Run it big and get the hell out of its way

That’s how you design page one on a big news day.

Especially if you have a dynamite photo. Like this one by Michael Chow of the Arizona Republic of Phoenix.


Click on today’s wraparound cover — designed by Suzy Palma — for a much, much larger look.

According to that page-one blurb, the rain — what was left of Tropical Storm Norbert — started falling at 2 a.m. Monday. Nearly half the Valley’s yearly rainfall average fell that morning. Hundreds of people were forced from their homes. Two died.

“Hidden” down at the bottom left — next to that big-number data — is this terrifying little nugget.


Find the Republic‘s online coverage here.


See a photo gallery here.

Average daily circulation for the Arizona Republic is 321,600.

That page image is from the Newseum. Of course.

Behind the Arizona Republic’s Monday wraparound front page

One year ago yesterday, 19 firefighters were killed trying to contain a wildfire in Yarnell, Arizona.

You probably didn’t see the wrap around yesterday’s Arizona Republic. Click this for a larger look.


The director of Gannett’s design studio in Phoenix, Tracy Collins, tells us…

…the page was designed primarily by Brandon Ferrill, with Trish Reinhold working in art direction.

The picture is by staffer Michael Schennum.

Tracy explains the wrap was listed as a doubletruck in CCI — page A16. Such is the sort of thing you have to do to outsmart CCI from time to time.

Unfortunately, that meant the automatic feed the Republic uses to send A1 to the Newseum saw no A1. Therefore, this page didn’t get posted.

It’s definitely a keeper, though.

A look at the redesign of the Arizona Republic

The Arizona Republic of Phoenix became the latest Gannett paper to launch a redesign Sunday.

On the left is the front page from March 23. On the right is Sunday’s debut front — as you can tell from the obligatory page-one promo touting the new design.


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

Tracy Collins — director of the Gannett Design Studio in Phoenix — writes:

The structure for the redesign is by Colin Smith, the Republic team leader, who also did the Fort Collins redesign in October 2012. Creative director Trish Reinhold and I then worked to translate Colin’s terrific design to the many sections of The Republic. We also engaged all of the Republic designers early, having them recreate their favorite pages in the new design, so that they would feel better about the potential of a quieter design, and giving them some practice runs at it before the launch.

Designer Sara Amato — who took the time to pull the pages posted here — tells us the design…

…was launched ahead of the Butterfly initiative. If you’re unfamiliar, which I’m sure you’re not, is something launched by Gannett/USA Today. So there’s a USA Today section inserted into the paper daily. It’s national news. So the local content pushes into the A book and the B section becomes a USA Today section.

On the weekends, the Valley & State section is separate…


…but during the week it’s part of the A-book. Features gets its own stand alone Life section from USA Today on Sunday. And sports gets two additional pages during the week.

The Valley&State pages were designed by Nicole Vas, Courtney Kan, Danielle Rindler, Brandon Ferrill and Mica Encinas.

Tracy picks up the story:

We knew that USA Today was about to become part of the daily Arizona Republic, and there were many characteristics of the previous design of the Republic that were similar in theory to USA Today — very bold furniture which in turn required a loud design. We wanted to create a contrast to the USA Today content, not try to out-bold a very bold design.

You can see this particularly well on the new sports front. The previous Sunday sports front is on the left, the new one is on the right, designed by Sara:


Tracy continues:

So the approach was mid-century classic, downplaying the furniture to put more emphasis on the content, particularly the great photography of the Republic staff.

Headlines will also generally be smaller, and almost exclusively in serif type. But while the main news headline for The Republic had been a condensed version of the serif, the new design uses only the regular, bold and light (uncondensed) versions. Which gives them more weight at a smaller size. And by going almost exclusively serif, it is in contrast to USA Today‘s Futura headlines.

We dropped the “The” from the Republic flag to make it bolder in the presentation, something the paper has done intermittently in its history.


Here is Monday’s front page:


Tracy says:

The great structure and use of column rules reflects Colin’s architecture degree. The gutters within the stories and between the stories is the same on the grid (20 points), and using the column rules on the internal columns holds those pieces together.


Sara elaborates on this:

We build primarily on a 10-column grid with 20-point gutters. With ad stacks, we also have the options of 4-and-6 column grids. Everything is 20 points away from each other.

Every story gets an 8-point hash rule above it. And all stories have hairline rules between the columns.

We’ve eliminated the san serif font. Big news gets an all-caps Amasis black weight. Our news/features font is now Century. We have the option of light, roman and black. The flags are ultra bold italic.

Here’s a before-and-after look at the Sunday business section, designed (I think) by Wendy Goldfarb


…the arts and entertainment section designed by Audrey Tate


…and the Sunday travel section designed by Rachel Van Blankenship.


Sara adds a few more typographical details:

No indents on the first paragraph. No “by” in the byline.

Here is page two of sports, designed Sunday by Sara:


Tracy concludes:

It’s a big change of direction from the 2012 redesign of The Republic, but one we’re very happy with. We weren’t unhappy with the 2012 design, but we feel this one plays much better with the new USA Today sections in the paper.

Average daily circulation for the Arizona Republic is 321,600.

A clever Thanksgiving+Hanukkah food page illustration

This year, Hanukkah overlaps not with Christmas, but instead with Thanksgiving. This is the first time this has happened since 1888.

Wendy Goldfarb of the Gannett Design Studio in Phoenix came up with a very clever illustration for the front of last week’s food page in the Desert Sun of Palm Springs, Calif.

She took a few moments yesterday to tell us about it:

I was pretty excited to see Thanksgivukkah as the main story for last week. My family will actually be celebrating this year.

I can’t take full credit for the idea of a menurkey. My mom recently posted something on my Facebook wall about real life turkey menorah you could buy and use to celebrate. Palm Springs did supply some fun art for the centerpiece, but none of it seemed to be working for me, so I remembered that menurkey on my Facebook wall and decided to make my own.


I wanted something really clean and graphic. I originally even had it in black and white, but since Hanukkah’s colors are yellow and blue I decided to go that route.

It took a few tries to get the turkey’s face simple, but still looking like a turkey. Once I had it right, I added the pilgrim hat to be the shamash candle, which really made it for me.

It was really a fun centerpiece to do! I’m so glad you like it.


A 2011 graduate of Ohio University, Wendy served as creative director for a student publication there, Backdrop magazine. She moved to Phoenix in 2011 and spent several months working on the Arizona Republic before moving over to the design studio. She’s worked on the Fort Collins Coloradoan but mostly, she designs food and business fronts for the Republic.

A few samples of her work:


Find Wendy’s NewsPageDesigner portfolio here and her web site here.

Average daily circulation for the Palm Springs Desert Sun is 41,278.

How to staff a production hub with young people

Tracy Collins of the Gannett Design Studio in Phoenix, quoted today by Sara Quinn of the Poynter Institute:

“We used to hire some entry-level people and say, ‘Guess what? For the next 18 months, you’re doing inside pages until we slowly groom you to be a cover designer,’ ” Collins said. “Now, some of these folks are on the job six weeks and they’re doing Page A1.”


Sara’s lede:

Tracy Collins hired 40 of the 63 designers on his staff in one fell swoop last summer, getting many of his new employees directly out of college.

He goes on to give tips on how to recruit and train a young staff to work in a hub. Find the story here.

