papers have turned stock art of the Capitol building into centerpiece art. The D&C does it well here, but that’s not why I like most about this page.

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What I like most is the main headline. Especially the “finally” bit.

Well-done.


UPDATE – 8:45 a.m.

This was designed by Abby Wescott of Gannett’s Asbury Park studio, who proudly tells us:

The headline was also my idea.


2. THE MONITOR
McAllen, Texas
Circulation: 32,086

I’m not crazy about the layout of this page. It’s got a number of flaws:

  • Too many elements are crammed above the fold. A little white space might have helped.
  • I don’t like the way the photos seem to shift to the left when you get to the sidebar.
  • The lead-in deck seems a bit too wordy

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What I like about this page — and why I bring it to your attention — unlike many of the front page treatments you’ll see around the country today, this one acknowledges the political battle over U.S. fiscal policy is not over. This was just one more round in what will be a long, long war.

That’s not fun, but that’s the truth. The less we sugar-coat that for readers, the better informed they’ll be.


3. THE FORUM
Fargo, N.D.
Circulation: 45,298

The champion today at making this very point, however, has to be the Forum of Fargo, N.D.

Savvy observers complained that Wednesday’s deal didn’t solve anything; it just kicked the can down the road. The Forum actually illustrated this.

131017ShutdownFargoND


4. ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
St. Louis, Mo.
Circulation: 187,992

Rather than use its front-page real estate on huge stock art of the Capitol building or of oversized mugs of Boehner and Obama, the St. Louis paper went with a retro-like series of decks to relay the day’s major talking points to readers.

This was placed under a headline that, yes, implied that this was just one round of a longer war.

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Interestingly, the Cardinals’ failure to clinch a World Series berth was pushed to the bottom of today’s front page.

The young man wearing the baseball jersey could almost be reacting to the main news package above.


5. NEWS & RECORD
Greensboro, N.C.
Circulation: 57,274

The Greensboro paper picked up this thread I’m advocating here and took it a step further: It went out and asked local folks what they think about the partisan battles in D.C. this month. That became the focal point of the front-page presentation, rather than the deal itself.

131017ShutdownGreensboroNC

Bitter squabbles are not likely to stop.” Right.

However, consider this: North Carolina is in the middle of its own Tea Party-like political battles at the state level. I’d be curious to see that same treatment, but talking to folks who say stuff like: “Hell, yeah! I elected my Congressman to go up to Warshington (sic) to repeal Obamacare, and I don’t care how he does it. I’m GLAD they shut the government down. I say KEEP it shut down.”

I’ve spent most of my life in the Carolinas, Georgia and Virginia. I know these folks are out there. I see their comments attached to the bottom of online news stories.

But I’m not seeing them very often on page one.

This isn’t to criticize what the Greensboro paper did today — I like it quite a lot. This is just an observation.


6. OMAHA WORLD-HERALD
Omaha, Neb.
Circulation: 135,223

The Omaha paper decided to focus on the vote itself.

131017ShutdownOmahaNeb

The little box at right summing up the deal is quite nice.


7. QUAD-CITY TIMES
Davenport, Iowa
Circulation: 46,824

This is the only non-front-page I’ll show you today. And I’m showing it to you because a) The editor/designer sent it to me overnight. And b) I think it’s very, very nice.

131017ShutdownQuadCityTimes

Nate Bloomquist of the Quad-City Times tells us:

I was inspired by NPR’s graphic from a week ago that was making the rounds on Facebook, so I made my own debt graphic.

I pulled pieces from AP stories and other sources for the explainer at the top. There were several sources to find the raw data, but the best is the Government Accountability Office. There is all kinds of useful stuff there.

It was great to get plenty of feedback from the Lee design hub in Munster, Ind., and a designer there, Claire Moreno, built my icons at the top of the page after I decided on the color scheme. Everything came together really well, and I’ve quite pleased with what I have here.

I’ve featured some of Nate’s stand-alone inside-page work before: For the presidential inauguration in January and for a golf tournament in July.


8. DES MOINES REGISTER
Des Moines, Iowa
Circulation: 191,915

A number of papers went with photoillustrations today. One of the better ones was this one by my old friend Mark Marturello of the Des Moines Register.

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Mark’s work was used by the Gannett Design Studio on two other papers that I could find: The Press Citizen of Iowa City (circulation 12,130) and the Daily Advertiser of Lafayette, La. (circulation 29,368).

131017ShutdownDesMoines02


9. REDEYE
Chicago, Ill.
Distribution: 250,000

Perhaps the most fun today was had by youth-oriented tabloid versions of major metros.

This wacky cover illustrated by the Chicago Tribune‘s RedEye reminds me very much of the kind of work you find at JibJab.

131017ShutdownChicagoRedEye

Unfortunately, the illustration is not credited.


10. EXPRESS
Washington, D.C.
Distribution: 183,916

Perhaps the most amusing photoillustration of the day, however, is this one afront the Washington Post‘s Express tab.

131017ShutdownDcExpress

Amusing… if you’re not a Republican, that is.

All these pages but the one from the Quad-City Times are from the Newseum. Of course.

Important: ‘File art’ is NOT the same thing as ‘stock art’

If there’s one thing that cheeses me off these days, it’s the proliferation of bubble charts in which information is rendered unreadable. Especially when a bar chart would make the data so much easier to decipher.

If there are two things that cheese me off, however, the second would be ethical lapses in the use of photos. By news agencies that really ought to know better.

This week’s case in point: CNN.

Surely you saw the story about the 100-lb. snake that escaped from its cage at a pet shop in Campbellton, Canada, crawled through a ventilation shaft into an upstairs apartment and strangled two young boys as they slept.

Tommy Christopher of Mediaite reports:

It’s an incredibly sad story, but in covering it, CNN couldn’t help but sensationalize it. CNN Around The World anchor Suzanne Malveaux began the report with the absurd observation that “It happened less than a hundred miles from the U.S. border,” as if we need to start building a snake fence, and in a telephone interview with famous Columbus Zoo director emeritus Jack Hanna, speculated about what might have happened.

…During their interview with Hanna, though, CNN played a slideshow of stock images, one of which could seem, to the average viewer, like a chilling photo of the two victims holding a python.

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Except, of course, those are not the victims and that is not the snake in question. That is a file photo from Getty Images of a father, two sons and pet python in Acre, Israel, last year.

Here’s the video itself, should you want to see it:

Using file art like this is not only in poor taste — really, really poor taste — it’s also downright stupid.

Here’s a similar example from my visual ethics slideshow

In 2005, Harper’s magazine published a story on soldiers who go AWOL. Suitable photography for a story like that, however, is difficult to come by. And apparently the magazine is too lazy — or too cheap — to commission an illustration. So they picked up a Getty image showing Marine recruits at boot camp in Parris Island, S.C., faded one guy out as if he were disappearing and let it rip on the cover.

1308EthicsHarpersAwolCover

A decision Harper’s came to regret when some of the young men in the photo found out how their pictures had been used.

The St. Pete Times reported at the time:

“We are decorating pages,” said Giulia Melucci, the magazine’s vice president for public relations. “We are not saying the soldiers are AWOL. Our covers are not necessarily representative.”

A media observer said using real people as “decorations” for a story about deserters might go too far.

“Going AWOL is not a favorable or positive thing,” said Kenny Irby, visual journalism group leader at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, which owns the St. Petersburg Times.

And, of course, Getty wasn’t too damned happy about it, either.

So our takeaways from this little episode…

1) Don’t decorate stories. Feel free to illustrate stories. But don’t decorate them.

2) If you don’t know the difference, then don’t do either. Hire a professional.

3) File art can be used for certain types of stories. But it’s not the same as stock art. Stock art is a completely different type of thing.

4) If you don’t know the difference, then hire a professional.

5) Be extra careful when illustrating a story in which two little boys are killed.

6) Better yet, don’t even try to illustrate a story like that. Sometimes, you just gotta go with only text — or, in the case of TV, just a talking head. This was one of those times.

7) Someone at CNN needs a good, sharp smack on the side of their head. I mean, really.

Find the Mediaite story here.

Read more about Photoshop ethics here and here and here.

Find my Visual Ethics powerpoint slideshow here.

Surely, I don’t need to remind you…

…where you can get free, high-resolution images of the winter storm that’s currently laying a smackdown on the Northeast.

130208WinterStorm

That one there — from 4:45 p.m. this afternoon — looks pretty great. But a) I’ve cropped down considerably from the original, and b) I’ve also reduced the resolution quite a bit.

If you’re looking for something for tomorrow’s front page — or for inside or even a video for your web site — head over to NASA’s GOES project science web page.

If you’re a print journalist, you’ll be wanting “East USA/Large image.” If video is more your thing, then click “small movie” or “medium movie,” depending on your needs.

The work there is updated every 15 minutes or so. Rather than hunt through the wires and hope they’ll move something that’s not too old, just go pull the picture you want directly from the source, as late as your deadline will allow. Since it’s paid for by U.S. tax money, the pictures are in the public domain. Be a dear, however, and credit NOAA – NASA GOES project.”

I’ll make a deal with you: Bookmark that site and remember it whenever you have an environmental event in the news. In return, I’ll stop calling you Shirley.

UPDATE – 5 p.m.

John McIntyre of the Baltimore Sun today makes the case for not calling this storm Nemo, like certain TV wankers are doing.

Poynter’s Andrew Beaujon writes that a number of meteorologists seem to be not following the Weather Channel’s lead, in fact.

And Poynter’s Julie Moos points out that the New York Times is taking down its paywall for 24 hours starting at 6 p.m. Eastern time tonight while the storm plays through. The Wall Street Journal will do the same, beginning at midnight.

UPDATE – 5:10 p.m.

A couple more adds for you…

A look at today’s best Christmas front pages

There was an awful lot of great work out there today. Really, too much to try to take note of.

However, let’s give it a try anyway, shall we?

Take special note of my picks of the ten best pages of the day, mixed into the categories below in no particular order…

__________________________

PHOTO-DRIVEN FRONT PAGES

No. 1: DENVER POST

Denver, Colo.

