Just when you think you’ve seen U.S. papers fall into a huge, huge rut, something like a midterm election comes along and — boom! — just like that, dynamite pages are produced all over the country.
It’s taken me a while to pull this together. But hopefully, I can take you on an interesting tour of the best and brightest A1 work done today.
THE DAY’S MOST OUTSTANDING PAGES
My favorite page in the country today was this one by the Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Pa., circulation 77,598:
What’s not to like here? I love the way the designer took down the size of the nameplate. I love the three little vignettes across the top. I love the nicely-cropped portraits in the centerpiece. I loved — Loved! — the main headline. The typography here was immaculate.
Editor David Newhouse tells us:
Our front was a Chris Boehke creation.
Given the nationalized election — yet an election in many pieces — I had asked for an [alternative story form] front integrating our coverage of the state with the whole country. Chris labored over how to organize it so it would offer a ton of information and still be clear and clean.
He did the design and supplied me at the beginning of the night with the length of every single hed and text block. I wrote all the copy to fit.
And, of course, this is Harrisburg we’re talking about here. Harrisburg, which runs a SPADEA every day.
So what did today’s SPADEA look like? Here’s what was laid atop the left side of the page:
The SPADEA was designed by Meg Lavey.
Here’s the entire thing, including the back side. Click for a larger view:
And that one was my very favorite page today.
A number of other pages were definitely in the outstanding category. Earlier today, I showed you this one by the Times of Huntsville, Ala., circulation 54,675:
I love the textured section at the top with old-style multiple decks. I love the lead photo by staffer Bob Gathany. Most of all, though, I love the way that the nameplate has been reversed out of red text, to commemorate the huge GOP victory Tuesday night.
Design director Paul Wallen tells us:
Today’s front page was a collaborative effort.
I started working with some images of paper textures overlaid with patriotic patterns a couple weeks ago when our election advance coverage started cranking up.
I first designed the nameplate and front page treatment that ran in today’s paper, then put together some smaller page toppers and logo treatments with different crops that we used throughout our advance coverage. My goal was to tie all the advance and live coverage together, but save the boldest treatment for today’s front page.
The front page and an inside page from Sunday’s edition.
Note the use of the design motif and texture:
I thought the nameplate reversed in the red texture helped lend a “special coverage” kind of feel, and that red also played subtly into the expected big Republican wins. That worked out well in the end, as it really wound up as an election of historic proportions here for the GOP.
I worked with editor Kevin Wendt in advance on what kind of headline treatments, results and story starts we might want on the front. Our goals were to be bold and festive but also flexible and easy to execute on a tight deadline.
Elizabeth Hoekenga designed the front page and jumps last night, while I handled some inside pages and floated around to help others and keep the trains on schedule. She did a great job of staying cool under pressure, juggling lots of moving parts and working to seamlessly fold in changes as the news took shape through the night.
I truly thought everyone at the Times did a great job, it was one of the smoothest election nights I’ve been a part of.
Next up is the Indianapolis Star, circulation 186,127.
What I liked most here were the vignettes across the top and again, a red reverse bar. Instead of the nameplate, however, this one contained the main headline:
The rest of the page is nice and clean and structure.
Assistant managing editor Scott Goldman tells us:
Yeah, we were really pleased with the page as well.
Design director Ryan Hildebrandt was at the helm last night. That was his fabulous work. Honestly, he sketched out about four versions Monday, and this one was his “extreme” scenario. I loved it right from the start, and we went in planning to “go big” with this kind of look. And then the night went as it did, and very early we knew we had the right play.
We’re always pushing to think differently on Page 1, and our editor and publisher are really stressing the importance of bold presentation every day. We think this one pressed all the right buttons!
I’d like to second Scott’s endorsement of his editor, Dennis Ryerson. I worked for the man back a decade ago, in Des Moines. He’s top-notch. But, then again, so are Scott, Ryan and the rest of the crew in Indy.
Next in today’s hall of fame is another page that wowed me early this morning: The Tribune of Salt Lake City, circulation 112,585:
I’m fascinated with the way design director Colin Smith connected the bar charts with the photos. A subtle touch, but a very nice one. Again, note the rest of the page is nice and clean and typographically immaculate.