Great work today by the Arizona Republic on a horrifically tragic story

There’s an extraordinary story out of Arizona today: A rapidly-moving wildfire, started Friday by lightning and whipped up by wind over the weekend, swept through the town of Yarnell Sunday. Two thousand acres have burned and more than 200 homes have been lost.

A team of 19 firefighters was caught by the blaze. They’re all dead.

The Republic of Phoenix stepped up today with an extraordinary front page:


The photo is by Republic staffer David Kadlubowski. The map is by staffer Courtney Kan. Rick Konopka designed the page, I’m told.

Read today’s story here by Craig Harris and Michelle Ye Hee Lee. Find a photo gallery here.

Average daily circulation for the Republic is 321,600.

That front page is from the Newseum. Of course.

Behind yesterday’s gorgeous illustration by Fort Collins, Colo.

I might have been distracted by other things yesterday, but Bill Campling of Gannett’s Nashville Design Studio wasn’t. He tipped me off about this gorgeous illustration afront Saturday’s Coloradoan of Fort Collins, Colo.

Click for a much larger view.


Coloradoan editor Josh Awtry tells us:

Saturday was one of those quickie, post-budget meeting covers where things just fell into place.

Colin Smith provided a great wall off of which to bounce some visual ideas and I whipped up a quick illustration. Jake Wright in Phoenix pulled it all together onto a balanced page.

Colin and I got into the habit of making last-minute illustrations while at the Salt Lake Tribune — in fact, that was the running joke of my going away page he produced.

Colin, you might recall, is the Colorado team leader at the Gannett Design Studio in Phoenix. See more of Colin’s work here.

Find Josh’s personal web site here and his Twitter feed here. Go here to read about a redesign Collin and Josh pulled off last year.

I was bragging on this little paper just recently, regarding a multimedia map. Find that here.

Average daily circulation for the Coloradoan is 19,864.

That front page is from the Newseum. Of course.

A look at today’s most outstanding Pope Benedict XVI pages

Huge news broke Monday morning: The Pope is resigning. Pope Benedict XVI will be the first pope in 598 years to resign, as opposed to dying in office.

This move — along with the baggage the Catholic church is carrying around these days — made for huge play atop page one of today’s New York Times.


That picture by L’Osservatore Romano via the Associated Press was one of the few actual news photos I could find on today’s front pages, as collected this morning by the Newseum.

The Los Angeles Times used a picture from the same source and also shot fresh at the event Monday in which Pope Benedict made his surprise announcement.


The Times not only included sidebars on church politics but also on the ongoing sex abuse scandal. A large infographic shows the numbers and distribution of Catholic faithful throughout the world.

Average daily circulation for the L.A. Times is 616,575. The New York Times circulates 1,586,757 papers daily.

Most papers today did not use art shot during Monday’s event. I especially liked the tired expression in the file photo from Agence France-Presse, used today by the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J.


That’s a great example of selecting a photo that fits perfectly with the quote superimposed over part of it.

Average daily circulation for the Star-Ledger is 278,940.

In a more humorous vein, I enjoyed the blue-collar sensibility reflected by the headlines afront today’s New York Post.


Average daily circulation for the Post is 555,327.

And while some papers speculated on page one that the next pope might be “from a developing nation,” none played up this angle as loudly as did the Philadelphia Daily News.


That is Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson from Ghana in that AP file photo.

Average daily circulation for the Daily News is 110,000.

While several papers today created very nice page-one treatments of the Pope’s resignation, I feel like six were head-and-shoulders above the rest. Here’s a look at them…



Fond du Lac, Wis.

Circulation: 10,186

The photo here — an AP file shot from 2005 — is wonderfully chosen and cropped. I also love the three little decks above the main headline that cite major elements of the story.


Note how the decks color-coordinate with the cape the pope is wearing.

The downside: The main headline tells us nothing new. That news was out at mid-morning Monday. It might have been better to write a headline that tried to give a little more perspective on the story or spun it forward just a bit.

Other than that, this page sings.

That page was designed in Gannett’s  Des Moines Design Studio by Wisconsin team leader Sean McKeown-Young and Brooke Curry,

Brooke, by the way, is currently a student at Grand View University in Des Moines and has been interning in the studio for a solid year, creative director Nathan Groepper tells us. Find her portfolio here.



Chicago, Ill.

Circulation: 414,590

As terrific as that last page was, here’s another wonderful one that is seemingly shot from the opposite angle.


In fact, that’s a file photo by Franco Origlia of Getty Images. I don’t know the year.

The page was designed by Michelle Rowan and Ryan Smith, I’m told.

Honorable mention goes to Express — the commuter tab published in D.C. by the Washington Post — for getting great mileage out of that same picture today.


Average daily distribution for Express is 183,916.



Des Moines, Iowa

Circulation: 101,915

Designer Nicole Bogdas, working out of Gannett’s Des Moines center, tells us about the front page she built for today’s Register:

I think some folks here were skeptical at first when they saw just the photo, but after I put it together we agreed it was the way to go.


When I was pitching it, I likened it to the famous Babe Ruth photo, and when I went home last night and described the photo to my boyfriend he said, “So, like the famous Babe Ruth photo.”

That would be this picture of Ruth shot at his last public appearance in 1948 by Nat Fein of the New York Herald Tribune.


Fein won a Pulitzer Prize for that picture.

Find Nicole’s portfolio page here and her Twitter feed here.

That picture of the pope — file art by Gregorio Borgia of the Associated Press — was also used today to great effect by another Gannett Design Studio host paper, the Arizona Republic of Phoenix.


Phoenix studio director Tracy Collins tells us the page was designed by Amy King. He asked Amy to tell us how her page came together:

I started looking through photos on the wire. George Berke (Republic team leader) and I talked possible options. We ran the chosen photo past the photo editor, who was a bit worried the image was too white, but saw its potential. The photo says it all. Pope: out. Mystery person: in.

We sent the copy editors and started brainstorming headline ideas.

Then George, Page 1 Editor Michael Squires and I huddled around my computer to discuss secondary display text – reading through the pope’s speech to find a good excerpt. Then a bit more photo editing to find a good image to pair with the quote.

I’ve written about Amy’s work at least three times. Find her statehood centennial pages here, an immigration law front page here and go here to find an interesting page on sexual assault.

Average daily circulation for the Republic is 321,600.



Norfolk, Va.

Circulation: 142,476

One thing is consistent in this crazy newspaper world we live in: You can count on the Virginian-Pilot to do something interesting.

In this case, it was the Pilot‘s Bethany Bickley who put together this terrific front page.


The first thing I though of this morning when I pulled the newspaper out of the wrapper and looked at the front was how much it reminded me of this:

130212PopeNorfolkVa  110303LeBronCleveland.jpg

Just like that now-iconic Cleveland Plain Dealer front, the pope appears to be walking off the page. Note how Bethany turned the Pilot‘s nameplate white-on-white, with only a faint dropshadow to help it pop just a bit.

The picture itself is a 2010 file shot from the Associated Press. And at least two other papers also ran the picture huge on page one today:

130212PopeBuffaloNY 130212PopeWestChesterPa

On the left is the 147,085-circulation Buffalo (N.Y.) News. On the right is the Daily Local News of West Chester, Pa., circulation 24,946.

Find Bethany’s online portfolio here, her NewspageDesigner gallery here and her Twitter feed here.



Rochester, N.Y.

