The day’s nine best gay marriage front pages

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

Newark, N.J.
Circulation: 278,940

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

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


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

Kiersten wrote last night on her Facebook timeline:

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

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

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

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

Love wins. And good design matters.

Nicely done.

Find Kiersten’s web site and portfolio here.

Cleveland, Ohio
Circulation: 246,571

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


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

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

Norfolk, Va.
Circulation: 142,476

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


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

Wesley tells us:

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

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

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

Mountain Home, Ark.
Circulation: 9,156

I realize this is probably stock art…


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

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

San Francisco, Calif.
Circulation: 229,176

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


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

Omaha, Neb.
Circulation: 135,223

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

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


The picture is by staffer Ryan Soderlin.

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

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

Clarksville, Tenn.
Circulation: 14,596

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

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


Nice headline, too.

Victoria, Texas
Circulation: 26,531

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


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

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

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

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


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

Springfield, Mo.
Circulation: 35,531

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


Does that sum up the story perfectly, or what?

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

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

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

The 12 Days of Christmas, told via outstanding Christmas Day poster front pages

Hardly anyone runs out and buys a paper from a newstand or a convenience store on Christmas Day. So no matter what you do — no matter what you put above the fold — it’s unlike you’re going to push up single-copy sales on Christmas Day.

For that reason, some papers will essentially “blow off” their typical page-one presentation strategy on this day and give readers a bit of a Christmas Card-like gift for the holiday with a giant poster-page treatment featuring photography or an illustration.

Over the years, I’ve tried to shed a spotlight some of the better examples. Here is this year’s installment…


Scranton, Pa.
Circulation: 47,663

Perhaps the day’s most spectacular poster front — certainly the day’s largest — is this enormous illustration by Times-Tribune staffer Bob Sanchuk that wrapped around the paper in Scranton today.


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

The illustration evokes old times, winter weather and the Polar Express. In addition, of course, to being downright gorgeous.

Find more of Bob’s work here.


Santa Ana, Calif.
Circulation: About 160,000

My friends and ex-colleages at the Orange County Register created yet another fun Christmas Day photoillustration for today’s page one:


That’s Santa, setting up a tree and lighting a bonfire on Huntington Beach. Leonard Ortiz made the photo and Karen Kelso art-directed the shoot. Sitting the door of the trailer is Jitterbug, the dog of copy editor Maryanne Dell.

UPDATE: 6:45 p.m.

Karen writes on her Facebook page that she also art directed the front page of the Register’s sister paper, the Riverside Press-Enterprise.


That picture was shot by Press-Enterprise staffer Terry Pierson. For some reason, that’s not the page that showed up in the Newseum today.

These guys have teamed up in the past for previous treatments. Here was the one they did for 2011:


Karen said she really hated dealing with the reindeer for the 2012 page. Dirty nasty animal, she said.


And this is the one they built for last year.


Brilliant work. Definitely worth tooting your pipes for.


Cleveland, Ohio
Circulation: 246,571

This front page photo of a real, live singing angel was enough to make me leap for joy today.


Not only is it gorgeous… not only does it perfectly illustrate the season… but also, it was shot live last night during a Christmas Eve pageant. Staffer Lisa DeJong made the picture.


Newport News, Va.
Circulation: 57,642

My friends at the Daily Press have been doing the relocation dance this month, moving into new digs in Newport News, Va.

Their full-page poster treatment today not only illustrates the season but also highlights their new building.


Note how the sign on the side of the building does double-duty today as the paper’s nameplate. Nice.

The picture is by staffer Adrin Snider.


Oklahoma City, Okla.
Circulation: 130,177

To find maids a-milking, we’ll head to the farmlands of the Midwest.

For its Christmas Day treatment, the Oklahoman today milked the old holiday tradition of a snowglobe.


This attractive illustration is credited to staffers Steve Boaldin and Todd Pendleton.

Steve and Todd did a great job with their snowglobe. But Sean McKeown-Young of the Gannett Design Studio in Des Moines, Iowa, has cornered the market on snowglobes. He’s been building Christmas Day pagetoppers based on snow globe imagery for the past two years. This year, however…

I went a little nuts.

Sean builds his snowglobes to include imagery from each city. He reused the globes he’s built for Gannett’s Wisconsin papers, including Appleton…


…Fond du Lac…


…Green Bay…










…Stevens Point…




…and Wisconsin Rapids.


This year, Sean added snowglobe treatments for Des Moines, Iowa…


…Iowa City…


…Sioux Falls, S.D. …


…Springfield, Mo. …


…and a whole bunch of papers further south. Sean tells us:

We used one basic Louisiana snowglobe…

…for Alexandria…










…and Shreveport…



Wichita, Kansas
Circulation: 67,250

I’m certain it had been done before, but I first noticed Christmas Day poster treatments by watching the Wichita Eagle. They’ve been doing this sort of thing longer than most papers and they do it as well as anyone.

Here is this year’s gorgeous swan of a front-page Christmas card to readers.


Unfortunately, the photo isn’t credited.


Colorado Springs, Colo.
Circulation: 70,021

If you’re gong to fill the role of a goose a-laying, then you might as well lay golden eggs.

That’s just what the Colorado Springs Gazette did today with this photo of Santa greeting kids, shot from outside a window.


The photo is credited to staffer Jerilec Bennett.


A number of papers chose to illustrate page one today with religious-themed imagery. Taking the place of golden rings today are two of the better ones…

Spartanburg, S.C.
Circulation: 31,940

The Herald-Journal of Spartanburg, S.C., typically runs large art of a stained glass window on its Christmas Day front. They went sideways with today’s version.


My only beef with this page: There’s no credit. I suspect this window — gorgeous as it is — is from a cathedral in Europe. But with no cutline or credit, we’ll never know.

Hutchinson, Kansas
Circulation: 25,722

The Hutchinson News also has a Christmas Day tradition: It makes a full-page Christmas card out of classic paintings from long ago.

This year’s painting is 479 years old.


Note the nudity. I think you’ll find that unusual for a small-town newspaper.


The Villages, Fla.
Circulation: 44,624

Yesterday, I highlighted a really fun Christmas Eve page from my friends at the Villages Daily Sun.

Today, they fill the spot of calling birds with this gorgeous illustration of Santa, drifting through the sky with balloons of love.


The art was not credited, so I asked executive editor Bonita Burton about it. She replies:

It was a mashup I did of stock images.

If you ever feel you can’t possibly build a poster front with stock images, please come back and look at this example.


Longview, Texas
Circulation: 24,481

Sometimes, simpler is better.

No, strike that. Often, simpler is better.

Taking the place of simple French hens today is the News-Journal of Longview, Texas, which illustrated the tale of the birth of Christ from the New Testament with a very simple illustration of the wise men, following the birth star through the desert.


The art is listed only as a staff illustration.


New York, N.Y.
Circulation: 579,636

Doves are symbols of peace — appropriate for this holiday and especially for the troubled social and political times we live in.

So filling the role of turtle doves today is the New York Daily News, which delighted me this morning with this wonderful photoillustration.



Unfortunately, it’s not credited.


The final spot in our Christmas Day countdown of the day’s most remarkable pages — the partridge in a pear tree — will be played today by a pair of pages that are not poster pages but still interesting treatments of note.

Fort Collins, Colo.
Circulation: 19,864

The paper in Fort Collins, Colo., today did a story on ugly Christmas sweaters. To illustrate that, they dressed staffers in the ugliest sweaters they could find.


The story is by Erin Udell. The portraits are by Erin Hull.

Jackson, Miss.
Circulation: 57,710

Remember what I said about simpler being better? After the visual Christmas dinner feast you’ve enjoyed here today, let’s go in an opposite direction for our dessert: This gorgeously simple treatment from the Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss.