Colin tells us:
Well, I can say those little graphics shaved about two years off my life but, for the most part, weren’t too difficult.
All the charts were created ahead of time in Illustrator with dummy data and, as the night wore on, I subbed in the real stuff. Our front-end system allows for an image to be placed on the page and then updated after the fact, so that’s what I did. The number chunks were just text files updated at the same time as the graphics.
Five of the seven inside pages were designed well ahead of deadline, with reporters writing to length. The two wire pages with ads were started by the night editor, then I hopped in and tweaked the design a bit to match the other election pages. The copy desk was responsible for getting all the live photos on the pages and making sure headlines and stories fit. The graphics editor kept a watchful eye on the especially-needy election agate
The final page ended up looking a lot like one of the three prototypes I generated early on, so that was nice, as well. [Here are] the three original prototypes, just in case you wanted to see how the cover evolved:
Click any of these for a larger view:
And all the pages, including the inside ones, are available on my NewsPageDesigner portfolio.
I should add that the two lead photos were taken by staffers Steve Griffin and Chris Detrick.
Next up: The Plain Dealer of Cleveland, which wrapped its entire paper — including a standard front page — in a special Election section:
The lead photo — of the winner of the county executive race — is by staffer John Kuntz.
Assistant managing editor David Kordalski tells us the page was built primarily by Emmet Smith:
This is a good example of local news first, by the way. Sweeping state and national changes are present on the page, but the big story that we could tell exclusively was right in our back yard… The centerpiece election is the culmination of a radical Cuyahoga County government reformulation in the wake of scandal in the commissioners’ office.
In other words: Yeah, the GOP performance nationwide was huge. The new Speaker of the House, in fact, is from Ohio. And that‘s huge. But after all the corruption and and the huge arrests in the local government, the story the Plain Dealer featured here was even bigger.
[Design director] Michael Tribble asked me to respond to your questions about our story play on Wednesday.
While we reflected the Ohio’s role in the gains the GOP made up top, we chose to focus on the culmination of more than two years of intense coverage of county corruption and the resulting reform.
In 2008, the FBI executed early-morning raids the offices of county government officials including county commissioner Jimmy Dimora. The ensuing investigation touched off a furor that crescendoed last year when voters cast their ballots to replace a commission-style system government that pre-dated the Civil War and again this year with federal charges against Dimora of rampant influence peddling for sex, favors and cash.
For context, Emmet sent along four previous Plain Dealer pages. Click any of these, of course, for a larger view.
From left to right: Nov. 1 and Nov. 4 of last year and Sept. 16 and Sept. 19 of this year:
You can also read my post here about that third example, the huge arrest.
Tuesday, the citizens of Cuyahoga County cast their ballots for the first-ever leaders of the new county government. For us, it was a truly historic vote.
For our readers, that’s a pretty big deal and something they will only get from The Plain Dealer.
Average daily circulation for the Plain Dealer is 267,888.
And my final A-list paper of the day: The Las Vegas Sun, which is a separate paper that’s inserted daily into the Las Vegas Review-Journal, circulation 170,123.
A great story. A great photo (by staffer Steve Marcus). Nice, clean typography. Even a great headline, which neatly takes off from Barack Obama‘s campaign slogan from two years ago.
And again, we seen decorative bunting that is played in a subtle way. It’s not so much in my face. And I like that.
Design director Rachel Perkins tells us:
Spencer Holladay and I jointly designed the front today, which went through many crazy versions for the page topper and concept.
We thought when we got in to work yesterday that we likely would not know the outcome at night’s end. So, we had three clever options built for the “Too Close To Call” scenario and two built for what would happen if [Harry Reid] lost.
But he won, so we went with what we have now. There was a lot of discussion over what the headline should be. Kicked around were:
- In for a 5th
- He Did It
…and some not-so-publishable funny ones about that crazy Sharron Angle. Haha.
But then he gave the quote and we all agreed to go with that!
We also had a great Chris Morris illustration that ran inside, showing the budget monster that faces new governor Brian Sandoval.
Rachel posted that today over on the SND Region 2 Facebook page, if you’d like to check it out.