Circulation: 114,502

We’ve all seen pictures of the pope swinging burning incense. I never thought that an innovatively-cropped version of a picture of this might make for a nice front page presentation.

Joanne Sosangelis of Gannett’s Asbury Park studio did, however.


Joanne tells us:

Well, it all started back in …

No, seriously, fellow team leader, Omar Vega, actually pulled the photo. He used a similar image that was horizontal for some of the papers he works with and I ended up choosing the vertical version — knowing that we don’t typically run wall-to-wall centerpieces on my team’s papers.

Rochester originally started with a tall centerpiece (three columns over four), very much like what we ran in Cherry Hill, Vineland and Westchester/Rockland. As the day progressed though, we began toying with losing the skybox and pushing the story up higher. Then we tried having the story above the nameplate, and then even under it, but wall-to-wall — and incorporating the nameplate (in white) into the art.

After showing several different options, our partners in Rochester decided they wanted to go full-page (minus the ad and index space) — and there was no argument from me!

The photo is a 2010 file shot by the Associated Press.

As she mentions, Joanne’s centerpiece found its way today to several other papers designed in that same studio:

130212PopeAsburyParkNJ 130212PopeVinelandNJ 130212PopeCherryHillNJ 130212PopeWestChesterNY

From left, those are:

  • The Asbury Park Press, circulation 98,032
  • The Vineland, N.J., Daily Journal, circulation 12,139
  • The Cherry Hill, N.J., Courier-Post, circulation 46,547
  • The While Plains, N.Y., Journal News, circulation 72,764

Find Joanne’s design portfolio here and her Twitter feed here.

And special kudos to the Free Press of Burlington, Vermont, for showing us how this same photo can be put to great use even in a tabloid format.


Average daily circulation of the Burlington Free Press is 30,558.



Lafayette, Ind.

Circulation: 25,531

My favorite front page of the day, however, is this one by yet another Gannett design studio.

I’m not a Catholic, nor am I a particularly religious man to begin with. But this presentation, I feel, is a wonderful blend of spiritual imagery, terrific cropping and design and perfect headline writing.


That page was designed by Cait Palmiter of the Louisville Design Studio. Cait tells us:

The art that was chosen for the page was originally a photo from when Benedict first became pope, but Spencer (Holladay, Indiana team leader) said I should push for something else. I found a couple where he had his back turned because I loved the symbolism of it — him walking away, resigning. I showed them to my copy editor who said they still liked the other one.

I then sent an email explaining the idea to several people including the editor as well as three or four mock-ups that David Leonard created for the Louisville Courier Journal (not to be confused with Lafayette’s Journal and Courier!) and an explanation for why we should use a different photo, showing the Pope’s back.

130212PopeLouisvilleKy  130212PopeLafayetteInd

They came back and agreed! Persistence can pay off!

We used the basic idea of David’s mock-up and I worked with doing something a little more features-like with the headline.

It was a really satisfying page to design and I think the photo choice worked out very well. I credit Spencer with convincing me it was worth pushing, David for finding that photo, and the editors in Lafayette for being open to listening to what I had to say and changing their mind. One of the great things about the design hubs is the group of design-minded people to work with.

Great teamwork. You gotta love it.

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

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

Today’s most unusual front page

…is by the Coloradoan of Fort Collins, Colo.

The topic is the horrific wildfires that happened there earlier this year. The presentation is inspired.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and give kudos to Colin Smith, the Colorado team leader at the Gannett Design Studio in Phoenix. See more of Colin’s work here.

UPDATE – 12:10 p.m.

Coloradoan editor Josh Awtry confirms via Facebook: That was Colin.

The front page is from the Newseum. Of course.

Coloradoan of Fort Collins, Colo., launches a redesign

The Fort Collins Coloradoan — a 19,864-circulation Gannett daily designed in the Phoenix Design Studio — launched a redesign today.

On the left is last Tuesday’s front page. On the right is today’s.


Coloradoan editor Josh Awtry — a visual journalist from way back — often does his own A1 illustration work, which was the case today. He tells us, sheepishly, that he…

…had to help out somewhere. It’s hard to leave your roots behind!

Here’s a closer look at today’s front page.

In addition to the change in fonts and the modern, airy format, one of the more striking changes is the new nameplate. One of the first things I told Josh when he moved to that paper: Ya gotta change that nameplate.

Here’s a closer look at the new nameplate.

The redesign was executed by Josh’s longtime pal Colin Smith of the Phoenix studio, who sent us a batch of pages overnight. Josh tells us:

More so than with any other redesign, I stood back and focused on the journalism and news team while Colin owned the look.

Now, you have to understand something about Josh and Colin: They’re a bit like Kirk and Spock. Starsky and Hutch. Holmes and Watson. Laverne and Shirley. Lenny and Squiggy.

Once upon a time, Josh was the assistant managing editor for the Salt Lake Tribune. Among his amazingly talented design minions there: Colin Smith.


Colin Smith and Josh Awtry

In February 2011, Josh left Salt Lake City to become editor of the Times-News of Twin Falls, Idaho, circulation 18,603. Josh then hired Colin to help him redesign the Times-News. Which Colin did — in June of last year — in spectacular fashion.

In December, Josh left Twin Falls to take over as editor in Fort Collins. Shortly after, Colin left Salt Lake to join the Gannett studio in Phoenix. There were technical delays or somesuch, however, so Colin actually moved temporarily to Fort Collins to work for several months.

And then all hell broke loose: Terrible wildfires in Fort Collins. Josh’s new team was on top of it. And Colin was all over finding interesting ways of presenting it, despite the Coloradoan‘s somewhat antiquated format.



I found this work remarkable. Read more about it here, here and here.

In the middle of all this, Colin finally migrated down to Phoenix. After things settled down — as much as they can at a paper this size — Colin pulled himself out of daily work at the design studio and started work on Josh’s redesign.

Despite all their talent and their track record together, Josh and Colin sounded yesterday as if they were politicians reducing expectations of an upcoming debate.

Josh tells us:

This is a pretty minor redesign — I’m not even sure I’d use the word. As with anything Colin spearheads, much of the work is under the hood, and he has worked his tail off to make it look easy. Hugely improved templates and modules make the paper much easier to produce, leaving us more time to edit and headline.

When I got here almost a year ago, we went to work on increasing our enterprise muscle, and started writing stories with a lot of depth and synthesized data from multiple points. The staff has come a long way, but our design was lagging. In some ways, this redesign is just the icing on that cake — it evens up the look of the paper with the tone.

As always, I can’t thank Colin enough for his (quite literally) tireless work. I don’t know of anyone who puts in more hours or dedication to the holistic craft of journalism than this guy.

In so many ways, though, this doesn’t represent a huge departure — we routinely feature solid design on the front page, but Colin’s work evens out the look throughout and represents a commitment to be our best across the journalistic spectrum.

Colin adds:

There aren’t a ton of things to showcase the redesign just yet (it’s a fairly small paper on Tuesday), but it should at least introduce a smattering of the new furniture elements. Honestly, since this is the first day of the redesign it’s mostly debugging the CCI templates and figuring out how to make the grid work.

If you say so. I think it’s pretty outstanding.

Let’s take a look inside…

In a column in Sunday’s paper, Josh explained the big changes to page three:

Page 3 of the Coloradoan will become “The Daily Digest.” Its mission is to be a standalone page that works great for print-only readers but serves as a jumping-off point for those who want to get more out of their online subscription.