The Clarion-Ledger asked staffers to write personalized stories about the holidays and Christmas traditions. Note that the little tree art is made of little quote boxes — what cartoonists call dialogue balloons.

Gorgeous stuff. Once again, sadly, it’s not credited.


In all the years I’ve been posting roundups of Christmas Day pages, I’ve never had one of my own to post.

Until today…

Victoria, Texas
Circulation: 26,531

Ten years ago today, it snowed in Victoria. In fact, the town got 12.5 inches between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

That was pretty unusual. It’s snowed only 18 times in the 100+ years the National Weather Service has collected data in this city. The 12.5 inches was the greatest 24-hour snowfall this area has ever seen. The fact that it happened on Christmas and then pretty much melted off quickly afterwards was a big bonus.

We at the Advocate commemorated the tenth anniversary of this with an eight-page special section in today’s paper plus a big poster front on page one.


We didn’t really have a lot of file photos of the snow. That picture of the town square here in Victoria was shot by Miguel Luna, who was a staffer here at the time.

Side note: Check out the little daily bug at the bottom of the page showing local gas prices. They’re below $2 a gallon here. WooHoo!

But, back to the snow…

Several weeks ago — long before I arrived here — the Advocate began running items in the paper reminding readers it had been ten years since this snow and asking them to send in their snapshots and their memories via email, Facebook or whatever. And dozens did.

We used this in our local section today. We pushed all the usual B-section material into the A-section and opened up eight full pages for readers’ memories.

I built another big display for page B1, using the same typography and color scheme, plus another photo by Miguel Luna — this one, of Victoria’s historic old county courthouse.


The secondary art was contributed by a reader. Staffer Natassia Bonyanpour wrote the nice essay for the front.

On the inside, pages two and three were both black-and-white. I tried to pick only photos I thought might reproduce well with no color. The Glass family of Victoria sent in a very nice collection of pictures, so I ganged five of them for a visual sidebar at the top of page three.


I used another of Miguel’s photos for the snowman cutout on the left side of the spread.

Also, note the page headers. How often can you use that song in this area? Not very. So I thought that would make a nice running gag throughout the section.

Pages four and five was the color doubletruck. I sidestepped any possible production headaches by building two facing pages instead of filling the gutter.


Here, I used only the best, clearest, and highest-resolution pictures we were sent. The one at upper right — “Wyatt’s first Christmas” in the nearby town of Goliad — was professional portrait quality. Building a section like this is a lot easier when you have top-notch ingredients like this.

Also, note the “Lawnmower powered sled” picture at upper left. That makes a lot of sense: We’re very close to the Gulf of Mexico and the land here is very flat. How else are you going to use a sled?

Across the bottom of both pages, I cooked up a little timeline graphic showing the 18 snowfalls in Victoria history, going back 125 years.

Now that I had established a nice flow of stories and some gorgeous visuals, I used the next two black-and-white pages to display the nicest art I could find that would play well without color. On page six, below left, I played off the “beautiful sight” lyric by going with landscape shots.


Note the take on ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas poem sent in by one reader at upper left.

On page seven, above right, I tried to mix some of the more interesting and unusual pictures readers sent us: A cow in the snow. Towels, frozen on the clothesline. A man who, to this day, has kept a bag of 2004 snow in his freezer.

For the color back page: Yes, I went there.


Although I had used a few snowman pictures on pages two and three, I ganged 12 more of them here. A couple of the pictures here were awfully murky. But combined with several others, they didn’t seem so bad.

I hadn’t really intended to build the entire section myself. But when I found our lead designer and our lead copy editor were planning to come in on their days off to work on this project, I urged them to take their days off. Thanks to all that experience I gained this year building photo pages every other Monday at the Orange County Register, I could knock this out myself.

The parallel to my OC Register work is even stronger when you consider I’m still not yet up-and-running on our editorial system here. I built all nine pages the same way I built my Focus pages in California: In Adobe Illustrator. We saved the finished pages as EPS files and then plopped them into place as full-page images.

Lead designer Kimiko Fieg then returned the favor Tuesday night by building a sports front for Sunday I had intended to work up on Christmas Eve. Which, in turn, made Wednesday a very easy day for me. This reciprocal gift-giving was quite nice.

With the exception of my own pages from Victoria, all these pages are from the Newseum.

Previous Christmas Day page roundups:

The three best 9/11 anniversary front pages ever

Today is what I call an “odd-year” anniversary — rather than the 5th or 10th or 20th, this is the 13th — of the horrific terrorist attacks of 9/11.

A handful of papers did large front-page displays today. The best I saw was this one by the Villages Daily Sun of Florida:


That page was designed by senior designer Adam Rogers. The image is from the Newseum. Of course.

If you’d like to see more, Poynter’s Kristen Hare compiled a roundup of 9/11 anniversary pages. Find those here.

Three years ago, many of the nation’s newspapers went all-out observing the tenth anniversary of 9/11. I thought I’d observe the day by showing you two of those plus an earlier anniversary page.

Cleveland Plain Dealer

Andrea created what I called “the most stunning 9/11 image” of the day on the tenth anniversary of 9/11 with this illustration for a special section cover.


Andrea told me that day:

The editors at the paper told me a while ago that I would be doing this cover. So I had been carrying it around in my head. I knew it was going to be practically impossible for one image to say enough.

Finally, I decided to just make an image that expressed how I felt and hope others could relate. I tried hard to make something that didn’t exclude others in the world, even though it is an American tragedy.

The editors had me write some words to accompany the art. The whole experience was just a terrific opportunity.

Here are those words, that also ran in the section:

I made many drawings for this, but in the end, I was left with no flags, no planes, no buildings. Just the human toll.

This image is at once a plea, a scream, an admonition. It is loss of innocence. But it is also conviction. Conviction that we will reach past this and any other tragedy.

San Jose Mercury News

This one, too, published on the tenth anniversary.

Initially, I was a bit confused by this cover: Words? What th’…

But then I downloaded the PDF and took a closer look. Boom — the next 20 minutes instantly disappeared. This page really sucked me in. But I had to actually read it to “get” it.

So please click on this and check out the readable version:


This wrapped around the Merc — in fact, it wrapped around all three of the Bay Area News Group papers that day.

Design director Tiffany Pease told me:

The story is really amazing.

Our reporter, Julia Prodis Sulek, was given access to voicemails left for Flight 93 passenger Mark Bingham as the events of 9/11 were unfolding. The cover is the transcript of those voicemails, which were provided by Bingham’s mom (the hands at the top).

The page was designed by Tiffany, deputy design director Alex Fong — whose birthday happens to be on 9/11— and picture editor Jami Smith.

The entire story is still posted on the Merc‘s web site. Find that here.


Unlike those first two pages, this one ran on the fifth anniversary of 9/11.


That won a gold award from the Society for News Design.

I wrote about this page at the time, but that blog post is long gone. Instead, let’s take a look at what Sam wrote on his portfolio web site about this page…

While trying to come up with an idea for the front page of The Virginian-Pilot on the fifth anniversary of 9/11, I sketched out four vertical lines with a diagonal line crossing through them, showing “5″ – and it dawned on me that there was something there, something important, but I didn’t know what. I remember that as I looked at the sketch, I actually heard a voice, rising up from my subconscious, screaming at me from within, “It’s the Twin Towers! And a plane!”

I was mortified. I felt that “thud” in my heart, as if all the horror of that day was happening again, for the first time.

If possible, I wanted other people to feel that way when they looked at this front page.

It continues to amaze me that Denis Finley, the editor of The V-P, and Deb Withey, then Director of Presentation, got behind this very subjective graphic image and cleared everything else off the front. They put a lot of faith in the readers to make that leap. Underneath the image, in small type are the words, “The World Trade Center | 2,749 killed.”

