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

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

To recap…

Sunday, July 19:

Monday, July 20:


Tuesday, July 21:


Wednesday, July 22:


Thursday, July 23:


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

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

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

The picture was by staffer William Glasheen.

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


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


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

Evan tells us today’s page…

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

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

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


The air show runs through Sunday.

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


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

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

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


1506EvanBackstromSamples03 1506EvanBackstromSamples02 1506EvanBackstromSamples01

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

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

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 story behind Manitowoc’s cool sideways Monday front page

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

Executive editor Kevin Anderson tells us:

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

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

Evan adds:

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

Click this for a much larger version:


Kevin picks back up the story:

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

Find video of the demolition here.

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


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

A few samples of his work:

1506EvanBackstromSamples03 1506EvanBackstromSamples02 1506EvanBackstromSamples01

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

‘What I love about his work is how absolutely unexpected it is’

Sean McKeown-Young, creative director for the Gannett Design Studio in Des Moines, Iowa, writes to tip us off about some great work being done there.

He tells us:

I wanted to make sure that you noticed Dave Lafata’s work. He has rapidly become an ‘uber-designer.’


Aside from being a really great guy with some really exciting ideas about what newspapers can look like, he has a stunning talent. These first two examples are just from [Wednesday]. I am blown away.


He’s originally from Warren, Michigan – so he’s another Detroit-metro dude. He graduated from Central Michigan University with a degree in Fine Arts in 2012. He started in the studio in 2012 designing Wausau/Wisconsin Rapids/Stevens Point/Marshfield Sports. It’s amazing how fast he grew.

He is now the lead designer for Green Bay. That is huge for a young designer.

We’ve been so lucky to have some tremendously forward-thinking editors that have really collaborated to let his vision shine.  Dave is also really lucky to work with Bill Wambeke, the Wisconsin Team Leader. Bill has been a huge influence on Dave’s career, allowing him the room to grow and the coaching to hone his statement.

What I love about his work is how absolutely unexpected it is. It feels relevant and relatable but totally fresh. I think that’s rare. He is a tremendous artist and his work increasingly has elements of his fine arts work; he’s blending hand drawn work with digital.

I get really excited when I see new talent and designers coming into ‘their voice.’

Sean has bragged on Dave before — when Dave built a series of covers about a huge air show in Oshkosh. I posted a batch of these covers in 2013 and again in 2014.

A few samples:





Gannett’s Dave is not the David Lafata who is an internationally known soccer star. As far as I know.

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:

Gannett’s Des Moines design studio promotes Bill Wambeke

Sean McKeown-Young — creative director of the Gannett Design Studio in Des Moines, Iowa — sends along yet another bulletin.

He writes:

I can’t overstate how thrilled I am to announce that Bill Wambeke is taking over my beloved Wisconsin Team as Team Leader.


This was a position near and dear to my heart. Bill doesn’t just meet the high expectations that we all have for Wisconsin Team Management, he far exceeds them. He’s also a really spectacular guy with really spectacular ideas. I can’t wait to see where he takes them. We made the announcement at the studio exactly 7 minutes ago [Thursday] – so you are the first, outside of the studio, to know.

Bill Wambeke is a 2004 graduate of Valley City State University in Valley City, ND. He was born and raised in north central Wyoming.

Bill started in newsrooms immediately after graduation. He was county government reporter and part-time copy editor/paginator at the American News in Aberdeen, S.D. In May 2006, he moved on to the Sheridan Press in Sheridan, Wyo., where he again was a county government reporter and outdoors editor. Then in October 2006 he moved to the Times-News in Twin Falls, Idaho, where he was a copy editor/page designer and then news editor. In May 2010, Bill moved to the Journal Star in Lincoln, Neb., where he was a copy editor/page designer.

In April 2011, Bill became the presentation editor of The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead in Fargo, N.D.

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010613 Sun (A1,A10)-2nd-cmyk

111312 Tue(C1) Variety

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Finally, he joined us at Gannett’s Des Moines design studio in June 2013. He has led Green Bay’s design since his arrival.

