Charles Apple moving to the Orange County Register

Hey, guess what? I have a job.

A real, live job. Seriously.

After 52 months of unemployment — and barely scraping by with a little consulting work — I’ve been hired by the Orange County Register of Santa Ana, Calif. I’ll be editor and designer of the Register‘s daily Focus page, which takes a look at a variety of topics of interest to readers.

My start date is March 4. I accepted the Register‘s offer –and wrote most of this blog post — a couple of weeks ago. I’ve just been waiting for the official paperwork to come through before I announced something. We’re still waiting on a couple of items to filter through the system. But I can’t hold off any longer — namely, because I hit the road in just a few hours.

For our relocation of 2,723 miles, Sharon and I rented a 16-foot Penske truck. We chose Penske based on the recommendations of Richard Curtis and Jim McBee.


Driving this rig home yesterday made me feel like Oliver Wendell Douglas in Green Acres. Or maybe C.W. McCall.


“Bring ‘er on back, Rubber Duck.”

The back of it is fairly roomy. Hey, maybe I ought to just park it in the deck at the OCR and live in the truck!


I was treated to my last Virginia Beach sunset last night. Smack in front of my eyeballs as I tried to drive back to my neighborhood.


With the help of a couple of friends of my daughter, we loaded up.


As soon as Sharon gets out of school this afternoon, we’ll hoist my trusty PT Cruiser — better known to longtime blog readers as the Deerslayer — onto a trailer behind this truck and we’ll set out for a four-and-a-half day, cross-country odyssey.

I’ve already changed our proposed route once and I may have to do it again, given weather forecasts along the way. I really don’t want to drive a truck-and-trailer rig through an ice storm.

With luck, we’ll pull into Southern California on Tuesday afternoon. Sharon will help me find a small apartment, I’ll start work on March 4 and Sharon will fly back home to Virginia Beach on the 5th.

One of the big downsides for me: I’ll then have to live apart from my wife and daughter for up to a year-and-a-half before we can afford to sell our house, rent a place there and move them out as well.

But, hey: This is a terrific job and a terrific opportunity. And frankly, we’re looking forward to exploring Southern California. The headquarters of the Register itself is on the south side of the L.A. metro area near Anaheim and Disneyland.

I feel like I know the region already: I have every record Brian Wilson ever made.

You don’t really need me to recap my bio, do you? You do? Very well, then…


I’m a 1984 graduate of Winthrop College in Rock Hill, S.C. I spent several years working in the school’s sports information operation, stringing sports for the Charlotte Observer and, later, drawing editorial cartoons for the Rock Hill Evening Herald.

I spent a year in Atlanta as a “directory closing analyst” — essentially a managerial-level troubleshooter — for the Southern Bell Yellow Pages before moving to the Athens, Ga., Banner-Herald and Daily News in 1986 as an advertising artist.

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I absolutely hated ad work. But I won a couple of national awards there, which made it even harder to concentrate on moving into the newsroom. I also drew editorial cartoons. My rough plan was to be a cartoonist, but as papers of all sizes added graphic artists in order to be more like USA Today, I thought that might be interesting to try for a while.

Good call. What I found was that my content-driven approach was a little different from what many small papers were doing. They simply added color logos and doo-dads to their pages in order to look more “modern.” They didn’t grasp at all what a powerful tool wonderfully written and planned infographics could be.

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Not that you’re seeing any infographics here. These are all page illustrations and page designs, obviously. The “Getting Away” cover at bottom right was one of the first covers I ever illustrated. The two larger pages up top are two of the first broadsheet pages I ever designed.

But in addition to work like this, my main function was to dive into news graphics via a brand new Macintosh computer. With two megabytes of RAM and a 20 MB hard drive. Which, at the time, seemed huge.


Two pictures of me at the Athens Banner-Herald,

around 1987 or so. On the right, I’m drawing an

editorial cartoon.

Athens eventually moved me into the newsroom. I worked there another year or so. In that time I redesigned my first paper.

I worked briefly to the Savannah Morning News but then — in 1988 — I moved back to the Rock Hill Herald, which had shortened its name and converted to morning publication in my absence.

I spent nearly five years in Rock Hill, doing everything from infographics to rack card design to researching and writing my own mega-graphic presentations to designing Sunday section fronts.

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During my time in Rock Hill, the paper was bought by McClatchy. Just a few weeks after my daughter was born in 1993, I moved to the Raleigh, N.C. News & Observer. Not long after that, McClatchy bought that paper.

I suggested to Gregory Favre once that McClatchy just pay me a few million dollars the next time and cut out the middleman. Unfortunately, he didn’t take that advice.

Much to my surprise, though — thanks to the time a larger staff could afford to have me spend on research and rendering  and thanks to wonderful art direction from a very patient and talented Ken Mowry — my work just exploded. I began winning national awards in Raleigh. Some were for my big, full-page graphics…



…but others were for breaking news coverage. In fact, I won honors from the Society for News Design in three consecutive years for projects in which I went out to the scene of crimes or accidents and sent sketches and info back to the paper for my teammates to craft into a graphic.

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In 1996, I moved to the Chicago Tribune. I continued to do breaking news work and I developed some new skills. Like, for example, working in 3D.

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In 1999, I finally succumbed to the temptation to move into management by becoming graphics editor of the Des Moines Register.

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During this time, I also came into demand as an instructor. I found myself speaking at SND events, the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association and for the American Press Institute, among others.

In 2003, I began blogging — first, for API and then posting articles and items of interest in the bulletin boards at The founder of that site — my old Tribune pal Robb Montgomery — finally talked me into taking the enormous amount of work I was doing there and putting it instead into blog format.

In 2010, I moved my blog to its current home at the American Copy Editors Society.

Also in 2003, I moved to the Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk, Va. I continued to write, teach and blog. I spent several years as a columnist for SND’s quarterly magazine, Design.

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But in late 2007, the Pilot eliminated my graphics department and folded its personnel into other departments. Eventually, most of us left or took buyouts. Only one artist from my old staff remains today.

Shortly after, I made the leap from newspapers into the world of electronic magazine design at the Sporting News in Charlotte, N.C. But after only three months there, my position as art director was eliminated. Not only did they fire me, but also they had security escort me out of the building.

If you’ve ever wondered why I have such a short fuse with layoffs and managerial shenanigans: That’s why.

I was lucky, though, that we hadn’t yet sold our house in Virginia Beach. I was also lucky that my talents were still in demand — even if not on a full-time basis.

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In the nearly four-and-a-half years since then, I’ve worked as as a free-lance instructor, consultant, writer and designer, teaching news design and graphics seminars around the country. I’ve spent a total of eight months over five separate trips to South Africa. I’ve also taught in Nigeria, Kenya and the Philippines.


Teaching last March in Abuja, Nigeria.

Mostly, though, I blog. Several years ago, I’d go to SND events, people would look at my name tag and say: “Hey! You’re the battleship guy!” Now, they say: “Hey! You’re the blog guy!

Blogging has never paid me a cent. But in those long stretches between consulting assignments, the blog — and you readers — have given me an excuse to get out of bed each morning, no matter how foul my mood might be or how badly I lost out on the latest job opportunity. This blog has kept me sharp and active and productive.


Me, blogging in: (clockwise, from upper left) Aug. 2006

in Orlando, March 2007 in Manila, Oct. 2007 in Boston,

and Oct. 2009 in Johannesburg.

And it’s allowed me to help inspire us all to do better work, to take chances and to think differently. Because if one thing has become clear over that past few years, it’s this: We can’t keep doing the same old things over and over. “Good enough” just ain’t good enough any more.

To answer the question you might have: No, I won’t have to give up blogging. I might not post quite as often as I did when I was sitting at home for days with nothing to do. But if you’ll keep reading, I’ll keep writing.


Me, in my home office, not long after I accepted

the job offer, about two weeks ago.

For the past nine years, we’ve lived in a nice condo in the southern part of Virginia Beach. Sharon is an elementary school special ed teacher who specializes in working with students with autism. My daughter, Elizabeth, turned 20 earlier this month. She’s taking classes at Tidewater Community College and is already begging to move with me to L.A. She wants to explore.

Plus, we have a dog, three cats, a rabbit, a guinea pig, a bearded dragon (who’s minus her feet and hands) and some fish. When the time comes, I’d imagine, not all will be able to make the move. My idea: Set them all against each other. The survivors get to move with us to the West Coast. Perhaps we could get Michael Vick — who is from Hampton Roads — to help handle the arrangements.

Sharon didn’t think that was funny at all.

I’m on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. If you’ve not friended me — or, at least, “liked” this blog’s Facebook page — please feel free.

Above, I showed you my office as it looked a couple of weeks ago and the way it’s looked for the past four years. This is what it looked like last Saturday, smack in the middle of packing.


Now, everything’s out of it except for a rack of CDs behind the door. Those are staying for now.

I’m not able to take all my action figures. But some are making the trip.


We’ve been tripping over boxes all week. And we’re not really moving all that much stuff.


Elizabeth and I went out last week to buy some packing supplies. Who knew there was such a thing as Justin Bieber duct tape?


Once I moved out of my office, I set up blogging on our dining room table. Where our oldest cat, Bones, suddenly decided he would lobby to come with me.


He only wants to go with me because he knows I’ll feed him more often that Sharon and Elizabeth will.

But my to-do is nearly complete.


In just a few hours, it’ll be time to hit the road.

I’ll have 3G service on my iPhone throughout the trip and, of course, hotel wifi service each night. So I’ll continue to blog as often as I can. I won’t be able to scan as much material as I usually do, however. So if you have a cool page or something I should consider putting the blog: My all means, please send it to me.

chuckapple [at]

And, in case you’re interested, I’ll be update our progress via social media.

Westward Ho!

Fred Matamoros re-enters newspapers with the Orange County Register

Longtime graphics editor and illustrator Fred Matamoros — who left newspapers in 2010 — is back in the game: He’s been hired as a senior artist by the Orange County Register of Santa Ana, Calif.

Fred tells us:

This coming Monday, Feb. 4, is my return to journalism! I’ve accepted a great offer to join the Orange County Register in So. California. Kind of a homecoming geographically as well.

The past couple of years I have spent time as the creative director of a city magazine, staff graphic designer at an ad agency and senior designer/artist at a design studio. I found myself unhappy and not creatively challenged whatsoever.

I look forward to working in a newsroom again, especially with the powerhouse team that the O.C. Register is putting together. It feels good to join a publication with such a pure, focused direction and hope for print journalism.

The Register has been on a bit of a hiring spree lately. The man who bought the paper last summer has been staffing up the newsroom, and beefing up the print product. As a former sports reporter, I’m still in awe over what the paper did last fall with its high school football coverage.

Fred will be one of two senior artists in the graphics department there. The other? Infographics superstar Jeff Goertzen.

Back to Fred, though… A 1985 graduate of Woodbury University in Burbank, Calif., Fred spent four years as a designer and art director for a major L.A. ad agency before becoming a staff artist for the Daily Breeze in Torrance, Calif. He spent three years as assistant graphics editor of the Shreveport (La.) Times and five-and-a-half years as graphics editor of the Olympian in Olympia, Wash., before moving up the road to the Tacoma, Wash., News Tribune in 1999 as an artist and illustrator.