It was controversial, to be sure, and I’ll never know what percentage of readers saw the double image. But I hope a majority did…

I was graphics editor at the Pilot when this page ran. I had nothing at all to do with this page. But I can vouch for what Sam said: The first time I saw a proof of it, I felt the air suck out of my body — as if I had been punched in the stomach. The page just seemed so… perfect.

There was a bit of discussion on how to render the five lines. Sam tried several. In the end, it was decided the spontaneity of Sam’s original sketch worked best. So that’s what they went with.

The second thing that stunned me about this page: There’s no nameplate. Just a tiny folio line across the top. This was the first time I had ever seen anyone do this.

What a page by Sam. What boldness by Denis and Deb.

What a result.


The ninth anniversary…

The tenth anniversary…

The eleventh anniversary…


  • Go here to see the Newseum‘s collection of pages from the day after 9/11
  • Go here to see the Newseum‘s collection of tenth anniversary pages from Sept. 11, 2011.

The busy life of a batboy, as only Chris Morris can tell it

No, no, no. Not that Batboy.


We’re talking about the baseball kind of batboy.

Master illustrator+visual journalists Chris Morris took a few minutes Monday to tell us about his latest cool project for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Chris tells us this project…

…started as a graphic focusing on “What does a stocked dugout look like? — what goes where and why?” — but I soon realized the batboys are such an integral part of making it all come together [and, so] my direction evolved.

I think good reporting has to be flexible, letting the story guide the reporting, so I went in thinking it was going to be an illustrated graphic of the dugout and it developed into something better, needing to show how the batboys make it so.

So, in mid-April, as the Tribe season was getting under way, our visuals team discussed projects to pursue. I’m not sure who suggested the dugout as a explainer graphic — it might have been me — but I like doing behind-the-scenes graphic reporting such as the sideline activity during an NFL game


… so I called my contacts with the Indians and set this up.

Earlier in the year Tony Amato, the Indians’ equipment manager, put me in touch with his gear guys to report on the trucks that go out to Spring Training.


When I got to the stadium for this story Tony handed me off to the batboys who had just arrived for work. Their day starts at 2 for a 7 pm start. Because the PD gave me a full page for this I can say that I covered a pretty complete day for them, from getting dressed in their own locker room to scrubbing cleats at the end of the day.


They work hard — it’s a lot more than collecting bats and delivering balls to the umpire. They have a set schedule and stick to it.

It was fun learning a few of the quirks in the Tribe dugout, such as Terry Francona’s private seat on one end…


and that Nick Swisher likes his helmet and gloves set in a certain spot and Carlos Santana stages his gear halfway down the bench, away from everyone else. Superstitions…


If the players need a warm drink on a cold night there’s a coffee station directly below the dugout, just steps away.


(They also stock a Keurig machine in the bullpen).

I illustrated the components and took a few of the spot photos; Staff Photographer Chuck Crow took the good shots and David Kordalski refined the layout.

It ran inside sports, Sunday, May 18.

Here is the interactive version.

Chris has worked at the San Francisco Examiner, the Dallas Morning News and the Las Vegas Sun. He moved to the Plain Dealer in August 2011.


Find Chris’ online portfolio site here, his Facebook fan page here and his Twitter feed here.

Find the Plain Dealer‘s visuals blog here.

Plain Dealer’s Emmet Smith moving to the Washington Post

Award-winning visual journalist Emmet Smith of the Cleveland Plain Dealer is moving to the Washington Post.


Plain Dealer managing editor Thomas J. Fladung announced recently:

Here’s a double-edged staffing announcement that will definitely leave a mark — and big holes to fill. Emmet Smith and Emily Hamlin Smith will be leaving The Plain Dealer.

Emmet has accepted an offer to join the design team at the Washington Post. Emily plans to get the family resettled and then will be exploring what’s available in the D.C. area.

Both have been a huge part of the story of The Plain Dealer for the past decade.

Emmet arrived in Cleveland in early 2004 and immediately began playing a key role in how the paper looked and read. He helped design dozens of memorable front pages (including “Gone”…

…and was a key player in our planning process and in challenging us to think big and bold. About a year ago, Emmet shifted his focus and took on one of our pop music critic roles. It proved to be a successful — if brief — interlude before our needs caused us to ask Emmet to return to his design and production roots, and he eventually became our first ever lead curator.

His other experiences include internships at the Virginian-Pilot and Detroit Free Press and design gigs at the Indianapolis Star and San Jose Mercury News.

Now, he’ll take all those experiences, skills and passion for storytelling to one of America’s great newspapers.

At The Plain Dealer, Emily also has showed off a range of skills. She came to The Plain Dealer in early 2003 as a copy editor, went on to work as a reporter in Metro and Business, eventually became the assistant copy desk chief and then in 2011 took on the job of deputy features editor. In Features, she has led the way on our fashion and shopping coverage and she was a key player in conceiving and executing North Coast, our newest Sunday features section.

Besides her work in Cleveland, Emily has done an internship and then a full-time job at Newsday and worked as a copy editor at the Mercury News.

Some lucky organization in D.C. is about to have a writer and editor of great skill fall into its lap.

Emmet and Emily are aiming at an early March departure. Please join us in thanking them and wishing them well.

Thom’s writeup is so comprehensive that I can offer only links to expand on this:

A few samples of Emmet’s work:













Read more about the Cleveland Rocks set of pages here.

Find Emmet’s Tumblr design blog here and his Twitter feed here.

Today’s best Christmas Day front pages

A well-known secret in the world of newspapers: It’s very, very difficult to sell a newspaper from a newsrack or convenience store on Christmas Day. Single-copy sales take a huge, huge nosedive on many holidays — other than Thanksgiving, of course.

Also, news rarely happens on Christmas Eve. And most papers push deadlines up early.

As a result, Christmas is often the one day a year even the most conservatively-designed newspapers might take a chance with a large illustration or Christmas card-like photo on page one.

Creativity reigns. Sometimes.

Here’s a look at some of today’s most interesting page-one treatments…

The Birmingham (Ala.) News led today with a fun story about a gag Christmas gift.


The art, I think, is interesting and understated. The red and yellow also provides a gorgeous contrast with the wonderful blue artwork above the nameplate.

Naturally, all of Advance’s Alabama papers used the same centerpiece today.


The Record of Stockton, Calif., wrote a fun A-to-Z guide with Christmas factoids and trivia. The story was presented in the form of a huge Christmas present.


I suspect some of that is stock art. But still, it’s a darned good use of stock art.

My pal Sean McKeown-Young — the Wisconsin team leader at the Gannett Design Studio in Des Moines, Iowa — designed a series of snowglobes to run across the tops of the array of papers for which he’s responsible.

Sean tells us:

I riffed on what I did last year. I wasn’t absolutely thrilled with how the 2012 versions came out. I wanted to do something that felt more dramatic and aligned to the page.

In all cases, Sean tried to find imagery that meant something to each specific town.Here’s Appleton…


…Fond du Lac…










…Stevens Point…





…and Wisconsin Rapids.


Here’s what each looked like atop their respective front pages.


The Post-Gazette of Pittsburgh continued its tradition of using art from the Westmoreland Museum of American Art on its Christmas Day front page.


That one was painted by Will J. Hyett in 1912. This is the eighth year the Post-Gazette has used vintage this way.

The Journal Sentinel of Milwaukee has a similar tradition — it asks local folks for nominations and then has a panel of experts choose each year’s page-one art.

This year, the winner was a Christmas tree painted by the late Robert Schellin.


The News-Item of Shamokin, Pa., held a contest among student artists to choose art for page one. The winning entry — of the St. Pauline Center in nearby Kulpmont — was by Alexia Wheary.


A number of papers lead their Christmas front pages with religious paintings or photos of manger scene dioramas or whatnot. One of the best of these this year was the Morning News of Sumter, S.C., which used stained-glass windows from two local churches to built a photoillustration.