He is greatly respected and admired in the studio and newsroom.

Find more of Bill’s work here. Find his Twitter feed here.

Gannett’s Des Moines design studio hires one and seeks to hire two more

Sean McKeown-Young, creative director of the Gannett Design Studio in Des Moines, Iowa, announces:

We have a new designer starting here in early January: Piper Haugan.

She is really cool. I’m excited to work with her.


A 2011 graduate of the University of Montana, Piper grew up in Valdez, Alaska. She worked as a local government reporter for the Independent Record of Helena before joining the Montana Standard of Butte.

Find Piper’s Twitter feed here.

Sean tells us:

We’re also hiring – which makes me a happy man.

I just posted our positions on the SND Job Board, but I can talk directly to anyone interested.

We’re looking for page designers and finishers. We’re looking for creative, clever, smart, engaging people that get as excited about great journalism and design as I do, and you know what a spaz I am.

Read more about Sean and his work here and here.

Designer Lyndsey Nielsen to return to Gannett’s Des Moines studio

Sean McKeown-Young, creative director of the Gannett Design Studio in Des Moines, Iowa, tells us:

I can announce that Lyndsey Nielsen will be taking over as team leader for our South Team on January 6, 2015.

The team includes Springfield, Missouri and Baxter, Arkansas as well as Lafayette, Monroe, Shreveport, Opelousas, and Alexandria, Louisiana.

Lyndsey was a tremendously valued member of the Des Moines Studio for most of two years. We were all sad to see her go a few months ago. We’re all celebrating her home-coming. Lyndsey’s design experience and attention to client relations will give us some great advantages.

She moved to Blair, Neb., in September to be design director of Enterprise Publishing Co.

A 2010 graduate of the University of Missouri, Lyndsey worked as a teaching assistant, an editor and a designer for the Missourian and a designer for Vox magazine. This weekend, she celebrated Mizzou’s nice win over Arkansas, the completion of a 10-2 football season and a berth in this Saturday’s SEC championship game.


Lyndsey spent a year and a half as a designer and copy editor for the Savannah Morning News of Georgia before moving to the Iowa studio in 2011.

A few samples of her work:




Find her web site here and her blog here.

How they celebrated Turkey Day in Wisconsin

Sean McKeown-Young, the newly-named creative director of the Gannett Design Studio in Des Moines, Iowa, wrote us over the weekend.

He tells us:

Oshkosh, Appleton, Wausau and Green Bay all really went bold.

This was designed by me…over the course of a few weeks… This is not a sign of sanity, is it?

I totally re-rendered and reworked an illustration I did a few years ago and did a massive Thanksgiving graphic. It was a labor of love.

In case you’re wondering why Sean offset the nameplate like he did, Sean tells us:

That Oshkosh cover had a spadea over the left half of the page. I designed it to work with the spadea.

I did Wausau too. It includes two more pages of ‘Community quotes’ [inside] with the same treatment.

Appleton was designed by Dave Lafata.

Here are a couple of other variations on that same theme. Springfield, Mo., on the left, was designed by Michael Newgren.

Green Bay, on the right, was designed by Bill Wambeke. Note how Bill used some of the numbers from Sean’s big Oshkosh page down the right side.

And here was Des Moines, designed by Erin Baker Crabb.


Sean adds:

Erin says ‘We had a powerplus ad.’ She wanted to let you know why they did a shopping rail.

Average daily circulation for all these papers:

  • Oskhosh Northwestern: 14,113
  • Wausau Daily Herald: 15,506
  • Appleton Post-Crescent: 38,244
  • Springfield News-Leader: 35,531
  • Green Bay Press-Gazette: 41,767
  • Des Moines Register: 101,915

Gannett promotes two to design studio leadership positions

Gannett made major promotions at two of its design studios over the past few weeks.

On Oct. 27, Lindsey Turner became creative director of the Nashville Design Studio. She said on Facebook:

We have a fantastic team in the studio and we are going to do amazing things.