A few samples of Fred’s newspaper work:





In 2010, Fred moved back to Shreveport to become creative director for SB magazine. He moved to Shreveport design agency Teri Flash Creative in 2011 and then moved again to John Perez Graphics and Design last spring. That firm specialized in working with the oil and gas industry.

Fred told us a while back:

Painting keeps me busy as well. I’m in private collections across the U.S., represented in three galleries and try to keep my website updated often.

A few examples of Fred’s paintings:



Find Fred’s paintings here and his infographics and illustration web site here.

A look at today’s best Christmas front pages

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

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

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




Denver, Colo.

Circulation: 401,120

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


The picture is by staffer Helen H. Richardson.


Santa Ana, Calif.

Circulation: 280,812

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


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

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

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

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

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

The trouble was worth it. What a great picture.

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

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

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

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

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

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




Columbia, S.C.

Circulation: 70,980

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


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

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

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

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

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




Cleveland, Ohio

Circulation: 246,571

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



Williamsport, Pa.

Circulation: 22,795

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


Gorgeous stuff.

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

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

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

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




Newport News, Va.

Circulation: 57,642

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


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

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

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



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

Some of these were beautifully done.


Huntsville, Ala.

Circulation: 44,725

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


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

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

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

Whatever, though. Ho, ho, ho and all…


Casper, Wyo.

Circulation: 24,891

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


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

Find the story here by staffer Jeremy Fugleberg.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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


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


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

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The Press of Sheboygan (circulation 14,246)…


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


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

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

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

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

Check out his Thanksgiving Day illustrations here.




White Plains, N.Y.

Circulation: 72,764

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


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

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

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

UPDATE – 10:30 p.m.

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

That was the work of team leader Joanne Sosangelis.

Have a great Christmas, everybody!

These pages are from the Newseum. Of course.

Jeff Goertzen returns to the Orange County Register

I mentioned the other day that longtime infographics guru Jeff Goertzen‘s byline was on the front of the Orange County Register.

Jeff worked at the Register back in the 1980s. I had heard he was back there again. But the Register — which has worked this year with its new owners to beef up its print edition — never made an official announcement that I know of.

Jeff was kind enough to bring us up to date. He tells us:

I have been hired by OCR as a senior associate graphics artist / consultant full time. My responsibilities include, producing graphics and illustrations, mentor artists and provide training for newsroom staffers.

Cindy O’Dell is my immediate supervisor. She’s the team leader for the graphics department and pretty much paves the way for getting graphics in the paper. No sooner do you mention an idea, and she has it in the pipeline. She’s phenomenal.

I moved my family here from Denver and we have a house here in Aliso Viejo, about two miles from Laguna Beach. I am really excited about my role here in OCR. I’ve met with Ken Brusic, our editor and Aaron Kushner, the publisher and owner of OCR. They are doing some exciting things here and have been really redefining the product and content of the Orange County Register. And graphics is playing a key role in that.

Point and case: The day I arrived, Brusic and Brenda Shoun, managing editor of visuals came to my desk and asked me to design the 1A of our post-election coverage… and it had to be all graphics, no stories. I mocked up several sketches and came up with the page you see here.


Just [Wednesday], I worked with our researcher Sonya Quick on a fun 12/12 factoid graphic that I illustrated on deadline.


Also, note the huge skybox promo. That, too, refers to a full-page graphic that Jeff created for the Register‘s Outdoors page. Click this — or any of these samples — for a larger look.


Back to that front-page “12 for twelve” piece, though… Jeff writes:

The style and content of this piece would never have run in many newspapers because it’s “too fun.” But that’s the whole idea here at OCR… we’re about having fun and shocking our readers. We are putting our readers first and our personal preferences second. People are tired of negative news — here that stuff goes inside. We’re giving them news about the people of Orange County that’s inspirational and fun — and that’s what will set this newspaper apart from the others.

In the 30 years that I’ve been working in newspapers, I have never turned out so much work in such a short time. Two 1A page designs, two graphics on 1A, two section front illustrations and a full-page graphic. Not to mention the smaller graphics.

We’re having fun here. And we’re hiring!

A 1986 graduate of California State University in Fresno, Jeff has worked at the Orange County Register, the Detroit Free Press, El Mundo in Madrid and El Periódico in Barcelona. He spent several years as a senior artist and graphics reporter for the St. Petersburg Times before moving to the Denver Post in 2005.

A year ago, Jeff was hired as director of graphics for USA Today and Gannett Digital. But then — just three months later — he was cut loose.

Jeff has worked extensively as a consultant, free-lancer and instructor, the latter often in conjunction with the Society for News Design. He created the society’s infographics training program in 1998 and spent 11 years on SND’s board of directors. He’s taught classes in Colombia, Costa Rica, Brazil, Panama, China and South Korea. Jeff has taught for IFRA, SIP, and for the World Association of Newspapers. He’s worked on redesign projects with Mario Garcia and Roger Black. He’s also taught at Poynter.

A few samples of his work:



Find more samples at Jeff’s web site.

The ‘return’ of a visual columnist

Sharon Roberts, assistant managing editor of the Austin American-Statesman, writes overnight:

I thought you might be interested in the latest from Sharon Henry.

I bet you remember her stunning visual columns that ran in the Orange County Register until about five years ago when she left daily journalism. She is back again.

What caused Sharon Roberts’ excitement was this gorgeous piece that ran on Tuesday’s features front for the OCR, focusing on last night’s Bruce Springsteen concert.

Make sure you click on this for an extra-large view.

Sharon tells the story behind Springsteen’s biggest hit, Born in the USA

…and cites interesting trivia about the history of records and CDs. Did you know that Born in the USA was the first major CD manufactured in the U.S.? I didn’t. Previously, CDs were manufactured in Japan.

Sharon also shows the ticket stub for her own first Bruce Springsteen show in Dallas in 1984.

Seventeen dollars and 50 cents. Heh.

And in the “do you feel old yet” department, Sharon kicked off her piece by noting that Springsteen is 63 years old. She then goes on to put this into perspective.

Sharon Roberts notes:

It is terrific to see a visual journalist welcomed to print as the OCR have in their top of the page tease.

Absolutely. Just another part of the new owners’ dedication to putting out an amazing print product.

Here is Tuesday’s front page, including a huge Springsteen promo up top.

By the way, also note the nice front-page centerpiece graphic by Jeff Goertzen. I’ve been told that Jeff has returned to the Orange County Register, but I have yet to see an official announcement. Hint, hint.

Back to Sharon Henry, though…

A graduate of TCU in Fort Worth, Texas, Sharon spent three years as an artist for the Santa Rosa, Calif., Press Democrat and then six years as a graphics reporter for the Orange County Register. In 2004, she was promoted to a columnist position, in which she produced a weekly “sketchbook” column. She writes in her LinkedIn profile that she covered…

NBA locker rooms, U.S. presidential conventions and tattoo removal clinics.

A few samples of her visual columns:

Sharon writes:

Alas, during this time the haranguing and hand-wringing about old media “disrupters” reached its apex. Those wicked Web 2.0-ers were having all the fun, so in 2007, I left journalism to join the world of scrappy start-ups and high-tech ninjas.

She spent two years as creative director at XPLANE — Dave Gray‘s operation in St. Louis —  then moved to Austin, Texas, in 2009 to work as an information specialist for the city government there.

Find Sharon’s Twitter feed here.

Today’s ten best page-one Turkey Day presentations

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

Here’s a look at my ten favorites…


Gastonia, N.C.

Circulation: 24,354

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


From left:

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


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


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

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


Buffalon, N.Y.

Circulation: 147,085

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


Corpus Christi, Texas

Circulation: 46,015

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

Here’s a closer look.

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

UPDATE – 12:20 p.m.

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

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


Jackson, Miss.

Circulation: 57,710

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

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

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


Santa Ana, Calif.

Circulation: 280,812

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

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

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


Cleveland, Ohio

Circulation: 246,571

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

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


Staunton, Va.

Circulation: 13,236

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

Notice the steam rising off the turkeys.

The photo is by staffer Katie Currid.


Stockton, Calif.

Circulation: 33,675

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


Camden, N.J.

Circulation: 46,547

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

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

UPDATE – 1 p.m.

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

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

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

A look at today’s election-oriented front pages

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

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

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


Des Moines, Iowa

Circulation: 101,915

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

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

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

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


St. Petersburg, Fla.

Circulation: 299,497

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

The illustration is by staffer Steve Madden.


Santa Ana, Calif.

Circulation: 280,812

The Orange County Register went with a similar approach.

The illustration is by my good friend Daniel Hunt.


Columbus, Ohio

Circulation: 136,023

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

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

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

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

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

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


Norfolk, Va.

Circulation: 142,476

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

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

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

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


Staunton, Va.

Circulation: 13,236


Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Circulation: 10,829

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



Madison, Wis.

Circulation: 83,083

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

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


Cleveland, Ohio

Circulation: 246,571

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

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

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

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


Dubuque, Iowa

Circulation: 25,588

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

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


Pittsburgh, Pa.

Circulation: 188,405

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

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

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


Nampa, Idaho

Circulation: 19,900

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

Great question. And a great way to display that.

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


Salt Lake, Utah

Circulation: 110,546

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

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

Note the little graph at the lower right.

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


Fort Worth, Texas

Circulation: 195,455

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


Cincinnati, Ohio

Circulation: 144,165

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

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


Kansas City, Mo.

Circulation: 200,365

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

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


Gastonia, N.C.

Circulation: 24,354

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

The illustration is by Randy Erwin.


Nashville, Tenn.

Circulation: 118,589

The Nashville paper, too, looked at partisan politics.

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


Detroit, Mich.

Circulation: 232,696

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

The illo is by staffer Rick Nease.


Boston, Mass.

Circulation: 225,482

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

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

Fascinating stuff.


Washington, D.C.

Circulation: 507,615

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

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

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

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

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

The Post graphic, unfortunately, was uncredited.

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

A backlash to ‘digital first’? Or a zig while everyone else zags?

Marla Jo Fisher, the bargain-hunting “Deals Diva” columnist and blogger for the Orange County Register, reveals something interesting in her most recent post.

The paper’s new owners have invested a lot of money lately in the print product, she writes, such as adding a business editor, a daily business section and a full-time restaurant reviewer.

Marla Jo writes:

As a result, they have decided that most of us should devote our time to the print newspaper, and either reduce or eliminate the effort we are making to work on blogs like this one.

…Some of you may know that I’m already writing a Sunday deals column each Sunday for the local section of the Register. I will continue to write that. However, I will not be continuing to update this blog. (frowny face here)

She’ll continue to connect with readers via her Facebook page, she says. In the meantime, she’s been promoted to a full-time columnist position for the features section. She’ll write a “Frumpy Mom” column for Mondays, a home-and-garden column for Saturdays and she’ll continue her “Deals Diva” column for Sundays.

Find Marla Jo’s “goodbye” blog post here.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the amazing investment the OCR has made in high school sports coverage.

I don’t have to tell you, this is 180 degrees opposite of what we’re seeing in the rest of the industry, most notably Digital First — which is going, y’know, digital first — and Advance Publications, which has beefed up its web sites and has begun taking its print products down to just three times a week.