Circulation: 401,120

The Denver Post today built page one around this beautiful picture of the moon smiling down upon what appears to be a lit Christmas Tree in the open mountains of Colorado.

1212125XmasDenverColo

The picture is by staffer Helen H. Richardson.

No. 2: ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

Santa Ana, Calif.

Circulation: 280,812

Not only is this poster-front of a surfin’ Santa and his reindeer fun and gorgeous, there’s also a fun story behind the picture by staffer Leonard Ortiz.

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Staffer Karen Kelso explains in a “how we did it” story in today’s Orange County Register:

We moved everyone toward the water. Tundra [a two-year-old reindeer] followed easily because we discovered he would do just about anything for a graham cracker. Everything was fine until we stepped off the warm beach on to the cold, wet sand. Tundra started to buck and throw his rack around. [Animal rental guy Tim]Connaghan never lost his cool and tried to hold on to the reins. Tundra decided to make a break for it and only calmed down when more graham crackers were dispersed.

Photographing a live animal was going to be a real challenge, especially with the crowd that was forming and Tundra showing his displeasure.

Ortiz photographed Tundra and Santa as they walked, ran and bucked their way down the beach. Tundra demanded more graham crackers at several points during the shoot.

Surfers came out of the water into our shot because they wanted to touch Tundra. Reindeer do not like to be touched, and touching their antlers is a sign of aggression.

The trouble was worth it. What a great picture.

A number of other papers built their front pages around huge, poster-sized photos presumably shot by staffers. Neither of these examples were accompanied by photo credits, sadly. (UPDATE – 10:30 p.m. The Wichita photo was shot by staffer Travis Heying.)

1212125XmasWichitaKan 1212125XmasElyriaOhio

On the left: the Wichita, Kan., Eagle, circulation 67,250. On the right: The Chronicle of Elyria, Ohio, circulation 25,892.

These two papers built  holiday-themed montages with locally-shot pictures.

1212125XmasLansingMich   1212125XmasSalemOre

On the left: The State Journal of Lansing, Mich., circulation 41,330. On the right: The Statesman Journal of Salem, Ore., circulation 36,946, attempted to use pictures to illustrate commonly-known Christmas songs.

In particular, I think the page topper on the right, here — by the Telegram & Gazette of Worcester, Mass., circulation 74,563 — is particularly attractive.

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On the left: The Daily Gazette of Taunton, Mass., circulation 6,703.

____________________________________

FRONTS FEATURING RELIGIOUS IMAGERY

No. 3: THE STATE

Columbia, S.C.

Circulation: 70,980

Naturally, if you’re going to give readers a huge Christmas card on page one, some readers might prefer to see one with a religious angle. Tim Dominick of the State of Columbia, S.C., built this lovely photoillustration for today’s centerpiece.

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The Dispatch of Brainerd, Minn. — below left; circulation 11,307 — shot a local manger reenactment. The photoillustration is credited to staffers Kelly Humphrey and Jan Finger.

1212125XmasBrainerdMinn  1212125XmasHutchinsonKan  1212125XmasBurlingtonIowa

The Hutchinson (Kansas) News ran a classic piece by Raphael — the painter, not the ninja turtle — supplied by a local church. The Hawk Eye of Burlington, Iowa, used art from a German Christmas card published in 1912.

Average daily circulation for the Hutchinson News is 25,722. The Hawk Eye circulates 15,943 papers daily.

And stained-glass windows depicting the birth of Christ are a very popular page-one topic for Christmas Day.

1212125XmasTopekaKan 1212125XmasCantonOhio 1212125XmasLiberalKan

The Capital-Journal of Topeka, circulation 40,435, and the Repository of Canton, Ohio, circulation 56,789, had staffers shoot windows in local churches. The Leader and Times of Liberal, Kansas, circulation 3,700, ran a huge staff picture taken in a church in England.

____________________________________

FRONTS FEATURING ILLUSTRATION WORK

No. 4: PLAIN DEALER

Cleveland, Ohio

Circulation: 246,571

There are few better things to run on a Christmas Day poster-page treatment, I think, than a staff illustration. Check out this gorgeous piece in today’s Plain Dealer by Andrea Levy.

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No. 5: SUN-GAZETTE

Williamsport, Pa.

Circulation: 22,795

Likewise, here’s a beautiful painting of a snow-covered Pennsylvania church by who I presume is an artist in the Williamsport area: Mickey Mapstone.

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Gorgeous stuff.

The Journal Sentinel of Milwaukee runs an annual contest for art to feature on page one on Christmas Day. This year’s winner: Dottie Morelle Godden. Average daily circulation of the Journal Sentinel is 185,710.

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The Post-Gazette of Pittsburgh — circulation 188,545 — led the top of page one today with a painting from a local gallery by artist Charles “Bud” Gibbons.

And these two Pennsylvania newspapers elected to go with (what I presume are) staff-generated illustrations to evoke days of Christmast past.

1212125XmasScrantonPa 1212125XmasHazletonPa

On the left: The Times-Tribune of Scranton, circulation 47,663. The art is by Bob Sanchuk. On the right: The Standard-Speaker of Hazleton, circulation 20,008. The art isn’t credited.

___________________________________

FRONTS FEATURING SECULAR IMAGERY

No. 6: DAILY PRESS

Newport News, Va.

Circulation: 57,642

I was especially delighted this morning with this lovely page-one “package” from the Daily Press of Newport News, Va.

1212125XmasNewportNewsVa

That’s an old gimmick — I’ve used it a time or two myself — but the Daily Press pulls it off particularly well here. Note the clever promos to stuff inside.

I presume this is stock art of some sort afront the Standard of Aiken, S.C. (left, circulation 15,711). Even so, it’s well-used here.

1212125XmasAikenSC   1212125XmasAnnistonAla

The Star of Anniston, Ala. — circulation 19,563 — elected to create its own Santa Claus image for today’s front-page poster treatment. That was shot by staffer Stephen Gross.

________________________

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE STORY

A number of papers took the time today to write truly great front-page stories for Christmas Day — perhaps the one day of the year when hardly anyone will take the time to read them.

Some of these were beautifully done.

No. 7: HUNTSVILLE TIMES

Huntsville, Ala.

Circulation: 44,725

The Huntsville Times today published favorite Christmas memories of days gone by.

1212125XmasHuntsvilleAla

While the presentation itself is a little text-heavy, I’d argue: It should be. In this case, it’s all about the story. At least a clear presentation and liberal use of white space keep all those grey legs of type from overpowering the reader.

The one minus to this page that I’ve found: In my search to find a link to the story — and I was forced to search an awful long time for it — I found that the story here was published two weeks ago.

Not to beat a dead horse on Christmas Day, but: I really don’t understand Advance Publications’ thinking. Digital first is one thing. But running a two-week old story as the page one-centerpiece? That baffles me.

Whatever, though. Ho, ho, ho and all…

No. 8: STAR TRIBUNE

Casper, Wyo.

Circulation: 24,891

In Casper, Wyo., the Star Tribune ran a wonderful story today about the little vacation that all Santa’s local helpers can take now that the season is over.

121225XmasCasperWyo

The wonderful portrait is by staffer Alan Rogers. The page was designed by Will Gay, I’m told.

Find the story here by staffer Jeremy Fugleberg.

The Asbury Park Press also had local folks share Christmas memories (below, left). The Mail Tribune of Medford, Ore., asked readers to list their favorite things, kind of like that song from the Sound of Music.

1212125XmasAsburyParkNJ   1212125XmasMedfordOre

Average daily circulation for the Asbury Park paper is 98,032. Medford circulates 22,292 papers daily.

The York, Pa., Daily Record cited a number of interesting local Christmas facts, all presented on a tree illustrated by staffer Samantha Dellinger.

121225XmasYorkPa  1212125XmasVictoriaTexas

The Victoria Advocate ran a story today focusing on a woman raising five grandchildren who lost her home to fire in September and how the community reached out to help. The pictures are by staffer Frank Tilley.

Average daily circulation for the York Daily Record is 57,738; for the Victoria Advocate is 26,531.

Iowa City built its front around a fiction tale about Christmas, offered in print (and illustrated by the Des Moines Register‘s Mark Marturello) and online in both standard HTML format and in digital storybook form.

1212125XmasIowaCity  1212125XmasNampaIdaho

The Press-Tribune of Nampa, Idaho, wrote about a local Christmas-themed blood drive. The ribbon-decorated bag of blood was shot by staffer Aaric Bryan.

Average daily circulation in Iowa City is 12,130. Nampa circulates 19,900 papers daily.

And two papers chose to fill their fronts with classic text evoking holiday spirits. The Hour of Norwalk, Conn. (left) chose the lyrics to Silent Night while the Missourian of Columbia, Mo., went with the classic “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” letter and reply from the New York Sun, 115 years ago.

1212125XmasNorwalkConn  1212125XmasColumbiaMo

Average daily circulation for the Hour is 14,971. The Missourian circulates 21,722 papers daily.

________________________

MY FAVORITE OF THE DAY

My favorite work of the day, however, was the series of snow globe illustrations, custom-built in Gannett’s Des Moines Design Studio for a number of the company’s Wisconsin papers.

In each globe, the imagery depicts something important to that town.

No. 9: GANNETT WISCONSIN PAPERS

Check these out. Here’s the Daily Herald of Wausau (circulation 15,506)…

1212125XmasWausauWis

…the Press-Gazette of Green Bay (circulation 41,767)…

1212125XmasGreenBayWis 1212125XmasAppletonWis

The Press of Sheboygan (circulation 14,246)…

1212125XmasSheboyganWis

…and the Northwestern of Oshkosh (circulation 14,113).

1212125XmasOshkoshWis

The studio also built a Christmas tree ornament treatment for a few of the chain’s smaller papers.

1212125XmasMarshfieldWis 1212125XmasManitowocWis 1212125XmasStevensPointWis

From left: The News-Herald of Marshfield (circulation 8,139), the Herald Times Reporter of Manitowoc (circulation 10,253) and the Journal of Stevens Point (circulation 7,845).