WONDERFUL USE OF PHOTOS
While those were my favorite pages of the day, that doesn’t mean I have any less respect of a number of other Wednesday fronts. Here are a few examples that I thought used photography particularly well.
The big news Tuesday night in Gainesville, Ga., northeast of Atlanta: A local man was elected governor.
The appropriate response for the Gainesville Times: A poster front, featuring a shot by staffer Sara Guevara:
I might have recommended a very slight drop shadow behind that white text, just to lift it off of the light spots in the picture. Despite this, the page is well-done and a fitting tribute to the local hero.
Average daily circulation for the Times is 22,000.
The Journal-Sentinel of Milwaukee showed us Wisconsin’s new governor in a sea of supporters:
That awesome picture is by staffer Michael Sears.
Milwaukee’s Ed Brud tells us:
As most front pages are, it was a bit of a committee effort.
I steered. Sherman Williams, the deputy managing editor of visuals, picked the election photos. Graphic artist Enrique Rodriguez made the graphic fit into that skinny little space. The top editors decided the play. And then I talked them into playing the cool photo the width of the page.
That’s the way it should work. We’d be lucky to make all big-news fronts look this good.
Average daily circulation for the Journal-Sentinel is 190,841.
Next up are a trio of California papers. It’s been a huge week for the San Francisco Chronicle, circualtion 241,330:
That’s a great photo of Gov. Brown and his wife, taken by staffer Brant Ward. I love the arrangement of the downpage text. The only thing I don’t like here is the main headline font, which strikes me as awfully clunky. Can’t fault the designer for that, however.
Down the coast in San Diego, the Union-Tribune — circulation 249,630 — zoomed in on a fabulous shot by Paul Sakuma of the Associated Press:
Again, all the elements are here. Great typography. A very clean page. I especially like the little cutout of the man with the sign in the upper right.
As nice as that is, however, notice how the same photo has just a bit more impact on the front of the Orange County Register of Santa Ana, circulation 236,770:
And, y’know, I’m wondering what kind of optical illusion is causing this. Because the San Diego photo is actually cropped tighter. I suspect that the three super-bold headlines are part of the reason. Perhaps the bunting adds to the effect as well, although that’s actually my least favorite part of the page.
The OCR‘s Daniel Hunt tells us the page was designed by:
Sam Milbee and Scott Albert. Photo editing by Michele Cardon. We got great kudos from the senior editors for hitting every deadline.
In Richmond, the Times-Dispatch — circulation 133,161 — played up a huge picture of one of Virginia’s new Congressmen. Because of the slight motion blur, the photo has an energy or a sort of charm to it that one doesn’t normally see on page one:
The picture is by staffer P. Kevin Morley.
That ad across the bottom, I have to say, is awfully distracting. I feel like Kroger is telling us: Surprise! Didn’t think the Republicans would win, did you?
And down I-95 in Fayetteville, the Observer — circulation 55,412 — performed a fabulous demonstration on why it’s not always good to take my advice.
After all, I usually urge folks to get their lead art higher on the page. Certainly, high enough to be seen above the fold and in the newsrack.
Fayetteville today ran a huge celebration shot — by staffer Paul R. Rubiera — six columns, but where? At the very bottom of A1:
Don’t try this at home, folks, because normally, this won’t work. Never mind the fact that it did work — and very well — this time.
NUMBERS AND CHARTS AND BEARS, OH MY
A few papers had great success today featuring charts or ASF — alternative story form — material on A1 today.
The Los Angeles Times made a particularly baffling choice for its lead A1 photo today — I mean, compare this to the San Francisco, San Diego and Orange County pages above.
But never mind that. Check out the “big number” material, looking particularly elegant downpage:
Very clean. This is pornography for typographers, people. Just wonderful stuff.
Pity about that photo, though.
Average daily circulation for the Times is 616,606.
In Omaha, editors at the World-Herald — circulation 153,340 — chose to downplay Election Night celebration shots and play up the before-and-after Congressional balance charts:
Not what I would have recommended or expected. But it works pretty well. Nice job.
The Beaver County Times of western Pennsylvania went a step further, populating its front page with nothing but headlines, fat refers, mug shots and thumbnail bios of the winners:
Careful attention was taken — you can tell — to make sure the headlines cascaded downward in size as you move down through the page.