A 2004 graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, Lindsey interned at the Birmingham News. She spent spent seven years at the Memphis Commercial Appeal as a designer, copy editor, blogger and assistant art director. She moved to the Gannett hub in Nashville in 2012, where she led the team that designed papers in Mississippi, Alabama and Virginia.

In her spare time, Lindsey sells what she calls “salty and Southern-fried pretties” — greeting cards, note cards, gift tags, wall prints and so on — via her Etsy store.

Find Lindsey’s portfolio here and her Twitter feed here.

I’ve blogged about her work or work by members of her team a number of times:

  • Feb. 12, 2013: Monday’s post-tornado front page of the tiny Hattiesburg American
  • March 18, 2013: Maybe you’ll earn a new merit badge for mastering this cool new Photoshop trick
  • June 16, 2014:Inside the Nashville Tennessean’s addicted baby presentation
  • June 30, 2014: Nashville Tennessean celebrates a college baseball championship


Last night, Sean McKeown-Young announced he had been named creative director of the Des Moines Design studio.


Sean McKeown-Young is Wisconsin team leader of the Gannett Design Studio in Des Moines, Iowa.

A graduate of the University of Cincinnati, Sean served as presentation editor for the Green Bay Press-Gazette and then spent several years at the Toledo Blade. He moved to Gannett’s Louisville studio in 2011 as assistant team leader for features and then moved to the Des Moines studio in 2012, where he has served as Wisconsin team leader.

Find Sean’s portfolio here.

Previous blog posts featuring Sean’s work over the past couple of years…

  • Sept. 10, 2012: The most interesting weekend front pages
  • Nov. 7, 2012: Three brief case studies for wonderful Election Night design
  • Nov. 28, 2012: A buffet line of infographics on today’s front pages
  • Dec. 2, 2012: Eight front pages; eight superlative uses of design tools
  • Jan. 30, 2013: A fun way to illustrate Wisconsin’s weather swings this year
  • Feb. 1, 2013: ‘I found a driver, and that’s a start’…
  • Feb. 6, 2013: Inside Gannett’s special sections today honoring Green Bay Packer Donald Driver
  • Feb. 12, 2013: A look at today’s most outstanding Pope Benedict XVI pages
  • March 1, 2013: The coolest thing I’ve seen lately: I scream, you scream…
  • July 30, 2013: A warm treatment of ‘cold cases’ in Wisconsin
  • Oct. 9, 2013: Appleton, Wis., Post-Crescent launches a redesign
  • Dec. 23, 2013: Today’s best Christmas Day front pages
  • Feb. 17, 2014: Green Bay Press-Gazette launches a redesign
  • April 8, 2014: A look at how Gannett’s Wisconsin papers played the Final Four
  • June 2, 2014: Fun college baseball page alert
  • July 4, 2014: A look at today’s most interesting Fourth of July pages

Editorial comment: I’ve been a big fan of both of these young people. Studio director Ted Power couldn’t have made better choices.

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

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

Sean writes:

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


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

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

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


The page on the right I called:

My favorite front page of the day…

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

I wrote:

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

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


Sean called them…

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


And he was right. Those covers were terrific.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


UPDATE: 8:05 a.m. PDT Wednesday

Wednesday’s front features live photos shot Tuesday by staffer Joe Sienkiewicz.


UPDATE: 6:36 p.m. PDT Thursday

Dave went sideways with today’s front, featuring a picture of vintage aircraft by staffer Jim Koepnick.


UPDATE: 10:42 a.m. PDT Saturday

Friday’s front featured the Geico Skytypers, a skywriting team that uses vintage SNJ-2 aircraft from the World War II/Korean War era.


That picture was by staffer Mark Ebert — as was Saturday’s lead art of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds acrobatic team.


Sean tells us:

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

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

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

I’ll keep you updated on how it goes.

Find all the Northwestern‘s AirVenture coverage here.

Average daily circulation for the Northwestern is 14,113.