Wisconsin design team leader Sean McKeown-Young took a moment from his Christmas celebration to tell us:

Yes, I did all of the illustration. Basically one snowglobe design which was concocted of several images and them each site got a different treatment inside. Same goes for the ornaments.

Check out his Thanksgiving Day illustrations here.

________________________________

A TOUCHING CHRISTMAS MEMORIAL

No. 10: JOURNAL NEWS

White Plains, N.Y.

Circulation: 72,764

And from the northern suburbs of New York comes this reminder of the horror of the past few weeks and what’s really important on Christmas: Our children.

1212125XmasWestChesterNY

That’s a beautiful memorial to the victims of the Newtown, Conn., shootings.

Great work by the folks in Gannett’s Asbury Park Design Studio.

If someone there can tell me who designed this page, I’d love to dole out a little credit here.

UPDATE – 10:30 p.m.

Tim Frank, director of the Asbury Park Studio tells us:

That was the work of team leader Joanne Sosangelis.

Have a great Christmas, everybody!

These pages are from the Newseum. Of course.

You heard it here first: The world did NOT end today

…So far, that is.

Were you surprised? Believe me, you’ll know when the world comes to an end: The Chicago Cubs will win the World Series first.

Here’s a look at some of the day’s most notable Mayan “apocalypse” front pages…

__________________

LET’S GET THIS ONE OUT OF THE WAY EARLY, SHALL WE?

The Sentinel of Santa Cruz, Calif., quoted the famous old song by R.E.M.

121221MayanSantaCruzCalif

It’s a terrific song. And despite the fact that it’s a fairly obvious approach: I think it worked well here.

__________________

ILLUSTRATING A MAYAN STORY WITH AZTEC ART

If you Google “Mayan calendar,” you’ll most likely come back with a picture of what is actually an Aztec stone carving. Not the same thing.

Yet, folks persisted in using this today. The problem was kind of rampant. Most notably — as I mentioned earlierUSA Today put an Aztec carving in place of its “blue ball” logo this morning.

121221MayanUsaToday

Average daily circulation for USA Today: 1,817,446.

Other papers using (what appears to be) this same art today include the Union of Grass Valley, Calif. (circulation 15,900)…

121221MayanGrassValleyCalif

…the Daily Reflector of Greenville, N.C. (circulation 23,051)…

121221MayanGreenvilleNC

…the Gaston Gazette of Gastonia, N.C. (circulation 24,354)…

121221MayanGastoniaNC

…and the Times and Democrat of Orangeburg, S.C. (circulation 12,456)…

121221MayanOrangeburgSC

…Although, I must admit, I really like that last one. The sunrise effect behind the carving and the headline — which seems to brag about the fact that Earth didn’t expire overnight — gives that one a real sense of playfulness.

__________________

THE DAY’S CLEVEREST TREATMENTS

TELEGRAPH

Macon, Ga.

Circulation: 43,100

At first glance, the Macon Telegraph appeared to use that same art. But look closer (click for a larger look).

121221MayanMaconGa

Instead, I think this is a custom illustration. Based perhaps, on the Aztec carving. But very deliberately not the same piece of art.

My only beef with it: No credit.

AMERICAN NEWS

Aberdeen, S.D.

Circulation: 14,272

When the Aberdeen paper decided on a photoillustration, it didn’t begin with the Aztec stone carving. It started out with something just a bit newer.

121221MayanAberdeenSD

The illo was not credited, unfortunately.

REVIEW-JOURNAL

Las Vegas, Nev.

Circulation: 220,619

The cartoon illustration by staffer David Stroud afront today’s Las Vegas Review-Journal will bring a smile to the face of even the sourest doomsayer.

121221MayanLasVegasNev

Not only is the Earth threatened by a giant meteor, a rouge planet and nuclear war, it’s also accompanied by… a celestial disco ball?

Hmm. Sounds like something Jack Kirby might have come up with.

READING EAGLE

Reading, Pa.

Circulation: 49,437

In Reading today, planets parade over a Mayan ruin, generating enough static electricity to bring everything to a standstill.

121221MayanReadingPa

The illustration is by staffer Bob Schneider.

DENVER POST

Denver, Colo.

Circulation: 401,120

The cover illustration by the Denver Post‘s Jeff Neumann is quite perfect enough for today’s page one.

121221MayanDenverColo

But what really caught my eye today was that humdinger of a pun headline.

Wow. That’s truly inspired. I love it.

(I asked the folks at the Post if they could identify the twisted mind that came up with that. If I get a reply, I’ll add it here.)

UPDATE – 9:45 p.m.

I’m told the headline was written by Dale Ulland. The page was designed by Jeff Domingues.

EXPRESS

Washington, D.C.

Distribution: 183,916

And in D.C. today, the Washington Post’s commuter tab used a similar idea today for its own cover illustration.

121221MayanDcExpress

METRO

Philadelphia, Pa.

The nation’s Metro tabs made great use today of the “Keep Calm and Carry On” meme that dates all the way back to British propaganda posters in World War II.

121221MayanMetroPhilly

As you can see, it worked very well in the Philadelphia edition of Metro. The effect was diminished somewhat by an ad in the New York edition (below, left)…

121221MayanMetroNY  121221MayanBostonMetro

… and it didn’t work at all in the Boston edition (above, right).

If you’re going to mimic a poster, you have to use some space. It’s hard to give decent space to a cover illustration when you stuff that many ads onto the front.

POST-STANDARD

Syracuse, N.Y.

Circulation: 78,616

Today’s weirdest front page illustration, however, was by Susan Santola of the Post-Standard of Syracuse, N.Y. She created a “rain of jaguars.”

121221MayanSyracuseNY

A whaaa?

A rain of Jaguars. The Post-Standard‘s Hart Seely spoke with Cornell anthropology professor John Henderson — author of World of the Ancient Maya, published in 1997 — who specifically mentioned this in today’s story:

A. Some of the metaphors in myths of destruction and recreation are quite spectacular. There is a rain of fire and a rain of jaguars, who come down and eat everybody.

Q. Wow. A rain of jaguars? That would be a serious end.

A. You bet.

Presumably, they meant the running cat-type of jaguar and not the automobile.

MIAMI HERALD

Miami, Fla.

Circulation: 160,988

Another fun — if a bit more subtle — take on the whole thing was taken today by the Miami Herald, which showed folks gathered in Bugarach, France, where supposedly one might escape from the entire apocalypse today

121221MayanMiamiFla

It all seems fairly serious. Until you notice the hats the men are wearing in the picture by Patrick Adventurier of Getty Images.

121221MayanMiamiPic

Yes, Funnels.

I guess they were out of tin foil or something.

DAILY PRESS

Newport News, Va.

Circulation: 57,642

The Daily Press — across the water from me in Newport News, Va. — took on a great angle today: Their calendar ended. But the Mayans never said exactly what would happen next. If anything.

121221MayanNewportNewsVa

Did you ever think you’d see Kang (from the Simpsons… or is it Kodos?) on the same page with John Glenn?

Such is the weirdness connected to today’s Mayan non-apocalypse.

VIRGINIAN-PILOT

Norfolk, Va.

Circulation: 142,476

And on this side of Hampton Roads, the Virginian-Pilot delighted readers with this fabulous cartoon illustration atop page one of Earth’s new robot masters.

121221MayanNorfolkVa

The art is by Wesley Watson.

The illustration refers to the back of the A section, where presentation team leader Paul Nelson wrote up nine ways today’s newspaper might be useful if, indeed, the world comes to an end today.

121221MayanNorfolkBack

Click that for a much larger view.

But hurry… there are just a few hours left in today. You’d better be ready to deal with those freakin’ robots.

UPDATE – 5 p.m.

Jim Romenesko today posted perhaps the greatest apocalypse front page of them all, from the Weatherford (Okla.) Daily News.

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

Previous coverage here in the blog regarding the End of the World…

Today’s ten best page-one Turkey Day presentations

Lots of newspapers built elaborate Thanksgiving presentations for page one today.

Here’s a look at my ten favorites…

GASTON GAZETTE

Gastonia, N.C.

Circulation: 24,354

What’s Thanksgiving all about? It’s about family. It’s about being grateful what what the year has given you.

But it’s also about shopping. Or, to be more precise, preparing for a long day of Black Friday shopping. Many papers today were stuffed with enormous amounts of advertising in advance of tomorrow’s sales. Nowhere did we see that played up in more spectacular fashion than on the front of the Gazette of Gastonia, N.C.

It’s a simple photo of today’s inserts, augmented by the paper’s nameplate reversed out of black and some torn-paper effects. But this really makes the point to readers and potential readers: This is all you really want from today’s newspaper. And boy, do we have ’em.

Naturally, the Gazette‘s sister paper — the 14,164 Shelby Star — followed along.

I presume my friend Randy Erwin had something to do with this presentation.

GANNETT WISCONSIN MEDIA

Similarly, the folks at Gannett’s Des Moines Design Studio outdid themselves today with an elaborate page-topper promo+alternative story form for the Wisconsin papers it cares for.

Here is the 38,244-circulation Appleton Post-Crescent.

There’s a reminder of the Turkey hotline by Butterball. Safety tips. A refer to an oversized crossword. But I especially love the football schedule and early shopping tips laid atop the iPad at left.

Very slick. I presume Wisconsin team leader Sean McKeown either designed this or supervised who did. My compliments to the kitchen staff.

The artwork — with minor modifications — were used throughout all the Wisconsin papers today.

   

From left:

  • Green Bay Press Gazette, circulation 41,767
  • Fond du Lac Reporter, circulation 10,186
  • Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter, circulation 10,253

   

  • Marshfield News-Herald, circulation 8,139
  • Oshkosh Northwestern, circulation 14,113
  • Sheboygan Press, circulation 14,246

   

  • Stevens Point Journal, circulation 7,845
  • Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune, circulation 7,924
  • Wausau Daily Herald, circulation 15,506

I’m not sure what’s going on with that last one. I presume it’s an issue with the PDF at the Newseum and not with the page itself.