The pictures were made by staffer John P. Russell. The Episcopal and Baptist windows were then combined by staffer Justin Johnson.

Also, a number of papers led today with imagery of manger scene reenactments. I loved the way the Gastonia, N.C., Gazette color-coordinated its nameplate with its lead art today.


It’s hard to go wrong with a cute kid. The picture is by staffer Mike Hensdill.

I didn’t care so much for the red ribbon, or the squashing in of two more tiny photos downpage.

And David Clemons, publisher of the Times-Journal of Fort Payne, Ala., wrote to say:

I wanted to pass along the work of my chief designer, Huck Treadwell, and chief photographer, Melissa Henry. We were encouraged by your postings of great Christmas fronts in past years and wanted to do something that captured the right spirit for our readers this year. I was really pleased with what they did.

Layout 1

The top picture is of one of our best local light shows and the main art is of a production at a local cave, Sequoyah Caverns, which actually closed this year but reopened for the Christmas season just to produce the live Nativity (with the notable exception of the baby, much to Melissa’s chagrin). The caverns are between Fort Payne and Chattanooga, Tenn., a place I know you’ve mentioned spending time before.

Very, very nice. I also like the photo in the nameplate/skybox area. Best wishes to the great folks in Fort Payne.

The Brainerd Dispatch in Minnesota shot a family of carolers for today’s front page.


Notice how the colors of the front-page typography fits with the candlelit photo by staffer Steve Kohls.

There are a number of papers that turn scenic photos — or gag Santa-centric photos — into Christmas Day art for page one.

The Telegram & Gazette of Worcester, Mass., used a nice picture of Boylston Common by staffer Christine Peterson.


Nicely done, but I’d argue the wreath in the headline detracts from the photo.

The Repository of Canton, Ohio, led with staffer Scott Heckel‘s photo of the Stark County Courthouse, as seen through the branches of a Christmas tree.


The Wichita Eagle focused on a gloriously red Cardinal, outstanding in snowcovered branches.


The picture is uncredited, unfortunately.

The Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser ran a picture by staffer Mickey Welsh of the huge Christmas tree in front of the state capitol building.


The Cleveland Plain Dealer chose two holiday-themed photos for page one today. The larger one up top is of a rehearsal for a local production of the Nutcracker.


The photo is by staffer Lisa DeJong.

The downpage photo of kids on a special holiday ride at the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is by staffer Joshua Gunter.

The Times-Shamrock papers of Pennsylvania had staffer Bob Sanchuk build photo illustrations showing an exhausted Santa Claus reading the local newspaper while his reindeer steals his hot chocolate.


I thought the image played best on the front of the tab-sized Citizens’ Voice of Wilkes-Barre.


And two papers — that I know of — elected to turn their photographic Christmas card fronts sideways.

The first is the Gazette of Colorado Springs, which went with this gorgeous picture by Christian Murdock.


The other are my colleagues at the Orange County Register, here in Santa Ana, Calif.


The picture of Santa and his elf assistant loading up his Woody at Huntington Beach is by Leonard Ortiz. Design director Karen Kelso did the art directing.

Those wrapped presents sat around our office for days.

The Fort Payne front page and some of the Gannett Wisconsin pages are from those papers. The rest are all from the Newseum. Of course.

Out of newspapers for two years, Tony Briggmin to join the Plain Dealer

David Kordalski of the Cleveland Plain Dealer announced Tuesday:

We’re happy to report that Tony Briggmin will be joining The Plain Dealer Pub Hub as a page designer.


Tony is a seasoned visual journalist, having spent time as the assistant sports editor/production at the Idaho Statesman. Prior to that, he was at the Bellingham (Washington) Herald, where he was the assistant presentation editor and a copy editor. His portfolio demonstrates his wonderfully wide skill set, equally adept at breaking news, sports and features. He brings a keen eye for recognizing opportunities for alternative story forms, which should add to the richness of our presentation. He’s also been a correspondent for the Beacon Journal, covering Wayne County.

Tony spent the last two years out of news, doing some great work for the Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism Bureau, but this only rekindled his interest in getting back in the journalism game.

Tony grew up in Youngstown, and he’s a 1997 graduate of Kent State’s Journalism and Mass Communication School, so he’s very familiar with Northeast Ohio. In fact, it’s the tug to be back in the best location in the nation that first brought him to our attention. The only real strike against him is that he’s a fan of “that school up north,” but given his journalistic talent and his passion for great presentation, it’s pretty easy to overlook that small blip in an otherwise outstanding addition to our team.

His first day will be Monday, Dec. 23. Please give him a big Plain Dealer welcome.

Seems like David covered most of the highlights, but just in case:

A 1997 graduate of Kent State University, Tony worked as a sportswriter for the Tribune-Chronicle of Warren, Ohio, and for the Akron Beacon Journal before moving to the Bellingham Herald in 1997. He spent several years as the Herald‘s assistant presentation editor before becoming assistant sports editor of the Idaho Statesman of Boise in 2010.

He left newspapers just shy of two years ago.

If you’ve ever sat though any of my slide shows — especially the ones on working with limited resources and on alternative story forms — then you’ve seen plenty of Tony’s work.

I remember when I coaxed this one out of him. Tony was embarrassed because I was using it in a show about infographics. “But I’m not a graphic artist,” Tony told me.

09modtab (Page 8)

That still stands as a fine example of a poster treatment of an infographic by a tiny newspaper.

Click on any of these for a larger view:

09modtab (Page 8)

09modtab (Page 8)

In Bellingham, Tony did a lot of magazine-quality design for various inserts.



In particular, I love this page: Tony dissects a photo of the Boise State football sidelines, telling us just who all those people are and what they’re doing.


Read more about that page here.

Find Tony’s Twitter feed here.

Today’s baseball playoff pages

Y’know, it’s a bit of a shame that, after all the last-minute effort the Plain Dealer put into their eight-page Wild Card wrap that the Indians then tanked big-time last night in Cleveland.

Small consolation is this gorgeous front page, designed by assistant managing editor David Kordalski.


The picture by Chuck Crow shows Carlos Santana consoling Jason Kipnis after Kipnis was told he had to pick up all the trash from the dugout.

Here’s today’s sports front, designed by Greg Darroch around a truly wonderful picture by Plain Dealer staffer Joshua Gunter.


That is the Rays’ Evan Longoria, sliding in for a score in the fourth inning as catcher Yan Gomes stretches for the throw. A pivotal moment in the game, David says.

Wonderful work by the Plain Dealer. Suddenly, I’m sorry the Indians are out.

The two major papers in the Bay area celebrated the Rays’ 4-0 win with the same photo from Getty images.


Hmm. Do you suppose they got some kind of package deal?

The picture is a good one — that’s Delmon Young, acquired from the Detroit Tigers in August, smacking in a home run in the third inning. But, still.

In particular, it’s interesting how the hockey season preview gets better play in the Tribune than the wild card win. Go figure.

Average daily circulation for the Tampa Bay Times is 299,497. The Tampa Tribune circulates 144,510 daily.

Circulation for the Plain Dealer is 246,571.

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

Previous blog posts about 2013 postseason baseball:

Inside the Plain Dealer’s wraparound baseball playoffs section

Don’t look now, but October baseball has returned to Cleveland.

OK, you can look now:


That was an outstanding Monday front page celebrating the Indians’ clinching a wild-card spot in the AL playoffs.

Assistant managing editor David Kordalski writes in the Plain Dealer‘s visuals blog:

After an improbable 10-straight wins to close the regular season, the Cleveland Indians return to the playoffs for the first time since 2007. An amazing streak by an amazingly fun team to watch.

Our view: Not sure who’s had a better baseball season — the Indians or PD photographer Chuck Crow!

The page itself, of course, was designed by superstar designer Emmet Smith.

Today, the Plain Dealer wrapped an eight-page special playoff section around its Wednesday edition.

