Five notable Obamacare/shutdown front pages. And one I don’t like at all…

Today, the biggest features of Obamacare kick in. Not coincidentally, the Federal government has shut down in a sea of fingerpointing and wishful thinking — mostly, on the part of Tea Party Congressmen wishing to repeal Obamacare.

Here’s a look at five notable front pages and one — the one that everyone appears to be talking about today — that I despise…

Washington, D.C.
Distribution: 183,916

Instead of focusing on the shutdown — which, after all, a) Many papers put on page one Monday, and b) Could potentially have been averted not long after press deadline last night — The Washington Post’s Express tabloid put the ongoing political battle over Obamacare on today’s cover, in the form of giant pills.


The little pointer boxes — a la those ubiquitous pharmaceutical ads with all the warnings and disclaimers — are a nice touch.

The photoillustration is uncredited.

Las Vegas, Nev.
Distribution: 220,619

“No, no no. It’s a suppository!”


That’s the Cleveland Plain Dealer‘s Chris Morris, illustrating for his former paper.

Norfolk, Va.
Circulation: 142,476

While many, many papers today used pictures of the Capitol building on page one today, the Virginian-Pilot managed to turn that visual cliché on its head today.

Um, literally.


That cover was designed by Josh Bohling.

The Pilot has a long history of pushing big stories above the nameplate like this. That works particularly well when there’s a big story that deserves centerpiece play — like the shutdown — but when they also have big local news: The sentencing after a high-profile local conspiracy trial.

Fargo, N.D.
Circulation: 45,298

Yes, this has been done before. But it’s still a fairly fresh way to signal “shutdown” without using the Capitol building or a “Sorry, we’re closed” sign.


Note how the two little icons below match the red of the shutoff symbol. Most of us would be tempted to keep the little U.S. flag in its natural colors.

The only downside on this page that I can find: The clumsy wording of the refer. Say “inside” or “back page,” but not both.

Oshkosh, Wis.
Circulation: 14,113

My favorite front page of the day is this one by the Northwestern of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. This would have been designed in the Gannett Design Studio in Des Moines, Iowa.


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.

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

And, of course, everyone is talking about this page today.



Note the, um, unidentified material dripping from John Boehner’s hands.

Don’t get me wrong: I laughed as hard as anyone else today when I saw this page.

But consider this: This metaphor comparing Boehner to the consummate power player is a bit weak. In this particular instance, Boehner seems as much a victim as anyone: As House majority leader, he’s caught between factions of his own party he can’t — and, most likely, will never be able to — please. Even the copy at the upper right of the photoillustration admits this.


The GOP isn’t holding the country hostage. The Tea Party is holding the country — including Congress and John Boehner — hostage.

Unlike the last time, when Newt Gingrich was clearly at fault for faulty brinksmanship.


Secondly: Daily News, if you’re going to create a talker cover like that, please take the time to have a copy editor look over the little cover blurb. You’re missing at least one word there: An “a,” perhaps, on the second line between “and” and “Tea Party.

Here it is again:


Despite all this, everyone seems to be loving this cover today:

So despite the poor metaphor, despite the poor copy editing, despite the potty humor, the Daily News seems to have succeeded in creating another talker.

What a poor, poor reflection on those of us who are media critics.

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

One of the more unusual page-one illustrations you’ll ever see

Only in the Las Vegas Sun might you find something like this on a Sunday front page.

Prostitution is legal in some parts of Nevada. But — believe it or not — not in Las Vegas. Some folks have been working for years to change that.

Yesterday, the Sun turned such a quest by a local lobbyist — let’s call him Ishmael — into a metaphor starring the classic novel, Moby Dick.


The headline, too — “Taking a stab” — reminds us of the lines from the climatic fight in that novel, quoted memorably by Khan in the second Star Trek movie:

To the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.

I would have opted for “Thar she blows.” And I would have gotten myself fired.

The illustration, of course, is by former Sun art director Chris Morris. Chris, as you know, is now with the Cleveland Plain Dealer.


And this is the second time I’ve written about a Chris’s work on this topic. A year-and-a-half ago, Chris illustrated a piece (sorry) about taxation and legal brothels in Nevada.


I write about Chris a little too much here in the blog, perhaps. Not just because he’s a terrific guy, but mostly because his work is so terrific. Find notable posts about him here and here.

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

Average daily distribution for the Las Vegas Sun is 220,619.

That front page image is from the Newseum. Of course.

Today’s five best Election Day front pages

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

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

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


Chicago, Ill.

Free distribution: 250,000

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

Trent tells us:

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

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

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

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


Chicago, Ill.

Circulation: 414,590

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

Assistant managing editor Joe Knowles tells us:

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


The 2008 illustrations…

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

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

Find more of Chris Gall’s work here.


Las Vegas, Nev.

Distribution: 220,619

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

Senior designer Liz Brown tells us:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find the Sun‘s web site here.


Nashville, Tenn.

Circulation: 118,589

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

I asked Merry about the page. She replied:

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

No, no. Seriously…

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

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

Find more of Merry’s work here.


Cleveland, Ohio

Circulation: 246,571

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

Make sure you click this for a much larger view.

Assistant managing editor David Kordalski explains:

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

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

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

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

David continues:

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



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

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



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



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

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

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

Average daily circulation of the Register is 101,915.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are ten front pages worthy of your attention today…


Des Moines, Iowa

Circulation: 101,915

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

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

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

Mark tells us:

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

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

Here’s a closer look.

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

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

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


Springfield, Mo.

Circulation: 35,531

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

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

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

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


Omaha, Neb.

Circulation: 135,223

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

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

The page was designed by Brady Jones.


Lincoln, Neb.

Circulation: 55,398

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

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


Hazleton, Pa.

Circulation: 20,008

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

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


Lafayette, Ind.

Circulation: 25,531

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

However, I can find no credit to confirm this.

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


Green Bay, Wis.

Circulation: 41,769

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

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


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


Las Vegas, Nev.

Distribution: 220,619

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

Brilliant stuff as usual from Chris.


McLean, Va.

Circulation: 1,817,446

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

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

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

Here’s a closer look:


Victoria, Texas

Circulation: 26,531

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

Artist Julie Zavala tells us:

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

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

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

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

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

Election graphics and illustrations on Sunday’s front pages

You can tell we’re in the thick of an election year. A number of papers led their front pages today with election-themed graphics or illustrations.