BUFFALO NEWS

Buffalon, N.Y.

Circulation: 147,085

This wonderful illustration afront today’s Buffalo News by staffer Daniel Zakroczemski depicts a family much too occupied with early sales to worry about enjoying its Thanksgiving Day meal.

CALLER TIMES

Corpus Christi, Texas

Circulation: 46,015

The folks in Corpus Christi built today’s front around a nice infographic that shared interesting trivia and numbers regarding the holiday.

Here’s a closer look.

The designer — uncredited, sadly — did a wonderful job of sticking with fall-themed colors. Excellent work. And a fun read.

UPDATE – 12:20 p.m.

Scripps Howard Central Desk senior news editor Jacque Petersell tells us:

Thanks for including the Caller-Times. I can give you the designer on the Thanksgiving graphic. It is our graphic artist, the wonderfully talented John Bruce.

CLARION-LEDGER

Jackson, Miss.

Circulation: 57,710

Lots of papers went with stories that cited what local folks might be thankful for this year.

In the past, papers might run a sentence or two with mug shots. This year, the cool way to present this seems to be with readers holding signs that state what they’re thankful for.

I love the fact that no captions or IDs are necessary. Who the people are isn’t as important as what they’re saying.

ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

Santa Ana, Calif.

Circulation: 280,812

The Orange County Register did the same thing today, but emphasized the content by dropping the paper’s nameplate down to the center of the page.

As you can see from the note along the bottom, this is a wrap — the “regular front page” is inside in the page three position.

This trend may have been helped along by this really nice Election Day front page from the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

PLAIN DEALER

Cleveland, Ohio

Circulation: 246,571

Meanwhile, what did the Plain Dealer do today? The paper listed what area folks are thankful for today but didn’t bother with mug shots.

Instead of mugs, the space is spent on a nice — but uncredited — illustration of a cornucopia made of newspaper.

NEWS LEADER

Staunton, Va.

Circulation: 13,236

The News Leader of Staunton — in the mountains of western Virginia — led today with a huge photo of a political convention of a turkey farm.

Notice the steam rising off the turkeys.

The photo is by staffer Katie Currid.

THE RECORD

Stockton, Calif.

Circulation: 33,675

The Stockton paper today ran local residents’ memories of Thanksgivings past. All this was arranged around a nearly-life-sized plate of a yummy-looking turkey dinner.

COURIER-POST

Camden, N.J.

Circulation: 46,547

But the Courier-Post of Camden, N.J., today too the completely opposite approach: It asked readers to share their horror stories of Thanksgiving debacles.

The lead element for this story — uncredited, sadly — is a scream. Poor bird.

UPDATE – 1 p.m.

Tara Bender of Gannett’s Asbury Park design studio tells us via Twitter:

I did the Camden, NJ Courier-Post centerpiece with Joanne Sosangelis… She gets the illustration credit.

All of these front pages are from the Newseum. Of course.

Five features treatments for the new ‘Breaking Dawn, Part 2’ movie

I’m not a fan — at all — of the Twilight movie series. But then again, you’d expect that: I’m not a teenaged girl. At whom the entire Twilight franchise seems aimed.

But young people are a demographic we should be reaching out to. So papers are wise to play up the new Twilight movie — Breaking Dawn, Part 2 — that opens around the country at midnight tonight.

I asked folks to send us their features treatments. And for additional expert commentary, I’ve invited my 19-year-old daughter, Elizabeth — a huge fan of the Twilight movies and books — to tell us what she thinks about the pages.

So away we go…

KANSAS CITY STAR

Kansas City, Mo.

Circulation: 200,365

Here’s the cover of the Star‘s Thursday entertainment tab, illustrated by Héctor Casanova.

Find Héctor’s Facebook fan page here.

Elizabeth says:

The illustration is creative but I really don’t get the idea. It looks more like the cover of the TV series True Blood, rather than Twilight-related.

 

Thanks to my old friend Laurie Mansfield — the Star‘s assistant managing editor for features — for sending me the page.

THE FORUM

Fargo, N.D.

Circulation: 45,298

Presentation editor Bill Wambeke tells us:

This takes a more “looking ahead” approach to all the twihards and what they’re going to do with their lives after Friday.

I love the starkly graphic teeth, drawn in just four shades of white, grey and red.

Bill designed the page himself. The picture of the 18-year-old Twilight fan — a local college student who has now turned to the 50 Shades of Grey books — is by staffer J. Shane Mercer.

Elizabeth says:

I like the fangs on top of the page. It reminds me of the cover of another vampire book that my dad will call trashy: Thirsty.

I LOVE THE DESIGN OF THE PAGE. GOOD JOB TO WHOEVER MADE IT. I WANT A COPY OF IT!

TEMPLE DAILY TELEGRAM

Temple, Texas

Circulation: 17,002

Lifestyles and entertainment editor Jordan Overturf tells us he put together this…

Breaking Dawn page for today’s Weekend section at the Temple Daily Telegram. It’s simple, yet effective. The Telegram “Team Taylor” group is going nuts right now.

My favorite part is this pullquote from the AP movie review:

Heh…

Elizabeth says:

I like the photo up top. It seems like Jacob Black is the serious one out of the three. I wonder what’s on his mind? Maybe: Must. Kill. Evil. Vampires…

TULSA WORLD

Tulsa, Okla.

Circulation: 97,725

Chief designer James Royal sends along an early version of his Friday features front, with the odd dummy headline here and there. He tells us it’s…

…My design.

Felt we needed to get Lincoln out there too, and we had an interview with the guy who plays the head of the Twilight bad guys as our sidebar.

Elizabeth says:

I like the main photo. Seems like Bella and Edward can get along in the movie, but can’t get along in real life.

I also like the photo at the bottom with Aro, the leader of the Volturi a.k.a. the bad guys. I think I know what’s on his mind: Really?! Really Bella and Edward? Why can’t you guys get along, like in the movie?

VICTORIA ADVOCATE

Victoria, Texas

Circulation: 26,531

And our most elaborately-designed Breaking Dawn cover so far is this gorgeous one from the Victoria Advocate, a paper I wrote about earlier today.

Designer Luis Rendon tells us:

The cover is pretty simple, but it was definitely a collaborative effort.

The ladies on the cover (a mother, daughter team and her two friends) actually won a contest we were having to find the biggest “Twihards” in town. Part of the prize was to recreate a Twilight movie poster, so they came all dressed up in their sleek vampire clothes. We put a little glimmer and white makeup on them and then our photo editor, Kat Duncan, shot  them in our studio and did a little Photoshop magic to add the color to their eyes.

The winners also got movie tickets to the local premiere and movie swag, but in my head, this photo shoot and cover was the big prize. While I was putting it together my only thought was to make something they could show off to their friends and keep for a long time.

Part of the Advocate‘s inspiration for the photo shoot was the publicity image that was eventually used on the Japanese version of the movie poster.

Here’s the inside doubletruck, also designed by Luis.

Elizabeth says:

Love the photo. Good idea to take the design from the Japanese poster. Really creative idea there.

To the person that made the page: Can you send my dad a copy so I can have a copy of it?

Did you build an interesting features or news treatment for the new Twilight movie? Send it to me. My daughter and I would love to see it.

A look at today’s election-oriented front pages

Is it just me or has this presidential election cycle seemed way too damned long?

Either way, it’s finally nearing its end. Here’s how my old friend Mark Marturello illustrated this today for the Des Moines Register.

Let’s take a look at the day’s most notable presentations featuring the election on the Sunday before Election Day…

DES MOINES REGISTER

Des Moines, Iowa

Circulation: 101,915

Here’s what Mark’s illustration looked like above the fold in today’s Register:

Note the latest poll results giving the president a five-point lead.

However, four percent say they’ll vote for neither Obama nor Romney, two percent are unsure and five percent don’t want to tell the pollsters how they’ll vote. Meanwhile, the margin of error for the poll is just 3.5 percentage points.

Bottom line: Who the hell knows which way Iowa will go Tuesday night?

TAMPA BAY TIMES

St. Petersburg, Fla.

Circulation: 299,497

The St. Pete paper today also went with an illustration showing the two candidates. But with a positive headline across the top.

The illustration is by staffer Steve Madden.

ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

Santa Ana, Calif.

Circulation: 280,812

The Orange County Register went with a similar approach.

The illustration is by my good friend Daniel Hunt.

COLUMBUS DISPATCH

Columbus, Ohio

Circulation: 136,023

And the paper in Columbus — smack in the middle of the country’s most critical swing state — also announced poll results and illustrated its story with gorgeous renderings of the candidates.

Note the poll numbers: Obama has a two-point lead. But again, the margin of error is 2.2 points either way. So again, you might as well toss out the poll and toss a coin.

But isn’t that illustration — by staffer Nate Beeler — gorgeous? And note how even-handed it is. The artist took great pains to make sure that neither candidate was favored.

But then look what happened to today’s front page: One of the candidates was hidden by a dreaded spadea advertisement.

The result: a) Romney is definitely favored over Obama. And b) Romney seems to be a leader in diabetes research and patient care.

A lot of work on the part of editors, designers and a talented illustrator — shot down in flames by an ill-timed ad.

VIRGINIAN-PILOT

Norfolk, Va.

Circulation: 142,476

The same thing happened today to the paper I get here at my own home, the Virginian-Pilot.

But notice what happened: The designer was apparently aware a spadea ad was coming. So he — or she — designed the page to have a vertical split down the center. You can still see the headline and readout in a news rack or at the convenience store.

What you miss is the portrait of a community activist in the East Ocean View area of Norfolk. But because he’s not a political candidate — and because the Pilot isn’t trying to balance portraits of two candidates — his being covered up today isn’t quite so critical.

Hey, Spadea ads suck. But if you must live with them, this is how you do it.

NEWS LEADER

Staunton, Va.

Circulation: 13,236

DAILY NEWS JOURNAL

Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Circulation: 10,829

Two papers built in the Gannett Design Studio in Nashville contained this fun political-themed illustration by staffer Merry Eccles.