Click on this — or any of these pages here today — for a larger look:


David tells us:

Most of the heavy lifting was Emmet Smith… Photos by Chuck Crow, Joshua Gunter, Lynn Ischay

That’s Joshua with the cover shot. Phillip Morris — the metro columnist, not the cigarette company — wrote the lead story.

Page two is anchored by a column by Terry Pluto — the sportswriter, not the former planet. The pictures are by Joshua and by Chuck Crow.


Page three contains the obligatory position-by-position, who-has-the-edge story by staffer Paul Hoynes. Paul also wrote the pregame story downpage.

The center spread is a real gem: Yet another masterpiece by illustrator Chris Morris.


Chris tells us:

Emmet called [Monday night] and said they were planning to do the wrap. There would be two big displays — a cover and a truck. Asked which I wanted. I said I was game for either, let me know.

He called back [Tuesday] morning and said he needed me on the truck. It would accompany a great player-by-player breakdown by staff writer Dennis Manoloff.

I didn’t draw everyone he profiled but set out at 10 am to get as many as I could. I delivered the truck illo shortly before 10 p.m. and DKord pulled it together, wrapping the synopses around the illo, tying the blurbs to the image.


Per Manoloff, valuable utility player Mike Aviles has “enormous calves”. I made sure to draw said hams.


I wish to add that Dennis’ comments for each player have been well-received in the commentary. A lot of readers appreciated the “get em up to speed” facts for the bandwagon fans.

Find the online version of Dennis’ story here.

Page six features a wonderful feature by staffer Zach Meisel on veteran slugger Jason Giambi.


The pictures are by staffer Chuck Crow and Tony Dejak of the Associated Press.

Page seven holds the jump from the cover story and a sidebar by Paul Hoynes on the five best performances by a manager in the history of the club. The photo of a smiling Kevin Rhumberg is by Lynn Ischay.

The back page takes on sports bars around the area from which one might watch the game. Unless, y’know, they have the Pirates on TV there or something.


The story is by John Petkovic.

Find all the Plain Dealer‘s Indians coverage here.

Average daily circulation for the Plain Dealer is 246,571.

Cool illustration alert

The Rolling Stones might still be searching for satisfaction. But I’ll bet there were plenty of Cleveland Plain Dealer readers who were mighty pleased to find this on the front of their Sunday arts section on May 19.

Click for a larger view.


The illustrator is Ted Crow.

The Not-So-Plain Dealer blog posted:

The Stones are kicking off their half-century milestone with a tour — and a great new exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cle.

Check out timelines, concert recaps and a John Petkovic essay on why Mick, Keith and crew are the greatest rock band in history here.

Last year, Ted created a handful of rock n’ roll portraits that the Plain Dealer ran as a series of poster pages. See those here.

Find a Ted Crow gallery — and buy prints of your favorites — here.

Average daily circulation of the Plain Dealer is 246,571.

Emmet Smith — out of visuals for 7 months — returns to visual journalism

October: Wildly talented visual journalist Emmet Smith of the Cleveland Plain Dealer leaves visuals to become a music writer for that paper.

June: Emmet returns to the Plain Dealer‘s visuals side.


Plain Dealer managing editor Thomas J. Fladung announced Friday:

Fellow staffers: File this one under good news: Emmet Smith has agreed to fill an opening we’ve had for some time by becoming our new design and graphics director. And with that job comes a key role in our push into the future as Emmet will immediately dive into our new front-end operating system, help lead a team prototyping the next-generation Plain Dealer and help us organize and execute our shift to a digital-to-print operation.

This ends Emmet’s successful (albeit brief ) foray into covering pop music. But in that short time, Emmet made a big impact, working with Chuck Yarborough to expand our music coverage while coming up with new approaches like the Lunctime Listen. Chuck will soldier on now as a solo act with his strong music reporting.

Emmet arrived at The Plain Dealer in 2003, and he’s built a long list of accomplishments and skills, playing a key role in designing dozens of memorable front pages (including the famed “Gone”) and helping The Plain Dealer define and refine its look and our journalism. Now, he’ll team up again with Scott Sheldon, Sharon Yemich and others helping us figure out what comes next. Emmet will be reporting to David Kordalski. Please join us in congratulating him.

In case you’re wondering — because I sure was — the position to which Emmet has been appointed is that of Michael TribbleMichael was appointed AME for digital and online a year-and-a-half ago. His old job was never filled, David tells me.

A 2003 graduate of Ball State University, Emmet interned at the Virginian-Pilot, the Indianapolis Star and the Detroit Free Press before moving to the Plain Dealer in 2004. In 2006, he became business design director of the San Jose Mercury News, but then returned to Cleveland in early 2007 as deputy design director for news. His work has always been among the best in the business.

Thomas mentioned Emmet’s most famous page — the one that may very well be carved into his tombstone one day. It’s this one, from the summer of 2010, when NBA star LeBron James left for Miami, despite his promise to bring a championship to Cleveland.

That bit of text at the right says:

7 years in Cleveland. No rings.

That wasn’t a sports front — that was page one of the Plain Dealer. It generated a lot of buzz, as you might imagine. Not long after, Sports Illustrated‘s Richard Deitsch ranked Emmet No. 1 in his sports media power rankings.

Emmet’s portfolio is simply too big and too impressive to do it any justice here. This man deserves a coffee table book or something.

Nevertheless, here are a few samples…







Read more about this Cleveland Rocks set of pages here.

Find Emmet’s Tumblr design blog here and his Twitter feed here.

A look at the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Sunday missing persons wrap

Sunday, I took note of the front-page treatment by the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Here it is again:


Find my ode to this page — and especially to the story downpage — here.

Today, I offer a correction of sorts. That was officially the front page of Sunday’s Plain Dealer and the front page that appeared at the Newseum. But that wasn’t the front page readers saw yesterday.

Sunday’s Plain Dealer was, in fact, wrapped with a four-page special presentation on missing persons in the Cleveland area.

Click this for a much larger view.


These pages were designed by Scott Sheldon and sssistant managing editor David Kordalski.

David writes in the Plain Dealer‘s visuals blog:

The story of three women found alive after a decade of captivity in a Cleveland neighborhood has captured the imagination of the country, but  there’s a hard truth behind that good news: As recently as Friday, 102 people are still listed as missing by the Cleveland Police Dept. We opted to shine a light on those cases with a doubletruck map pinpointing their last known whereabouts.

Here’s the inside map, created by data specialist Rich Exner and assistant graphics editor William Neff:


Naturally, there’s an interactive version as well.

Average daily circulation for the Plain Dealer is 246,571.

Forget the ‘feel good’ Mother’s Day story. This one is heartbreaking and powerful. And important.

As you might imagine, the Plain Dealer today led with a look back to the huge story of the week, adding details, updates and perspective to the horrifying story on the three teenaged girls who were kidnapped and then held in chains and ropes for up to a decade.


These stories are powerful and I recommend them highly. But what just floored me today was that story — and image — across the bottom of the page.

This is one of those I ideas I would have fought hard to push off the front. Tying the kidnapping story into Mother’s Day? Illustrating the story with flowers and chains, with work by Andrea Levy? Making that story a first-person account of another incident from nearly 30 years ago that will bring tears to your eyes?

Staffer Joanna Connors writes:

I could not bring myself to tell my mother.

That remains one of my clearest memories of the day I was raped in the summer of 1984. I went home from the hospital with my husband, and I desperately needed her, right away. But she lived in another city and I was afraid to call, afraid of how much it would hurt her. I imagined my mother, phone in hand, wailing and crumpling to the floor. I asked my sister to call her.

Oh, my God. Hell, no. Bad idea.

Yet, the Plain Dealer did it anyway. And they pulled it off brilliantly.