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…

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:


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…

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…


…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.


Although that does show she has exquisite tastes.

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.


The photo illustration is by staffer Lenny Gilmore.

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.


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.


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.


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.

A few papers chose to lead today with huge photos.

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.


The picture is by staffer Jack Foley.

Appleton, Wis.

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.


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

Burlington, Vt.

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


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.

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.”


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.


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

Greensboro, N.C.

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


Birmingham, Ala.

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.


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.


Average daily circulation for Huntsville is 44,725

Frederick, Md.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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.


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.


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…

Jackson, Miss.
Circulation: 57,710


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

Going sideways on page one

The Newseum‘s Paul Sparrow asks today via Twitter:


Here’s the page to which he refers:


The story in today’s Herald-Tribune of Sarasota is about a long-awaited, 880,000-square-foot shopping mall going up in the area. Folks there are getting excited because it’s looking nearly done. But it won’t open for another four months.

The choice to go sideways with the presentation was a bold choice — and, I think, a good one — because that’s what the story was about: The visual of that mall, just sitting there, taunting eager shoppers. But not quite ready yet for business.


Notice how the headline plays off of the story beautifully. And the headline and story are turned sideways to match the picture because: How else would you play it?


Herald-Tribune graphics editor Jennifer Borresen tells us:

We have a great photo editor, Mike Lang, who shot the new mall that is going in here. It’s going to be a high-end mall/destination place.

He stitched the photos together. I think they realized early on yesterday that it would not have as much impact horizontal on the page.

Nicely done.

The downside of that package: There’s precious little above the fold to suggest to readers what that story is about. You could argue that space might be better used for a headline or picture that might help sell the paper out of a rack or convenience store.

But I’d argue this story is a talker. Playing it in an unusual way just enhances the viral nature of the story. I wouldn’t suggest doing this every day. But once in a while, when the content just begs for a horizontal treatment? Sure.

And, to answer Paul’s question — As a matter of fact, I have seen it before. But only because I’ve been collecting unusual pages like this for so long.

Folks turn features pages and infographics sideways all the time. Here’s a features front from the Virginian-Pilot in January 2013, for example.


I try not to do it too often, but if the content works better horizontally, I’ll turn my Focus pages in the Orange County Register sideways. My page for this coming Monday will be sideways, in fact.

And several papers have gone sideways with their sports fronts. There’s even a designer at Gannett’s Des Moines studio who’s done this so often — with spectacular results every time — that I started calling him “Mister Sideways.”

That would be Jeremy Gustafson. I’ve known him since he was a college student.

Those are just a few examples. Search my blog archive for “sideways” and you’ll pull up something like 40 or 50 posts.

But on page one? Going sideways on a front page is not something I’d recommend for the faint hearted.

  1. One of the primary duties of page one is to sell the paper. And when you go sideways, you don’t necessarily get an attractive (literally attracting potential customers) image above the fold. So you might be kissing off a few single-copy sales.
  2. The content has to be served perfectly by using the horizontal dimension. If not, then going sideways isn’t serving the content or the reader. It’s just a gimmick.
  3. Is the sideways content the only element on your front page? It’s a lot easier to go sideways on any page — especially the front page — if you’re not asking the reader to switch back-and-forth between sideways and vertical on the same page.

One of the first sideways front pages I had ever noticed was this one in the Reporter of Fond du Lac, Wis., in March 2010.


The story was a huge wall mural in a local school. The photographer stitched several shots together to make a very wide picture of the whole thing.

Four months later, Fond du Lac’s larger sister paper in Green Bay used a similar treatment for a story on businesses around the NFL stadium there.


In March 2011, Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer stripped a panoramic shot of tornado damage down the side of page one.


The St. Louis Post-Dispatch went sideways with front-page wraps several times during the 2011 World Series.



Here’s one I didn’t like: The Idaho Press-Tribune ran this impressive picture sideways on page one in October 2011 of Boise State’s famous blue-turfed football stadium stuffed with fans.