Instead of just a standalone photo on the page, you’ll see that standalone photo also functioning as a tease to a full photo gallery online. The photo stands on its own, but the experience is even richer should you choose to go online. We’ll let you know what the most viewed stories on the website are so you can tell what other Fort Collins folks are reading. We’ll also highlight discussions happening online on hot topics.

Don’t want to go online for the whole discussion? We’ll give you the high points.

If the front page becomes the vehicle for long form, deep enterprise stories that connect dots for you, the Daily Digest will be the page you go to for quick hits about the conversation in the community, upcoming items and useful nuggets of local news.

Here’s a before-and-after look at the new Opinion page.


A closer look at the new Opinion page.

Here’s a before-and-after look at the new sports page.


A closer look at sports.

Here’s a before-and-after look at the business page, which kicks off the B section.


A closer look at Biz.

Life is on page B3. Here’s a before-and-after.


Note how Colin has color-coded the pages — hardly necessary for a paper this size — but it sure adds a splash of color. Also note how he’s carried through the idea of a column or photo that notches into the large color block atop each page.


The comics on page B4 also got the Colin treatment. Here’s a before-and-after.


And ditto for the TV page on page B5.


Josh explained in his Sunday column that prototype pages were press-tested and then shown to locals who were invited in to see the new pages over doughnuts and coffee.

And, he emphasized:

I’ve learned at least two things in redesigns I’ve led at other newspapers: 1) Never change the size of the type. 2) Everybody thinks you changed the size of the type. Trust me — the body type in Tuesday’s Coloradoan will be identical to what you’re reading right now.

As I said, most of it is just a brush-up. Under the hood, we’ve made the paper easier to put together each night so our copy desk can have more time to proof pages and write headlines.

I put in a query to Colin about the new typography. I’ll update later.

UPDATE – 2:15 p.m.

Colin tells us the type set is…

…part of the standard Gannett Design Studio typographic palette. Cheltenham for the serif headlines, Frutiger for the sans serif and Rockwell for the slab.

Also, I’d be [remiss] if I didn’t mention the other incredibly talented people at the Design Studio who helped make this happen — Jake Wright did that sports cover and helped immensely with the daily rollout, and Karen Outland was the CCI wizard who helped all these templates come to life. And, of course, Creative Director Tricia Reinhold and Executive Director Tracy Collins were instrumental in helping make this redesign a reality.

I think you’ll notice some minor tweaks as the weeks go on. For instance, I forgot to make the new weather and sports icons — so that’s next on my list.

A look at today’s debate preview front pages

Tonight is a huge night for political junkies: The first presidential debate will be held tonight at the University of Denver.

Here’s a look at some of today’s front page preview treatments…


Denver, Colo.

Circulation: 401,120

As you might expect, the Denver Post was all over it with a special section that wrapped around today’s paper. In a starring role was Jeff Neumann‘s cover illustration.

Nice idea and wonderfully designed. I’m not sure how I feel about all that exposed skin having a blue cast to it, however. It gives the backs and upper arms of the candidates kind of a zombie-like look to them.




Neptune, N.J.

Circulation: 98,032

Denver wasn’t the only paper to go with a boxing metaphor on page one today. Jeff Colson of the Gannett Design Studio in Asbury Park created this illustration of colliding boxing gloves that reminds me of something you might see at the beginning of a Fox Sports broadcast.

The “Rumble in the Rockies” headline and the tale-of-the-tape treatments beneath add to the theme.

Interestingly, the studio went with a question headline in the version that ran in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.


  • Left: Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal; circulation 25,064.
  • Right: East Brunswick, N.J., Home News Tribune; circulation 29,648.


Camden, N.J.

Circulation: 46,547

My favorite treatment today out of the Asbury Park Design Studio, however, is this illustration, also by Jeff Colson.

That one ran — with a question hed, which, again, baffles me — on the front of today’s Camden paper.


Washington, D.C.

Distribution: 260,950

And perhaps the strangest boxing reference today is this one in the deck headline of the Washington Examiner.

Do readers today even remember Muhammad Ali‘s infamous tire-the-other-guy-out “rope-a-dope” strategy? I suspect not.

The interesting thing here: If you’re a Democrat, you can be offended by the suggestion that President Barack Obama might have to “resort” to this. If you’re a Republican, you can be offended by the suggestion that challenger Mitt Romney is a “dope.”

So, at least, the deck is equally offensive to each candidate. I think.



A number of papers today featured a list of what each candidate is looking to do tonight — what each needs to do in order to win tonight’s opening debate. And some of these papers presented this information in the form of an alternative story form.


Buffalo, N.Y.

Circulation: 147,085

Buffalo today led with two simple cutout AP images on a tinted background.

The tips were embedded in the tint box below the art. And they were fairly brief.

The text was by staffer Robert J. McCarthy.


Fort Myers, Fla.

Circulation: 54,761

The folks at the Gannett Design Studio in Nashville gave today’s Fort Myers front a simple but effective visual, including a great headline…

…and a nice staff-written ASF down below.

Observation: I think this might have worked better had the peach-colored tint box extended all the way to the bottom of the page, including the ASF material.


Roanoke, Va.

Circulation: 78,663

Here’s the first of what will be a recurring theme today: Empty podiums.

The page is composed very well. The thing that frightens me, however, is putting that much reversed text atop a background that might be a four-color black (the photo blends into the background).

I’m sure my friends in Roanoke have been burned on that before. When you build a page like this, make sure you take the cyan, magenta and yellow out of the black that lies behind the text. Also, while you’re at it, you might bump up the point size of the reversed text just a bit. and go with a bolder weight, if you can.

That way, if your presses get a little out of register, readers will still be able to read the text.

UPDATE – 7 p.m.

Diane Deffenbaugh of the Roanoke Times — the designer of this page — writes to say:

I agree that reverse type can be a nightmare and much care was taken to be sure it would print cleanly. The faded background is indeed 100% K for just that reason.


Salt Lake City, Utah

Circulation: 110,546

Speaking of reverse boxes, check out the text treatment of the ASF afront today’s Salt Lake Tribune.

Beautifully done. If, that is, all this was readable. Many U.S. newspapers simply can’t hold colors like this behind white text.

I hope you’re reading these breakout boxes. Some of these tips are really terrific. Like, for example, the middle one for Romney here: “Egg him on… create a moment that makes the president come across as smug.”

The main problem I have with this page: For such a large package, this debate thing sure is far down the page. But you can see the reasons for that: A giant local whooping cough story and the death of a former Salt Lake Tribune publisher.

The photos up top are from the Associated Press.


Birmingham, Ala.

Circulation: 103,729

I really, really don’t want to like this page today. Only because I’m so unhappy with what Advance is doing by taking its Alabama papers to three-times-a-week publication. Today was the first day the Birmingham News has published under this new schedule.

But, in truth, this lead package is gorgeous. From the lead photo by David Goldman of the Associated Press…

…down to the “keys to victory” text from the Dallas Morning News.

Naturally, the 44,725-circulation Huntsville Times was assembled today along similar lines…


…as was, most likely, the Mobile paper. Which, alas, didn’t make it into the Newseum today.

Nice work by the new Birmingham-based production hub. But I hope Alabama readers don’t get cookie-cutter designs every publication cycle.