Even more amazing — or, perhaps, puzzlingonline news guru Rob Curley has been working at the Orange County Register since June. Just last month, Curley — who’s been uncharacteristically low-profile for the past year or two — gave an address to student journalists at the University of Oklahoma. Read more about that here.

Thanks to Southern California-based designer Autumn Heep for the tip.

An amazing investment in high school football coverage by the Orange County Register

You’ve read about how a new owner bought the Orange County Register this summer. And how that owner is adding staff like crazy.

But what does a desire for a beefed-up print product really look like, out in the field? It looks a little like this: OC Varsity, the massive high school football section that inserts into the Saturday Register.

This week’s section packed 35 game stories into an astounding 12 pages. Click any of these for a larger look.

Notice the “scoreboard” section at the upper left that also serves as an index. Also, note the top statistics section that falls beneath.

Most of though, notice the top-notch photography. The lead picture on the front was shot by staffer Kevin Sullivan.

An army of stringers supplied stories and pictures for this section, as you might imagine. You can spot the staff-written stories — they’re the ones with the little head shots embedded in them.


Register copy editor and designer Daniel Hunt tells us:

I did the Friday night design with Helayne Perry and Karen Kelso coming in for the final stretch. Photo editors were Nick Koon and Michele Cardon. Sports editor Todd Harmonson and Varsity team leader Brian Patterson coordinated everything (including Web) and the copy editors included Chris Long, Lane Smith, Chris Monahan, Martin Evans, Greg Lipford, Damian Dottore, Mike Kirkendall, Mark Garcia and John Fabris.

It was a lot to pound out in the span of 45 minutes, but it was fun.


Granted, a few of these pages look a little jumbled. But please note: Like I said, there are 35 games represented here. And how many of these stories have no art?


That’s right: None of them. The Register saw to it that every story was staffed with either a sportswriter or a stringer. And that every game — Every. Game. — was photographed.


And every bit of eleven entire pages was devoted to high school football coverage. There were no pages that doglegged around ads.


Page 12, in fact, was a full-page ad.

This represents an astounding investment in print.

But — as they say on TV — wait! There’s more!

The Register is also producing a midweek section to use some of the best photographs that don’t make it into the Saturday section.

I’ve studied these pages closely. As far as I can tell, no special consideration was given to staff pictures. The best shots get the most play, no matter who took them.

Dan tells us:

This was our first go at “Hot Shots.” It was a big hit with readers and the newsroom. Scott Albert prototyped it and Karen Kelso designed the live section with help from photo editor Nick Koon and director of photography Michele Cardon.


The columns down the left side of those pages include schedules and a look at the top games coming up the next Friday.

Page five consists of action off the field: Fans, cheerleaders and such.

A small blurb across the bottom of that page promos more prep football coverage in the Register.

The Register‘s online high school coverage is equally impressive. Find it here.

While I’m at it, I might as well show you this… It’s not high school football. But a) It does involve high-school-aged athletes. And b) It was yet another sports special section that inserted in this week’s OCR.

Daniel writes:

This was published Thursday — an eight-page special section celebrating our Orange County gymnastics champions, Kyla Ross and McKayla Maroney. Design by Karen Kelso, who is the design desk team leader.


The center spread featured a picture of the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team meeting Andre Ethier of the Dodgers, David Letterman and fans.

You just have to love this stuff.

Across the top of the inside pages is a timeline of the history of women’s gymnastics in the U.S.


The highlight of that last page is a gigantic graphic of the big gymnastics show by staffer Scott Brown.

Average daily circulation for the Orange County Register of Santa Ana, Calif., is 280,812.

Today’s super-heroic Batman movie feature treatments

Those of us who are fans of comic book movies should pause for a moment and think about the folks who were caught up in the horrible tragedy overnight in Denver.

A gunman opened up during a midnight showing of the new Batman movie. At last count, 14 12 are dead and 50 are injured. Many of the victims were children. (Local authorities downgraded the count around 8 a.m. EDT.)

Among those reportedly killed: Hockey blogger and aspiring TV reporter Jessica Ghwai, who tweeted under the handle Jessica Redfield. Read a quick report here and read her last tweets — from moments before the shooting — here.

Oddly enough, Jessica narrowly missed being in the middle of a shooting in a shopping mall in Toronto last month. As she wrote, she was shaken by the near-miss.

Find her blogs here and here.

The Denver Post, of course, is all over the story. Read the Post‘s story here and keep up via tweets from the Post and from area folks here.

Poynter’s Julie Moos put together a storify that traces how word spread of the tragedy overnight via Twitter, including tweets from witnesses. Find that here.



Today’s a huge day for features designers: For many of you, it’s the day your Batman pages for the new Dark Knight Rises movie finally got into print.

Let’s take a look at what came in the overnight email…


San Diego, Calif.

Circulation: 230,742

Gloria Orbegozo of U-T San Diego tells us:

My esteemed and talented colleague Chris Barber designed and did the photo illustration for our weekend page.


Lawrenceville, Ga.

Circulation: 60,000

Brian Giandelone writes:

I wanted to pass along what the Gwinnett Daily Post did for the cover

of its entertainment section for the Dark Knight Rises.

I designer the cover. Thanks to your blog, I knew the film was filmed

in Pittsburgh, so that’s the city’s skyline at the bottom of the page.

So it is! Very cool!


Charleston, W.Va.

Circulation: 35,621

Kyle Slagle offers up:

Here’s our contribution for the Dark Knight Rises … and apparently to the Hollywood liberal agenda.

He’s referring, of course, to the accusation that the character of Bane is meant to remind folks of Bain Capital, Mitt Romney‘s old company. That’s been debunked. But once something crazy like that gets out there, it’s out there.

Anyway, here’s Kyle’s page:

Kyle continues:

I decided to lead with Bane rather than Batman (save for the Bat symbol shining upon the headline), since a large part of the film revolves around Bane’s arrival and Gotham’s cry for help to the Caped Crusader. It’s nerd-tastically metaphorical.

I included a little “Who’s who” for the newest arrivals to Gotham City. Their bios are vague and void of spoilers, for the readers’ benefit and my own.

Admittedly, this was a labor of love. I’m wearing my vintage Neal Adams Batman shirt in the office today, a Batman belt buckle (utility belt not included), and sporting my usual Batman keychain and vintage Batman wallet.

I won’t comment on the underoos.

Um, we won’t either…


Santa Ana, Calif.

Circulation: 280,812

And my ACES webmaster Daniel Hunt of the Orange County Register sends along pages designed by his colleague Kyle Sackowski. Here’s the front…

…here’s the inside page with the jump of the review and a Q&A on the movie…

…and here’s the jump of the sidebar, which focuses on the movie history of the Catwoman character and female superheroes in general.

UPDATE: 11:20 A.M.

Here’s a late entry from the…


Kansas City, Mo.

Distribution: 200,365

For today’s paper by master illustrator Héctor Casanova.



And now, let’s see what we can dig up in the Newseum today…


Chicago, Ill.

Distribution: 250,000

The best — or, at least, the funniest — headline of the day comes from RedEye, the youth and commuter tabloid published by the Chicago Tribune.

This makes two days in a row that RedEye has put the new Batman movie out front.


Yesterday, RedEye addressed Batman movie hype. Today, it engaged in it. But whatever.


New York, N.Y.

The Metro tabs played a handout picture from the new movie on page one today.


Biloxi, Miss.

Distribution: 36,263

The Biloxi paper found a terrific angle for today’s centerpiece: A local artist who draws Batman comic books and who worked on a project included as a bonus with a Batman movie DVD.

Read the story here and find an extensive slide show — including samples of the comic book art — here.


Dubuque, Iowa

Distribution: 25,588

Naturally, there lots of front-page pictures today of folks in line for the midnight showing of the movie.

The picture is by Telegraph-Herald staffer Matt Masin.


Stroudsburg, Pa.

Distribution: 12,387

Some — like this gentleman in an impressive Bane costume — dressed for the evening.

The picture is by Record staffer Melissa Evanko.


Nashua, N.H.

Distribution: 16,653

Here is a Bane and a Joker a kid dressed as the Joker from the 2008 Batman movie.

The picture is by Telegraph staffer William Wrobel.

Note how each of those last two pages pairs a smaller picture from last night with a large handout picture from the movie.


Pittsburgh, Pa.

Distribution: 188,405

This one scares me a bit. I’m not sure what’s worse: The facepaint or the Pez Dispensers.

Believe it or not, that’s a 14-year-old girl in that picture by Tribune-Review staffer Keith Hodan.


The Lakes, Fla.

Distribution: 44,624

If you can’t find anyone in line dressed up, what do you do? Well, you shoot a picture of folks gazing at the movie poster.

The picture is by the Daily Sun‘s George Horsford.


Meriden, Conn.

Distribution: 16,708

And this six-year-old girl isn’t even at the movie. She’s at summer day-camp.

But the Batgirl costume is cute. The picture is by Record-Journal staffer Dave Zajac, the same guy who shot the lightning bolt we looked at yesterday.


Westminster, Md.

Distribution: 24,194

In Gettysburg, Pa., a man entertained the lines in front of theaters with his homemade Tumbler-style Batmobile.

The picture is by Times staffer Ken Koons. Read the story about the car here.


Appleton, Wis.

Distribution: 38,244

And in Appleton, folks celebrated the fact that locally-made vehicles are featured prominently in the new movie.

Oh, very cool! I got to see one of those vehicles — called “the Beast,” the story says — when I was in Pittsburgh last summer during the filming of the movie.

The A1 picture today is by Post-Crescent staffer Sharon Cekada. Read the story here.



And, like yesterday, a number of papers elected to play the movie in their skyboxes today, above — or in — the nameplate. Here are the best of them…

One of the most popular pieces of handout art from the new movie has been one of Batman riding his Batcycle in an underpass. But papers seem divided on how to use this art well.

The Nampa, Idaho paper cropped in tight on Batman’s head, leaving out the cycle…

While Kansas City used a looser crop, showing the vehicle and the background. What they lost: Batman’s bat-ears.

Fayetteville, N.C., had to shrink Batman down to get all of him in its skybox.

But the high-contrast, yellow-on-black headline helps a lot. As does including the namplate in the picture.

Lexington, Ky., with with a dramatic shot of Batman back-lit against a fiery sky.

This one from Tallahassee, Fla., may be the best one yet: A tight shot of Batman’s broken cowl.

Awesome headline there, too.

A couple of papers had success focusing on the villain. The critic’s grade atop today’s Cleveland, Ohio, paper made me think automatic hyphenation had kicked in.

Des Moines, Iowa, used this same art to great effect as well.

Buffalo, N.Y., however, zigged a completely different way. They with with a quiet and classy look.

While Omaha went with a classic approach reminiscent of the old 1960s Batman TV show.

All of the front pages above — and the skyboxes —  come from the Newseum. Of course.

Previous posts about the Dark Knight Rises, here in the blog…

Did you do something cool for the new Batman movie? Send me a PDF. But keep in mind I’ll be in transit most of Friday and Saturday.

The email address is:

chuckapple [at]

Today’s five best Fourth of July front pages

Fireworks, hot dogs and American flags. What did you put on page one today?

Here’s a look at today’s five best Independence Day-themed front pages, as found in the daily archive at the Newseum.