But the whole thing was really a big reefer to an online presentation. In particular, the skyboxes down the side of the page seemed weird. It would have been better to put those atop the nameplate, I think.

A month later, the student paper at Iowa State University published a web-only edition after a huge overtime win over No. 2-ranked Oklahoma State. The first three pages were sideways poster pages.

The paper doesn’t normally publish on Saturday, so they went with a web-only edition.

In May of last year, the Palm Beach Daily News ran a huge sideways graphic on page one.


In September, Asbury Park went sideways when that city’s famous boardwalk went up in smoke.


And two papers produced sideways poster front pages for Christmas Day this past year. One was the Colorado Springs Gazette


…and the other was my paper, the Orange County Register.


So don’t be afraid to go sideways.

If you need to. But only if you need to.

Most of the pages in this post were from the Newseum. Of course.

A look at how Gannett’s Wisconsin papers played the Final Four

Ah, the paths not taken.

You already know that UConn defeated Kentucky last night for the 2014 NCAA men’s basketball championship.

But you might not have seen the work done for Gannett’s Wisconsin papers — papers where fans were wishing strongly for a big win Saturday by the University of Wisconsin Badgers.

Sean McKeown-Young — Wisconsin team leader for the Gannett Design Studio in Des Moines — sends along a nice care package of weekend pages and one that would have run Monday, had the Badgers been victorious.

Sean writes:

For Saturday, Appleton and Green Bay joined forces (which is an incredibly smart use of these two very talented newsrooms) to come up with a Badgers wrap that acted as a keepsake and a fan guide.


We wanted to make sure that Appleton and Green Bay looked individual – but we also really hoped the piece would feel like part of a series.

I did the covers. Bill Wambeke did the inside pages and the incredibly cool graphics that were used at both locations:


By the way, click any of these for a much larger look.

Sean continues:

For Sunday, we started talking early in the process about what those covers were going to feel like. By Friday we all knew where we wanted to go.

Appleton decided to blow it out and go with a single topic cover with just a little bit of content referring inside:


Green Bay also went very big and bold but decided upon a two story cover:


We had hoped that those would say something like ‘Victory’ – but, alas…. German Rojas finished the Appleton design and Garrett Evans worked very closely with Green Bay through the night Sunday. I love the designs they accomplished. They just perfectly typify that feeling of loss – it’s really heartbreaking – I love the one word hammer head, I love the photo and I love the multiple points of entry.

I was also really enthused about Dave Lafata’s Oshkosh cover…


and Amanda Hennessy’s Wausau Sports cover.


But had the Badgers won on Saturday night – it was sooooo close – we would have had some really cool Monday layouts to share as well.

[Image and description removed at request of the Gannett Design Studio]

So that was our weird week. Now, what, a few months until Packers again.

Average daily circulations for these papers:

  • Appleton Post-Crescent: 38,244
  • Green Bay Press-Gazette: 41,767
  • Oshkosh Northwestern: 14,113
  • Wausau Daily Herald: 15,506

Inside Des Moines’ coverage of the destruction of a local landmark

Once upon a time, a giant department store operated in downtown Des Moines. The place was called Younkers. It opened a giant, seven-story headquarters in 1899.

The first two floors were retail. Upper floors held corporate offices, storage and a fifth-floor restaurant called the tea room that became a Des Moines tradition. I even ate there a time or two during my years working at the Des Moines Register.

In 2002, Younkers’ new corporate parent, Saks, moved its offices to Milwaukee. In 2005, they closed the downtown building, which was being converted into apartments — 120 of them, in fact — in a $37 million renovation.

All that came to a halt in the wee hours of Saturday when the place burned down in spectacular fashion.

The Register commemorated the sad event with poster treatment Sunday:


Photographer Chris Gannon wrote about how he got that picture:

I’m convinced there are little angels out there assigned to help out news photographers in the field.  I think I got a tiny boost from one of those angels Saturday morning while working to photograph the fire at the Younkers building in downtown Des Moines.