Beaver County’s Christopher Ream tells us:
The modular design and teaser concept came from Executive Editor Keith Briscoe. He wanted compartments that I could combine for a bigger display if need be, which I did for the Toomey spot.
I designed the graphics, wrote the teasers and paginated the sucker.
Again, this isn’t something I would have recommended anyone do on election night. But you can’t deny it works.
Average daily circulation for the Beaver County Times is 32,905.
And speaking of ASF material, I was thunderstruck by the inventive approach taken atop A1 today by the News-Press of St. Joseph, Mo.:
That is wacky. Off the wall. Perhaps even slightly insane.
And I love it.
News-Press design director Paul Branson tells us:
What you’re seeing there is basically what happens when I run headlong in the other direction of a vertical rail.
Don’t get me wrong, rails have their place. I just hate them on the front page. They are too confining.
We had a bunch of races that people needed to know about when they walked out their front door and picked up their morning paper. There was no way we could fit that information above the fold into a regular story or even a vertical rail format. So this is what I came up with.
The secret here: [Whether or not] designer Dana Heldenbrand [would be] able to take that energy above the flag and keep it going down the page. If we didn’t pull that off, the whole page would have fallen flat.
I also had all of the pics in place early in the day. I really ought to move to Vegas. I didn’t have to change out one single pic. I basically chose people for whom I didn’t vote. It was that kind of night.
The News-Press does lots of interesting things above its nameplate, in fact. I really need to dig into this paper a little deeper and figure out how they do this stuff. Average daily circulation there is only 29,295.
HISTORIC GUBERNATORIAL FRONTS
Three states made history last night in their choice of governors. Naturally, papers responded appropriately today on A1.
The Albuquerque Journal — circulation 95,469 — focused on New Mexico’s first Hispanic female governor:
The bunting at the top is decorative, but without being too obtrusive. The nice photo is by staffer Roberto E. Rosales.
My beef with this page is that the red labels step on the red-colored Republican numbers in the box at bottom. Better to go with grey or black labels in this case.
Oklahoma elected its first female governor. Here’s the World of Tulsa, circulation 101,508:
The photo is by staffer Matt Barnard.
I like the page except for the gold header above the online refer. Why suddenly introduce a new color into that color scheme? A red-and-blue — or, perhaps, a black or grey — reverse bar might have worked better here.
And my home state of South Carolina, too, elected its first female governor. Here’s the State of Columbia, S.C., circulation 83,923:
The photo is by staffer David Goldman.
In New York, history of a different kind was made when Andrew Cuomo — son of former governor Mario Cuomo — was elected governor himself. I liked very much the fact that three papers chose to look forward to the task ahead.
Here’s the free Metro daily of New York:
The photo is by Andrew Harrer of Bloomberg. The design is by Stephanie Hinderer.
Yeah, winning was the easy part. Now comes the hard part, says the Post-Standard of Syracuse:
The photo is by Mary Altraffer of the Associated Press. Average daily circulation for the Post-Standard is 89,819.
And Newsday of Melville on Long Island — circulation 334,809 — was even more direct: Fix state government. Now, please:
The nice portrait is by Charles Eckert.
As predicted, Republicans pretty much cleaned up last night. Sure, there were a few exceptions. But for the most part, it was a huge red-side victory over the Democrats.
We see lots of interesting language used in today’s headlines.
Yes, Tuesday was a landslide.
The Republicans swept…
…and just plain ol’ took their victory.
I found only one paper that used this tired old political clichÃ©:
A quick glance at the papers that ran those headlines:
- Detroit Free Press, circulation 224,429
- Yakima (Wash.) Herald Republic, circulation 38,077
- Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch, circulation 170,179
- Norfolk, Va., Virginian-Pilot, circulation 164,454
- Austin (Texas) American-Statesman, circulation 140,602
- Asbury Park Press of Neptune, N.J., circulation 121,412
- Nashville Tennessean, circulation 131,960
- Dallas Morning News, circulation 260,659
- New Orleans Times-Picayune, circulation 157,068
- Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, circulation 39,013
But now let’s give props to the very best headlines of the day, shall we?