Kansas City, Mo.

Circulation: 200,365

In the category of kids running back flags, this wonderful centerpiece photo by staffer Keith Myers gives a wonderful red, white and blue effect to the front page of the Kansas City Star. Especially when you take into account the Star’s blue nameplate.

The red, white and blue baseball skybox just adds to the effect.



Charleston, W.Va.

Circulation: 35,621

Lots of papers led today with fireworks pictures shot locally Tuesday night. Some papers ran them downpage. A few ran them up top, above the nameplate.

My favorite of the batch was this one from Charleston, W.Va.

The picture was by staffer Lawrence Pierce.

That’s twice this week that the Gazette has appeared here in the blog. Somebody there is doing some awfully good work.

A close runner-up is this fireworks-themed poster-front from the Los Angeles Daily News.

The picture is from Getty Images.

Average daily circulation for the Daily News is 94,016.



Pensacola, Fla.

Circulation: 40,435

Today’s lead story was a brief essay by staff editorial cartoonist Andy Marlette , answering the question: How Do You Draw a Patriot?

How better to illustrate that kind of a topic than with an illustration by Andy himself?

Andy cites plenty of examples of Patriotism from his own family. For example, he writes about his…

…great grandmother, who in 1934 was stabbed by a bayonet of a National Guardsman sent in to put a stop to a labor uprising at a sweatshop of a textile mill in Burlington, N.C.. Her crime? Singing in protest; speech. Sometimes the patriot is attacked by the very country she cries out for.

Find Andy’s essay here.



Indianapolis, Ind.

Circulation: 164,640

The Indianapolis Star today asked its readers to share their vision for America. Staffer Janet Schneider placed the replies and mug shots atop a textured flag illustration.



Santa Ana, Calif.

Circulation: 280,812

But today’s very best Independence Day front page is from the Orange County Register, which turned this gorgeous Getty image into a poster front that truly makes you want to stand at attention.

The Register also designed last year’s best Independence Day page as well — this one from July 3, 2011:

That one was built around an iStock Photo image. Read more about it here.

Go here to see more July Fourth pages from last year.

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

The good, the bad and the most interesting health-care court ruling front pages

One of the reasons I love the little 26,531-circulation Victoria (Texas) Advocate is because the paper does a pretty great job now. But it’s always looking to do better.

Case in point: I heard this morning via Twitter from Chris Cobler, the editor of the Advocate. Chris writes:

And my reply is: You did pretty well today, Chris. You recognized right away that the protest shots that were moving all over the wires yesterday was not a good choice to lead today’s front page. In your case, you looked to add a little analysis to the decision.

So you went in the right direction. And sometimes, text is the way to carry the front. As you’ll see in this (admittedly overlong) blog post today.

The quibble I have with your front today, Chris, is clutter. Your page is well-organized. But that lead element at the top — the mug shots of the Supreme Court — could have worked with less ink on it.

The good news: Although it had major impact at the top of your page, that would have been a pretty easy — and quick — fix. You had your fundamentals right. And that’s the important thing.

Which leads us into today’s lesson…

I was awfully disappointed in the choice of lead art by most papers today. Those protest shots were all taken by 10 or 11 a.m. Thursday. Meaning they were nearly 24 hours old by the time our readers today saw them. Not a great way to sell newspapers, I think.


And most main headlines I saw today simply told what happened yesterday. The important stuff — how the decision is being spun, what happens next, how it affects the reader — was pushed into smaller headlines or sidebars or even off the front page.

And those were the most important things to push at the top of page one today!




Let’s start where Chris left off — with pages built around mug shots of the Supreme Court justices.

A number of papers stripped the mug shots across the top of page one today. Some divided the mugs into “for” and “against,” like Pittsburgh did (below right). Others made the readers hunt for that info in the little cutline labels (Bangor, Maine; below left).


Two of the nation’s largest newspapers put this kind of treatment on page one today. The Washington Post ran its mug shot collection below the obligatory protest photo…

…while the New York Times built its own into a centerpiece. This kind of thing is very unusual for the Times, I think it’s fair to say.

What did both of those pages have in common? They kept their little mug shot graphic treatments as clean as possible. There’s a minimum of lines, boxes and rules. And there’s plenty of white space to give the mugs some air. The little semi-cutout treatment helps reduce clutter, as well.

The Denver Post today ran two mugshot graphics across the top of today’s front, in order to show how the court voted on two issues.

Note how the greyed-out effect makes this a quicker read.

While the Newark paper made their group shot of the SCOTUS — little little labels — into lead art.

The newly-converted-to-tabloid Burlington, Vt., paper also made a huge, reversed (for extra oomph) headline and a collection of mugs its lead art today.

Every one of these pages worked well. Just like I think Victoria’s page worked.

Or, rather, might have worked a little better without all the boxes and lines. But you get my point.

Here’s one — from Gainesville, Ga. — that I thought was less than successful:

The problems? First of all, the designer “ghosted” an image of the Supreme Court building into the background of that package. I’m not sure how effective that is at telling the story. It harms readability and it’s also an awfully “old-fashioned” approach.

Secondly, I take issue with the main headline. It refers to state officials, while the main visual shows the Supreme Court of the United States. This makes for a huge disconnect between the main head and the main art.

While we’re on the subject of SCOTUS photos, let’s look at two pages that focused on the “swing vote” in this particular decision, Chief Justice John Roberts. Bakersfield turned Roberts into today’s huge centerpiece art.

The problem I have with that page: From what I can tell, that’s a photo of when Roberts was sworn in as a justice, back in 2005. That seems like a bit of a stretch. Was there nothing more recent than this?

And while Hartford didn’t run a photo of Roberts out front today, it did make him the subject of its main headline.

I’m not sure that worked at all. Better if there was some way of working either a big photo of Roberts into that package. Or, at least, including a mug shot of some kind.



I don’t have to tell you that the subject of affordable health care — like so may other topics in this country — has become way too politicized. A number of papers today dove into the political waters today by taking that bigger-picture look at Thursday’s court decision.

And, in some cases, a few of these papers even seemed to take sides.

The Allentown, Pa., paper didn’t take sides. But it made it clear: This wasn’t just a landmark court decision. It was a political win for the President.

The Portland Oregonian made the same point and added a health-care pun as a bonus.

This one caused me to stop and scratch what’s left of the hair on my head.

A “Hallelujah moment“?

I like this front page quite a bit — it’s clean and bold and the typography and colors are just wonderful. And I also like the gentle pun.

But wow — I’d think anyone of a conservative bent would boil over when they saw it. I wonder if the editor of Newsday got calls today.

In that magical world of New York City tabloids, of course, just about anything goes.

Most papers tried to play it much straighter, of course. Many focused on the fact that Republicans are pledging to either a) defeat the President this fall, b) repeal the legisation, or c) both.

Canton, Ohio warns us all: This ain’t over yet.

The Cincinnati Enquirer made the conservative backlash the main story today.

And a number of papers followed along these lines — at least with their main headlines.

Great Falls, Mont.:

St. Paul, Minn.:

Kalamazoo, Mich:

Minneapolis, Minn.:

San Antonio, Texas:

Everett, Wash.:

That last one struck me oddly. That sounds like it’s edging a bit towards advocating for the conservative point of view. If that’s intentional, then that’s fine. But I suspect it may not have been intentional.

The headline afront today’s Gainesville, Fla., paper seemed to put just a bit too much emphasis on the part of the ruling that limits an expansion of Medicaid.

This caught my eye because no one else really did this in their main headline today.

The headline used by Syracuse also struck me as odd:

The decision ignites new debate? Really? You mean no one was debating health care before Thursday morning?

And the main headline on the front of the tiny Twin Falls, Idaho, paper nearly made me laugh out loud by calling the decision “a precarious situation.”

Yes, Tea Party-types like the man pictured there might consider this ruling “precarious.” But I think the rest of us regard it as politics as usual. Or what passes for “usual” in these days of extreme political polarization.

The Washington Times — to the surprise of no one, perhaps — screams the nation was stunned by the decision.

The New York Post took the opportunity to have quite a bit of right-wing fun with the story.

Talk about a political spin: According to the Boston Herald, this decision gives Mitt Romney just the fodder he needs for a vigorous race this fall.

And, at first glance, this front-page editorial by tbt — the youth-oriented tabloid published by the Tampa Bay Times of St. Petersburg, Fla. — seems to be directed against the ruling and against the health care legislation.

In fact, the editorial is for it. I’m not quite sure if the disconnect is a) intentional or b) only in my mind.



I think the best way to handle the story today was to push it forward: Rather than focus on the politics or analyze how the ruling went down — that’s great material for inside — spend your page-one real estate explaining what this means to the reader and how this will affect her.

If you can do this with a strong local bent, then so much the better.

There’s no “what happened yesterday” headline afront today’s Fort Lauderdale newspaper.

Now, granted, I think the design of that centerpiece package is a little scattered. I’d love to have inserted vertical rules between the “if you have insurance” and “if you don’t boxes, as well as between the main copy and the little sidebar down the left. But the point is: This package told readers just what they needed to know today: Why should I care?

The Indianapolis Star did much the same today.

My two complaints here: 1) There’s just a bit too much text. Too much text will scare off most readers. And 2) The headline is very close to advocating for the newly affirmed law. Better to keep it more neutral, I think.

The centerpiece package on the front of today’s Chattanooga paper might have used a bit more structure — trims or rules or some other device — to make it seem less text-heavy.

But again: The content seems right and the direction is spot-on.

Las Vegas built its front around a series of iconesque pieces of stock art — in essence, building a graphic.

The Seattle Times did the same, but then used reverse bars to try to group its text boxes into categories.

This, in fact, did give the Times‘ centerpiece a little more structure and made for a better reading experience.

I don’t like the way two short stories are crammed into the lead story space here. But I love the right side of the package on the front of today’s Poughkeepsie, N.Y., paper.

What it means to individuals. What it means to businesses. What it means to hospitals.

This is what I’m talking about when I refer to structure. This is readable. Very much so.

And notice: The lack of a dominant image doesn’t really hurt this page at all.

My old friends in Des Moines did want a dominant image today, so they went with (what I presume is) stock art.

It almost worked.

The problem: The skews on the right side of the package makes that “10 ways” sidebar a little hard to read. I wonder if this might have worked better if the huge icon were just a bit smaller.

What’s very good there, though: The localized headline. The state prepares to deal with the fallout from this decision.

The same Gannett Design Studio that produced that last page also designed this one, for Iowa City. To some extent, I think this one might have worked a little better.

Clean. White space. Easy to read.

Look at this tab illustration by AmNewYork. Note how the headline is written about you.

That’s the secret to these headlines. What does this court ruling mean for us?

Here’s just the headline from Salem, Oregon:

Gadsen, Ala.:

Birmingham, Ala.:

And Rochester, N.Y.:

Also cool to get out front — if you can — are local voices. Note how the Connecticut Post pushed its protest shots inside — if it used them at all — and built its front page around a local doctor and local medical patients.

Ditto for the Detroit Free Press.

These editors and designers knew the protest art from outside the Supreme Court building would be way too old to lead page one today. So they looked for ways to build their front pages around local folks who will be affected by the law.

My favorite of these pages: The News Journal of Wilmington, Del.