I was walking to my next photo position on Mulberry Street a block south of the Younkers building when a woman– a total stranger– walked up to me.  She politely directed me to a door on the south side of the Financial Center building, which stands 25 stories high diagonally across from the Younkers building.


She told me (apparently after seeing me laden with camera gear) to enter there and that I might find a good vantage from the lobby of the building.

In photographing breaking news situations, you often make or break your success by the access you can gain with your camera. So I said thanks, and went to the door.  Once inside the Financial Center, I came upon two security guards in the lobby.  I told them who I was and made some conversation.

After some discussion about the gravity of the loss of the historic building, I decided to ask the men if I might be able to photograph the firefight from the roof of the building.  I promised to be careful and quick.  “Sure, I’ll take you up,” one of the two men said.

So, 26 stories up, smoke and ash still blowing in the air, I carefully leaned my lens over the side of the building, made a series of photographs and gathered video footage. One of those photos adorns the cover of today’s paper.

I knew I had a unique vantage point and thanked the gentleman who escorted me up there.  Afterward he said he was glad to let the Des Moines Register gather historic photos from atop his building and he thanked me for coming by.

No, thank you, sir and madam, you two are anonymous photography angels, and you don’t even know it.

Sunday’s pages were designed by Liv Anderson and Karla Brown-Garcia.

Page 10, below left, features a cinder-laden picture by staffer Bryon Houlgrave.


Page 11, above right, hold a panoramic-style picture by Dan Monson.

Page 12, below left, is full of aftermath shots. The lead is by Andrea Melendez.


Page 13, above right, covers the historic angle, with a timeline and memories from local folks. The lead file art shows the state’s first escalator, which Younkers opened in 1939.

The back page, 22, features another photo by Bryon Houlgrave of the light of the fire just beyond a high-rise parking garage. Unless I’m mistaken, the building at lower left is the old Des Moines Register building, vacated just a few months ago.


That parking deck building, by the way, also holds offices and a basement food court, where I used to eat often. The Register reports the food court ended up with a foot of water.

Note the first-person story by cover shooter Chris Gannon on the right of that package.

A 1994 graduate of Iowa State University, Chris spent several years with the Argus Leader of Sioux Falls, S.D., before joining the staff of the Register in 2005. Find his web site here, his photo blog here and his Twitter feed here.

Find all of the Register‘s coverage of the Younkers fire here.

Average daily circulation for the Des Moines Register is 101,915.

A look at the redesign of the Shreveport (La.) Times

Nathan Groepper, creative director of the Gannett Design Studio in Iowa writes to say:

I know it seems like all we do here in Des Moines is redesigns. And that’s kind of been true recently. The Design Studio has launched five redesigns (and a “refresh”) over a four week period that started in February. This brings us to seven redesigns since October, which sounds insane.

I thought you might be interested in what we came up with for Shreveport, La., which launched on March 3.

On the left is a Shreveport Times front from last month. On the right is March 3’s debut front.

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

Nathan directs our attention to…

…the new masthead on Page 1A. We ditched the blue ball and some of the architecture to allow for more flexibility for the designers.

This was the front page for Wednesday, March 5…

…and here was the first new Sunday front.

In addition, Nathan says, please notice…

…the bright new section flags, which was inspired by the vibrant culture all around Shreveport. The big “T” was incorporated as a branding device throughout the paper.

Here are before-and-after views of the Local and State pages inside the A section…

…and the sports section.

Nathan writes:

The overall goal was a mix of modern visual touches with a nod to the paper’s deep history in the community.

Some of the other changes include:

  • New features sections, including Taste, ACE (Arts, Culture, Entertainment) and Lagniappe, which people in Louisiana roughly take to mean “the good stuff.”

Here’s the first ACE section from a week ago today…

…and here’s last Friday’s Lagniappe section.

  • A new Outlook section on Sunday that features staff experts and community voices.

  • New fonts, rules and spacing to give the pages a cleaner and more organized appearance.

Here are before-and-after looks at the new editorial page…

…and the new Page Two.