I’m a father to a 20-year-old girl. I’d rather things like what happened to the young women in Cleveland — and what happened to Joanna — not happen at all. Barring that, though, I’d rather not know about them. And despite my long career in newspapers… despite my knowing better… I actively avoid stories like this.

I know that’s not smart or even responsible. But it’s an emotional thing with me.

So clearly,  I would never have taken the chance of putting this story on the front page today. But this is why the Plain Dealer is the Plain Dealer and I’m not. That’s the thing about superlative work: Rarely does it happen without taking a chance and risking failure. David Kordalski, the visual guru at the Plain Dealer, knows this. So does Denis Finley, my old boss and editor of the Virginian-Pilot.

Whether you like reading that story or not; whether you agree with the angle Joanna took or the decision to put the story on page one or not: That story is emotionally devastating. Yet — given what’s happened in Cleveland this week — it’s exactly the right thing to thrust in front of readers today.


UPDATE – 8:30 p.m. PDT

Assistant managing editor David Kordalski tells us:

Joanna detailed her rape in a remarkable special section a few years ago called Beyond Rape: A Survivor’s Story.

Emmet Smith designed it, Lisa DeJong shot it. Did well in SND and ASNE, but inexplicably did not get Pulitzer consideration.

She used it as a near-cathartic exercise while giving our readers a riveting account of her search for details of her rapist in an effort to come to terms with it.

Average daily circulation for the Plain Dealer is 246,571.

The front page above is from the Newseum. Of course.

Inside the Plain Dealer’s kidnapping rescue coverage

Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past two days, you’ve seen the amazing news out of Cleveland: Three women were rescued after being kidnapped and held captive in a house for a decade.

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


The lead art — of family members of one of the women celebrating — is by staffer Gus Chan.

AME for presentation David Kordalski tells us the page was…

…kind of a collaborative effort. Scott Sheldon (graphics editor) started it off, I gave it a big tweak, and Bill Lammers (assistant news editor) built it in Harris, doing all the detail work.

Bill designed the inside page [below]. Peggy Turbett (night picture editor) and I did the picture edit.


The lead art of a cousin talking to reporters is by Gus Chan. Staffer Scott Shaw made the two photos at the scene, including the one of Cleveland’s newest hero, Charles Ramsey.

Click any of these pages for a larger view.

Today, the Plain Dealer launched its second-day coverage of what it’s calling “Alive and Safe.”


David tells us:

Scott Sheldon designed that one, with a lead picture by Lisa DeJong. I really liked his structure.

Bill Gugliotta (director of photography) did the picture edit for Wednesday.

Lead art on page six by Marvin Fong is of FBI agents combing the house for clues.


The big photo on page seven is by Joshua Gunter.


Lisa DeJong’s picture of welcome home signs and balloons is atop page eight.


And another Scott Shaw picture of Charles Ramsey is lead art on page nine.


The story, of course, continues to develop. Today, authorities said they hauled away ropes and chains from the house where the women were held. This is sounding even more horrific today than it was before. In addition, the city will investigate the seemingly inattentive way Charles Ramsey’s initial  911 call was handled.

Monitor all the Plain Dealer‘s coverage of this story here.

Find the Plain Dealer‘s visuals blog here.

Average daily circulation for the Cleveland Plain Dealer is 246,571.

A look at today’s Pope front pages

[Freshly updated with a few more credits that rolled in throughout the day Thursday…]

As you know, we have a new Pope. He’s from Argentina and is the first Pope ever from the Americas.

As you might imagine, papers in Argentina went crazy with the story today. But you can spot right away why I’m reluctant to spend a lot of time trying to analyze today’s front pages.

130314PopeClarin  130314PopeLaNacion  130314PopeElTerritorio

That’s right: The photo opportunities Wednesday were so limited that only a few shots emerged from Vatican City. Which gave today’s front pages an extremely homogeneous feeling.

Now, the good news is that those three papers…

  • Clarín of Buenos Aires, circulation 332,601
  • La Nacion of Buenos Aires, circulation 160,000
  • El Territorio of Posadas, circulation unknown

…each wanted the iconic shot of the day on page one. And they got it. Readers throughout Argentina will save today’s newspaper as a keepsake.

So even though, for news design purposes, I’m not thrilled with today’s front pages, readers probably are. And that’s what matters.

In addition — as you can see there — the Newseum expects today to be a high-traffic day with plenty of hot-linking and bandwidth stealing. So they slapped watermarks on everything today.

In the past, I’ve had a no-watermark rule here in the blog. But that’s just not practical, sadly enough. So we’ll grit our teeth and dive into a few notable front pages…


…was used by many, many U.S. newspapers. Most were smart enough to use it well — even those that built enormous page-one packages.

Here are four of my favorites:

130314PopeBostonGlobe  130314PopeMilwaukee

130314PopeSanDiego  130314PopeNorfolkVa

The picture itself is by Gregorio Borgia of the Associated Press.

Top row:

  • Boston Globe, Boston Mass.; circulation 225,482
  • Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee, Wis.; circulation 185,710

Bottom row:

  • U-T San Diego, San Diego, Calif.; circulation 230,742
  • Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk, Va.; circulation 142,476

I realize I’m only showing my ignorance and unfamiliarity with Latin, but I wonder how many young people will look at that Virginian-Pilot headline and wonder: Why is there a line from Harry Potter on that page?


Papers that didn’t use that yellow-backed AP picture likely used this one: A photo made by L’Osservatore Romano and also distributed by the Associated Press.

Interestingly, however, several papers that used this picture also chose to run secondary art where you could see the new Pope’s face.


That’s the Cleveland, Ohio, Plain Dealer, circulation 246,571.

Here are two more examples of that same approach…

130314PopeHarrisburgPa 130314PopeNewarkNJ

…from the Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Pa. (circulation 70,446) and the Star Ledger of Newark, Pa., (circulation 278,940).

It’s just a coincidence that all three of those papers are Advance publications. I think.


A few newspapers managed to find lead art that most papers did not run on page one today.

For example, the New York Times chose this picture by Alessandro Bianchi of Reuters.


The Washington Post went with an over-the-shoulder, wave-at-the-crowd shot, but not the same one we saw a moment ago. this is another handout from L’Osservatore Romano but distributed by Reuters.


Average daily circulation for the Post is 507,615. The Times circulates 1,586,757 papers daily.


Because of the scarcity of variety of art, I’d imagine, what I call “regional twins” popped up all over the place today. This is what I call situations in which two papers with overlapping readership areas end up with similar front-page pictures and headlines.

My favorite example of this: Right here in Southern California. My own paper, the Orange County Register, cropped in tight on that picture you just saw on the front of the New York Times while the Los Angeles Times used a picture by Luca Bruno of the Associated Press. Yet, the pictures were shot from a similar angle. And check out the headlines.

130314PopeLATimes  130314PopeSantaAnaCalif

Average daily circulation for the LAT is 616,575. The OCR circulates 280,812.


Speaking of headlines, I didn’t see many clever ones today. This one from the 12,387-circulation Pocono Record of Stroudsburg, Pa., struck me as one of the best.


That was written by staffer Tom Ostrosky, I’m told.


A few papers chose pictures that were more loosely-cropped. To show off the pageantry of the event, I’d imagine.

Three of these papers appealed to me a great deal. I liked the orderly, structured feel of the 57,710-circulation Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss.


That photo is from AFP/Getty Images. I’m not sure where this one is from because the designer of today’s Star Press of Muncie, Ind., left off the credit.


Note, however, the way the designer — Catherine Pomiecko from the Louisville Design Studio, I’m told — placed the story and sidebar into that little white square at the bottom of the picture. And then echoed that with a transparent box at the top of the picture to hold the headline.

Average daily circulation for the Star Press is 20,305.

My favorite of these pages, however — and, indeed, my favorite page of the day — is this presentation by the Advocate of Victoria, Texas.