Mostly because of that nice picture by staffer Robert Craig.

And while I don’t particularly think this page works very well, look what Medford, Oregon tried today: It built its entire front around local quotes about the law and the court decision.

It was a great idea. But, as you can see, the result was awfully cluttered. Perhaps if the mug shots were a little smaller — meaning we could have had a little more white space between them — the centerpiece might be a little kinder on the eye.

The summary rail down the right side was a little too jammed, as well. Trims might have been made here.

But the idea was sound.

Now, speaking of clutter…



Many papers were very ambitious about what they wanted to put out front today. That’s a good thing.

But in several cases, papers either tried to pack too much stuff into their lead packages. Or they didn’t take the opportunity to do a little trimming or use a little white space.

The result, as we’ve seen in several examples already, is cluttered. And it’s difficult to attract the reader’s eye with a cluttered page.

Here’s one example from Johnson City, Tenn.

If the designers could have dumped the shot of the building, run the SCOTUS group shot across the width of the package and then put the two stories side-by-side, this might have worked a bit better.

But someone felt the need to force the Supreme Court photo into that page. To the detriment of the page.

This page, too — from Ventura, Calif. — simply has too much going on.

By themselves, each element might work well. But together? Yikes.

The paper in Youngstown, Ohio, used a graphic treatment down the left side of its lead package and an actual graphic across the bottom.

What went wrong here: The two promos that were jammed into the top of the package. It was just too much.

Daytona Beach today went with what I’d try to describe as a collection of pictures and mug shots.

It’s a little cleaner than the last few pages we saw. But I think there were simply too many elements here to make this work.

And I was concerned about these three pages, which have a) Very small pictures, and b) a lot of text.


Those are all three Cox Communications newspapers, which are in the process of consolidating their design, graphics and copy desks this summer.

I was hoping that hubbing these papers might open up the design a little more. But perhaps it won’t. Sigh.



And the lack of strong art today as noted by Victoria’s Chris Cobler resulted in a number of papers trying hard — way too hard, perhaps — to build something around which to build a front-page centerpiece.

The designers in Stroudsberg, Pa., for example: They dove into the stock art library pull a prescription pad, a judge’s gavel and a huge, 3D check mark.

I’m sorry. But I think a protest shot from Thursday morning might have been more effective.

I applaud the effort on this piece by the Gannett Design Studio in Asbury Park for the East Brunswick, N.J., paper.

I applaud the effort. But not necessarily the result.

At the very least, there was no reason to fade the bottom of the art.

The folks in Longview, Texas, thought to bring “Lady Justice” into the mix.

Note the doctor’s mask on Lady Justice. Also note the way the editors wrote the headline to make the package work better.

Good try. I think.

The News-Times of Danbury, Conn., went with a more illustrative style for its gavel icon.

Note how the little gavel is striking the headline.

Again: I think they were trying just a little too hard here.

The Shreveport, La., paper went with a faux EKG across the top of its package to signal: This is about health care.

And remember that big question mark/caduceus icon we saw on the front of the Des Moines paper. Well, if using that is a good idea, then using it nine times must be a fabulous idea!

The rail down the right might have worked better with simple bullets or larger lead-in text.

Also, if you feel you must have art overlap your photos, at least turn your drop-shadow to “multiply.”



I have to admit, I’m bad about writing question headlines myself. But I’ve been coached — and, sometimes threatened — not to write them.

My opinion: If the “question” is too obvious, you’re not just voicing the reader’s concern. You’re also looking a little silly. It’s kind of a “Duh!” headline, if you know what I mean.

Sure, we’re all wondering what’s next with the health care law and its implementation. But I’d argue a “What’s next?” headline today is just a little too obvious. Or, at the very least, a little too broad.

Yet, there were a bunch of question heads today. From the San Francisco Chronicle

…the Salisbury (N.C.) Post

…the Sioux City (Iowa) Journal

…the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Gazette

…the Harrisburg, Pa., Patriot-News

…and the Fort Collins Coloradoan.

I rather liked the “cheat” the folks in Arlington Heights, Ill., used today. This is basically a question headline. But there’s no question mark. Therefore, the paper is telling me what’s going to happen next, as opposed to looking like they don’t have a clue.

I was very surprised today by the number of papers using the word “Obamacare” in their main headlines. I’m under the impression this was a term that is mostly used by Republicans as an attempt at disparagement.

If that’s the case — and that’s a big “if” — then the term has no place in a lead headline on page one. If a newspaper is trying to remain politically neutral, I mean.

Yet, the word was all over the place. Here’s the Sandusky (Ohio) Register

…the Boulder, Colo., Daily Camera

The Intelligencer Journal/New Era of Lancaster, Pa….

…the Bucks County Courier Times of Levittown, Pa….

…the Long Beach, Calif., Press-Telegram

…the Decatur (Ala.) Daily

…the Grand Island (Neb.) Independent

…the Prescott, Ariz, Daily Courier

…the Massillon, Ohio, Independent

…the Lorain, Ohio, Morning Journal

…the Pascagoula Mississippi Press

…the Lubbock (Texas) Avalanche-Journal

…the Los Angeles Daily News

…the Fort Smith, Ark., Times Record

…and the Grand Junction, Colo., Daily Sentinel.

Perhaps this is a like Ronald Reagan‘s old Strategic Defense Initiative, which nearly everyone eventually called his “Star Wars” plan. Perhaps so many folks out there — on either side of the ideological spectrum — call the Affordable Health Care Act “Obamacare” that it’s OK to use the term in a headline.

If that’s the case, then I’d feel better seeing it in quote marks. Like so:

The Bozeman (Mont.) Daily Chronicle

…the Johnstown, Pa., Tribune-Democrat

…the Dover/New Philadelphia, Ohio, Times-Reporter

…the Pittsburgh (Pa.) Tribune-Review

…the Lodi, Calif., News-Sentinel

…the Brainerd (Minn.) Dispatch

…the Florida Times-Union of Jacksonville, Fla….

…and the Ottawa (Kan.) Herald.

But at least these headlines say something. This next one says nothing at all, I’d argue.

I hate to embarrass anyone, so I won’t tell you that headline came from Fort Myers, Fla.

What I really liked today, however, were a number of headlines that presumed the readers are not dummies and that they had already heard about the ruling. Sure, the decks give you the entire story. But the headline here — in this case, from Hendersonville, N.C. — says simply “It stands.

Sam thing here from the paper in Spartanburg, S.C.

Granted, these are still backward-looking pages with backward-looking lead art. But I think this approach to the main headlines shows promise.

Here is Express, the commuter tab published by the Washington Post.

And here is the Boston Globe.

Some good ideas there, I think.



So, after all that… Are you still awake? Are you ready for my picks of the day’s best ten pages?

Here goes…


Norfolk, Va.

Circulation 142,476

Is anyone surprised to find the Virginian-Pilot at the top of this list? The Pilot nearly always does a superb job of presenting the days’ news. The bigger the news, the quicker the Pilot rises to the task.

Ace A1 designer Robert Suhay was responsible for this one, I’m told.

Note the features: A headline that assumes you’ve already heard the news by now. A brief collection of SCOTUS mugs across the top, summarizing their positions. A collection of photos that round up the day’s events. Three stories that 1) Tell the news, 2) Provides the statewide local angle, and 3) Offer up “how it affects me” info in an easy-to-read, Q&A format.

What makes this all work is plenty of structure and plenty of white space between the elements. That keeps it all from becoming too cluttered.

Wonderful work, as usual.


Salt Lake City, Utah

Circulation: 110,546

Another nice, clean page with plenty of structure and plenty of white space. While I’m not crazy about the protest shot, at least there’s an unusual, horizontal crop on it to give it some visual interest.

My favorite two features of this page: 1) I love the headline. “Curveball” does a great job of summing up the morning’s news. And 2) The “what’s next” timeline across the bottom. Clean and succinct.

Reversing that text out of yellow and orange boxes might not have been a great choice, however. I hope the Tribune‘s presses could handle that kind of registration challenge.


Lafayette, Ind.

Circulation: 25,531

The tiny Journal & Courier also went with an approach that sums up the entire story. Three small vignettes show the scene in Washington D.C. and a larger picture tells the story of a local person who expects to be affected by the ruling.

The page was designed by David Leonard, I’m told.

What makes this work well: a) Structure. b) Some white space. And c) A great headline.

Anyone seeing a pattern here?


Nashville, Tenn.

Circulation: 118,589

First, what I don’t like here: The headline seems a little weak. Obvious, even.

Now, what I do like: Everything else. Especially the photo — by staffer George Walker IV — of a local advocacy rally.

While I don’t like the headline, I do like the three bullet point decks. The little SCOTUS head-shot graphic across the bottom is nicely done, as well.

The page was designed by Nancy Broden of the Gannett Design Studio there in Nashville, I’m told.


Santa Ana, Calif.

Circulation: 280,812

The folks at the Orange County Register knew they didn’t really have lead art today.

Their solution? A “type attack” approach. Which worked beautifully, thanks to a) A wonderful headline and great subheads to break it all up, b) Plenty of white space, and c) A rail of supplementary material down the left side for contrast.

Daniel Hunt of the OCR tells us:

This was the handiwork of senior designer Andrea Voight, who also did our bin Laden cover a little over a year ago. The headline was written by our copy desk chief, Wendy Fawthrop. The pieces were packaged by our news desk chief, Gene Harbrecht, with help from wire editors Mathis Chazanov and Paul Davenport.


Tyler, Texas

Circulation: 26,155

Here’s a very similar approach by a much smaller newspaper, half-a-continent away.

I asked Vanessa Pearson if she could tell me who designed that page. She replies:

It was me! I actually saw [an] Arizona Republic page on your blog when I was scrambling for a concept. So I borrowed. I worried it was so text heavy but our reporters got all over it to localize it to the tune of 150 inches almost. I thought it came out well.

I thought so, too, Vanessa.


Jackson, Miss.

Circulation: 57,710

The folks in Jackson, Miss., also went with a text-heavy approach today. They, too, went with a horizontal crop of the SCOTUS building across the top of the page.

The difference between this page and the previous two: Color reverse bars and tint boxes to break up the type. It worked nicely — mostly because the designer didn’t let the page get too cluttered.


Omaha, Neb.

Circulation: 135,223

While Omaha’s page looks nice and clean, there are, in fact, a number of moving pieces here.

Most obvious, I suppose, is the Supreme Court building photo. The headline here is particularly nice: It looks forward and also gives you a sense of the political realities. In fact, this might very well be the best headline of the day.

You’re seeing two stories, a long, vertical summary down the right side and a graphic showing how the justices voted on three factors in this case. In fact, that graphic is my only complaint here: With so many rules and reverse bars, I wonder if it might have been done with a slightly lighter touch. All that black ink draws my eye down there to that graphic a little too quickly.

That’s a relatively minor quibble, however. The page was designed by Tammy Yttri, I’m told.


Neptune, N.J.

Circulation: 98,032

What I like about this page…

1) The headline, which uses a “cheap” designer’s trick to add to the “oomph.” However, the trick works very well here. So don’t let that sound like a complaint. More importantly, I like how the headline puts the focus on the reader.

2) The box down the right side that sums up the effects on the ruling on various aspects of daily life.