Akron, Ohio

Circulation: 88,040

Papers across Ohio teamed up for a new poll that was released today. The poll shows President Barack Obama is leading the state with 51 percent of the vote, if the election were to be held today. Mitt Romney has support of 46 percent of likely voters.

The graphic that several papers across Ohio used on A1 today was created by Mike Nyerges and Mark Wert of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Which, ironically, didn’t run their own graphic on page one.

Akron, as you can see, split apart the Enquirer graphic to run the doughnut chart at the top of the page. The big batch of bar charts and the map ran downpage.


Toledo, Ohio

Circulation: 94,215

Toledo left its graphic intact. Here’s a readable version of it.

The material in the doughnut chart is restated on the right with the large numbers and the mug shots of the candidates.

Granted, the beefs up the visual presence of the graphic. But still, it seems redundant.


Canton, Ohio

Circulation: 56,789

Canton replaced the top part of Cincinnati’s chart with a big bar chart that included cutout portraits of each candidate and a large outside of the state.

In addition, Canton used the best headline we’ve seen yet for this story. Nice and direct.


Columbus, Ohio

Circulation: 136,023

Columbus didn’t use the Enquirer chart out front today, but it did build this combination big numbers/bubble chart for the top of A1 today.

With the large numbers apparently telling enough of the story, the Dispatch then used a headline that tied directly into issues.


Cleveland, Ohio

Circulation: 246,571

And the Plain Dealer today also used a big-numbers approach, paired with fresh caricatures of the two candidates.

Great work today — as usual — by illustrator Chris Morris.


Miami, Fla.

Circulation: 160,988

Down in Florida, the Miami Herald ran news today of a similar poll that suggested the numbers there are even closer.

Rather than bars or big numbers, the Herald stuck with pie charts.

Here’s what the entire front looked like today.


Kansas City, Mo.

Circulation: 200,365

In Kansas City today, the polls themselves were the story. The lead art was an illustration by Neil Makahodo.

Here was the entire front today.


In Iowa today, the story was the avalanche of television advertisements — more than $29 million worth — that is being stuffed into that state’s airwaves.

The Des Moines Register built a centerpiece today from screencaps of some of these ads…

…and the Quad-City Times of Davenport came up with the same idea.

As you can see, the coincidence made for a striking effect today.


Average daily circulation for the Register is 101,915. The Times circulates 46,824.


Newark, N.J.

Circulation: 278,940

The story in Jersey today was campaign donations. The Star-Ledger built a photoillustration using a mixture of ballot box imagery, money, political party icons, bar charts, big-numbers presentations and even theatre-like curtains.

The illustration wasn’t credited.


Las Vegas, Nev.

Distribution: 220,619

The Las Vegas Sun today led its front page with a story about the hopes Republicans there have of winning the state this year.

The very loose watercolor illustration is by staffer Elizabeth Brown.


Denver, Colo.

Circulation: 401,120

The Denver Post ran a very interesting piece today on a topic that’s affected so many of us: How some folks have posted so many political items to the point where it’s put a strain on their Facebook friends.

The front page was built around this photoillustration by staffer Matt Swaney.

Find the story here by staffer Claire Martin.


And across Wisconsin today, the Gannett papers didn’t look at poll numbers as much as they addressed the shifting demographics of that state over the past three decades or so.

A series of pie charts across the top of the package — looking a lot like Pepsi logos here — show the outcome of the presidential race in Wisconsin.

Numbers down each side compare various demographic statistics from 1980 and 2010.

This package — uncredited but presumably built by the Gannett Design Studio in Des Moines

UPDATE – Monday, 11:30 a.m.

I’m told this package was indeed designed by Sean McKeown of the Des Moines studio.

…ran in several papers today, including — from left to right:

  • Post Crescent, Appleton, Wis., circulation 38,244
  • Daily Herald, Wausau, Wis., circulation 15,879
  • Sheboygan Press, Sheboygan, Wis., circulation 14,246



  • Northwestern, Oshkosh, Wis., circulation 14,113
  • Herald Times Reporter, Manitowoc, Wis., circulation 10,253
  • The Reporter, Fond Du Lac, Wis., circulation 10,186

It worked pretty well in five of the six uses. The exception was in Oshkosh, where the nice above-the-nameplate photo competed with the “then/now” illustration.

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

A baker’s dozen of interesting, illustrative page-one treatments

Oh there was some fabulous work out there on the front of the nation’s newspapers today.

Let’s take a look at a few of the more illustrative ones, shall we?


Kansas City, Mo.

Circulation: 200,365

The story in Kansas City today is about how a four-year-old girl was found malnourished, and taken from her mother. A year later, her mother was deemed fit again and the girl was returned to her home. And then she vanished from the system.

Another five years later, authorities find her locked in a closet. The girl — now 10 years old — weighed just 32 lbs.

How does a girl like this “slip through the cracks”? And how does a newspaper illustrate this story without identifying the girl?

By showing a girl slipping through the cracks.

Wonderful work there by Héctor Casanova. Find the sad story here by staffers Laura Bauer and Dawn Bormann.


Honolulu, Hawaii

Circulation: 124,000

In Honolulu today, the Star Advertiser also had one of those “impossible to illustrate” stories about an increase in suicides. Luckily, staffer Bryant Fukutomi was on the case.

Notice the fabulous and subtle use of color in both of those pages. We’ll talk more about color in a few minutes…


Fort Collins, Colo.

Circulation: 19,864

You’re aware, of course, of the fires that have afflicted the state of Colorado this past month. The Coloradoan today compares the state to “Paradise in a Powder Keg.”

Fairly simple — even rendered in 3D — and effective. My only beef is that the illustration wasn’t credited.


Norfolk, Va.

Circulation: 142,476

The Virginian-Pilot today examined the devastating effects of wind and water from last August’s Hurricane Irene on Pamlico Sound in North Carolina, just South of Hampton Roads. The package included wonderful time-lapse-type graphics (find the interactive version here) and this very cool — and violent — front-page illustration.

I presume that was designed by Sam Hundley.


Nampa, Idaho

Circulation: 19,900

Among the new laws taking effect in Idaho today: One banning texting while driving.

The front-page illustration is by staffer Glen Bruderer.


Sioux Falls, S.D.

Circulation: 32,192

The story today in Sioux Falls, S.D., was home sales. They’re finally bouncing back.