While some papers spun their packages toward the candidates, others focused more on the viewing public… The voters… The readers.


Lincoln, Neb.

Circulation: 55,398

The Lincoln, Neb., paper cleverly illustrated its package with, yes, cutouts of each candidate and a clever headline. The downside: That lead package was forced to compete with an equally-clever cow in the skybox.

The material downpage — edited down from a column by Dan Balz of the Washington Post — gives readers six answers to questions they might have going into tonight’s spectacle.

The only complaint I have here is the election logo. It looks a little lost here. Either bump it up in size or replace it with a more modern-looking strap across the top of the package.


Reno, Nev.

Circulation: 43,095

Reno led today with an empty podium and a nicely-conceived package giving readers five reasons they should even tune in tonight.

My only beef here: If you use a headline like “five reasons,” then you might want to punctuate the start of each copy block with a large numeral — kind of like how Lincoln did, above.

In fact, giant red numerals might have helped this ASF text look a little less dense.


Omaha, Neb.

Circulation: 135,223

Omaha today also went with an empty podium and a black background.

Any readability issues were resolved by putting the ASF material into a neutral-colored box.

The text was written by staffer C. David Kotok and Aaron Sanderford.

My favorite part of this page, however, is the brief chronology of presidential debates across the bottom of the package.


Davenport, Iowa

Circulation: 46,824

And, speaking of history, here’s where I’ll slip in the one inside page I have to show you today: This wonderful piece from the Quad-City Times of Iowa.

What a treasure chest of political history! Oh, I had so much fun combing through this package today.

QCT designer Nate Bloomquist tells us:

I took pieces of an AP story and combed through debate transcripts on to find other tidbits. I also ran all the transcripts through to get the tallies of frequently used words in the debates.

Take note of this, folks. If you’re really interested in how many times words get used in debates or speeches, these little bar charts actually quantify this for you. Unlike word clouds or bubble charts, which merely illustrate that info for you.

Nate says:

I’m pretty happy with the page. I don’t really like the headline, but I always feel like I can do better with headlines.

And I’m delighted Nate shared. Thanks much!


McLean, Va.

Circulation: 1,817,446

USA Today‘s infamous “blue ball” logo set the tone for the day by containing the obligatory empty podium…

…while the rest of the page focused on what the public says it wants to see in tonight’s debate.

I love the vertical crops on the pictures here. The light blue tint boxes don’t work quite so well. I wonder if black reverse boxes might have been more effective.

You can see the advantage of the new format, however. It’s difficult to imagine a cover story getting this much real estate before the big redesign last month.

What I don’t like so much are the very simple excerpts of what voters say they want to see:

Come up with all the answers for all the problems“? Really? That would make you vote for the president? Go figure!

The problem with approaches like this: If any of them make the reader say: “Well, Duh!,” then they’re not helpful. Reach deeper and find another quote.


Waterbury, Conn.

Circulation: 42,673

Waterbury took a similar approach today and was helped by a) having mug shots of the folks responding and…

b) not being tied to precise quotes. Meaning the reporter was free to paraphrase a bit in order to help each “wish” read a little more cleanly.

Here’s a closer look.

There are a couple of these I have to laugh at, however. One is the picture of the woman on the right of the middle row with her eyes closed. The other is the comment made by the man at bottom right:

Henry A. Thibault, 65, Torrington:

The sky-high deficit hasn’t impacted him in any way he can think of but it’s a problem that needs to be solved.



Hartford, Conn.

Circulation: 132,006

Longtime blog readers know how much I dislike word clouds. Especially when they don’t seem to tell us much of value. Which is, y’know, most of the time.

Given the headline — “Adding social to the debate” — I thought it might be built from tweets or facebook comments. But no: This one is a word cloud made of words uttered by the two candidates — color-coded, of course — during their acceptance speeches at their respective conventions.

As I wrote a while back, I saw a word cloud treatment recently — an interactive one that allowed the reader to dig further into the database of speeches. But this one? Not helpful at all, I think.

At best, it’s old news. Better to wait until Thursday and build a fresh one of these with the words from tonight’s boxing match. Assuming you can get a transcript built in time.

L.A. DAILY NEWS and sister papers

I love the headline on the package built by the folks at the Los Angeles Daily News for their chain’s Southern California newspapers. Because this sums up what viewers of tonight’s debates are all thinking: Tell us what we want to hear. Or else.


Interestingly, compare the language of those two lead headlines with the more informal versions below.


The terrific illustrations are vintage 2007 Chris Ware pieces from the McClatchy-Tribune graphics service.

Top row:

  • Long Beach Press-Telegram; circulation 82,556
  • Torrance Daily Breeze; circulation 75,352

Bottom row:

  • Los Angeles Daily News; circulation 94,016
  • Ontario Daily Bulletin; circulation 61,699
  • San Bernadino Daily Sun; circulation 56,456


Pittsburgh, Pa.

Circulation: 188,405

And the folks in Pittsburgh today found an interesting angle for today’s centerpiece: How the talking-head spin you sit through during and after the debates can affect your opinion.

Which is very true. That’s why experts from both the right and the left are happy to participate in those post-debate, snap-analysis sessions.

That’s a nice horizontal crop on the photo up top. All three pictures are from Getty.



A couple of metro tabloids kept things very simple today. Which I loved.


Washington, D.C.

Distribution: 183,916

Two cutouts. A black background. A very simple headline. What’s not to like here?

That’s Express, the free youth+commuter tab published by the Washington Post.


Chicago, Ill.

Distribution: 60,000

And Hoy — the Spanish-language tab published in Chicago by the Tribune — came up with an even more simple cover today.

The illustration is by staffer Jacqueline Marrero.

The headline says: The first round.



Three newspapers today led with pictures of stand-ins during a technical rehearsal yesterday on the set of the debates at the University of Denver.


From left to right:

  • Dallas (Texas) Morning News; circulation 405,349
  • New York Times; circulation 1,586,757
  • Grand Junction, Colo., Daily Sentinel, circulation 25,161

The version used by Dallas — shot by Win McNamee of Getty Images — was gorgeous.

However, at that distance, it’s difficult to tell that those aren’t really the candidates. The editors in Dallas will have similar pictures to choose from tonight. Using this one today limits their options.

The version from the front of the Times was cropped tight enough so you could tell that each of the two “candidates” was, in fact, a ringer.

That picture, too, was made by Win McNamee.

My favorite of these, however, was the picture by David Goldman of the Associated Press and used by the Grand Junction paper.

Mostly, because of this:

Forget the issues. I’d strongly consider voting for any candidate who has the nerve to try that during a nationally-televised debate.




Jackson, Mich.

Circulation: 24,031

And finally — although it’s not strictly debate-oriented — please consider the lead art afront today’s Citizen Patriot of Jackson, Mich., an hour or so west of Detroit.

Those are the Republican candidates, carved into a cornfield. It took somebody just five hours using a John Deere tractor, a rototiller and a GPS device to create this, using a pattern the “artist” had created earlier via a computer.

Cute, right?

However, consider this: The owner of that cornfield happens to be the chairman of the county GOP. Plus, the picture itself wasn’t even shot by staff: It’s a “courtesy”handout, presumably by either the artist or the landowner or someone affiliated with them.

Is the paper obligated now to find an equally interesting gimmick featuring the other candidate now? Or is the concept of “equal time” — especially one page one — now an old-fashioned one?