I’m told the page was designed by Gary Stelzer.

Now, compare that to the APP‘s sister paper in Parsippany. What we gain is a bigger, bolder headline and a larger photo.

What we lose, however, is the rail down the right side. Instead, that is converted into a brightly-colored tint box.

Which do you like better? Normally, I’ll go for the bigger art every time. In this case, though, I prefer the Asbury Park version.

Compare both of those, however to a competing paper in that region, the Herald News of Passaic, N.J.:

The Herald-News also went with a protest photo and a summary of “what it means to you.” But notice how this page just isn’t organized nearly as well. The length of the breakout box and the visual clutter caused by the items being to close to each other make the structure of the whole thing break down.


The lesson here: Keep your page clean. And a little white space can go a long, long way.


Philadelphia, Pa.

Circulation: 63,958

We’ll close with what I think might have been theho best tabloid page of the day. I’m not so crazy about the lead art, which I expect might have been stock art. Rather, it’s the headline that makes this page sing.

Now, that’s how you get folks to read about the decision and how it might impact them.

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

  • Find Poynter’s roundup of today’s front pages here.
  • Find the Huffington Post‘s roundup of today’s front pages here.
  • Find the Newseum‘s own Top 10 front pages — and boy, do I differ from them — here.

Under new ownership, Orange County Register hires new media guru Rob Curley

New media journalist, manager and strategist Rob Curley has reportedly been hired by the Orange County Register.

Rob stepped down last month as chief content officer of Greenspun Media, owners of the Las Vegas Sun.

Today’s announcement to staffers was a little unclear as to just what Rob will be doing at the Register, other than planning coverage across all platforms. [UPDATE: Jim Romenesko posted the entire memo.]

Earlier this week, Freedom Communications announced it is selling the Register and six other dailies to a privately-held Boston firm that had originally attempted to buy the Boston Globe from the New York Times company.

Rob has mentioned the new appointment in neither his blog nor his Twitter feed. He reportedly begins work Monday.

A 1996 graduate of Emporia State University in Kansas, Rob started out as a political reporter for the Topeka Capital-Journal and an education reporter and online editor for the Ottawa Herald before returning to Topeka as new media director.

According to his personal bio, Rob’s work in Topeka was…

…recognized in 2001 when the Newspaper Association of America named Curley the industry’s New Media Pioneer of the Year, making him the youngest person to win the award.

Rob was eventually put in charge of both the paper’s broadcast and its print news operations — one of the first new media editors to do so empowered. Editor & Publisher recognized the Capital-Journal in 2004 as one of then papers that “do it right.”

In 2005, he was named to a similar position at the Naples (Fla.) Daily News. A year later, however — and with a flourish of publicity — Rob moved to and Newsweek Interactive as vice president of product development. Poynter’s Julie Moos wrote last month that at the Post, Rob…

… was responsible for an unsuccessful hyperlocal effort,

That closely watched project was eventually declared a failure by the Wall Street Journal, among others. Rob later wrote about it in his blog:

I thought the two biggest problems with were poor integration of the site with and not enough outreach into the community — ala basically me speaking with every community group that would have me.

And that both of those problems were my fault. Completely.

Despite this, Rob’s personal bio states:

In 2007, Curley was named to Washingtonian Magazine’s annual list of the Washington D.C. metro area’s “40 under 40.” In the March issue of Creativity Magazine, he was named to the magazine’s annual list of the 50 most creative people in the world.

Rob moved to Greenspun in 2008, reportedly taking nine employees with him from the Post. Rob’s bio states:

During [the four years he was there], the Las Vegas Sun became the first news organization in the world to win the top awards in digital journalism (the ONA and EPpy), the top award in broadcast journalism (the duPont) and the top award in print journalism (the Pulitzer).

A Las Vegas alt-weekly, CityLife, once quoted Rob as saying:

The only thing I love more than journalism is capitalism.

Julie Moos adds:

He created a costly (and ultimately short-lived) video program called, which lasted only four months.

CityLife documented a number of other contentious factors about Rob’s time in Vegas. Find a lengthy report here.

Brian Greenspun‘s official memo last month stated:

We’ve had him longer than we expected, but now the day has arrived when the Midwest beckons. Rob has decided he has done what he can here and it is time for him to move on. He’s focusing his efforts on getting back home or, at least, closer to home.

For further reading…

Today’s top five Memorial Day front pages

Memorial Day weekend means lots of U.S. flags, graveyards and memorial services on front pages around the country.

From a design point of view, Memorial Day stories and pages tend to look the same from year to year. So it’s important — if we can — to find a fresh angle, a different look to our stories and our displays. Keeping in mind that many of us have a difficult time with rack sales on holiday weekends anyway.

Here are the best five Memorial Day front pages, as seen at the Newseum


Baltimore, Md.

Circulation: 179,574

For the most part, Memorial Day is about fallen uniformed soldiers. Today’s Baltimore Sun, however, tells the story of a man who gave his life in the service of his country as a member of the CIA in Bosnia. His service — and sacrifice — has finally been acknowledged, 15 years after the fact.

The photo of the man’s widow was shot by staffer Barbara Haddock Taylor.

Find the story here by the Sun‘s Matthew hay Brown. As for myself, I can’t see it. I used up my free pageviews telling you about the Sun‘s anniversary package and Preakness stories earlier this month. Sigh


Oklahoma City, Okla.

Circulation: 132,294

The package on the front of today’s Oklahoma City paper is about local soldiers buried in a French graveyard.

The stand-alone art is a handout picture from the Franco-American Society and the American Battle Monuments Commission.

That particular graveyard is the Rhone American Cemetery in Draguignan, France.

They story is behind a paywall. So I won’t bother with a link.


Omaha, Neb.

Circulation: 135,282

In Omaha today, the story is about Nebraskans buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

The picture is by Bill Williams, a local man who wishes to honor fallen soldiers.

The story is a print exclusive in the World-Herald today, so once again: No story link. Find Bill Williams’ Remembering Our Fallen web site here.

Side note: A small blurb on page one today promotes a special 12-page special section in Monday’s paper, focusing on the Cold War era.

If anyone in Omaha would like to pass along PDFs of that section, I’d love to see it.


Cincinnati, Ohio

Circulation: 140,877

The Enquirer today focused on a man who plays the bugle at military funerals in the area. Check out this wonderful portrait by staffer Glenn Hartong.

Glenn made a number of pictures of bugler Larry DuPree, which appear in an online slide show. Here he is performing Taps at a local funeral.

And here is a closeup of his datebook.

Here’s how the Enquirer used that first picture on page one today.

The centerpiece was designed by Lindsay Hack of Gannett’s Louisville Design Studio, I’m told.

Read the story here by staffer Cliff Radel.


Santa Ana, Calif.

Circulation: 280,812

Today’s best front-page Memorial Day display, however, was due to this wonderful photo by staffer Mindy Schauer.

That is three-year-old MacKenzie Griffith, helping to put up flags Saturday at Riverside National Cemetery.

Mindy’s picture ran huge on the front of today’s Orange County Register.

The OCR’s Daniel Hunt tells us the page was designed last week by Scott Albert and Dan finished it himself last night:

He sets it up, I knock it down; the only thing I did was pick the photo.

In addition, Daniel gives credit to picture editor Jill Reed and Sunday editor Marcia Prouse.

Page two — on the left here — shares the story of a woman who visited the site where her father died in a military plane crash in 1969.


Page three, I presume, is some kind of inside front. The story by Tom Berg is clearly aimed at being the Register‘s main Memorial Day piece. The photo is by Jebb Harris.

Pages six and seven hold the jump of that story.


And here is today’s Nation & World page, also designed by Daniel Hunt.

The standout here, of course, is that picture — again, from Friday’s flag-placing activities in Riverside — by Mindy Schauer.

Not only did Mindy shoot these pictures, she also wrote a story to go with it.

UPDATE – 7:30 p.m.

Gordon Murray of U-T San Diego writes this evening:

Not sure if you saw this wonderful photo by Nelvin Cepeda.

No I did not! Unfortunately, your paper didn’t make it into the Newseum today. But that is indeed a great shot of a boy scout from Troop 709, part of an effort Saturday to place 80,000 U.S. flags on military graves at Point Loma.

Here is the entire page:

Gordon tells us the page was designed by Michael Price.

Find more pictures of that event here.

Average daily circulation of U-T San Diego is 230,742.

The San Diego and Orange County pages are from those newspapers. The rest are all from the Newseum. Of course.

A gallery of gorgeous page-one pictures of Sunday’s eclipse

Unless you’re unlucky enough to get socked in by clouds or fog — and that happened Sunday to some folks on the West Coast — an eclipse can make for gorgeous front-page art in the next day’s paper.

My five favorite eclipse front pages…


Salt Lake City, Utah

Circulation: 105,746

Granted, Salt Lake benefited from being smack in the path to see a near-perfect “ring of fire.” But I love the way the designer lined up a sequence across the top of the man with his binoculars.

All of the photos are by staffer Kim Raff.


Albuquerque, N.M.

Circulation: 87,109

A similar approach in Albuquerque, which also was in the center of the path of the eclipse.

The sequence across the top is by staffer Morgan Petroski. The fabulous shot of a family enjoying the eclipse…

…was by Adolph E. Pierre.


Santa Ana, Calif.

Circulation: 280,812

Orange County wasn’t near the path of maximum coverage. But it pulled a near-pristine front-page picture, despite a bit of cloud coverage.

The photo by staffer Mark Rightmire was shot at the UC-Irvine observatory.


Las Vegas, Nev.

Circulation: 213,078

Reno was in the path of maximum coverage, but Las Vegas was not. The Review-Journal ended up with a beautiful front-page picture by having staffer David Becker shoot the eclipse with a carnival ride in the foreground.

Here’s a closer look at David’s picture.

Click this — or anything today, for that matter — for a larger view.


Tucson, Ariz.

Circulation: 96,682

My favorite eclipse front page of the day, however, is this one by the Arizona Daily Star of Tucson.

That photo — by staffer Benjie Sanders — of the partially eclipsed sun sinking behind the Tucson mountains is just gorgeous.

Wonderful work.

In addition, there were a number of really great photos today that ended up on pages that didn’t particularly impress me. One of my favorites was this picture by Johnny Hanson on the front of today’s Houston Chronicle.

Another was this photo of the eclipse lurking behind clouds in Cheyenne, Wyo.

That was shot by the Tribune-Eagle‘s Michael Smith.

In fact, it was fun to run through the Newseum today, just checking out all the local staff eclipse pictures. There was a variety of sizes, shapes, colors and angles. And that’s just what we saw on page one today.

This would make an interesting collage, would it not?