While this isn’t the most imaginative illustration ever, let me ask you this: How would you illustrate rising home prices?

The house illustration is perfectly adequate. The arrows serve as a visually interesting way of delivering “big number” info.

I wonder if shadowing might have been added to the arrows to match what’s happening to the house illustration.

What I like here: The (uncredited) designer refrained from using four different colors. The shades of grey/blue help hold the package together.


Monterey, Calif.

Circulation: 23,765

Speaking of color, check out the palette used today by James Herrera of the Monterey Herald.

The illustration itself is clever and effective. But the colors really make this work.


Harrisburg, Pa.

Circulation: 70,446

The Harrisburg, Pa., Patriot-News led today with a story about the culture of silence surrounding Penn State University, which is what led to the big cover-up of the child sex abuse scandal there over the past decade or so.

The illustration is the old tape-over-the-mouth trick — an effective way of illustrating such a topic. What made this one sing, again, was the way the (uncredited) designer used color. Or, rather, did not use color.

The designer pulled all the color out of the illustration, which was probably stock.

UPDATE – Meg Lavey tells me a) The centerpiece was designed by Chris Boehke and b)…

The illustration, I was told, was not stock art. It was someone in our circulation department who posed for it.

He then added a Instagram-like treatment, a slight warm-grey tone and, of course, the blue Penn State logo atop the duct tape.

Very nice. T, I’m told.

In case you’re wondering: Yes, the story on the right of the page does indeed suggest that coach Joe Paterno knew much more about Jerry Sandusky‘s misdeeds than he claimed. Just when you think you’ve heard all you can hear about this story, it just gets sadder and sadder.


Lewiston, Maine

Circulation: 33,900

A similar visual trick was used by yet another uncredited designer on the front of today’s Sun Journal of Lewiston, Maine.

The baby is, most likely, stock art and, most likely, color. The designer turned the art black-and-white but then colored the diaper to carry through the color palette from the headline and the bar chart atop the package.


Dubuque, Iowa

Circulation: 25,588

And here’s one more example of great illustrative use of color: Check out how this pie chart echos the colors found in the stock Getty photo up top.

This is how you use color effectively, folks. Terrific examples today. My compliments to the chefs — who were, for the most part, uncredited.


Champaign, Ill.

Circulation: 41,026

The Champaign, Ill., paper today explained how electricity is generated and distributed via the power “grid.” The paper’s editors elected to do this in an illustrated, alternative story form that zig-zagged its way across the front page.

Nice work by Patrick Wade — who wrote the text — and Joel Leizer, who drew the art and, I presume, designed the centerpiece package.


Fort Worth, Texas

Circulation: 195,455

The Star-Telegram of Fort Worth today wanted to illustrate the dangers faced by pedestrians in an area where sidewalks fall apart from overuse and neglect.\

The solution was simple: Each one of these little “pedestrian crossing” icons represents 50 deaths.

The black icons are statewide. The red ones are in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.


Las Vegas, Nev.

Circulation: 220,619

And while this front page isn’t an illustration, this wonderful aerial picture by the Las Vegas Sun‘s Sam Morris is certainly used in an illustrative way today, spread across the page in a poster-sized treatment.

That was, in fact, just one of ten wonderful art-like, aerial pictures posted back in February by Sam to promote a local art exhibit. Which ended two months ago.

Find the online slideshow here.

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

Not exactly your typical feel-good Easter Sunday story

By no means is this your typical feel-good Easter Sunday story.

But today’s front-page centerpiece in the Las Vegas Sun is an important story and one well-told.

The story is a column by by L. Patrick Coolican, describing the life of an 18-year-old local girl who was forced into prostitution two years ago by her boyfriend.

Apparently, this is the first part of a multi-part tale. The Sun promises that tomorrow, Patrick will continue the story and address “the broader problem of underage prostitution in Las Vegas.”

Take a few minutes to read the story, please.

The wonderful portrait of the girl is by staffer Leila Navidi.

The Las Vegas Sun is inserted daily into the Las Vegas Review-Journal, circulation 213,078.

That front page image is from the Newseum. Of course.

A look at today’s Academy Awards front pages

Oscars night is always huge for lovers of fine entertainment everywhere.

Here’s a look at some of today’s notable Oscar ceremony front pages from Los Angeles and around the country…


Los Angeles, Calif.

Circulation: 89,990

The Daily News placed the five individual big winners across the top of its front page and led that front with a huge picture of the Artist, winning Best Picture.

That great group shot is by Robyn Beck of Getty Images.

Executive news editor Brian Harr was kind enough to send along the doubletruck he built for the inside. Click for a much larger view.

The big picture of the Cirque du Soliel is by Getty’s Kevin Winter. The shot of host Billy Crystal is by Mark J. Terrell of the Associated Press. Daily News staffer David Crane took the red-carpet shots at left.


Los Angeles, Calif.

Circulation: 572,998

The Times reversed its entire front-page Oscar package out of black this morning.

The lead picture of Meryl Streep is by staffer Al Seib.


Cleveland, Ohio

Circulation: 243,299

The Cleveland paper produced one of the day’s most attractive fronts, also resorting to reverse treatment. The picture here is by the AP’s Mark J. Terrell.


Omaha, Neb.

Circulation: 135,282

And a number of papers stripped larger displays across the top of A1 today and referred into packages inside. The best I saw today was this one by the Omaha World-Herald.


Montgomery, Ala.

Circulation: 31,495

The subject matter of the Help and the performance Octavia Spencer gave in that movie meant that her big win for best supporting actress wasn’t a total surprise. But still, her hometown paper in Montgomery blew out the win on page one.

That’s yet another picture by Mark Terrell. Ditto for the next two pages.


Birmingham, Ala.

Circulation: 102,991

Here’s how the largest paper in the state of Alabama played Spencer’s win.


Jackson, Miss.

Circulation: 59,106

The Help was based on a novel by Jackson, Miss., native Kathryn Stockett. In addition, the screenwriter and the producer are from Jackson. And part of the movie was filmed there. Therefore, the Clarion-Ledger blew out the win on page one, as well.


Chicago, Ill.

Circulation: 389,353

Meryl Streep picked up her third Oscar. I love the way the Sun-Times played this Getty photo and I especially love the headline.


Melville, N.Y.

Circulation: 404,542

Newsday cropped in very tight on this AP photo for this great front featuring Streep.


Lynchburg, Va.

