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.
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.
The paper in Sarasota also gave poster treatment to the launch today.
The photo is by Philip Scott Andrews of the New York Times.
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.
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.
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.
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 TRIBUNE
Salt Lake City, Utah
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.
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…
Here’s a severely horizontal crop of a picture by Chip Somodevilla of Getty Images.
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 REGISTER
Des Moines, Iowa
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.
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.
ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Santa Ana, Calif.
The Orange County Register chose the same photo used by Philly…
… shot by Chip Somodevilla of Getty.
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.
The Harrisburg, Pa., paper stacked a black box below its left-side photo, making for a very dramatic presence today.
WALL STREET JOURNAL
New York, N.Y.
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 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.
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.
The “Hot L” is so last decade. New hotness, perhaps: The “Hot C.”
Hmm. Perhaps not.
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.
THE SEARCH FOR A DIFFERENT ANGLE
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.
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.
The Tampa Tribune chose an AP shot that was framed by swamp trees.
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 TIMES
St. Petersburg, Fla.
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 TIMES
New York, N.Y.
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.
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.
And finally, a few papers managed to find headlines or typographical treatments that seemed out of the ordinary today.
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 PRESS-GAZETTE
Green Bay, Wis.
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.
The headline atop the Charlotte Observer‘s shuttle package today is a reference to a song. A song that was a No. 1Â 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.
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.