On the new page two — above, right — you can see:

  • Faces of Shreveport staffers sprinkled throughout the paper to help better brand them in the community.

You can find more specifics about the changes here from Shreveport General Manager/Executive Editor Alan English.

Among the things Alan mentions in that column: New $2.2 million printing presses go on line in August.

Alan’s a good guy.  He spent more than 20 years shooting for the Knoxville (Tenn.) Journal, the Westchester (N.Y.) Journal News and the Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat & Chronicle before becoming executive editor of the Shreveport Times in 2004. He was named executive editor of the Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle in 2009, became publisher of the tiny Conway, Ark., Log Cabin Democrat in 2012 and then returned to Shreveport last September.

Average daily circulation of the Shreveport Times is 37,666.

Nathan adds:

The redesign was spearheaded by Scott Lester who was a designer for the Des Moines Register before becoming a Team Leader in the Design Studio in summer 2012. Scott was also responsible for the Lafayette redesign which launched in December.

Which reminds me: Here are a few more recent redesigns by the Des Moines design studio:

  • October: Post-Crescent of Appleton, Wis., circulation 38,244.
  • December: Daily Advertiser of Lafayette, La., circulation 29,368.
  • February: Argus Leader of Sioux Falls, S.D., circulation 32,192.
  • February: The Des Moines (Iowa) Register, circulation 101,915.
  • February: Green Bay (Wis.), Press-Gazette, circulation 41,767.

Green Bay Press-Gazette launches a redesign

Sean McKeown-Young, Wisconsin Design Team Leader at the Gannett Design Studio in Des Moines, Iowa, wrote to us late Saturday evening:

We are just typesetting our last pages of a redesigned Green Bay Press-Gazette. It was motivated by the addition of USA Today local sections that will now be an added part of the daily and Sunday edition.

On the left is a page from December. On the right is Sunday’s debut front.


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

That said, it gave us a great opportunity to rethink the way that we present news in a market that is historically married to pro football.

That inspiration was how we started the visual part of the redesign process. We injected subtle nods to sports history and paired it with a more modern and accessible feeling – more white space, cleaner fonts and better color-coding and iconography.


Sean continues:

This was really a joint project between the incredible team that we work with at the Green Bay Press-Gazette and the united design talents of the designers at the Des Moines Studio. Executive editor Mike Knuth really has been ‘chomping at the bit’ to try out some really exciting ideas. I can’t say enough about how great he was to work with and community editor Amber Paluch as well. The two really challenged us with some spectacular new ideas, an excitement for fresh design and indomitable attitudes. Bill Wambeke, Green Bay’s lead designer here at the studio was an incredible teammate on the design side.

The biggest change is a new stacked version of the Press-Gazette masthead. This allows us to put our branding front and center to readers.


We also created a State and Local inside (page 2) News Feature that will include a daily ‘numbers’ package that’s colorful and engaging. We anticipate that this will be a hit with readers.

Since this one is labeled “Tuesday,” I presume it’s a prototype page:


Page 3 will be our Local cover, ‘What’s New.’ It has a more ‘graphic’ presentation, faster reads and useful local information.


Here’s the Sunday A section  jump page…


…the Sunday business section…


…the Sunday features section…


…a prototype “diversions” columns page for inside features…


…and a prototype food page.


Sean writes:

The sort of funny part of all of this is that I was the last person to get “on board” with a redesign. A few month ago, when we started the process, I kept saying “this is just a freshening, not a full redesign.”

Well, somewhere along the line it became a pretty substantial redesign. I’m really glad we did. It really gave us the chance to take something that was good and make it really good. I wanted to create templates that were very “designer friendly” – offering ample opportunity to go very bold and flex our muscles.

I’m really thrilled to see what the extremely talented team of designers including Bill Wambeke, Jake Lovett, Jordan Voigt-Norberg, Garrett Evans, Amanda Holladay and Arnie Brown can do with the new templates.

Average daily circulation for the Press-Gazette is 41,767.