 

WISCONSIN STATE JOURNAL

Madison, Wis.

Circulation: 83,083

And in Madison, Wis., the designer chose punctuation to be the theme of both the headline and the four portraits.

Now, that was clever. I’ll have to remember that one.

PLAIN DEALER

Cleveland, Ohio

Circulation: 246,571

As I said a few moments ago, Ohio is perhaps the most critical of all this year’s “swing states.” Why do I say that? Because no Republican has ever been elected president without winning Ohio.

Ever. So if Romney doesn’t carry Ohio, then he’s not likely to win Tuesday night. The numbers just won’t work out for him.

The Plain Dealer addresses this today, with this amusing selection of photos from the files showing folks at various political rallies this year.

Between the candidates, their running mates and their spouses, there have been more than 125 visits to Ohio this year. And Saturday was a particularly busy day. Note the timeline across the bottom of the package.

TELEGRAPH HERALD

Dubuque, Iowa

Circulation: 25,588

Iowa, too, is seen as a critical state. “Only” six electoral votes are at stake. But such is the competition this year: Both candidates want those six votes.

The photo of Romney is by staffer Jessica Reilly. The picture of Obama is by staffer Mike Burley. Both were shot Saturday.

PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW

Pittsburgh, Pa.

Circulation: 188,405

Most national observers have placed Pennsylvania into the blue column this year. However, the Tribune-Review seems to dispute that today, with poll results that show both candidates tied at 47 percent.

Undecided/refused to answer placed with five percent, leaving one percent for “other.” And the margin of error for this poll is plus-or-minus 3.46 percentage points. Meaning that, once again, the result is essentially meaningless.

This is one of the more attractive Tribune-Review pages I’ve seen recently. Kudos to the chef.

PRESS-TRIBUNE

Nampa, Idaho

Circulation: 19,900

In Idaho, the Press-Tribune raised the question: Will the presence of ballot propositions about education affect the outcome of the other races?

Great question. And a great way to display that.

One suggestion, though: It’s tough to read that much italicized text, especially on a color background. Go with bold copy — no italics — and add three or four points between each paragraph. Since you’re not indenting between grafs.

SALT LAKE TRIBUNE

Salt Lake, Utah

Circulation: 110,546

The folks in Salt Lake City also focused on a local issue: How much did Romney’s status as a Mormon hurt him this year?

The answer: Not much. Just like being a Catholic didn’t hurt John F. Kennedy in 1960.

Note the little graph at the lower right.

As you can see, Utah is not a swing state this year.

STAR-TELEGRAM

Fort Worth, Texas

Circulation: 195,455

The folks in Fort Worth took more of a big-picture approach to the horse race today: The ol’ “are you better off than you were four years ago” is kind of a difficult question to answer this time around.

CINCINNATI ENQUIRER

Cincinnati, Ohio

Circulation: 144,165

Cincinnati examined the reasons folks tend to vote either Republican or Democrat.

The lead picture — co-owners of a local hair salon — is by staffer Carrie Cochran.

KANSAS CITY STAR

Kansas City, Mo.

Circulation: 200,365

The Kansas City Star addressed how these red-versus-blue battles can affect the workplace.

The illustration is by former Star intern Eric Hibbeler — the same guy who did the “true crime”-style illustrations for the Star‘s front page a couple of months ago. Read more about that here and here.

GASTON GAZETTE

Gastonia, N.C.

Circulation: 24,354

The Gazette of Gastonia, N.C., took on an issue that’s concerned me this fall: How to deal with all the partisan posts that pop up in your social media feeds.

The illustration is by Randy Erwin.

TENNESSEAN

Nashville, Tenn.

Circulation: 118,589

The Nashville paper, too, looked at partisan politics.

The unbylined illustration is clever. But it might have been better to create something from scratch, rather than use these pieces. The shadows behind the individual pieces don’t really match the light highlights on them.

DETROIT FREE PRESS

Detroit, Mich.

Circulation: 232,696

This piece afront today’s Detroit Free Press, I thought, illustrated the idea of partisan politics particularly well.

The illo is by staffer Rick Nease.

BOSTON GLOBE

Boston, Mass.

Circulation: 225,482

But rather than illustrate the idea of a deepening partisan divide, I just love what the Boston Globe did today with the same story: It actually demonstrated that divide…

…with a series of four bar charts. Note how on each of these topics, the “gap” is significantly larger now than it was in 1987, during the Reagan administration.

Fascinating stuff.

WASHINGTON POST

Washington, D.C.

Circulation: 507,615

But while these are great readers for the Sunday before Election Day, the big question on everyone’s mind now is: Who’s gonna win? We’re back to the horse race.

So the Washington Post today illustrated the latest predictions with a large chart showing which candidates have which states locked up. And how many more states either needs in order to reach the magic number of 270 electoral votes.

According to the Post, Obama needs just 27 more votes to sew up a victory. But that might be more difficult than it sounds: The seven remaining swing states aren’t necessarily going to fall his way.

Note the map: You see how red it looks? Yet, you just saw the bar chart and how even the numbers are.

This is why I don’t like these choropleth maps, which are so ubiquitous on Election Night. Unless the states have been redrawn to reflect how many electoral votes each has. In this case, the bar charts do the heavy lifting of showing the quantities involved, so it’s not so critical to change this map. But a choropleth map in a close election can be a dangerous thing.

The Post graphic, unfortunately, was uncredited.

All of these front pages are from the Newseum. Of course.

A free font makes for a fun 8-bit entertainment cover

Kristen Hansen, a designer and copy editor for the Gwinnett Daily Post of Lawrenceville, Ga., sent us her Wreck-It-Ralph cover for Friday’s entertainment tab.

She tells us:

I’ve loved video games forever, so I pushed for this movie to be the cover (sometimes it’s a local play or something).

Q. Did you have to draw the individual letters? Or is there a hugely pixelated font out there somewhere?

A. Thankfully I did not have to draw the individual letters. There is actually a hugely pixelated font out there. I used 8bitoperator. The font was designed by Jayvee D. Enaguas.

The font is free, I might add.

The image is actually made from different press materials that I chopped up and put back together. I did run into the problem of where to put the headline. My co-worker Brian Giandelone suggested that I enlarge the speech bubble and put it there. The woman in the window is actually saying “Fix It Felix!”

A 2006 graduate of Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Ga.,, Kristen served as editor-and-chief of the school’s student paper, the Profile.

She joined the Daily Post upon graduation and works on that paper as well as the Rockdale Citizen and the Newton Citizen.

A few more of her entertainment covers:

 

 

 

Find more in her NewsPageDesigner portfolio.

Average daily circulation for the Daily Post is 60,000.

Singers, coaches, referees and thieves: Ten notable Thursday front pages

Here are ten front pages worthy of your attention today…

DES MOINES REGISTER

Des Moines, Iowa

Circulation: 101,915

Singer Andy Williams died Thursday. Did you know he was a native of Iowa? I did, but only because I lived in Iowa for five years.

The Register honored Williams with a large illustration on the front today.

The page was designed by Erin Baker Crabb. The illustration is by my old friend Mark Marturello, who often switches back-and-forth between Photoshop and Painter on a piece like this.

Mark tells us:

This illustration was done with just Photoshop — didn’t have time to work with Painter. I have an Iowa Poll illustration this Sunday where I use both Photoshop and Painter.

I do like to work from time to time with just Photoshop — [it has] plenty of texture brushes that are really great to work with.

Here’s a closer look.

Also, let me point out the skybox across the top of the page:

The huge pork shortage coming this winter you read so much about this week? It’s a “bunch of hogwash,” reports the Register‘s Dan Piller. There will be a shortage in Europe next year due to changing regulations. The supply here won’t be affected. And prices in the U.S. fluctuate as much as 10 percent anyway.

So relax: Your chocolate-covered bacon is safe. And so is your bacon-covered chocolate.

NEWS-LEADER

Springfield, Mo.

Circulation: 35,531

Nathan Groepper — creative director of the Gannett Design Studio in Des Moines — suggested:

For what it’s worth, you might want to check out the Andy Williams cover Springfield put together. He was big in Branson.

Unfortunately, the News-Leader didn’t contribute its front to the Newseum today. But Nathan was kind enough to send a PDF my way.

The picture is file art from 2010. The page was designed by Season Schafer of the Des Moines studio.

OMAHA WORLD-HERALD

Omaha, Neb.

Circulation: 135,223

Meanwhile, in Nebraska, a legendary football coach announced he would step down at the end of this season.

The front-page picture here is by staffer Rebecca S. Gratz.

The page was designed by Brady Jones.

JOURNAL STAR

Lincoln, Neb.

Circulation: 55,398

The University of Nebraska is located in Lincoln. Here’s how the hometown paper played the story.

I love the picture by the Journal Star‘s Francis Gardler. Here’s a closer look.

STANDARD-SPEAKER

Hazleton, Pa.

Circulation: 20,008

In Hazleton, Pa., the centerpiece story today was about a local piece about teen suicide — a notoriously difficult topic to illustrate. The Standard-Speaker went with a four-year-old file illustration from McClatchy-Tribune Graphics.

The illustration is by Val Mina, former features art director for the Sacramento Bee. Find more of Val’s work for MCT here.

JOURNAL & COURIER

Lafayette, Ind.

Circulation: 25,531

I suspect this giant A1 illustration — for a story on the ongoing housing crisis — is also stock or wire.

However, I can find no credit to confirm this.

Nicely-designed page, though. If anyone could tell me who put it together, I’d appreciate it.

GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE

Green Bay, Wis.

Circulation: 41,769

And, not surprisingly, the end of the NFL officials lockout is the big story today in Green Bay.

The picture there is either file or stock — I’d guess the latter. NFL uniforms have been completely redesigned in recent years. Compare that art with a little pic at the bottom of today’s USA Today:

 

The page was designed by Don Renfroe of the Gannett studio in Des Moines.

LAS VEGAS SUN

Las Vegas, Nev.