Credits for all these, left-to-right…

  • ROW ONE: Johnny Hanson/Houston Chronicle; David Becker/Las Vegas Review-Journal; Sherri Larose-Chiglo/St. Paul, Minn., Pioneer-Press.
  • ROW TWO: Michael Schumacher, Amarillo (Texas) Globe-News; Michael Smith, Cheyenne Tribune-Eagle; Benjie Sanders/Tucson, Arizona Daily Star.
  • ROW THREE: Clifford Oto/Stockton, Calif., Record; Mark Rightmire/Orange County Register; Howard Lipin/U-T San Diego.
  • ROW FOUR: John Walker/Fresno (Calif.) Bee; Alex Horvath/Bakersfield Californian; Joe Kline/Bend, Ore., Bulletin.
  • ROW FIVE: Lawrence K. Ho/Los Angeles Times; Josh Peckler/Yuma (Ariz.) Sun; Kelly Hertz/Yankton, S.D., Press & Dakotan.
  • ROW SIX: Tim Dunn and Marilyn Newton/Reno (Nev.) Gazette-Journal; Morgan Petroski/Albuquerque Journal; Kim Raff; Salt Lake Tribune.

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

More baseball Opening Day front pages

Yesterday, we took a look at a big batch of baseball Opening Day front pages.

Here’s another set. Enjoy…


Milwaukee, Wis.

Circulation: 188,819

Our “aw, cute” moment of the day is by Journal Sentinel staffer Michael Sears, who captured third baseman Aramis Ramirez teaching his two small children the correct way to stretch.

The Journal Sentinel wisely used that shot big today, across four columns.


Cleveland, Ohio

Circulation: 243,299

The Indians celebrated Opening Day with a flyover by military helicopters. The moment was captured by the Plain Dealer‘s Chuck Crow.

It’s a wonderful picture. And again, it was played large across four-and-a-half columns on page one.

By the end of the game, the Indians probably wished those copters had dropped a few hits. They lost to the Blue Jays, 7-4.


Cincinnati, Ohio

Circulation: 140,877

The Enquirer followed it’s wonderful Thursday poster front page with this great candid moment starring right fielder Jay Bruce.

The picture is by Jeff Swinger. You can tell by the headline that the Reds won.

Also in today’s Enquirer is this faux movie poster, illustrated and designed by Clay Sisk.


Pittsburgh, Pa.

Circulation: 187,875

Tops in the “wow, what a great place to watch a major-league game” category, check out this terrific photo of the Pirates’ PNC Park with Pittsburgh in the background.

Andrew Russell of the Tribune-Review made the picture. And the editors wisely ran it large across the top of today’s front page.


Des Moines, Iowa

Circulation: 105,151

Ditto what I just said, but now for a minor-league stadium: Here is Principal Park in Des Moines, with the sun setting on the left and the gold-domed Iowa state capitol high upon a hill in the distance.

Yet another gorgeous photo — this one is by the Register‘s Justin Hayworth.

And yes: It was used huge.

Notice the Opening Day stories running down the left side of the page. The other three stories on A1 today are unrelated.


Santa Ana, Calif.

Circulation: 270,809

And in the “are you kidding me?” category, you’ve probably read how the Orange County Register planned to send 70 — yes, 70 — reporters to tonight’s Angels game.

Here’s how that “news mob” plan played out on page one this morning.

The portraits themselves are handout pictures from the club.


New York, N.Y.

Circulation: 512,067

The best headline of the day was this one by the kings of snark, the New York Post.

Very cute.


Omaha, Neb.

Circulation: 135,282

And our bonus page today is Thursday’s sports front of the World-Herald of Omaha.

That was designed by Jay St. Pierre.

The Omaha sports page is from that paper. The rest here are from the Newseum. Of course.

Find Thursday’s roundup of baseball Opening Pages here.

As I was finishing this post, a very interesting baseball preview section came in to blog central. I’ll post that a little later this evening.

Twelve wonderful Christmas Day front pages

In honor of the Twelve Days of Christmas, here are the 12 most outstanding newspaper front pages as seen today at the Newseum


Cleveland, Ohio

Circulation: 243,299

The Plain Dealer sent its outstanding photography team out into the area and asked them to take Christmas card-like pictures. The best — by Lynn Ischay — ended up atop page one today.

Find all the other staff Christmas card pictures here.


Pittsburgh, Pa.

Circulation: 173,160

The Post-Gazette continued its tradition of featuring winter-themed art atop page one on Christmas Day. Today’s art showing Boyd’s Hill near Pittsburgh was painted by Martin B. Leisser in 1892.

Read more about the painting here.


Scranton, Pa.

Circulation: 48,216

In Scranton, the Times-Tribune gave full-page play to an illustration by staff artist Bob Sanchuk.

Note the newspaper’s own building in the background.


Williamsport, Pa.

Circulation: 22,839

And — also in Pennsylvania — the Williamsport paper played up a painting by Mickey Mapstone.

Williamsport also had some fun today with a story suggesting that should Santa decide to relocate from the North Pole, he might be wise to consider the Williamsport area. A “study” shows its strengths are toys, cookies, milk and lettercarriers. Find the story here by Joseph Stender.


Wichita, Kan.

Circulation: 67,003

In Wichita, this Christmas card effect was created by a photo, rather than a painting.

Unfortunately, the Eagle didn’t credit the photographer.


Columbia, S.C.

Circulation: 71,181

The huge picture on the front of the Columbia, S.C., State by staffer Kim Kim Foster-Tobin shows lit trees reflected in a Hugo Pond, northeast of the city.


Santa Ana, Calif.

Circulation: 270,809

In California, the Orange County Register gave readers presents under a tree, beautifully lit by the setting sun.

The picture is by staffer Leonard Ortiz.


Los Angeles, Calif.

Circulation: 89,990

A “polar” opposite approach was taken by the nearby Daily News of Los Angeles.

The sideways picture is by staffer David Crane.


Anniston, Ala.

Circulation: 19,563

Hey, look! It’s Tim Tebow!

The picture is uncredited.


Columbia, Mo.

Circulation: 6,003

The Missourian ran the classic 1897 New York Sun editorial response to eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon who asked if Santa Claus was real.

The twist: The Missourian shaped the copy block to look like a Christmas tree ornament.


Las Vegas, Nev.

Circulation: 213,078

The Las Vegas Review-Journal gave readers plenty of reasons to not ignore the paper today. The paper ran a giant crossword puzzle on page one, reflecting the largest stories of the year.

The puzzle theme carried through the paper. The nation and world page ran a “match the face to the name” puzzle, the state news page featured a Cryptogram quote, the sports page went with a word find, the biz section relied on a “guess the image” and the features section played up a word jumble.


Stockton, Calif.

Circulation: 35,356

But my very favorite Christmas Day page-one treatment today was this one from the Stockton, Calif., Record.

The Record asked area kids what they wanted for Christmas this year. The designer laid them out atop a Santa Claus suit motif.

Very attractive. And a lot of fun.

So what did the kids of Stockton want for Christmas this year? A lot of it, you could guess.

Some of the requests really make you stop and think.

But some of them are stunning.


What an awesome way to make us all stop and think today, Stockton. Great job.

All these pages are from the Newseum. Of course.

Find four creative Christmas Eve pages here.

A quick look at Tuesday’s stock market front pages

It’s awfully late tonight, but I hated to let the day pass without drawing your attention to a few notable front pages, as found today at the Newseum


It may have been a little difficult to go with the standard huge red fever chart on page one today, given that so many papers led with that very thing for Friday’s editions.

Despite this, a couple of papers did the ol’ fever line beautifully today. One was…


Santa Ana, Calif.

Circulation: 182,964

The folks at the Register showed the numbers over the course of the day, pulling out key moments. The black area beneath the chart worked well as a place to embed the pullouts, a couple of decks and a nice, bold, scary headline.

Now, you could argue that coloring in the area beneath the line turns the standard Dow fever chart into an area chart. And if this is an area chart, this would be an inappropriate way to display Dow data. Because a) This isn’t a zero-based chart. Area charts need to have “zero” as a baseline, because the data you would be showing is the “area” in black.

And b) The Dow isn’t an absolute number anyway, it’s an index. So I’d argue it doesn’t need to be a zero-based chart in the first place.

I think we see Dow charts enough that most folks understand them. So that doesn’t bother me in the least.

Meanwhile, a slightly different tack was taken by the…


Kansas City, Mo.

Circulation: 209,258

The Star chose to go back a week or so.

There’s no hard data — as in pullout numbers — tied to the chart. Instead, we see five vignettes illustrated with small photos. This package serves as a Dow Jones Industrials graph as well as a timeline of the Dow’s recent woes.

It takes a lot of discipline to pull something like this off well. Because the tendency can be to jam too much material into the chart.

And then there was a completely different approach taken by…


Newark, N.J.

Circulation: 229,255

Instead of one big Dow Jones chart, the folks in Newark focused on the markets around the world.

We see six smaller fever lines and a large number showing how much lost over the past five days or so. The “Global meltdown” headline makes it clear we’re looking at the larger picture here.



Pittsburgh, Pa.

Circulation: 190,625

I wouldn’t necessarily call it one of the best. But because I did happen to have a small hand in working on this fever chart front page…

I helped brainstorm and, eventually, did the actual work on the line itself. The page — and package — itself was designed by the very eager and talented Jennifer Johnston. Helping to direct and to nudge the page along was Elizabeth Jackson.

The whole thing came together with a fabulous headline by managing editor Jim Cuddy.



Dubuque, Iowa

Circulation: 27,546

I couldn’t help but notice this big red numeral on the front of the paper in Dubuque, Iowa, today.

Why could I not help noticing it? Because it contrasted a bit with the big red numeral on the front of Iowa’s largest paper, the Des Moines Register.


Which number was correct? I found more front pages today with “-635” than “-634,” so I presume the Register had it correct. But I wouldn’t know for sure.

Seemed odd, however.

And if you thought that was amusing…



Lafayette, Ind.

Circulation: 27,546

Last week, a number of papers used headlines with puns on the words “Dow” and “down.” It only stands to reason that a few more might use it today.

But this one caught my eye.

Mostly because of its close, close similarity to a couple of pages I’ve seen before.

On the left is the Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Pa., on Oct. 7, 2008. In the middle is the Journal Star of Lincoln, Neb., on Feb. 20, 2009. I chewed out Lincoln, at the time, for what I thought was a pretty blatant ripoff of Harrisburg.


On the right, of course, is today’s front by Lafayette. I don’t think they ripped off Harrisburg nearly as bad as Lincoln did. But still, that’s awfully close. Kudos to the designer for at least changing the color, losing one of the “downs” and forgoing the fever chart.



Madison, Wis.

Circulation: 87,629

After the fun we had last week looking at stockerbroker facepalm photos, I was delighted to find someone building a montage of them today.



St. Petersburg, Fla.

Free-distribution daily

So what do you do — if you work at a fun-lovin’ tabloid — to illustrate the roller-coaster ride the markets have have been on lately?


I can’t find a byline on this sucker, which is too bad. The artist or designer — it might have been the same person — deserves some credit.



Huntsville, Ala.

Circulation: 47,366

And while I loved the headline Jim Cuddy came up with for us in Pittsburgh, I thought this one was the best headline of the day.

Nicely done.

Go here to find my look at front pages resulting from last week’s stock crash.

Today’s front page images are from the Newseum. Of course.

Thirty notable front pages showing the final space shuttle launch

Our mission today: To dig through today’s archive at the Newseum and look for 30 interesting front page treatments featuring Friday’s space shuttle launch — the last of the program — as a way of commemorating the 30 years (plus three months) since the first shuttle flight.