Circulation: 26,300

The best Meryl Streep picture of the day, however, might be this one by the Associated Press and played nice and large by the paper in Lynchburg, Va.


St. Petersburg, Calif.

Free distribution

And the Tampa Bay Times‘ free-distribution tabloid, tbt*, chose to go after low-hanging fruit today: The format of the Oscars’ TV broadcast.

I will admit, that’s a great picture to run with that headline.


You can’t help but notice that both of the Los Angeles metro papers used the same “silent night” gag for their main headlines today.


Brian Harr of the Daily News tells me:

Our A1 hed was Silent Night. Our sister papers (the Long Beach Press-Telegram and Torrance Daily Breeze) spun it to Silent Might.

I was tempted but I stuck to my guns. We used Silence is Golden for the Golden Globes or I would have used that.

Also using the Silent Night theme were the St. Paul, Minn., Pioneer Press

…the Chicago Tribune

By far the most common “silence” pun use today, however, was “Silence is golden.” Among the papers using that one: The Cherry Hill, N.J., Courier Post

…the Peoria, Ill., Journal Star

…the Allentown, Pa., Morning Call

…the Scranton, Pa., Times-Tribune

…the Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Times Leader

…the Lodi, Calif., News-Sentinel

…the Bergen County Record of Hackensack, N.J…

…the Las Vegas Review-Journal

…the Sacramento, Calif., Bee

…and the Tampa Bay Times of St. Petersburg, Fla.

The News-Herald of Willoughby, Ohio, found a more subtle approach for its headline…

…as did the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The Sun of San Bernadino, Calif., came up with this nice headline.

The Modesto, Calif., Bee used a sledgehammer to pound this one home.

And after all these others, I couldn’t help but laugh at this headline in the Stockton, Calif., Record.

Good job, all.


New York, N.Y.

Circulation: 512,067

One headline I didn’t enjoy quite so much was this one in today’s New York Post.

That might have worked, had the awards won by the Artist been unexpected. But many critics had expected it to win big last night. You’re stretching, Post.

The inside L.A. Daily News spread is from that newspaper. All the rest are from the Newseum. Of course.

Seven notable Sunday front page displays

I was on the road this weekend, so I didn’t get much of a chance to spend as much time as I’d like looking though the gallery at the Newseum.

There were a number of pages Sunday, however, to which I’d like to draw your attention…


Sioux City, Iowa

Circulation: 33,837

The most interesting package of the weekend: The Sioux City Journal looked at mail delivery from their city in the wake of the U.S. Postal Service closing a regional distribution center.

The paper sent more than two dozen letters from Sioux City to points in that same city, around the state, in the Midwest, around the country and even to Australia and measured how long it took those letters to get there.

Click for a larger view:

Most everything was delivered in two to three days, except the letters to Chicago, New York and Boston. Not surprisingly, the letter to Australia took three weeks.

That graphic was built by staffer Diane Cunningham. Here’s how the Journal used it on page one yesterday:

Find the story here by Nick Hytrek.


Hutchinson, Kan.

Circulation: 25,722

As is the case in several spots around the country, the story in Kansas is hydraulic fracking. This page one graphic by Hutchinson News staffer Jim Heck shows how it works and how far down the action happens.

The weakest part of the package, I think, is that main headline. Which seems more like a label than a headline. And it’s so obvious to the point of not being helpful. “How it works” might have been a better choice than this.

Other than that, though, it’s a great piece.


Beaumont, Texas

Circulation: 23,388

The story in Beaumont, Texas, is the sparks flying in the wake of several emotional exchanges between high school players and their coaches in one of the more public venues out there: Twitter.

Here’s how the Enterprise played that uncredited photoillustration Sunday.



Las Vegas, Nev.

Circulation: 213,078

Lucky readers in Las Vegas got a double helping of page-one illustrative goodness on Sunday.

Chris Morris of the Cleveland Plain Dealer provided yet another brilliant freelance illustration showing an exchange of an apple for an Apple.

Meanwhile, the Review-Journal‘s David Stroud created this preview illustration for last night’s Oscars.

Each paper ran their illustrations on their respective front pages.


As you probably know, the Sun inserts into the Review-Journal.


Newark, N.J.

Circulation: 210,586

My favorite illustration of the day, however, was this hilariously weathered school sign by Newark Star-Ledger staffer Shawn Weston.

Here’s a closer look at the artwork.


Birmingham, Ala.

Circulation: 102,991

Two weeks ago, we picked apart an all-text front page from the Montreal Gazette.

I’m still getting email about that post. So closing today with this Sunday front from Birmingham, Ala., was a no-brainer.

This page works very well. Despite the fact that there’s no lead photo or illustration — the lede art is nothing but text — the page still doesn’t seem text-heavy or grey.

The reason for this: Expert — and liberal — use of white space.

You may recall I complained about how downpage clutter in the Montreal example detracted from the nice work the designer pulled off above the fold. That doesn’t happen here.


Also, notice how Birmingham greyed back the lead-in big text and then used red text to emphasize just the two words it wanted to play up.

Nicely done.

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

Four clever and fun page-one illustrations

Here are four fun art elements I found in my daily romp through the Newseum


Yankton, S.D.

Circulation: 8,332

He use to work as a decorative element for the top of your car antenna. After those jobs went away, he worked for Walmart, on its “falling prices” signs.

But what’s Mr. Smiley Face been doing since Walmart laid him off?

Playing football, of course.

Smiley was lead art today in the Yankton, S.D., Press & Dakotan…

…attracting eyeballs to a story on Super Bowl memories by local folks. Find the story here by staffer Nathan Johnson.

The art itself was uncredited.


Cleveland, Ohio

Circulation: 243,299

Look! In the nearest phone booth! It’s a bird! It’s a plane!

It’s Generic Football SuperHero Man!

I say “generic” because — as far as I can tell — neither the Giants nor the Patriots have a no. 46 on its roster this weekend. In fact, that element — presumably drawn by Chris Morris — is paired with a promo about Giants coach Bill Belichick on the front of today’s Plain Dealer.

And, speaking of Chris…


Las Vegas, Nev.

Distribution: 213,078

…check out these wonderful caricatures he drew of the four Republican presidential candidates.

Click for a larger view.

Those ran as lead art today — the day of the Nevada caucus — on the front of the Las Vegas Sun.