Just curious…

With the exception of the Davenport, Iowa, page, all of these images are from the Newseum. Of course.

Seven papers that surprised and delighted their readers today

Surprise and delight. Two things we should be doing to our readers every day.

And what better way to do that then with spectacular visuals on the front of their Sunday newspaper?

Here are seven great examples of this today. And one that, apparently, didn’t go quite so well…


Des Moines, Iowa

Circulation: 101,915

The big story in Iowa this weekend is the election. The latest Iowa Poll gives President Barack Obama a four-point lead over Republican Mitt Romney, but that poll has an error margin of plus or minus 3.5 points.

Illustrator Mark Marturello illustrated the story today with an arm-wrestling metaphor. Click for a larger view.

Here’s what the entire page looked like today.

Mark also had a great illustration on the front of Thursday’s paper. Find that at the top of this post.


Kansas City, Mo.

Circulation: 200,365

Today’s Kansas City Star didn’t bring readers new poll numbers but it did examine the differences in how the two parties are approaching health care and Medicare reform.

The illustration is by Hector Casanova. Here’s a look at just the top of it.


Jackson, Miss.

Circulation: 57,710

In Mississippi, the big story today is the 50th anniversary of the racial integration of the University of Mississippi and the deadly riot that began on this very date, half-a-century ago.

This very simple — but effective — illustration was created by Bill Campling of the Gannett Design Studio in Nashville.

Bonus points: A nice little cameo picture of the first black student at Ole Miss, James Meredith.

Find the story itself here.


Phoenix, Ariz.

Circulation: 321,600

Today’s Arizona Republic blew out on the front today a huge, blockbuster investigative piece on a local sheriff’s office that failed to follow up on more than 400 cases of sexual assault.

There are only so many ways you can illustrate a story like that in a way that keeps the focus on the story and not on the illustration itself. Here’s the approach taken today by the folks in the Gannett Design Studio in Phoenix.

Unfortunately, the illustration — which appears to be made of letterforms cut out of paper or cardboard — wasn’t credited.

UPDATE – 3:05 p.m.

The page was designed by Amy King of the Phoenix studio, I’m told.

Find the story — and all the sidebars — here.


Norfolk, Va.

Circulation: 142,476

Here in Hampton Roads today, the story was bicycles vs. vehicle accidents. Who has been at fault for these accidents?

Drivers, it turns out, were ticketed 58 percent of the time. The Pilot told the story today with clever pie chart.

The designer — staffer Bethany Bickley — tells us:

I think it really may be one of the biggest pie charts I’ve seen.


Binghamton, N.Y.

Circulation: 34,411

While the Pilot with with a huge pie chart today, the paper in Binghamton, N.Y., went with an equally large venn diagram.


Chattanooga, Tenn.

Circulation: 75,336

After I offered a little constructive criticism to the folks at the Chattanooga paper regarding their heavily-formattted skybox promos, the Times Free Press came back on Friday with a skybox that I praised here in the blog.

Now, two days, later, they did it again. Instead of a skybox, the Times Free Press pushed its lead art today up into the nameplate.

And beautifully so. The interaction with the nameplate is a nice bonus.

The picture — as is the smaller one downpage of the Tennessee coach — is by staffer Patrick Smith. Go here to find a gallery of his work at yesterday’s game.


Ravenna, Ohio

Circulation: 17,328

Perhaps something similar was the aim here by the folks in Ravenna, Ohio. Kent State pulled off an amazing last-minute, two-point upset win over Ball State, so an above-the-nameplate picture would certainly please local fans and perhaps sell a few papers.

And I don’t mind downsizing the nameplate on these attempts. But killing it entirely? I’m not so sure about that.

Now, it’s possible that something dropped out of the PDF file that the folks at the Record-Courier sent to the Newseum. So perhaps the actual printed page didn’t actually look like this.

Let’s hope that is the case.

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

The most interesting weekend front pages

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




Fort Pierce, Fla.

Circulation: 29,261

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

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


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


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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

It bothers me.

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

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


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

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


Columbus, Ohio

Circulation: 136,023

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

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

The photoillustration is by staffer Charlie Zimkus.


Peoria, Ill.

Circulation: 63,024

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

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

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


Dayton, Ohio

Circulation: 93,425

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

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

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


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


Madison, Wis.

Circulation: 83,083

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

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

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

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

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

The headline: Brilliant.



Speaking of college football…


Columbia, Mo.

Circulation: 6,003

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

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

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


Des Moines, Iowa

Circulation: 101,915

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

We need to call him “Big Game” Rodney.

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

Which Jeremy played sideways.

Read more about that page here.

Jeremy continues:

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

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

Jeremy concludes:

Rodney continues to make my job easy.

Full disclosure: Jeremy is an Iowa State graduate.

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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



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

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


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

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


Appleton, Wis.

Circulation: 38,244

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

The photo is by Gannett’s Evan Siegle.

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



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

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

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

Not cool.



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

Forty years ago this December. I kid you not.

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

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



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


Gastonia, N.C.

Circulation: 24, 354

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

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

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

Other than that: Brilliant idea. And wonderful presentation.


Fort Collins, Colo.

Circulation: 19,864

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

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

Coloradoan editor Josh Awtry tells us this was…

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

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


Panama City, Fla.

Circulation: 30,829

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

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

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

Here is that front page.

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

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


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


Norfolk, Va.

Circulation: 142,476

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

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

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

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




Huntsville, Ala

Circulation: 44,725

Sometimes, we overthink our centerpieces.

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

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

And it couldn’t have been simpler.

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




Quincy, Mass.

Circulation: 38,537

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is what all four of these papers looked like.

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



No comment necessary.

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

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

Arizona Republic kicks off a round of changes with a rebranded sports section

Tracy Collins — who’s been a sports and/or design manager at the Arizona Republic of Phoenix for 12 years now and who currently directs Gannett’s Phoenix Design Studio — writes today:

We are a fully converged newsroom, with the No. 1 TV station in the market (also Gannett-owned, KPNX-TV) in our newsroom, and we launched today a unified sports brand across all platforms. is the common website for The Arizona Republic and KPNX-TV, and the unified brand for all sports generated for online, TV, tablet and print will now be azcentral sports.

Our lead sports designer, Brandon Ferrill, set the new look for the sports section — a look that will soon migrate throughout The Arizona Republic, but that we wanted to launch with sports. I’ve attached the key three pages from the debut issue. The cover…

…the “Heat Index” page…

…and the new look of the Diamondbacks game day page.

In particular, this last page fascinates me because of the alternative story form-approach it seems to take to the day’s Arizona Diamondback baseball news.

For years now, my former paper — the Virginian-Pilot — has been presenting its local baseball game stories as ASF. For years, I’ve been showing off those pages. I’ve not yet found another paper adventurous enough to give this approach a try for game stories.

This is the closest I’ve seen.

I also really like that “set your DVR” graphic on page two. Nicely done.

Tracy adds:

I’ll share the changes in the rest of the paper when they launch soon.

Average daily circulation for the Arizona Republic is 321,600.

A big day for illustrations on page one

Today seemed to be a great day for illustrations on page one of newspapers around the nation…


Jackson, Miss.

Circulation: 57,710

I loved this school-related illustration afront the Jackson, Miss., paper today by Martha Stroud of the Gannett Design Studio in Nashville.