Wow. Now, that’s a poster front.

Advocate editor Chis Cobler tells us:

Presentation editor Kimiko Fieg [designed the page], although we discussed it a lot as a design team.

Average daily circulation for the Advocate is 26,531.


And three papers — that I know of — let their huge Pope photos spill over onto the back page of their papers, creating a huge wrap.

The first two of these suffer from the same problem: While the entire wrap is quite nice, look at what readers are getting with their page-one display:


Yep. The picture of the back of a Cardinal’s head.

When you design page one of a broadsheet, you have to stay mindful of what’s above the fold. Ditto for a tabloid wrap — you have to remember that some readers might only see page one in a news rack or in a convenience store.

That was Hoy, the Spanish-language daily published by the Chicago Tribune. Interestingly, the Sun-Times today had the same issue.


Average daily circulation for the Sun-Times is 422,335. Hoy circulates about 60,000 papers daily.

Here is the only broadsheet wrap I saw today, and you won’t see it at the Newseum. The Beaver County Times of Beaver, Pa., didn’t contribute its front page today.


As the TimesEric Hall explaines:

 The newsfolk let the sports editor give it a whirl.

And, sure enough, you see Eric’s approach: This is essentially a photo illustration, with a picture of the pope at the bottom and a huge shot of the crowd as a background.

Note how the Beaver County Times took its nameplate down to tiny size and placed it at the bottom of the page.


While a few papers managed to show the enormous throng in St. Peter’s Square, this one paper scored points today by focusing on the rapturous look on the face of this woman in Argentina, reveling in the news that the new Pope is from Argentina.


The photo is from Reuters. I wish we knew more of her story. Does she know the new pope? Has she attended any of his services?

Perhaps it’s not important. But as I looked through today’s pages, that one brought me to a full stop. Which is the point, of course. Great job by the 108,548-circulation Boston Herald.

With the exception of Beaver County, all of these front pages are from the Newseum. Of course.

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…


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Today’s five best Election Day front pages

Let’s start today’s roundup with one I do not like: This one from the New York Post that I’d call less of a newspaper front page and more of an editorial.

I don’t have a problem with page-one editorials per se — in fact, I’ve been known to praise them from time to time. But an editorial should be labeled as such.

On the other hand: This is the New York Post. So ’nuff said, perhaps…


Chicago, Ill.

Free distribution: 250,000

RedEye‘s Trent J. Koland built these wonderfully graphic dual portraits of President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for today’s front page.

Trent tells us:

We have a very stylized way of doing things over at the RedEye, so I didn’t want their portraits to be super lifelike. I wanted something that would jump out of the box at readers, and also something that would be good for sharing on social media. I wanted it to look like the candidates were making one last appeal for votes, and looking directly at the readers is a great way to show that.

The versus headline came late, but I think it works great. Says what it needs to and lets the art be as catchy as it can be. I think it feels very RedEye.

That was kind of the flipside to the cover Trent illustrated for Monday’s edition.

Find more of Trent’s work in his NewsPageDesigner portfolio.


Chicago, Ill.

Circulation: 414,590

RedEye‘s bigger sister — the Tribune — also put huge, wonderful portraits out front today.

Assistant managing editor Joe Knowles tells us:

The illustration is a by a freelancer, Chris Gall. We also did illustrations back in 2008, and thought we’d try it again with a slightly different style, more suitable to our new look.


The 2008 illustrations…

…were done by a member of the RedEye staff, Jessica Randklev, which they used on separate covers. We adapted them slightly for our front.

We thought it was a better alternative than file art, or shots from the day’s campaign events… we wanted something grander, more epic.

Find more of Chris Gall’s work here.


Las Vegas, Nev.

Distribution: 220,619

Speaking of dual portraits, check out the gorgeous wrap-around cover of today’s Las Vegas Sun.

Senior designer Liz Brown tells us:

I started thinking about this approach a few months ago. I’d seen other papers present similar layouts for other topics, but the Sun hasn’t in recent years, which made it fresh enough to execute in our region.

It took a bit to convince the editors. There was a lot if discussion on how exactly to handle the election this year because we are a digital-first organization. Our print is also in unique situation in that we are inserted into our competitor. So not only do we have to stand out, but we have a deadline disadvantage because we are printed first.

My approach was go big, go beautiful to get their attention, give them a bit of information to add value to our print, and then direct them to the web where we know our numbers will be fresh.

Page three was handled as a standard front page, flag and all, with jumps on the remaining internal pages. Readers get the daily community news they expect from us each day and the political wrap that can be removed either of election annoyance or to take to the polls.

I painted the candidates in watercolor throughout the last week referencing a stack of photos from each of these guys. Then, our political team compiled statistics and quick hit type things. We picked items from those offerings and put this together.

The hope is people will appreciate it, even if they are sick of politics. Even better, that it will be a bouncing off point to our live web coverage.

Find the Sun‘s web site here.


Nashville, Tenn.

Circulation: 118,589

And then we have this wonderfull-inspired full-page illustration by Merry Eccles of the Gannett Design Studio in Nashville for today’s Tennessean.

I asked Merry about the page. She replied:

I took my inspiration from this awesome inside page we ran.

No, no. Seriously…

It mostly came down to Scott Stroud, the politics and government editor. We threw out some ideas on riffing off the original thirteen colonies but thought that might be too complicated.  Scott had a few good ideas about using the states in some way. We thought about a couple different options: One was reconfiguring the thirteen states to attempt the general outline of the existing US map, or two, the question mark shape.

After pitching it to the creative director Javier [Torres], editors and managers, we determined that the question mark illustration would more graphic, we could run it bigger, giving it more impact, and it would incorporate the other elements on the page better.

Find more of Merry’s work here.


Cleveland, Ohio

Circulation: 246,571

The biggest talker of the day, perhaps, is this unusual front page by the folks at the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Make sure you click this for a much larger view.

Assistant managing editor David Kordalski explains:

We typically don’t like to do the two big headshot pages that are common on presidential or gubernatorial election day fronts, so early on we started planning to do something different with the Tuesday front page. The idea was to do something that might motivate all voters — regardless of affiliation — to get off their duffs and participate in the most important way a citizen can.

Initially, [designer] Emmet [Smith] was thinking we could solicit comment and capture tweets as to why people vote, then we’d build around them. He even did several drafts, and we started capturing content with the hashtag #whyIvote.

But shortly after we decided to jump on the notion — and after we sold editor Debra Adams Simmons and managing editor Thom Fladung on the approach — Emmet improved on the concept, as he is wont to do.

Art director and illustrator Chris Morris captured what they’re calling “the moment of inspiration” with this picture of Emmet, demonstrating his idea.

David continues:

We asked photo tech and sometime photographer Allison Carey to go over to Tower City Center in downtown Cleveland, along with “subject wranglers” Felesia M. Jackson and Greg Burnett. The trio was armed with a ream of paper, a couple clipboards and big markers… and their marching orders were to get a diverse group of people to share why they vote, not for whom they are voting.



As you can see by the result, Allison, Felesia and Greg were pretty persuasive. In shortly over three hours, they had 56 usable pictures.

Emmet’s early drafts built around the tweets were our backup plan if the pictures didn’t pan out. Of course, they did.



Sadly, this is Emmet’s last concept piece, as he begins his new role as rock critic this week. We borrowed him for a last hurrah. Maybe, if enough designers hold their lighted cell phones aloft, we might bring him back for an encore!



Here’s another one you’ll want to click in order to get a closer look.

That’s a timeline in today’s Des Moines Register recapping the entire Election 2012 cycle, from the perspective of Iowans. Who, as you know, see even more politics than many of the rest of us.

This is from my former associates, master illustrator Mark Marturello and researcher/visual journalist Katie Kunert.

Average daily circulation of the Register is 101,915.



I loved the treatment today on the front of the Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss.