Although he’s with the Plain Dealer now, Chris still does a lot of freelance work for his old paper, the Sun. Chris wrote today via Facebook:

How’s this for big play? LVSun Designer Liz Brown swung for the fences for the Nevada Caucus front page. Wow! Thanks Liz.

Just yesterday, I wrote about Chris’ downloadable Valentine’s cards in the Plain Dealer. Read about those here.


Nashville, Tenn.

Circulation: 120,805

And what happens when folks try to listen to music in Nashville using inferior equipment?

Right: This does.

That’s a tremendously clever A1 illustration today by Merry Eccles of Gannett’s Nashville Design Studio.

Find the story here by the Tennessean‘s Anita Wadhwan.

I recently wrote about Merry, too. Find that blog post here.

These page images are from the Newseum. Of course.

Ten outstanding Martin Luther King front pages

Lots of papers put the late Rev. Martin Luther King on page one today. Here are ten of the best tributes I saw today at the Newseum


Portsmouth, N.H.

Circulation: 9,900

King is honored with a heroic treatment today atop the Portsmouth, N.H. newspaper. a great quote is paired with a dramatic angle from the Associated Press of the King memorial in Washington D.C.


Charleston, W.Va.

Circulation: 36,063

Charleston paired three interesting AP images — with dramatic, vertical crops — into a great centerpiece today.

The first is of King’s famous 1963 “I have a dream” speech. The second is of the D.C. memorial.

The third picture, however, is of Samuel L. Jackson starring as King in a Broadway play.

The story from AP addresses how things like that play are humanizing King by revealing things we might not have learned about him from history books.


Melbourne, Fla.

Circulation: 59,038

Once again, we find a picture of the memorial put to use in a iconic, heroic way.

The smaller picture by staffer Tim Shortt is of local pastor Glenn Davis Jr., reading to kids about Rev. King.

I love the expression on the face of the kid just behind Rev. Davis:


Jacksonville, Fla.

Circulation: 99,280

The Times-Union spoke with local folks who have made the trek to D.C. to see the new King memorial. The photos here aren’t credited, so I presume they’re contributed by the various subjects of those photos.

Find more pictures — and individual stories — here.


New Bedford, Mass.

Circulation: 22,814

The paper in New Bedford, Mass., paired a vintage photo from King’s 1963 speech with a program Sunday by a local school chorus. The package is held together with a nice black box and elegant typography.

The picture of the school program was contributed by David W. Oliveira.


Omaha, Neb.

Circulation: 135,282

The paper in Omaha, too, used a black reverse bar to provide additional visual punch to a great nighttime picture of the memorial.

Unfortunately, the picture isn’t credited.

Reversed out of the black box are facts about the memorial. The text to the left is a brief essay that refers to a second package inside.


Greenville, S.C.

Circulation: 55,467

Instead of reversing its package of out black, the Greenville News surrounded its MLK Day centerpiece in a sea of white space.

I don’t know if this is something I would have advised. But I must admit, the result is striking.

The story is about a visit King made to Greenville in 1967. The picture is of King having dinner at a local home following a speaking appearance.


Las Vegas, Nev.

Distribution: 166,182

Technically, this isn’t a M.L. King page — he’s not mentioned anywhere on the front, in fact. But the timing of this piece is no coincidence.

This gorgeous page is about Civil Rights struggles in the South. This excerpt is a little longer than the samples I normally insert here, but I think it’s necessary today. From the very top of the story by J. Patrick Coolican:

This is what life was like for Dorothy Stepp and her family in Louisiana in 1957.

Her father was a pipe-fitter, and her mother worked in the kitchen of a cafe — she wasn’t allowed to be out with the white customers. Dorothy and her 19 siblings picked cotton and worked as maids for white families.

“We shared beds. We shared clothes. We shared everything,” she said.

One day her father’s foreman went on a supply run and left her father in charge of the white work crew

Her father had a sharp sense of humor. That’s the only explanation, she said, for what happened next. He never came home. Stepp’s mother went to the work site to try to find him.

“She said to them, ‘He must be somewhere. He got paid today. He knows to bring the money home.’ ”

Stepp’s mother searched the site and found a mound and a shallow grave where her husband was buried. They moved the body for a proper burial, and the coroner’s autopsy showed that Stepp’s father had been beaten to death, or near death, with a blunt object, and then buried. Stepp said six men murdered her father.

A newspaper account shows a big and emotional funeral.

The men never faced justice.

Surely you’re hooked now. Read the entire story here.

The wonderful portraits are by Sam Morris.


Stroudsburg, Pa.

Circulation: 13,448

In honor of Rev. King’s “I have a dream” speech, the Record asked local residents: What is your dream?

For example, that 69-year-old woman in the lead photo writes:

The doctor at the upper left writes:

And the biology professor at the bottom right writes:

The package was compiled by staffers Amy Leapt and Helen Yanulus. Read the whole thing here.


Cleveland, Ohio

Circulation: 243,299

And in Cleveland, the Plain Dealer spoke with Clarence Bozeman, a local man who made $6 a week working as King’s driver when he was a student at Alabama State University in Montgomery.

An excerpt of the story by Margaret Bernstein:

“He was famous, yes, absolutely,” Bozeman said. “Usually after church services, his office downstairs at Dexter was just filled with people from all over the world who would come worship at Dexter just to have a chance to hear him, to meet him.”

Bozeman, now 75, admits he didn’t realize King’s stature at the time. “Being a young man, I didn’t put it together. I didn’t put any stock or value to it at all,” he said.

What impressed him, he said, is when King would pay him $10 or $20 to do extra driving, such as ferrying him to speaking engagements. “That was a big-time salary. Yes, yes, I was enthralled,” he said, laughing.

It’s another must-read for anyone with even a passing interest in Martin Luther King. Find it here.

King made a number of trips to the Cleveland area in the 1960s. The Plain Dealer located “lost tapes” of a one of these appearances — in 1967, the year before King was killed — and is making the audio clips available on its web site. Find those here.

In addition, the Plain Dealer had someone pore through its microfilm collection and pull pages on which articles about King appear. The paper posted a number of PDF files containing multiple pages, with the pertinent articles highlighted for us.

For example, here is a story about a visit to Cleveland in 1965, just after King’s March from Selma to Montgomery. The story mentions King’s blistered feet and the medical care he was getting as a result.


Note the headline about “space twins” and the lead photo at the upper left of page one. That story is about the Gemini 3 space mission, the first U.S. space flight to carry more than one man at once.