Distribution: 220,619

I’m not sure the folks at the Las Vegas Sun even know the meaning of the words “stock art agency.” If you have former Sun art director Chris Morris — now a master illustrator for the Cleveland Plain Dealer — on retainer as a regular freelancer, you don’t need stock art.

Brilliant stuff as usual from Chris.

USA TODAY

McLean, Va.

Circulation: 1,817,446

USA Today went with another very tall tab chart on page one today.

I love how the paper is introducing these odd shapes on the front. Unusual shapes can make for unusual pages.

I just wish the paper could find a way to represent data like this visually. As opposed to just running a huge stack of numbers.

Here’s a closer look:

VICTORIA ADVOCATE

Victoria, Texas

Circulation: 26,531

And in Victoria, Texas, today, we’re treated to the sight of a halo around the sun.

Artist Julie Zavala tells us:

After a woman called in about the “rainbow around the sun”, the photographer and I ran outside to see it. Angeli Wright took some cool photos of the halo while I tried to take photos with my iPhone. I nearly blinded myself trying to line my phone up with the sun to get my own pics and had tears running down my face (I looked kind of like Alice Cooper by the time I was through).  We used Angeli’s photos in print and online.

Robert [the Advocate‘s multimedia editor and also Julie’s husband] gave me the assignment to research the phonomenon and to write and create the graphic.  I had never seen a rainbow around the sun so I was just as impressed as you are–it’s really cool, right?

The graphic is a very simplistic explanation of how it happens.

Here’s how it all came together on page one today, designed by Kimiko Fieg.

Everything here except the Springfield front is from the Newseum. Of course.

What you need is a big glass of whiskey

Bill Wachsberger — a designer for Gannett’s design studio in Nashville, Tenn. — writes to show us the…

…Sunday Biz cover I did from the Tennessean. Something very different: Stock photo  and no ordinary headline. The lede is treated as the head.

Click for a larger look:

The story was about the growth of whiskey distilleries in Tennessee. I had art of these two guys holding their product, but I didn’t want the cover to look like an ad.

I saw a paper’s front page on your blog in the last couple years that had an A1 centerpiece with no head. I tried to borrow off of that idea.

Bill might be referring to this page, in which the Star Ledger of Newark ran a centerpiece story with no headline at all. The first three sentences — which ran slightly larger than usual — served in place of a conventional headline.

 

The lesson to be learned here: When you see an idea you think you might be able to use, don’t just rip off the idea pixel-for-pixel. Rather, use the idea for inspiration. For best results, use the idea in a way that a) Fits your story, and b) Fits in with the style of your newspaper.

Bill Wachsberger is a designer for Gannett’s design studio in Nashville, Tenn. A 1997 graduate of the University of Miami, Bill spent a year as a copy editor and designer for the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel and three years as a news design planner at the Morning News of Savannah, Ga., before joining the State of Columbia, S.C., in 2001 as an A1 and special projects designer. He moved to the Baltimore Sun in 2004 as news design director but was laid off in 2009. He spent two years working off and on as a temporary contract designer for the Washington Post before signing on in Nashville a year-and-a-half ago.

A look at today’s most interesting ‘47 percent’ pages

Before today slips totally away from us, let’s take a quick look at the day’s most interesting front pages in which Mitt Romney‘s “47 percent” video was the lead story.

BOSTON HERALD

Boston, Mass.

Circulation: 108,548

Nice choice  — of what I presume is file art — by the Boston Herald today. Looks like Mitt is ducking something being thrown at him.

The picture is from Getty Images.

DAILY NEWS

New York, N.Y.

Circulation: 579,636

The New York Daily News worked up quite a bit of loud righteous indignation over the flap this morning.

That’s yet more Getty art.

NEW YORK POST

New York, N.Y.

Circulation: 555,327

Meanwhile, the News Corp.-owned New York Post predictably came down on Romney’s side.

The “truth hurts” indeed. The art is a screencap from the video, obviously.

DAILY NEWS

Philadelphia, Pa.

Circulation: 110,000

The folks in Philly went with one of the more amusing headlines of the day.

The deck spins the story forward into a “how much has this hurt his campaign” story. That might be the case also inside the three papers we just looked at. But you wouldn’t know that from their covers. All snap, crackle and pop but very little breakfast cereal.

The photo is from the Associated Press.

DETROIT FREE PRESS

Detroit, Mich.

Circulation: 232,696

The Free Press asked the right question and seemed to set the right tone with its centerpiece this morning.

The downside: That gold-colored excerpt box is awfully large. I wish they could have trimmed the quote and make the box a little more shallow.

The picture is by Charles Dharapak of the Associated Press.

WASHINGTON POST

Washington, D.C.

Circulation: 507,615

The Post led today with a fresh picture from the campaign trail by staffer Melinda Mera.

Note how there is no reference in display text at all to the “47 percent” comment. The understanding here is that you already have heard the news. Details are inside. The Post looks at the Romney campaign, which is ailing at the moment. The chart shows  projections made from the latest polling numbers.

The main headline, I commented on earlier today.

STAR-LEDGER

Newark, N.J.

Circulation: 278,940

The Ledger seems to take that same tack but a step or two further today with this headline.

The picture — by Charles Dharapak of the AP — was taken at nearly the same moment as the Post’s lead photo.

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

St. Louis, Mo.

Circulation: 187,992

Now, we get to the really interesting stuff: Breaking down the “47 percent” number that Romney tossed around in that video.

Here’s a closer look at the Post-Dispatch‘s treatment, build with four single sentences, large color numbers and four pieces of art from either the files or from stock services.

Note how the numbers add up to only 46 percent. Yes, Romney made a rounding error in his original speech. Which we can forgive, I think. It’s not like he was talking about something really important like his running mate’s marathon times or something.

The photo of Romney downpage is yet another one by AP’s Dharapak…

KANSAS CITY STAR

Kansas City, Mo.

Circulation: 200,365

…as is this one on the front of the Kansas City Star.

Down the left side of the lead package is a McClatchy-Tribune graphic that breaks down the “47 percent” via a pie chart.

Notice that 28.3 percent of households last year did indeed pay taxes — Medicare and Social Security payroll taxes — but didn’t technically pay any income taxes. If you don’t include these folks, Romney’s “47 percent” — which is actually only 46.4 percent — shrinks down to 18.1 percent. Or just under one out of every five households.

Still, that’s a lot more than I would have guessed before this entire episode began. So at the very least, this has been instructive.

DENVER POST

Denver, Colo.

Circulation: 401,120

Memo to the Denver Post: Does USA Today know you’re using huge circles on page one?

The folks at the Post knew today that everyone was asking: Who IS that 47 percent? Not only did the Post set out to answer that question, they made that answer a huge visual on page one today.

Here’s a closer look at the bottom part of the graphic, which came from the Washington Post. Click for a readable version:

Nicely done. However, the Post will be hearing from Gannett’s lawyers any minute now.

(And here’s the Post‘s legal defense: Hey, this wasn’t ANYTHING like USA Today’s “blue balls.” OUR big circle had actual CONTENT in it!)

STANDARD-TIMES

New Bedford, Mass.

Circulation: 21,582

My favorite front page of the day, however, is this one by the tiny Standard-Times of New Bedford, Mass., about 30 miles southeast of Providence, R.I. Check out how the strip containing the pull quote slices through the photo.

That — and the accompanying headline — is nothing short of brilliant.

Let’s hear it for the tiny papers. Once again.

All of these front pages come from the Newseum. Of course.

The most interesting weekend front pages

Here’s a (slightly belated) roundup of the best and most interesting of the weekend’s front pages…

_____________________________________

USE IT BIG AND GET THE HELL OUT OF ITS WAY

ST. LUCIE NEWS TRIBUNE

Fort Pierce, Fla.

Circulation: 29,261

That’s my favorite advice for when you have great art: Use it big and get the hell out of its way.

Even better when the art was shot locally. You saw that great picture of the owner of a pizza joint in Fort Pierce giving President Barack Obama a huge, off-the-ground bear hug. Here’s how the paper in Fort Pierce used that AP photo by Pablo Martinez.

 

The News Tribune‘s sister papers used near-identical fronts today.

 

On the left is the Press Journal of Vero Beach, circulation 83,969. On the right is the Stuart News, circulation 38,956.

All three were designed by Joe Mountain, I’m told.

______________________________________

A FEW MORE POLITICAL-THEMED FRONT PAGES

Both Obama and Mitt Romney have been campaigning hard in New Hampshire — a big swing state this year. As you can see here, a couple of papers went with split-screen presentations Saturday…

…while the Telegraph of Nashua used a local staff photo — shot by staffer William Wrobel — but an overall politics-themed headline.

From left to right: The Monitor of Concord (circulation 20,000), the Union Leader of Manchester (circulation 44,665) and the Telegraph (circulation 16,653).

What gave me pause, however, was this headline atop Saturday’s Portsmouth Herald.

Yes, I’m sure there was a great turnout Friday to see the candidates and their wives. But “Fab Four“?

Should the editor have worked to find language just a little more neutral than that? Or does that not bother you?

It bothers me.

Here are two more papers that used Photoshop cutouts to create political centerpieces for Sunday fronts.

On the left: The Star News of Wilmington, N.C. (circulation 39,058). Notable is a wire graphic that shows the battleground states, including, of course, North Carolina. Also notable is the wrestling-themed headline.

 

On the right: The Asbury Park Press of Neptune, N.J. (circulation 98,032). I love the way the press cites “four keys to victory,” which puts a forward, analytical — yet, non-partisan — spin on the story.

We do this all the time on the sports pages. We ought to do it more often with political races.

COLUMBUS DISPATCH

Columbus, Ohio

Circulation: 136,023

The Columbus Dispatch did that very thing on Sundays’ front page with this smartly-written piece that cites specific reasons why neither candidate can possibly win in November.

Here’s a closer look at just the centerpiece. Click for a readable version.

The photoillustration is by staffer Charlie Zimkus.

JOURNAL STAR

Peoria, Ill.

Circulation: 63,024

Even more arresting is this use of public domain art by James Montgomery Flagg.

The designer played off the illustration with a textured background, bunting-like frame rules and a cartoon voice balloon that invokes the lettering in the original recruiting poster.