One of my favorites was one I showed you earlier — afront the Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Pa.:
About the headline, editor David Newhouse tells us:
I actually wrote the (tentative) main hed last week. It was one of those that popped into my head in about a half second. The best kind.
Of course, we had an alternative in the wings if the Democrats did better than expected.
Again, average daily circulation for the Patriot-News is 77,598.
I loved the headline in today’s Kansas City Star, which summed up last night pretty well, I think:
Lead A1 designer Charles Gooch tells us:
The main head was written by our news editor, Chick Howland.
The lead photo is by staffer Shane Keyser. Average daily circulation for the Star is 210,000
The Citizens’ Voice of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., pulled no punches in pointing out what happened last night:
Average daily circulation for the Voice is 47,160.
The Cape Cod Times of Hyanis, Mass., got a belly laugh from me with the boxing pun it made in reference to the state’s 10th Congressional district:
The lead photo is by staffer Christine Hochkeppel. Average daily circulation for the Times is 38,386.
The opposite was the case in Delaware, as you know, where Christine O’Donnell — one of the nation’s most famous Tea Party candidates — did not win. The News Journal of Wilmington — circulation 91,962 — pointed this out with a fabulous headline:
One of my favorite headlines of the day was this play on the old derogatory nickname given years ago to former — and future — California governor Jerry Brown. If Brown ever needs a campaign slogan, this would be the one to use:
That’s the free-distribution San Francisco Examiner, average daily distribution about 200,000.
But for pure out-and-out cleverness, I was thunderstruck by this headline in the Herald of Sanford, N.C., circulation only 8,162:
Isn’t that cool?
Herald editor Billy Liggett tells us:
Thanks, though the story behind it isn’t much.
I wanted either a one- or two-word big headline, and as a place setter, I simply typed the word “Republicans” in because I knew that’d be the theme of the night. When I typed it, I noticed the word “can” at the end and said, “What the hell.” So I highlighted it red and grayed the surrounding letters … still thinking it was a place setter until a more “brilliant” headline came along.
And there you have it. Brilliance by serendipity. You gotta love it.
That lead photo, by the way, was by staffer Wesley Beeson.
Let’s close our look at the day’s best headlines with a special award for this very simple headline. The editor — very wisely, in my opinion — didn’t even try to do anything other than use the simple verb, “beat.”
Feast your eyes on this tongue-twister:
That’s the Herald of Bradenton, Fla., circulation 46,030.
A few papers did manage to have a lot of fun with the results today.
Anyone old enough to remember a) the old song MTA by the Kingston Trio, and b) the old TV commercials for Star Kist tuna, will get a laugh out of this one:
That’s the Boston Herald, circulation 132,551. That photo was by staffer John Wilcox.
We looked at the New York edition of Metro a few minutes ago, but check out how the Philly edition illustrated the GOP takeover of a traditionally Democratic state:
The photoillustration was by art director Benn Storey.
The Daily News — also of Philadelphia; circulation 110,000 — took that same idea a step further:
I’d love to establish credit for that illustration. If you know who did it, please drop me a line.
And we’ll close with the cover of Express, the free commuter tab owned by the Washington Post, with an average daily distribution of 183,916.
Express really nailed what comes next:
Express’ Ernie Smith tells us:
[Art director] Lori Kelley did the work, but she gave credit to the whole freaking design staff. Here’s what she had to say:
Really a team effort since Adam [Griffiths] pitched the story idea and Scott [McCarthy] finessed the type approach. The Express SEAL of approval.
Oh, and I did the inside page…
Click for a (hopefully, readable) larger view:
…I know, I know, I was told not to point growing up, but I honestly can’t help myself.
One other thing I’ll note: Express has an unusual deadline for a daily newspaper: 7 p.m. (Yeah yeah, we know, we know, it’s unfortunate.) That meant we had to lean on a feature like this. And this was really the right choice â€“ it pushed the story forward while preventing us from looking out-of-date the next day.
Nicely done. And a great one to go out on.
With a few exceptions — most duly noted above — the images here are from the daily archive at the Newseum. As aways, Newseum, thanks for maintaining this service for the visual journalism community