Here is the Plain Dealer on April 5, 1968, the day after King was killed. Other than one Vietnam story and a couple of refers, the King story takes up the entire front.

And here is the front and the jump page on April 8, when the story is the funeral coming up that day.


If you live vintage newspapers, then you can’t miss these, either. Find a bunch of them here.

With the exception of the vintage Cleveland pages, all these images are from the Newseum. Of course.

Las Vegas Sun’s Kyle Ellis moving to

Kyle Ellis of the Las Vegas Sun announced today via Twitter:

I have accepted a new position as a designer for in Atlanta. My first day will be Jan. 30.

He tells us:

I am thrilled to be joining the team at I will have a wide variety of opportunities to take my skill set and build on it for their website and mobile products.

Leaving newspapers, and the Sun, was a difficult decision. I have gotten to take risks and design pages here that few other papers in the country would be bold enough to let me try. I will never forget that and will always be thankful for my time in Vegas.

On the other hand, I’m looking forward to rejoining most of my friends and family who live back East, lots of country music, and all the good restaurants Atlanta has to offer.

A 2009 graduate of Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., Kyle served as a designer, artist and occasional columnist for the Ball State Daily News. He served internships with the Courier and Press in Evansville, the Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and the Star Press of Muncie.

In January 2010, he became a features designer for the New York Post. He moved to the Sun last February.

A few samples of his print work:




Find Kyle’s portfolio here. Find his Twitter feed here.

From garbage bins to Playboy bunnies: Six notable Sunday front pages

A look at the day’s most notable front pages, as seen today at the Newseum


San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Circulation: 34,718

The big story today in San Luis Obispo: The city council passed a law specifying that garbage and recycling bins must be stored in a place where they’re not visible from the street.

Might not sound like a big deal to you or me, but it’s raised hackles from residents there. And those hackles probably went through the roof today when folks picked up their Sunday paper and saw today’s lead story.

Tribune photographer Jayson Mellom went around to all five council members and shot their homes. Sure enough, only one of the five are in compliance of their own law.

And — you can see this coming — most of the other council members had excuses for their noncompliance. AnnMarie Cornejo reports:

Council member Andrew Carter, who made the motion last October to approve the law, keeps his trash can wedged behind a bush.

When asked about his cans, Carter momentarily maintained that someone standing directly in front of his house can’t see his, but then admitted that the trash can is in clear view of anyone traveling down his street. “A person could certainly say that I am violating the ordinance,” Carter said.

He has kept his trash can there for years and doesn’t plan on moving it — unless he has to.

“If someone reported me, then I would have to move it,” said Carter, adding that the law could use some tweaking. “I don’t think that a reasonable person would say where I keep my trash can is a problem, but a literal interpretation of the law says it is.”

In the comments of the story, a number of readers complain that this just isn’t that big an issue. And in a way, they’re right. Garbage cans themselves are not a big issue.

The bigger issue is: Why is local government passing laws they don’t observe themselves? How can local government enforce laws that its own leaders don’t observe themselves?

Not a big deal for most folks, I’m sure. But a very big deal if you’ve been cited.

Kudos to the Tribune for the story idea and for the way the paper played it today.

Find the story here.


Denver, Colo.

Circulation: 324,970

A new criminal intelligence lab in Colorado has been established to track and reduce the number of auto thefts there.

The way designer Linda Shapley drew eyeballs to today’s lead story? By illustrating the point that 140 cars are stolen statewide, every week.

Looks like none of the photos with the story were particularly sexy enough for the lead position today. And there’s an nice numbers graphic with the story, but it’s not quite beefy enough, visually, to hold down the front, either. Hence, the “gimmick” approach. Which was perfect.

Find the story here.


Las Vegas, Nev.

Circulation: 166,182

In Vegas, local businesses need an influx of money to invest in infrastructure and growth. And where is this money expected to come from? China.

Designer Kyle Ellis found a very effective way to illustrate the story today. I’m not quite sure what he built that out of. Looks like concrete. Or half-cooked cookie dough. Seriously.

UPDATE – 7:45 p.m.

Kyle writes:

I created the grey background layer by using a combination of several Photoshop filters to create a look as close to concrete as possible. Then I lightened the opacity to make sure it didn’t come out too dark on our presses.

As for the second layer — Nevada/China — I found an iStock flag that was actually made of felt to start with. I liked that this particular flag had some dimension and selected it hoping it would add a bit of pop to the layer.

Next, I traced Nevada using the pen tool and placed the flag inside the object and enlarged it to fill. Finally, I multiplied that layer until I felt it looked cohesive with the background layer.

Find the story here.


Cleveland, Ohio

Circulation: 254,372

You’re seeing an odd but fun segue from the Las Vegas Sun to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Where former Sun art director Chris Morris found his latest caricature work getting a very prominent ride today by his new paper.

The drawing is of a local chef who — in addition to his busy, busy schedule — kicks off a new TV series on ABC Monday afternoon, taking over the time-slot vacated by All My Children.

Find the story here by staffer Joe Crea.


New York, N.Y.

Circulation: 530,924

Unless you were living under a rock last night, you probably saw the alarming videos posted to YouTube showing New York City policemen beating and macing — at point-blank range — young people involved in what appeared to be a peaceful protest.

The photo is by freelancer Jefferson Siegel. As is this one, on the paper’s web site.

ShortFormBlog called the Daily News‘ headline “tasteless,” but I don’t think it’s any more tasteless than the usual New York tabloid fare. In fact, I think it’s pretty accurate. The videos are horrifying, with young women screaming in pain and terror. Looks to me like the Daily News summed it all up pretty well.

Find the Daily News‘ story here.

UPDATE – 7:30 p.m.

Mike Saffran tweets tonight about the deck hed here, containing the word “busted.” Only now do I realize the attempted “bust” pun.

Man. I must be getting old.

I retract my comment. This is tasteless. That’s what I get for doubting ShortFormBlog.


Danville, Va.

Circulation: 17,058

And perhaps the most interesting story of the day comes from the tiny south-central Virginia town of Danville, population 43,055.

As a product of a small town myself, I know how bad small-town gossip can be. But can you imagine what it’ll be like at George Washington High School Monday, now that every kid in town knows that the school nurse is a former Playboy club bunny?

The photo is by staffer Steven Mantilla.