However, I was struck with a huge case of déja vu. Sure enough, back in June, the Sun of Jackson, Tenn., ran the illustration you see here on the right.


The foreground has been changed. But the background remains the same.

Having said that: I love the work this artist does. See another sample of Martha’s work midway down this post.


Cleveland, Ohio

Circulation: 246,571

Speaking of people whose work I love: Andrea Levy of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Find more samples of Andrea’s work on her web site. Find her Twitter feed here.

Find the Plain Dealer‘s Not-So-Plain-Dealer visuals blog here.



Reno, Nev.

Circulation: 43,095

The big story in Reno today: How the city managed to land a big fish like an Apple computer company data center.

The art to accompany such a story: A fish bait motif.

Clever, but not so far out there that folks can’t understand it immediately. The Gazette-Journal gets bonus points for nice pullout box detailing the deal.

My only beef: No credit here for the photoillustration.


Providence, R.I.

Circulation: 1124,013

Speaking of photoillustration… how does one illustrate binge beer drinking without, y’know, depicting toilets and college students hugging toilets?

Sandor Bodo of the Providence newspaper found a way to do this without being disgusting.

There ya go. However it does make me weep for the beer lost down the drain.


Kansas City, Mo.

Circulation: 200,365

The Star today built page one around yet another brilliantly executed piece by master illustrator by Héctor Casanova.

See a couple more examples of Héctor’s work here. Find his Facebook fan page here and an extensive Q&A with him here.


St. Petersburg, Fla.

Circulation: 299,497

Also along political lines was this amusing Mitt Romney illustration by David Brinley of the Tampa Bay Times.

David has also worked for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Rolling Stone, Billboard, ESPN the magazine, Newsweek and Time. Find David’s web site here.


Melbourne, Fla.

Circulation: 63,087

On the other end of the difficulty spectrum is this very simple — yet effective — graphic image of a G.O.P. elephant holding the torch of liberty. The story is about local Tea Party candidates.


Nashville, Tenn.

Circulation: 118,589

Also heavy in simplicity is this silhouette drawing of a race horse, on the cover of today’s Nashville newspaper.

Again, my only beef: No art credit.


Spokane, Wash.

Circulation: 69,161

Moving out of the realm of page-one illustrations and into page-one design, I found a lot to love in this presentation of the anniversary of the Ruby Ridge incident on the front of today’s Spokane, Wash., paper.

The pictures are all file images from either the paper’s own files or from the Associated Press. The lead element, however, is the greyed-back headline and three grafs of lead-in text.

Nicely done.


Huntsville, Ala.

Circulation: 44,725

And because I’ve spent so much time this summer showing off examples of good skyboxes or top-of-the-page promos, I thought I’d toss in two great ones from today. First up is this from the Times of Huntsville, Ala.

Normally, I’m not one to indent the sides of a lead package — especially if it runs the entire width of the page. But in this case, you just about had to indent. If the lead story wasn’t indented, it might give the impression that skybox is part of the lead story. Which, of course, it is not.


Everett, Wash.

Circulation: 46,481

Secondly, here is a gorgeous sunset picture atop today’s Herald of Everett, Wash.

I also like the lead package, with the three vertically-cropped pictures that bind together and attract the eye as if they’re one picture. But that skybox photo: Wow. What a shot. It’s a shame that the Herald uses a red nameplate on Sundays. Can you imagine what this might have looked like with a blue nameplate?

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

Eight interesting Saturday front-page visuals

A look at today’s most interesting front-page displays…


Fayetteville, N.C.

Circulation: 49,163

The best visual paper in North Carolina today took a soft approach with a story about whitewater kayaking.

Played large across the top of the front was this great overhead shot by staffer Andrew Craft.


Fargo, N.D.

Circulation: 45,298

From whitewater in North Carolina, we leap to whitewater in North Dakota. This is the Sheyenne State Forest waterfall near Fort Ransom, N.D., the largest in the state.

The waterfall is only about eight to ten feet high. But hey: It’s the largest in the state.

Mostly because it’s the only waterfall in the state. The Forum played that picture by staffer Carrie Snyder large on page on today.


Appleton, Wis.

Circulation: 38,244

From whitewater to waterfalls to a decided lack of water: Here is a farmer working in his hot, dry dusty fields in Wisconsin.

The picture by staffer William Glasheen was used large across the top of today’s front page of the Appleton, Wis., Post-Crescent.


Seattle, Wash.

Circulation: 236,929

In Seattle, folks are enjoying spectacularly beautiful sunsets. Because of fine smoke particles in the air.

Not from Colorado. But from Siberia.

That gorgeous shot is by Seattle Times staffer John Lok.


Newport News, Va.

Circulation: 57,642


Norfolk, Va.

Circulation: 142,476

President Barack Obama visited Hampton Roads yesterday. Which resulted in these two interesting approaches.

The Daily Press of Newport News led today with a large, horizontal picture of the president, surrounded by cellphone cameras…

…and an adoring supporter peering up at him.

Meanwhile, the Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk led today with a large, horizontal picture of the president, surrounded by cellphone cameras…

…and an adoring supporter peering up at him.

Here are both pages, side-by-side.


Click either for a larger look.

It’s a complete coincidence, of course. But amusing, just the same.

The Daily Press pictures are by Mark Graziano and Joe Fudge. Martin Smith-Rodden and Steve Early made the Pilot‘s pictures.


Fort Collins, Colo.

Circulation: 19,864

And in Fort Collins, Colo., the Coloradoan today searched for a way to illustrate a lead story on fundraising in this modern, digital era.

The solution involved icons. Lots and lots of little icons.

My only beef: The illustration was uncredited.


UPDATE: 4:30 p.m.

Colin Smith of Gannett’s Phoenix Design Studio tells us:

That’d be me, with a little help from iStockPhoto.

Then again, since it cost me $30, I’m taking all the credit. To hell with iStockPhoto.

Really nice icon set, though…

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

A look at a few Arizona immigration law front pages

The announcement yesterday by the U.S. Supreme Court that knocked down most — but not all — of Arizona’s SB1070 immigration law was huge news in Arizona, as you might imagine.


Phoenix, Ariz.

Circulation: 321,600

The Republic went horizontal today: Two stories and a fat refer, laid out in horizontal strips. The shapes were echoed by photos of the governor and of protestors outside the state house, both also cropped in strong horizontal shapes.

The result was drama. And lots of it.

The picture up top was by staffer Nick Oza. The protester shot below was by Pat Shannahan.

The page was designed by Amy King, I’m told.


Tucson, Ariz.

Circulation: 96,682

The Star went with lots of moving pieces: Two stories, an at-a-glance box, a huge assembly of refers and three pictures with quotes. The whole package moved downpage because of Arizona winning a national college baseball championship yesterday.

The head shots were, left to right, AP file, Associated Press and staff.

Side note: Do you see the little “Coming Sunday” refer across the bottom? The headline talks about a “guide to high-speed internet providers.” But the icon shows a USB connector. I’m guessing this wasn’t the best choice of art for this.


Casa Grande, Ariz.

Circulation: 8,458

Perhaps most unusual headline of the day was this attempt at a reference to Shakespeare, on the front to today’s Casa Grande Dispatch.

The AP picture showed the same argument we saw at the bottom of the Phoenix page.

My favorite Supreme Court page of the day, however, was this one from the…


Indianapolis, Ind.