Gannett has been applying anything from slight visual tweaks to complete design overhauls to its papers nationwide as it rolls out daily sections containing content from USA Today.

I’m happy to post samples of all these updates, of course. But the Des Moines studio has been the most forthcoming so far.

Other recent redesigns by the Des Moines design studio:

Go here to read more about “the Butterfly project” — Gannett’s project to spread USA Today content around the rest of its papers.

A look at the redesign of the Des Moines Register

Nathan Groepper, creative director of the Gannett Design Studio in Des Moines, Iowa, writes:

I know I just sent you an e-mail about Sioux Falls [last week; read about that here], but the design studio also launched a redesign for the Des Moines Register last week. I figured you’d be curious to see what we came up with.

Not much changed on page one, so let’s get that out of the way first.

On the left is a Sunday front from 14 months ago. On the right is this past Sunday’s front page, designed by studio staffer Alicia Kramme.


The first thing that strikes me: No skybox.

I’m guessing that’s not permanent. I’m guessing the skybox disappeared Sunday because of the second thing that strikes me about that page: The ginormous page one promo about the changes in the paper.

Sure enough, some of the page prototypes the Register is using in its marketing materials about the changes shows continued use of skyboxes. Or promos that wrap into the nameplate, like this one does:


Or, better yet, consider the skybox+nameplate atop today’s front page.


I’m guessing on a normal day, that “What’s New” space on Sunday’s front will be taken by a third and possibly a fourth story out front.

Nathan tells us that the first big change we’ll notice inside…

…is to the section flags. We wanted something cleaner and more modern that would allow designers more flexibility.

On the left is the state-and-local front for Sunday, Feb. 2. On the right is the live state-and-local front for this past Sunday.


Ditto here for sports, designed by Dave Robbins.


Notice how the clutter up top of each page is reduced quite a bit. Notice how with the old format, your eye was drawn to the “Sports” flag. Now, “Sports” kind of sits there in the background like good little pieces of furniture and the reader’s eye is drawn instead to the content.

Nathan writes:

We stripped out the color coding, the bulky refers and the two small ads that were incorporated into the top of the page. You’ll also notice the “R” now at the top of many pages. It’s used as a branding device throughout the paper.

Here are a couple more section fronts from Sunday: Biz and features. Notice how it’s easier for the centerpiece art now to slide up into what used to be stacks of refers in the old flag.


That biz page was designed by Liv Anderson while Iowa Life was designed by Nicole Bogdas.

And here is the new Opinion front, designed by Sue Fritz.


Nathan goes on to point out a number of other new features of the redesign. Here’s a before-and-after look at the new page two.


Nathan writes:

Good Morning, Iowa: This mix of content should help get conversations started across the state.

Iowa In-Depth: This is a new section on Sunday that will be the home to great investigative reporting and storytelling.


That page was designed by Erin Baker Crabb.

Iowa Sketchbook: Inside that new Iowa In-Depth section is a weekly sketchbook from Mark Maturello.


I was a bit surprised by the description of my old friend Mark. I mean, he’s quite a bit older than 26.


Of course, what they meant was that he’s worked at the paper for 26 years. Read more about Mark here.

Nathan continues:

Around Iowa: As you know, the Register considers itself a statewide newspaper. This daily feature highlights news from all corners of the state.


(And, yes, that map takes some time.)

The redesign was spearheaded by team leader Karla Brown-Garcia, who also worked on the Sioux Falls redesign. As I mentioned before, she designed pages in San Diego and Palm Springs before joining the Design Studio in January 2011.

And, of course, all this is augmented with news sections produced by USA Today. These daily sections are being rolled out to all Gannett papers this year. Read more about that project here.

If you’d like to know more about the Des Moines Register‘s changes, you’re in luck: The paper ran a full page explaining all, helpfully entitled: More.

Click this for a readable version:


Or, read an online version here. Back on Feb. 2, publisher Rick Green wrote a column about the new changes. Find that here.

Average daily circulation for the Des Moines Register is 101,915.