Note the way the designer pulled quotes from both Republicans and Democrats.

DAYTON DAILY NEWS

Dayton, Ohio

Circulation: 93,425

The folks at the new Cox Media Group graphics operation in Dayton, Ohio, constructed a map of Ohio and showing which candidate has the advantage in each region of the key state.

The graphic by Brennan King shows which party captured that region in the 2004 and 2008 elections. But, unfortunately, doesn’t show any polling data that might suggest how each might fall this year. Other than the basic coloring.

The same graphic — indeed, the same design — was also used by smaller Cox papers in the state.

 

On the left: The Middletown Journal (circulation 12,757). On the right: The Hamilton Journal News (circulation 14,729).

WISCONSIN STATE JOURNAL

Madison, Wis.

Circulation: 83,083

The Wisconsin State Journal played similar data — in yes, another swing state this year — with this huge graphic package afront Sunday’s paper.

Nice extras: The U.S. map showing all this year’s swing states (note how N.C. leans to the GOP in this analysis), a horizontal bar chart across the top of the package showing the number of electoral votes each candidate might expect…

…and three separate maps showing county-by-county votes in each of the last three presidential elections.

Not reflected here, of course: The stunning election of a Republican governor two years ago. Again, perhaps it’s too early, but I’m looking forward to seeing polling data in these key states.

As much as I love this package, however, the best part was…

The headline: Brilliant.

_________________________________

INTERESTING COLLEGE FOOTBALL PAGES

Speaking of college football…

MISSOURIAN

Columbia, Mo.

Circulation: 6,003

For home football weekends his fall, the Missourian is pushing most of the paper inside and playing up football coverage. Note the bug at the upper right of this page.

The lead photo by staffer Stuart Palley: Brilliant. The headline: Brilliant.

The treatment of the sidebar about Uga, the bulldog mascot of the University of Georgia: Brilliant.

DES MOINES REGISTER

Des Moines, Iowa

Circulation: 101,915

My old pal Jeremy Gustafson of the Gannett Design Studio in Des Moines tells us:

We need to call him “Big Game” Rodney.

Register photographer Rodney White nailed another game-clinching photo in the Iowa State/Iowa game. Last year he was literally right in on the action when James White scored in triple overtime.

Which Jeremy played sideways.

Read more about that page here.

Jeremy continues:

This year, he captured the moment as Jake Knott waited for a tipped ball to fall into his hands.

So another big, last-minute win over in-state rival Iowa for the Iowa State Cyclones. Another great sports-front anchor photo by Rodney White.

Jeremy concludes:

Rodney continues to make my job easy.

Full disclosure: Jeremy is an Iowa State graduate.

Rodney also shot the picture that was played atop page one the next day:

While I love those two Sunday pages by the folks at the Des Moines Design Studio, I’m a little less enthusiastic about this Saturday page that same studio designed for the 12,130-circulation Press-Citizen of Iowa City.

Granted, it was an impossible assignment: How do you balance a) A huge state-rivalry game story and b) a visit by the president?

What I didn’t like was the huge, colorful play to the “gameday” portion of the page. This just didn’t work downpage. The “Hawkeye Gameday” banner appeared beneath the fold.

One possibility might have been to divide the page evenly along the fold. Put Obama on one side and the pregame stuff on the other. That way, newsrack distributors could flip the page whichever way they figured might sell more papers.

I’ll bet you the football game would sell better than Obama.

_________________________________________

FUNNIEST HEADLINE OF THE WEEKEND, PART ONE

Check out this fabulous Sunday morning football loss headline from the paper in Bryan-College Station, Texas.

Texas A&M lost to the Florida Gators, 20-17. If you don’t “get” it, the headline is a reference to a phrase popularized by comedian Larry “the Cable Guy” Whitney, who says :”Get ‘er done.”

The Aggies didn’t “get ‘er done” against the Gators.

Here is the entire page of the 22,865-circulation Eagle.

__________________________________

GET THE HELL OUT OF ITS WAY, PART TWO

There might not be many places in the country where NFL football merits poster treatment on page one. But Wisconsin is one of them. Even after a crushing 30-22 loss to the 49ers.

The folks at the aforementioned Des Moines Design Studio produced a number of front pages for Gannett’s Wisconsin papers, including these two.

 

The Northwestern of Oshkosh (circulation 14,113) used its picture larger. But I’d argue the type treatment — and interactivity with the nameplate — used by the 10,186-circulation Reporter of Fond du Lac provided more visual pop.

The photo was from the Associated Press. (And if someone in Des Moines could tell me who designed these fronts, I’d be much obliged.)

POST-CRESCENT

Appleton, Wis.

Circulation: 38,244

The visually-strongest Green Bay Packer poster front of the day, however, might possibly be this one on the front of the Appleton paper.

The photo is by Gannett’s Evan Siegle.

All four of these Wisconsin papers were designed by Sean Mckeown-Young of the design studio in Des Moines, I’m told.

___________________________

HOW NOT TO USE A SPORTS PHOTO

You might have noticed that all three those last examples used type atop a photo. This can be a bad thing if the type is obtrusive. I don’t think those were. (My photographer friends out there may disagree.)

Also, note there is just a bit of Photoshop styling on that last example — especially at the bottom. That’s a bit more troubling. Because when you start down the path of Photoshopping live news — or sports — pictures, you may end up in a place like this:

I noticed this last year in the 13,799-circulation Niagara (N.Y.) Gazette and I may have even mentioned it a time or two. But, for the life of me, I don’t understand why a newspaper would cut out — and place onto a color background, complete with a dropshadow — a nice picture taken of the previous day’s game.

Not cool.

__________________

DO YOU FEEL OLD YET?

Do you remember Franco Harris of the Pittsburgh Steelers and his unbelievable rebound catch against the Oakland Raiders that came to be called “the Immaculate Reception”?

Forty years ago this December. I kid you not.

Gee. Thanks a lot, Post-Gazette. I think.

Average daily circulation of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is 188,545.

______________________________

A FEW MORE CREATIVE FRONT PAGES

Ideas to look at, file away and, perhaps, rework in a way that will fit the needs of your own paper some day.

GASTON GAZETTE

Gastonia, N.C.

Circulation: 24, 354

The story Sunday in Gastonia, N.C.: Salaries of public servants.

The news: Twenty-nine of them make more than $100,000 a year. Which is a lot of money in the western suburbs of Charlotte.

One hint for my friends in Gastonia: The big, bold numbers are just a bit jammed. I’ll bet they’d have had just as much impact if you had taken each down maybe one or two points in size but left the leading the same.

Other than that: Brilliant idea. And wonderful presentation.

COLORADOAN

Fort Collins, Colo.

Circulation: 19,864

The story in Fort Collins: The number of folks who play fantasy football… on company time.

The illustration is essentially a “big numbers” text box, but the big numbers are applied to the backs of football jerseys.

Coloradoan editor Josh Awtry tells us this was…

…stock art that was customized for the illustration (with jersey numbers to match). Based on an idea by Eric Larsen, started by me, delegated by Colin Smith, and expertly realized by Wendy Goldfarb in Phoenix.

This sort of thing can get messy really quickly unless handled with a bit of restraint. Wendy applied just the right touch.

NEWS HERALD

Panama City, Fla.

Circulation: 30,829

It’s becoming… I won’t say a cliché; rather, let’s call it standard practice.

Erin Forehand of the Panama City, Fla., News Herald tells us:

For the 75th anniversary of the News Herald, we redesigned the A and B sections to look like they might have in 1937.

Here is that front page.

Note the retro nameplate, the vertical column rules and the variety of headline styles, as well as the scarcity of white space. Yikes! How did we ever read this stuff.

This must have been a huge jolt for readers this morning. Here is the retro front compared to a front page from last summer.

 

The paper is celebrating its anniversary with a picture book of local photos from its archives. Find that here.

VIRGINIAN-PILOT

Norfolk, Va.

Circulation: 142,476

I’m not a huge fan of this particular design. But it is a good example of an illustration executed with nothing more than type.

This is the Pilot‘s annual summer serialized story. The topic this summer: The origins of NASA and the Mercury space program, in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In its earliest days — before it moved to Houston — America’s manned space effort was headquartered at NASA’s Langley center, just across the water from Norfolk.

Day Two — today’s installment — focused on the slide-rule-using “nerds” who engineered the early spacecraft.

Not all of the 14-part series is posted online. Find videos and a few other components here.

_______________________________

MAKING SOMETHING OUT OF NOTHING

HUNTSVILLE TIMES

Huntsville, Ala

Circulation: 44,725

Sometimes, we overthink our centerpieces.

Sometimes, we’re so desperate that we grab something from the archives, hold our nose and hope we don’t get yelled at the next day.

I can’t say for certain that’s what happened Saturday in Huntsville. But I’m here to tell you: This worked.

And it couldn’t have been simpler.

I hope someone got a nice pat on the back for that one.

_________________________________

HOW TO BUMP UP WEEKEND RACK SALES

PATRIOT LEDGER

Quincy, Mass.

Circulation: 38,537

The story in Quincy, Mass., Saturday was how city officials are fighting businessowners who want to put “adult businesses” in the area.

How do you illustrate a story like that? With a phrase like “bump and grind” in the headline. And a little bump and grind in you art selection.

That photo wasn’t credited, so I can’t tell you whether that’s stock or staff art.

Tell you what: I’ll spend some time this evening searching for it. I’ll let you know if I find it…

_____________________________

FOUR FABULOUS SPORTS SKYBOXES

Those of you out there in newspaper land to whom I’ve been preaching lately about skyboxes? Listen up.

I found four skybox promos this weekend that show just how well a well-cropped photo can sell a story.

Here is high school football atop Saturday’s Stockton (Calif.) Record.

The picture of Tokay High School is by staffer Michael McCollum. Average daily circulation of the Record is 33,675.

The News-Press of St. Joseph illustrated how well the Atlanta Falcons dominated Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs using this picture by staffer Matt Reid.

Average daily circulation of the News-Press is 26,015.