The story takes pains to point out Susanne Singer was not a model for the magazine itself. Instead, she spent nearly 12 years as a server in the Los Angeles Playboy Club. The Register and Bee‘s Tiffany Holland interviewed her to get her thoughts after the premiere of the new NBC television series The Playboy Club.

The woman’s take: She was shocked that customers on the show touched the waitresses and dated them, off-hours. Both of those were strict no-no’s, she says:

“There were no breaks. You went on the floor at 6 p.m. and worked until 2 a.m.,” said Singer. “You could go to the bathroom and the bunny room to change, but that is it. And if your shoes weren’t polished or if the mother didn’t like your hair you would get demerits. But the most serious rules were no dating customers and no (giving out) phone numbers.”

Singer could not believe the fraternizing between the bunnies and customers on the show, since that was cause for immediate dismissal. She concedes it may have happened but no one ever knew about it. However, she also understands that NBC just had to create something sensational so people would watch. In real life, according to Singer, working at the club was not so exciting. In fact, the worst thing she remembers about the job was the three-inch high heels every woman was required to wear with her costume.

Here’s how the paper played the story on A1 today.

Read the story here.

All of these page images are from the Newseum. Of course.

Las Vegas Sun’s Rachel Perkins leaving the newspaper business

Rachel Perkins — creative director of the Greenspun Media Group, including the Las Vegas Sun — is leaving newspapers.

Rachel tells us today:

I will join the graphic design team at Zuffa, parent company to the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) next month. It is based in Las Vegas.

I am thrilled to start this new journey at a wonderful company, though it’s, of course, bittersweet to leave The Las Vegas Sun. Our tiny, but powerful, news team produced news that made a difference, including the Pulitzer Prize finalist for Local Reporting, “Do No Harm: Hospital Care in Las Vegas” and the ongoing, all-access look at the Las Vegas education system, “The Turnaround: Inside Clark County Schools.: At the beginning of 2011, we launched the small-distribution business trade magazine, VEGAS INC.

When Bill Gaspard left in 2009 for the China Daily, I had big shoes to fill. The team at Greenspun Media Group made it possible for my team to produce work at a high level. It’s been a great experience.

She starts her new job Oct. 10.

A 2005 graduate of Ball State University, Rachel served internships at the St. Petersburg Times and the Cleveland Plain Dealer before starting work as a designer for the Indianapolis Star in 2005. She moved over to the Baltimore Sun later that year and then leaped again to the Las Vegas Sun in 2007 as design editor. She was promoted into her current position earlier this year. Also earlier this year, Ball State gave her its 2011 Young Alumnus Award.

A few samples of her work:



Those last two were part of the Sun‘s “Do No Harm” hospital series. In addition to being a Pulitzer finalist, Rachel’s presentation on this series won three SND awards, including a silver medal for best photo page design.



Find her portfolio here.

In her spare time, Rachel designs wedding invitations and other announcements. Find her web site here.

Rachel is the second major visuals departure from the Sun in just the past few weeks. Former Sun art director and illustrator Chris Morris left a telecommuting position there in July to go to become an art director for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

In addition, at least two more well-known visuals folks departed in the paper’s layoff of 12 staffers last week. Neither name has been confirmed yet, however.

Las Vegas Sun’s Chris Morris moving to Cleveland Plain Dealer

Rachel Perkins — creative director of the Greenspun Media Group — announced tonight:

I regret to announce that Chris Morris, GMG’s illustrator extraordinaire, is leaving to become Art Director at the Plain Dealer in Cleveland.

He joins a seasoned, SND award-winning visuals team with arguably the best illustrative department in newspapers. His last day is July 31st.

…He will be missed, but I wish Chris and his family all the best on their new journey to the snow. :)

Meanwhile, Dave Kordalski — assistant managing editor for the Plain Dealer — made a corresponding announcement today:

We are pleased to announce that Chris Morris, art director of the Las Vegas Sun, will join The Plain Dealer visuals team. He fills the art director opening created when Staci Buck moved to Indiana in May.

Chris is a seasoned journalist, illustrator, graphic artist and art director. He’s been in the news business for more than 20 years, with stops at the Dallas Times Herald and the San Francisco Examiner, among others. Prior to working at the Las Vegas Sun, he was the presentation director at the Dallas Morning News.

Chris also has vast experience as a freelance illustrator, including regular contributions to, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Hollywood Reporter … suffice it to say it’s a pretty lengthy list. You may even recall a few of Chris’ illustrations that graced the pages of The Plain Dealer.

From Jan. 31, 2010:

We are extremely excited to have someone of Chris’ talent and depth on board. As an art director, he will have an immediate impact on our design, but it will be his creative influence, idea generation and flair for visual storytelling that will help make us better.

He and his wife, Christina, will be moving their family (three kids) from Dallas in the next few weeks. We have tentatively set Monday, August 8, as his official start date.

And Chris himself tells me tonight:

Yes, we’re moving north. For every person that warns me about Midwest winters I suggest they try July and August in Texas. I grew up in Boston so I have an idea what to expect.

My Dallas-born wife and kids are in for something new.

Looking forward to this.

David hit most of the highlights. But for the record (and because I have this typed up already)…

A 1987 graduate of East Texas University in Commerce, Texas — now known as Texas A&M-Commerce — Chris worked at the San Francisco Examiner and then spent four years as presentation director of the Dallas Morning News. In 2006, he became a telecommuting art director and illustrator for the Sun. He left the Sun in 2009 to make a run at full-time freelancing but returned to full-time work at the Sun last summer. He continued to reside in Dallas.

A few samples of his work:



Here are a few pieces he did last year for the Wall Street Journal

…and for ESPN‘s web site.


Find his online portfolio here.

Ten cool Sunday front-page visuals

My daily sweep through the Newseum produced more than just a handful of weather front pages and Memorial Day front pages. I also spotted a number of visuals I thought worthy of bringing to your attention.

Other than what I’m posting elsewhere today, here are ten unusually cool Sunday front pages from around the country.


Phoenix, Ariz.

Circulation: 337,170

Phoenix kicks off its summer with a look at 21 children who drowned in swimming pools over the past year.

Only nine kids are shown, but every one is listed in the text below, with their age, the date they drowned and what was the deal with whomever was supposed to be watching them.

Powerful. Moving. And, hopefully, it’ll stick in the minds of parents, babysitters and older brothers and sisters this year.

Go here to find the story by Connie Cone Sexton.