You’re looking at a standard U.S. Election Day eve electoral map, with a bit of artistic flourish added — but not enough to distract from the info. The bar chart across the top shows the expected vote tallies for the two candidates. Toss-up votes are shown in yellow.

The really cool part here, though, is the quick roundup of the latest polls downpage.

Were there other, more visual ways to present this material? Certainly. But this ain’t bad at all.

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

In addition, I was shown a really cool guide-to-tonight’s results-type graphic that ran in today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune. If anyone there could send me a PDF — and design credits, of course — I’d be glad to post it here. What I saw of it looked terrific.

Pages from the Chicago Tribune, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Las Vegas Sun are from those respective papers. The rest are from the Newseum. Of course.

Ohio is a ‘swing state’ for a reason

Ohio is a gold mine of 18 vital electoral votes Tuesday. Not only that, but also: No Republican has ever been elected president without carrying Ohio.

But it’s not just the current political climate that makes Ohio a great state for political science junkies. During one stretch of a little over a half-century from 1869 to 1923 seven out of 12 presidents of the United States were Ohio natives.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer‘s 90-Second Know-It-All team — visual journalist Bill Neff, art director and illustrator Chris Morris and picture editor/music guy Jon Fobes — have assembled a series of very entertaining primers on who these men were. It’s well worth the 12 minutes it’ll take to watch ’em all.


William Henry Harrison

“Forcing the Frontier”

18TH PRESIDENT (1869-77)

Ulysses S. Grant

“Do Generals Make Good Presidents?”

19th PRESIDENT (1877-1881)

Rutherford B. Hayes

“A Smart Man in a Bad Spot”


James A. Garfield

“Big Brain, Bad Luck”

23RD PRESIDENT (1889-1893)

Benjamin Harrison

“President in Name Only”

25TH PRESIDENT (1897-1901)

William McKinley

“Best President You Never Heard Of”

27TH PRESIDENT (1909-1913)

William Howard Taft

“Big Man in a Big Shadow”

29TH PRESIDENT (1921-1923)

Warren G. Harding

“So You Call This ‘Normalcy’?”

Interesting trivia factoid No. 1: Of the eight Ohio presidents, only two won a second term.

Interesting trivia factoid No. 2: Of the eight Ohio presidents, three of them died in office.

Find the Plain Dealer‘s visuals blog here.

A handful of happy Halloween page treatments

I hope you’re all stocked up with toothrot for all the little zombies who’ll be knocking at your door this evening. My daughter and I ran over to Target this morning to pick out supplies for the Apple household.

Snickers, Milky Ways, Reese’s, 3 Musketeers, Starbursts and Skittles. No tricks here, please.

My wife, Sharon, is slightly peeved at me for buying what she calls “the good stuff.” That tells me I must have done well. The big shame of its all: As a diabetic, I can’t even eat the leftovers. I mean, I can. But I might not wake up the next morning.

A few folks shared interesting Halloween treatments with me this week. Let’s take a look at ’em…


Student paper, Indiana University

Bloomington, Ind.

Matt Callahan, art director of the Indiana Daily Student, writes today:

We had a zombie walk tonight just off campus and we figured nothing says Halloween quite like the walking dead.

We went a little bit tabloid-y on our centerpiece, and I’d love to hear what you think!

What do I think? It’s disgusting! I love it!

My only beef — and this is a minor one: Anytime you get cute in a place other than your features section, you need to worry about unseemly juxtapositions. In this case, I worry about the walking dead person next to the headline about a meningitis death. If the meningitis headline were smaller or further way on the page, I wouldn’t mind it so much. But it’s big, bold headline and it’s very close to the art. So it bothers me just a bit.

This isn’t a professional newspaper: This is most definitely a student paper. So this isn’t a major problem. It is, however, something you need to be aware of. Because you certainly don’t want to do something stupid like these guys did today.

Anyway, kudos to the IDS — and to photographer Clayton Moore — for a great top-half of the page. And kudos to the young lady in the photo.

I didn’t want dinner tonight anyway…


Toledo, Ohio

Circulation: 115,000

Q: How do you one-up a picture of a zombie?

A: With a picture of the zombie: Rob Zombie.

James Molnar of the Free Press Star sends us this front page from last Wednesday and tells us:

While not as bloody and gory as years past, it features Rob Zombie on the cover.

This cover referred to an interview inside by staffer Allen Sculley.


Find the story online here.


Cleveland, Ohio

Circulation: 246,571

Chris Morris created this nice puzzle page for last Saturday’s Plain Dealer.

Click for a much larger look.

There are so many nice little moments hidden in that illo. My favorite: Count Dracula’s plus throw-rug.

Vintage Chris Morris.

In addition to that page, Chris included even more stuff online. He tells us:

I have three kids and I knew we needed to be able to make more than one puzzle.

Look all that over here.


Tulsa, Okla.

Circulation: 97,580

And finally, photo editor Christopher Smith of the Tulsa World writes to share…

…a project we undertook to accompany a food page story about using leftover candy for desert recipes. We created a stop-motion animation as a web element to accompany the story. It’s only thirty seconds so it’s a quick view.

Oh, what fun!

The story itself — along with recipes like “chewy Butterfinger cookies” and “candy bar pudding” and “white chocolate candy corn bark” — will send you into a sugar-fueled coma just thinking about it. Find the story here by staffer Nicole Marshall Middleton.


Every year, I like to make a big production out of designing fun faces on our pumpkins and then Sharon carves them. This year, however, I was tied up in production of my latest freelance project — more about that later, perhaps — so Sharon decided to take our uncarved pumpkins to school today and see what she and her aide, Wendy, could do with them.

Sharon came back home this afternoon with a terrific likeness of Jack Skellington from the Nightmare before Christmas

…while Wendy and her students created Perry the Platypus from the animated TV show Phineas and Ferb.

Notice Perry’s Indiana Jones-style super spy hat and his construction-paper tail.

Not bad. Not bad at all.


Hmm… Perhaps I should be too busy every year to carve pumpkins.

Plain Dealer visual journalist Chris Morris reports from the sidelines of a Cleveland Browns game

You might remember the Browns Town feature drawn weekly during this year’s Cleveland Browns football season by Chris Morris of the Plain Dealer. He takes a humorous — but factual — look at the team’s performance, the upcoming game and even speaks with fans to get their take on how the season is going.

This week, Chris tells us, his Browns Town feature is…

…different than the previous seven, in that for this one I reported from the sidelines two weeks ago, learning about some of the other activities that go unseen.

Click for a larger look:

Chris looks at how they keep the field dry and warm…

…how they keep the players — or, at least, the players’ butts — warm…

…how the NFL prepares special “kicker” game balls….

…and introduces fans to a number of longtime Browns equipment personnel. Like, for instance, the father-and-son team that works with communications systems.

Chris has been drawing these illustrated game preview pages all season. Week One (Sept. 9) ran a full page. But after that, a sponsor bought an ad at the bottom of the feature. On the right is Week Two (Sept. 16).


Left: Week Three (Sept. 23). Right: Week Four (Sept. 30).


Left: Week Five (Oct. 7). Right: Week Six (Oct. 14).


And here is last week’s installment.

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

A 1987 graduate of East Texas University in Commerce, Texas –” now known as Texas A&M-Commerce — Chris worked at the San Francisco Examiner and then spent four years as presentation director of the Dallas Morning News.

In 2006, he became a telecommuting art director and illustrator for the Las Vegas Sun. He left the Sun in 2009 to make a run at full-time freelancing but was invited back the next summer to work full-time. He continued to reside in Dallas. Chris moved to the Plain Dealer in August 2011.

Find his online portfolio site here, his Facebook fan page here and his Twitter feed here.

Average daily circulation for the Plain Dealer is 246,571.

Find the Plain Dealer‘s visuals blog here.