Here’s another small paper making a huge, huge impact with a huge high school skybox picture.

That’s the Times-News of Twin Falls, Idaho, circulation 18,244.

Yeah, that’s about a third of the front page. But I’ll bet it sold a hell of a lot of papers Sunday. If nothing else, I’ll bet No. 20’s family bought a dozen copies.

And the smallest and most subtle of these examples is this one from the 14,267-circulation Tribune Eagle of Cheyenne, Wyo.

Did you see that game yesterday? Manning certainly was back. Cropping the picture so we can read the name on the back of his jersey was what made that work. Along with the contrast between the orange jersey and headline and the blue reverse box.

Here is what all four of these papers looked like.

Click any of them, of course, for a larger look.

_________________________________________

FUNNIEST HEADLINE OF THE WEEKEND, PART TWO

No comment necessary.

That was from page B1 of Sunday’s Democrat and Chronicle of Rochester, N.Y. Thanks to radio consultant Scott Fybush for the tip.

The retro Fort Walton Beach page, the Des Moines page and the dog neutering headline are from the respective newspapers. All the rest of these images are from the Newseum. Of course.

Do these snowflakes seem a little flaky to you?

When you’re struck by winter weather, you may be tempted to put snowflakes and other icy-cold art atop your front page.

I can’t tell you not to do that: I’ve done it a time or two myself. It’s trite, but it can work. Sometimes.

It’s winter in the southern hemisphere. It’s very, very cold in South Africa this weekend. My friends at the Johannesburg-based, national Sunday paper, City Press, had the bright idea to put snowflakes atop page one today.

The snowflakes were deliberate. The little Mickey Mouse ears embedded in them, I suspect, were not.

It took me only a second or two to retrace the designer’s steps via Google to find the likely source:

 

Mining Google for art can be risky. You never know exactly what you might be getting. This example is merely amusing. The one we looked at yesterday, however, might have gotten someone fired.

It’s much better to either a) Use a trusted source for stock art. Or b) Draw your own.

A look at John Glenn 50th anniversary pages

A number of papers out there have run packages over the past few days commemorating the flight of John Glenn, the first American in orbit. That happened 50 years ago today.

Glenn wasn’t the first man in orbit, of course. That honor goes to Yuri Gagarin of what was then the Soviet Union. He flew one circuit around the Earth nearly a year before. Two U.S. astronauts were sent up in brief, high — but non-orbital — missions before NASA could get a converted nuclear missile — the Atlas rocket — modified to carry a human safely.

PLAIN DEALER

Cleveland, Ohio

Circulation: 243,299

The first — and so far, the only — nice graphic I’ve seen of Glenn’s voyage is this one from Sunday’s Plain Dealer.

Click for a much larger view:

That was researched, written and drawn by the Plain Dealer‘s William Neff.

Bill wrote on his Facebook page yesterday:

This project represents the first time I’ve ever had the chance to interview someone I once built as a plastic model. Okay, more than once.

Bill and his colleague Jim Ewinger even got to sit down with Glenn, now 90 years old, for a few minutes. Bill writes:

Talking to him, you’d still think he was in his 50s. Absolutely sharp. Sure, he’s well rehearsed, but we came at him from 100 different angles and we were just gasping at his recall of the smallest minutiae.

Oh, and his wife drove him to the interview.

Here’s a video of some of their chat:

Find Jim’s story here. Find a less graphic version of Bill’s graphic here.

Here’s how the Plain Dealer played that story on page one Sunday:

Today, the Plain Dealer is recreating Glenn’s flight in real time. Find that here.

The paper came back and promoted this in its skybox today.

AKRON BEACON JOURNAL

Akron, Ohio

Circulation: 87,780

The Beacon Journal found a fabulous angle for today’s anniversary: The suit Glenn wore during his three-orbit mission was manufactured locally by B.F. Goodrich.

The Beacon Journal’s Mark J. Price reports:

In 1959, NASA agreed to buy 20 suits from Goodrich for $75,000 — or about $3,750 per suit. Today, that would be $583,249 total or $29,000 apiece.

…Glenn and Schirra were the first to get fitted, quietly arriving in Akron in October 1959 amid military security. Dressed in civilian clothes, they dined with 40 workers in Goodrich’s cafeteria and left that day.

“For a pair whose pictures and life stories have been spread across the pages of newspapers and national magazines for months, they attracted little attention,” the Beacon Journal reported.

I also learned something I didn’t know:

Glenn’s spacesuit was the first to have battery-powered lights imbedded in its gloved fingertips, an innovation.

“Now he can point a finger and be able to read his path indicator telling him where he is at all times or look at a map even though the capsule is in darkness,” [Wayne Galloway, spacesuit production manager for Goodrich in 1962] noted.

Find the story here.

DAILY PRESS

Newport News, Va.

Circulation: 59,200

In those days, the manned space program had not yet moved to Houston. Rockets were engineered in Huntsville, Ala. and the Mercury spacecraft itself was built in St. Louis. Missions launched from Cape Canaveral.

But the entire operation was run from a NASA center near Langley Air Force Base, just across the river from me here. At least one astronaut — Alan Shepard, a Navy pilot — lived here in Virginia Beach and commuted to work. My uncle used to tell the story about how he used to cut Shepard’s grass.

The Daily Press of Newport News found a local man — Ray W. Hooker, now 106 years old — who helped set up the tracking stations for the first U.S. orbital flight.

That picture is by staffer Sangjib Min.

The Daily PressCory Nealon reports:

The military had been tracking missiles with radar and telemetry equipment, but spaceflight was different. NASA wanted to talk with Glenn, who would be traveling at speeds exceeding 17,000 miles per hour.

NASA brass decided to build a network of ground-based tracking stations across the planet. Teams of engineers, including Hooker, visited Africa, Australia and other spots to pick locations.

NASA hired Western Electric to build the stations, which would be placed on ships in the Indian and Pacific oceans, throughout the U.S. and numerous foreign countries, including Nigeria and Mexico.

“We designed a station that was portable. It could shipped and located anywhere,” said Hooker, who supervised the project’s mechanical and architectural engineering aspects.

Find the story here.

HUNTSVILLE TIMES

Huntsville, Ala.

Circulation: 44,462

Huntsville is where the Army’s Redstone ballistic missile — which carried the first two sub-orbital flights — was built. What launched Glenn was an Air Force ICBM — not engineered in Alabama.

Still, interest in the Mercury program in Alabama was — and still is — huge.

Find the local story here by the TimesMark McCarter.

U-T SAN DIEGO

San Diego, Calif.

Circulation: 219,347

The Atlas rocket that carried Glenn was built in San Diego, however, by Convair. Consequently, the former Union-Tribune played up the anniversary today.

Find the main story here by Gary Robbins.

However, it was this that really caught my eye today:

Those are five of the orignal seven astronauts, hanging out after a waterskiing outing with friends. Glenn is the one in the middle of the back row. That’s Wally Schirra to the right of him. On the front row from left is Scott Carpenter, Gus Grissom and Alan Shepard.

Read more about that here.

And that was just about it for the cool, locally-reported John Glenn packages.

The Tribune of San Luis Obispo, Calif., ran a New York Times story today…

  • Tribune, San Luis Obispo, Calif., circulation 33,104

…while nearly everyone else who put the story on page one over the past few days used stories and pictures sent out by the Associated Press. The best-looking of these was this one:

  • Sioux City Journal, Sioux City, Iowa, circulation 33,837

The paper in Ravenna, Ohio, played up a recent portrait of Glenn. The Peoria paper used that file photo of Glenn’s launch as a vertical.

 

  • Record-Courier, Ravenna, Ohio, circulation 17,328
  • Journal Star, Peoria, Ill., circulation 59,090

Most presentations I’ve seen used this combination of NASA file photos, redistributed by the Associated Press.

 

  • Daily News, Fort Walton Beach, Fla., circulation 37,000
  • News Herald, Panama City, Fla., circulation 30,829

These two papers relied on AP for their Glenn fronts last Friday but did manage to pull in a local story about a local man who was director of security for NASA in 1962. He watched the launch with the Glenn family in their living room in Arlington, Va.

 

Find that story here by Ginny Beagan.

  • St. Lucie News Tribune, Fort Pierce, Fla., circulation 29,261
  • Stuart News, Stuart, Fla., circulation 38,956

Here are two more papers from Friday that were not designed by the same desk but sure look like it.

 

  • News & Record, Greensboro, N.C., circulation 57,489
  • Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, Pa., circulation 331,134

Again, you see the same art here on Friday in Hendersonville, N.C. (left) and Sunday in Montgomery, Ala. (right).

 

  • Times-News, Hendersonville, N.C., circulation 12,459
  • Montgomery Advertiser, Montgomery, Ala., circulation 31,495

The page on the left is from Friday. The page on the right is today’s.

 

  • Tyler Morning Telegraph, Tyler, Texas, circulation 26,357
  • Daily Sun, the Villages, Fla., circulation 35,369

These front pages are from the Newseum. Of course.

More space anniversary posts, here in the blog…

Why God made stock art

The student newspaper at Ronald Reagan High School in Doral, Fla. — in the western suburbs of Miami — ran a story last February about sexually transmitted diseases.

A little more provocative than what you’d typically see in a school newspaper. But that’s good. Teens need more information about topics like that.

What’s not so good, however: The Reagan Advocate illustrated that story with a photo of a student.

That silhouette there was, in fact, a picture of a 12th grader. An “X” appeared over the student’s mouth. But it was still identifiable.

Gus Garcia-Roberts of the Miami New Times reports:

“In the original, the picture was only slightly blurred,” says [lawyer Harry Shevin]. “You could very clearly tell it was Kenneth.”

…Shevin says he doesn’t know why Kenny’s photo was used, but he doesn’t rule out retaliation or bullying.

Garcia-Roberts ends his report by writing:

There’s a lesson here for young journalists: Acquaint yourself with the concept of commercial stock photos. Says Attorney Shevin: “I know that for my website I used a stock photo of a hot woman with a phone headpiece.”

Read the entire story here.