Longview, Wash.

Circulation: 20,179

In Longview, Wash., the Daily News kicked off a series today taking a look at 24 hours in that community. For every hour around the clock, someone has been interviewed.

The editors there illustrated this story with mugs, a few labels, stock art of a clock and judicious use of white space.

Today’s installment included four hours’ worth of stories. Find them here.


Cheyenne, Wyo.

Circulation: 24,121

The story in Wyoming is that the local economy is doing just fine. The Tribune Eagle displayed this today with a nice story, four pull-out boxes with photos and three bar graphs.

Nice and clean. And that’s a heck of a promo stripped across the bottom.

Find the story here by staffer Josh Mitchell.


Stroudsburg, Pa.

Circulation: 13,376

What do you do when traffic promises to be a bitch throughout the summer?

You can map all the expected bottlenecks. Or you can itemize them via chunks of copy and then rate them from one to three using a stoplight motif.

This might have come off just a little better if the text could have been adjusted so that all 12 stoplights lined up in more of a grid-like format. But still, it’s a clever idea and executed very well.

The lead photo is by staffer David Kidwell. Find the story here by staffer Michael Sadowski.


Fort Worth, Texas

Circulation: 151,753

Prices are up in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. The Star-Telegram addressed this today with a nicely-designed alternative story form.

You’re not overwhelmed with too much information. The typography and white space sees to that.

Find the story here by staffer Jim Fuquay.


Wausau, Wis.

Circulation: 21,149

While gas prices are falling in most places around the country, the Daily Herald says they’re still a bit higher in Wausau, Wis., than in surrounding areas.

Rather than go with an interstate sign motif, however, the Daily Herald might have tried to make it easier for the reader to compare the numbers between all those exits. In addition, a little more detail might have helped the map. And I hardly think it was necessary to label the interstate twice.

Still, the basic concept was nice enough.

Find the story here by staffer Kathleen Foody.


Rapid City, S.D.

Circulation: 25,181

The story in Rapid City, S.D., is the proliferation of billboards. Editors there illustrated this by taking 49 separate photos of billboards and then using them to build a big… billboard.

It’s a very clever idea and the paper executed it quite well.

Suggestion: Lose the thick black line around the package. It adds nothing and only detracts from your main element.

Find the story here by staffer Barbara Soderlin.


Parsippany, N.J.

Circulation: 22,847

In Jersey, the story is bicycle theft. The visual solution was a very clever photoillustration by staffer Jeff Colson.

While the main photoillustration works wonderfully, the big green road sign detracts from it somewhat. My suggestion: Eliminate the sign and simply run those numbers in a subtle text-box format in the bottom right of that package.

Better yet, dig up similar numbers for the year before and show how much bike theft in each of the five communities has increased or decreased. And you might as well kill the total number; that does the reader no good.

I wanted to give you a link to this story, too. But I can’t find it on the paper’s web site, nor does a search on that site for “bicycle” pull it up. So to hell with it.


Las Vegas, Nev.

Circulation: 166,182

It’s always fun to find a Chris Morris illustration on the front of the Las Vegas Sun. And today is no exception.

Not sure what I can say about Chris’ work that I’ve not said a bunch of times before — most recently on Friday. So I’ll spare you.

Find the story here by Anjeannette Damon.


San Jose, Calif.

Circulation: 225,175

When it comes to front page illustrations, however, the San Jose Mercury News had just way too much fun with this look at the technological heritage of the bay area.

The art is by Merc staffer Doug Griswald.

The descriptions of the various regions were written by columnist Chris O’Brien.

Every one of these page images is from the Newseum. Of course.

Only in Vegas…

Only in Las Vegas — and only on the front page of the Las Vegas Sun — would you find a fun illustration about prostitution.

Or, more specifically, taxing prostitution. Here’s the entire front page.

The illustration is by Sun art director Chris Morris, of course, who’s created so many other memorable covers Las Vegas Sun cover illustrations.

Find Chris’ portfolio site here. Find a lot more work by the Sun here.

The Sun is distributed daily inside the Las Vegas Review-Journal, circulation 166,182.

Today’s front page comes from the daily archive posted by the Newseum. Of course.

For your consideration…

I saw this Friday and made a mental note to post it.

But with all the goodbyes I was saying and with my packing — taking a break from that, at the moment — it completely slipped my mind.

So my apologies to Kyle Ellis, who created Friday’s page-one illustration for the Las Vegas Sun.

Kyle has been at the Sun only two months, as of Sunday.

He moved west after completing his schoolin’ at Ball State University, serving internships in Evansville (Ind.), Muncie (Ind.) and Fort Lauderdale and working a year as a features designer at the New York Post. Read more about Kyle here.

The thread about this page on Kyle’s Facebook page includes the fact that the headline was written by Sun staffer Ellen Wager. Kyle replies:

Best damn headline writer ever!

Unshacked by the need to cover national and international news — because their paper tucks inside the Las Vegas Review-Journal — the Sun is free to create innovative and eye-catching page-one centerpieces focusing on local topics. Which is one reason I show their work so often.

Check out more awesome work from the Sun here.

The image above is from the Newseum.


Las Vegas Sun uses novel ‘graphic novel’ approach on A1 today

According to Las Vegas Sun editor, Tom Gorman — writing on the SND Region 2 Facebook page today — it was managing editor Michael Squires who uttered the words “graphic novel!” at the news meeting.

And so the Sun went with a full-page cartoon biography of Las Vegas’ famous NASCAR-racing Busch brothers — Kurt and Kyle — on today’s front page, kicking off race weekend in Vegas.

Here’s the front. Click for a larger view.

Art director Chris Morris calls this:

An alternative story form for sure.


Creative director Rachel Perkins tells us:

The graphic novel is by Mike Smith, on staff and a syndicated editorial cartoonist. He also happens to be a huge NASCAR fan, and draws a stock [car racing] cartoon once a week.

NASCAR is in town, so he drew this full page to kick off the weekend.

The best thing about it, Rachel says: The Sun even posted an animated version online. Check it out:

As a native Southerner who suffers through a lot of fake southern accents on TV, I was struck by the vocal talents displayed in that little opus. Rachel just laughs and says:

The video was animated and narrated by freelancer Brett McAfee who doesn’t actually talk like that in real life.

Find cartoonist Mike Smith’s home on the web here. Find his weekly “StockcarToon” here.