That’s a lot of pages, so I’ve tried to organize them for you and to keep the discussion brief today…



As you’d imagine, a number of papers played the launch of Atlantis huge today. Nearly impossibly so. For the most part, this happened in communities where the shuttle program plays an enormous role. The homes of NASA centers, for example. Or where components were assembled or serviced.


Huntsville, Ala.

Circulation: 47,366

By far today’s most outstanding shuttle front page was by my good friends at the Huntsville Times.

Design director Paul Wallen tells us:

The front page was art directed by me with a lot of staff collaboration that included Andy Rossback, Bethany Bickley, Elizabeth Hoekenga, Kevin Wendt and Curtis Coghlan.

The photo is by Chris O’Mera of the Associated Press.

There’s no argument that this was big news in Huntsville. The shuttle was developed by engineers at the big NASA facility there. So the Times blew everything else off of page one today and played up the launch.

They even included the top of page one from April 1981 to show how the paper played the first shuttle launch.

Paul also sent us three of today’s inside pages — facing pages from the A section…


… and a photo page from today’s B section.

All three were all designed by staffer Andy Rossback, Paul says.


Sarasota, Fla.

Circulation: 83,085

The paper in Sarasota also gave poster treatment to the launch today.

The photo is by Philip Scott Andrews of the New York Times.


Orlando, Fla.

Circulation: 187,841

You know it’s truly the end of an era when you see the very last Red Huber shuttle launch photo that on the front of today’s Orlando Sentinel.

Again, the Sentinel also chose to go with a poster treatment. Given the importance of the Shuttle program to Florida, that certainly seems appropriate.


Houston, Texas

Circulation: 364,724

I dare say it’s a bit more unusual for the Houston Chronicle to give poster treatment to anything.

But if they’re going to do it, this would be the day.

The picture is by staffer James Nielsen.


Newport News. Va.

Circulation: 62,610

The very first NASA center was at Langley, Va., just a stone’s throw from Newport News. So the Daily Press here in Hampton Roads has been playing up the end of the shuttle program this week.

Today’s installment: Poster treatment of a photo by Chip Somodevilla of Getty Images.

Now, I love the design of that page and the way the photo was played. But I have a small quibble with the photo itself.

The photo is taken from a vantage point from which the camera can’t see the actual shuttle orbiter itself. All you can see of Atlantis is the right wing. The rest of it is hidden by the huge orange-brown external fuel tank and the two strap-on solid rocket boosters.

The only solution, unfortunately: Find another photo.


Stockton, Calif.

Circulation: 38,194

As you can see, the Stockton, Calif., paper had no such problem with this picture by Morry Gash of the Associated Press. You can see Atlantis itself quite well here.

I love the headline: We’ll never see that again.

That’s a quote by launch director Mike Leinbach, from deep in the story. It was a great idea to pull it out and use it as the main headline.


Salt Lake City, Utah

Circulation: 113,032

The aforementioned solid-rocket boosters were built in Utah. So the Salt Lake City paper played the story huge today as well.

The photo is the same one — by the AP’s Chris O’Meara — used by Huntsville.


Victoria, Texas

Circulation: 28,300

But by far the largest treatment today was that of the Victoria (Texas) Advocate. Which took the opportunity to wrap its entire A section in a huge launch photo.

Click on that one for a much, much larger look.

At that size, the photo comes to life. You could spend all day, just admiring the way the light of the exhaust plume plays off the billowing clouds and off the service tower.

Amazing stuff. Great job today by Kimiko Fieg, the presentation editor of the Advocate.



For years, I’ve been teaching folks to use dramatic vertical or horizontal shapes whenever they can. Dramatically-cropped pictures can make for dramatic pages.

A number of papers went that route today with launch photos…


Philadelphia, Pa.

Circulation: 343,710

Here’s a severely horizontal crop of a picture by Chip Somodevilla of Getty Images.


Tacoma, Wash.

Circulation: 83,199

Same idea, just a bit further downpage in Tacoma.

In fact, the designer could possibly have tightened that crop just a little more to maximize the impact. The photo is by Terry Renna of the Associated Press.


Des Moines, Iowa

Circulation: 108,247

Not only does Des Moines successfully use that same trick, it tosses in some brilliant alliteration to boot.

The picture is by Michael R. Brown of Florida Today.


Arlington Heights, Ill.

Circulation: 104,053

The Daily Herald — in the suburbs of Chicago — used an AP shot that, I suspect, is just a frame or two after the one used by Tacoma.


Santa Ana, Calif.

Circulation: 182,964

The Orange County Register chose the same photo used by Philly…

… shot by Chip Somodevilla of Getty.


Washington, D.C.

Circulation: 550,821

And the Washington Post made excellent use of its extreme horizontal treatment today by backing up to include folks watching and taking pictures of the launch from a nearby pier.

That picture is by Gerry Broome of the Associated Press.



Not quite as many papers found ways to use dramatic verticals today. But those that did found a nice visual payoff.


Harrisburg, Pa.

Circulation: 71,834

The Harrisburg, Pa., paper stacked a black box below its left-side photo, making for a very dramatic presence today.


New York, N.Y.

Circulation: 2,117,796

In what is a very unusual move for them, the Wall Street Journal did the same. Except without the text box. It simply ran the photo all the way down the page.

The picture is credited to Agence France Presse and Getty.


Spokane, Wash.

Circulation: 72,479

Spokane didn’t quite run its picture all the way down the page. But the vertical treatment still worked well here.

That’s an AP photo.


Los Angeles, Calif.

Circulation: 94,192

And the Daily News of Los Angeles took its liftoff photo smaller and used its page-one real estate to play up a nice picture by freelancer Gene Blevins to show Atlantis‘ smoky trail.



Severe horizontals or verticals just weren’t enough for some papers. Some papers resorted to some very unusual shapes in order to built their front pages.


Fargo, N.D.

Circulation: 47,500

The “Hot L” is so last decade. New hotness, perhaps: The “Hot C.”

Hmm. Perhaps not.


Norfolk, Va.

Circulation: 152,198

And the Virginian-Pilot led page one today with a triangular-shaped shuttle launch photo.

I looked at this page for a long time this morning — you’ll recall that this is the paper I get here at home — and I still can’t decide whether or not I like it. I guess you do, if you especially want that local investigative piece out front about the garbage trucks.

Interestingly, the photo — by Phil Sandlin of the Associated Press — has the same problem the Newport News’ lead art did, with the Atlantis orbiter actually hidden by the external tank and the booster rockets.



Part of the problem with space shuttle launches is that they tend to look the same after a while. After you’ve run a few launch photos on page one, you begin to look for an unusual angle or crop that can make your report look different from the last time a shuttle was launched.


Biloxi, Miss.

Circulation: 36,385

The folks in Biloxi chose a very long shot — by Chris O’Mera of the Associated Press — that emphasized the swampy surroundings of the launch pad.

It looks more like an art shot than a news photo. But it seems perfect for this launch in particular.


Tampa, Fla.

Circulation: 164,568

The Tampa Tribune chose an AP shot that was framed by swamp trees.


Manchester, N.H.

Circulation: 46,939

The Manchester, N.H., paper found a local man who was on a passenger jet that happened to fly near Cape Canaveral just after the launch.

The photo isn’t quite as iconic as the one from last May (and displayed on the front of the St. Petersburg Times). But still very nice.

It was taken by Ryan Griff of Bedford, N.H.


St. Petersburg, Fla.

Circulation: 292,441

Speaking of the Times, that paper used a most unusual crop today — one that seemed to focus more on the exhaust cloud than on the shuttle stack itself.

The picture is from the Associated Press.


New York, N.Y.

Circulation: 916,911

Likewise, the New York Times focused not so much on the final launch of the shuttle, but on the final main engine start of the shuttle.

The picture is by Times staffer Philip Scott Andrews, who also scored that lead poster-front photo in Sarasota today.


Melbourne, Fla.

Circulation: 67,970

Yet, this page may be the most unusual of the day. Despite having folks on-site shooting the launch itself — see the front of the Des Moines Register, above — Florida Today led A1 today with a surfing coach pointing out the launch to a couple of his students.

The picture is by staffer Malcolm Denemark.

Cowabunga, dude



And finally, a few papers managed to find headlines or typographical treatments that seemed out of the ordinary today.


Phoenix, Ariz.

Circulation: 337,170

The Arizona Republic ran a headline below its lead photo. But no headline, label or deck above the photo. Instead, it ran the dates the shuttle program started and ended, not unlike a tombstone.

The lead photo there is by Don Emmert of Getty.


Green Bay, Wis.

Circulation: 43,278

The Green Bay paper found a way to say this was the last blastoff without having to use both words.

Very clever indeed.

The lead art is yet another by Getty’s Chip Somodevilla.


Charlotte, N.C.

Circulation: 155,497

The headline atop the Charlotte Observer‘s shuttle package today is a reference to a song. A song that was a No. 1  in 1945.

It’s a cute idea, perhaps. Pop references can make for great headlines. This one just seemed… dated. Despite the fact that the reference was originally by a NASA commentator.

The lead photo is by John Raoux of the Associated Press.


Tallahassee, Fla.

Circulation: 36,178

By the same token, then, this headline — also a reference to a very old Broadway musical — should fail. But it works for me, simply because I can’t believe the folks at the Tallahassee Democrat dared to try to use it.

The play Bye Bye Birdie opened in 1960, launching the career of Dick Van Dyke. Not quite as old as “Sentimental Journey.” But still, older than yours truly. Which is pretty damned old.

Still, though, it makes me laugh. While the Observer headline just makes me scratch my head.

What might not work here is the quote. I wondered if that was a NASA administrator or a famous astronaut or one of the engineers who helped develop the shuttle.

Nope. That’s a quote from the president of Florida State University. Who apparently saw the launch.


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

I’ve published quite a bit of space shuttle work this week.

It’s hard to beat a Fourth-of-July presentation like this

Wow! What a deliciously lush Fourth-of-July presentation that is, wrapping around today’s Orange County Register:

Never mind the fact that today is only the third of July.

Isn’t that outstanding?

The page is part of a wrap. “Today’s front page is on News 3,” that second reverse bar promises readers.

The story: OCR staffer Theresa Walker and poses the question: What does it mean to be an American? A mixture of photos and short essays from local folks provide a variety of answers. Find the online version here.

And no, the lead art here is not any particular U.S. flag from any of the folks in the story. In fact, that’s from iStock Photo.

Average daily circulation for the Orange County Register is 182,964. The paper is based in Santa Ana, Calif.

It’s a struggle, especially on holidays: What do we put out front?

I don’t know about your papers, but places where I’ve worked have problems with rack sales on holidays. It seems that folks are more interested in hitting the road and braking out their grills or heading for the beach and not so enthusiastic about stopping to buy or read a paper.

I’ve written about this phenomenon extensively over the years — here and here and here — and I’ve shown you a number of newsrooms that decided: If we can’t move single-copy papers on a holiday, then let’s do something extraordinary. Something that’s a talker. That will create buzz.

Like the Virginian-Pilot‘s Memorial Day gravestone rubbing. Or the Rock Hill, S.C., Herald‘s Fourth of July U.S. flag front. Or the Wichita (Kan.) Eagle‘s Christmas Card.

All three of those happen to be from 2008. But they’re great examples of what I’m talking about.

Go here to see some fabulous Independence Day front pages from 2009.

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