Circulation: 164,640

The Star built an illustrated flow chart that explained how this entire mess unfolded in the first place.

Here’s a closer look at just the graphic by the Star‘s Emily Kuzniar.

Design director Phil Mahoney tells us:

The whole thing came about however because we didn’t have any local art and we felt strange playing Arizona art big on the page and we also wanted to bring Indiana into the mix since we are one of the states with similar immigration legislation. Since the neither side really won, we thought it best give some perspective on how we got here, and that would allow us to tie in the Indiana angle.

Eric Dick, our A1 editor — coincidentally, a transplant from Arizona — came up with the timeline information and Emily Kuzniar, our A1 designer, took the timeline information and turned it into our handy flow chart to give us out dominant visual element for the page.

This presentation allow us to give readers depth with the background as well as digest how the days ruling will influence other states with similar legislation.

And, in a fit of full-disclosure fever, Phil admits:

There was one problem with our cover. If you look closely, we used Mississippi instead of Alabama in the little state pieces. Nobody caught it until this morning.

These front pages are from the Newseum. Of course.

Salt Lake design whiz Colin Smith moves to Gannett design studio in Phoenix

Tracy Collins — director of Gannett’s new Phoenix design studio — announced moments ago:

It’s with great pleasure that I announce that Colin Smith, design leader for The Salt Lake Tribune, will be joining the Phoenix Design Studio.

Colin is a multiple SND award winner whose work has been the source of many oohs and aahs among our staff and, more importantly, his readers, because of its courage, great attention to detail and just plain smarts. Colin has been in Salt Lake City since 2006. He graduated from USC with a degree in urban planning and a minor in architecture, which provides a perfect background for building better newspaper design.

Colin will start with us on Jan. 3, beginning his tenure running the production operation in Fort Collins, Colo., until that paper moves into the design studio.

Fort Collins. No doubt, you’re wondering why that rings a bell. The 21,086-circulation Coloradoan is the paper where Colin’s former boss, Josh Awtry, takes over as editor. Tomorrow, as a matter of fact.

Josh tells us tonight:

I have called Colin the best visual thinker in the nation, and I stand by that. I had to call in every favor owed, as well as a debt against my eternal soul, to get the chance to work with him again.

The folks in Phoenix are going to love having him around, and I couldn’t be happier that, when I pick up the phone to pitch a crazy idea to the studio, his voice is going to be on the other end.

Let’s see. What else can I add to Tracy’s write up…

  • Colin graduated from Southern Cal in 2000.
  • He’s spent the last three years on the competition committee for the Society for News Design.
  • He unsuccessfully ran for SND secretary/treasurer last year against Rob Schneider of the Dallas Morning News.
  • In July, Colin helped Josh redesign Josh’s former paper, the Times-News of Twin Falls, Idaho.

A few samples of Colin’s work:







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

A perfect way to illustrate the NBA lockout

So how does one illustrate Monday’s developments in the season-preempting NBA  labor standoff?

By turning the iconic NBA logo into a dejected player:

Jerry Westallegedly, the model for the real NBA logo — would be so proud.


Bonus points to the designer — the Star-Ledger‘s Sara Amato — for giving the silhouette baggier pants.

A 2009 graduate of Indiana University, Sara served as campus editor, design chief, managing editor and editor-in-chief for the Indiana Daily Student.

She served internships at the Bedford (Ind.) Times-Mail and in the finance department at Tommy Hilfiger before starting work in Newark a year ago.

And, unfortunately for her readers, that brilliant NBA page is her final sports cover for the Star-Ledger. She tells us:

I was offered a full-time job with Gannett’s Phoenix design studio. But there’s a catch! They actually need somebody to work at the Palm Springs Desert Sun for a few months. So I will be starting in Palm Springs on Dec. 5 and then join the studio in Phoenix sometime in May.

While I’m super excited to move out west and explore a new part of the country, I will definitely miss the Star-Ledger, the newspaper I grew up reading.

A few examples of Sara’s work:




Find more in her online portfolio. Find her Twitter feed here.

Gannett’s Phoenix design hub names management team

Tracy Collins — senior director of print and multimedia operations of the Arizona Republic and soon to be director of Gannett’s Phoenix design studio — writes:

We announced the remainder of the management team in Phoenix.

Tricia Reinhold, features creative director

Tricia Reinhold started her career in news as an on-air graphic designer for a CBS affiliate in Pittsburgh. She then became webmaster for two alternative weeklies, In Pittsburgh and Philadelphia Weekly. Moving in the reverse order of many designers in these times, Tricia then discovered her heart was more in print design. She became art director of In Pittsburgh newsweekly and the Pittsburgh City Paper, leading a small but creative staff. She redesigned both papers, helped plan and organize a national alternative newsweekly conference in Pittsburgh and was awarded “best page design” for an alternative weekly. She became a designer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, before joining The Arizona Republic in 2006 as design director for features and magazines, overseeing four magazines and almost 20 sections, along with a staff of designers, photographers and photo editors. Tricia lives in Phoenix with her husband, music writer and musician Ed Masley, and their daughter, Ana. Her new role officially begins July 1.

Také Uda, news creative director

Také Uda has lived in Iowa, Hawaii and Maryland, but was mostly raised and educated in Montana. He graduated from the University of Montana in 1994 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He went to work for the Great Falls Tribune in Montana as a graphics artist soon after graduation. Over the next 16 years, he designed many award-winning projects for the newspaper, including the Tribune’s 2000 Pulitzer Prize-winning explanatory report on alcoholism and a 2001 Society of Professional Journalists spot news award-winning special section on a local man accused of serial killings. He has won 10 annual Best of Gannett honors for design and graphics and was honored with the 2002 Division II Outstanding Achievement for an Individual Award and a 2005 Supervisor Recognition Award for work on a redesign and the installation of a new front-end system. At the Tribune, Uda also served as graphics editor, news editor and, most recently, assistant managing editor. Také will join the Phoenix studio in January 2012.

Jason Kieffer, operations manager

Jason Kieffer has led the Community and Sports design and graphics operations at The Arizona Republic since 2009. He started at the paper in the mid-1980s, working as a sports stringer covering high school athletics while still in high school. When The Republic went to the Triple I pagination system, he became the paper’s first design assistant. He left briefly to complete his degree at Arizona State University, and returned to The Republic in the early 1990s, rising to sports designer then to Page One designer. Jason became team leader for news design one week before the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. He has played a lead role in redesign initiatives with The Republic‘s 18 community newspapers, and with managing change within news design. Jason lives in Glendale, Ariz., with his wife, Jeanette, a hospital administrator, their daughters Natalie and Lauren, and his bulldog, Marlowe. His new role officially begins July 1.

For those of you keeping track of the leadership of Gannett’s five new design studio hubs, here’s what we know so far (links go to our first reports):


Director: Tim Frank

Creative director: tba


Director: Ted Power

Creative director: Nathan Groepper


Director: Jim Kirchner

Creative director: Ryan Hildebrandt


Director: Jeff Glick

Creative director: Javier Torres


Director: Tracy Collins

Creative directors: Také Uda and Tricia Reinhold

Read more about the new Gannett design hub system here.


Aaaaaaand I was just given the name of the creative director in Asbury Park. Not sure how long ago that hire was made. Attempting to confirm now. Please keep watch for a subsequent post.