A coloring page. For grown-ups.

The latest stroke of genius from the folks at the Virginian-Pilot: A coloring page.

For grown-ups.

Click for a larger look:


The instructions say:

The Daily Break encourages you to spend a lazy weekend coloring this page drawn by our own Sam Hundley. You may use crayons or colored pencils. Send your finished work to us. The most creative interpretation will be published in The Daily Break. Also, the top two vote-getters will receive a Crayola coloring kit like nothing you ever had as a preschooler.

Send the page, which also can be downloaded on HamptonRoads.com, to The Virginian-Pilot, attention Daily Break coloring contest, 150 W. Brambleton Ave., Norfolk VA 23510. Include your name, city, age, occupation and contact information. Deadline is Aug. 3. Oh, the most important rule: Relax while you color your heart out.

Sam tells us:

The concept was by features editor, Jamesetta Walker. I did the line drawing in a shift — couldn’t come up with anything better than butterfly people and flowers!

Drew it in pieces on pulpy paper towels to get that bleed effect – to conceal my lack of control and skill! Blew the drawings up 150 percent and kinda built the page.

First all black-and-white page in forever. We’ll see how many entries we get.

My favorite touch is actually below the coloring feature: Sam also drew Jamesetta’s mug shot for her column stripped across the bottom of the page:


Average daily circulation for the Virginian-Pilot is 142,476.

Born and raised in Phoenix, Sam started his newspaper career as a staff artist for the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson and moved to the Virginian-Pilot in 1981.


In 1990, Sam moved to the San Jose Mercury News where he was named design director of features, but then returned to the Pilot in 1994.

He’s also the nicest guy you’ll ever meet.

Find Sam’s web site here. Find his Twitter feed here.

Previous posts about Sam and his work at the Pilot:

  • July 6, 2015: You may not have seen Saturday’s most interesting Independence Day front page
  • Sept. 11, 2014: The three best 9/11 anniversary front pages ever
  • May 26, 2014: The day’s best Memorial Day front page
  • July 4, 2013: The one Fourth of July page you really need to see
  • June 11, 2013: An important historical anniversary observed, Sam Hundley style
  • Jan. 29, 2013: The magical properties of a clever illustration
  • Jan. 8, 2013: When illustrating a controversial topic, it helps to have a real, live visual journalism superhero on staff
  • Sept. 26, 2012: A look at the illustrations for the Virginian-Pilot’s NASA history series
  • Sept. 24, 2011: Newsstand alert: Check out the new National Geographic
  • Sept. 21, 2011: Behind those watercolor illustrations in the Virginian-Pilot this week
  • Dec. 18, 2010: A wacky pre-Christmas illustration in the Virginian-Pilot


You may not have seen Saturday’s most interesting Independence Day front page

Saturday’s most unusual Independence Day page treatment may have been one you didn’t see: For some reason, the Virginian-Pilot‘s front page didn’t appear at the Newseum.

Click this for a much larger — and readable — look:


Ace projects designer Sam Hundley tells us:

Paul[Nelson, presentation team leader] asked me to come up with an idea for the 4th and I suggested the Virginia signers [of the Declaration of Independence] because most of them are pretty obscure to a lot of folks.

Agreed. You’ve probably heard of Thomas Jefferson


…but did you know that there was only one set of brothers who signed the Declaration of Independence? Meet the Lee brothers:


What’s more: Robert E. Lee would be born in 1807 into this same family. He later became a famous Confederate army general in the Civil War.

Sam continues:

I found high-resolution facsimiles of the signatures online, Paul found a wonderful litho of their portraits from 1876 at the Library of Congress and Maureen Watts and Jakon Hays in the library researched and wrote the blurbs.

Aimee Crouch copy edited and our new editor, Steve Gunn, got behind it.

Born and raised in Phoenix, Sam started his newspaper career as a staff artist for the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson and moved to the Virginian-Pilot in 1981.


In 1990, Sam moved to the San Jose Mercury News where he was named design director of features, but then returned to the Pilot in 1994.

He’s also the nicest guy you’ll ever meet.

Find Sam’s web site here. Find his Twitter feed here.

Average daily circulation for the Virginian-Pilot is 142,476.

Other outstanding work from the Virginian-Pilot:

Related posts…

  • May 26, 2014: The day’s best Memorial Day front page
  • July 4, 2013: The one Fourth of July page you really need to see
  • June 11, 2013: An important historical anniversary observed, Sam Hundley style
  • Jan. 29, 2013: The magical properties of a clever illustration
  • Jan. 8, 2013: When illustrating a controversial topic, it helps to have a real, live visual journalism superhero on staff
  • Sept. 26, 2012: A look at the illustrations for the Virginian-Pilot’s NASA history series
  • Sept. 24, 2011: Newsstand alert: Check out the new National Geographic
  • Sept. 21, 2011: Behind those watercolor illustrations in the Virginian-Pilot this week
  • Dec. 18, 2010: A wacky pre-Christmas illustration in the Virginian-Pilot

Virginian-Pilot’s Robert Suhay nearing the end of another world-record solo sailing trip

As the A1 designer for the Virginian-Pilot, Robert Suhay is the guy who designs many of the Pilot front pages we gush over at the Newseum.


But Robert is special in a lot of other ways, too. Last summer, he set a new world record for sailing solo on a dinghy when he trekked 326 miles up and down the Chesapeake Bay. In the face of an approaching tropical storm, no less.


This week, Robert set out to not only shatter his own record, but to do it in spectacular fashion. And he’s been wildly successful. First, he gathered up sponsors who supplied the dinghy — he dubbed it the Insomnia — custom-made sails, GPS equipment and other special gear.


Photos from Robert Suhay’s web site.

Tuesday, he set out from Beaufort, N.C…

…sailed solo around the treacherous Cape Hatteras, along North Carolina’s Outer Banks — you know, where a rash of shark attacks have happened this summer — through Hampton Roads, and up the Chesapeake Bay.


Robert surpassed his record around 6:30 EDT this morning, his wife, Lisa, reports via Twitter:


His plan is to land near Annapolis, Maryland, later today.

UPDATE: Minutes after I posted this, it appears Robert may be done. Tracking data shows him ashore at Adams Island, Maryland. We’ll have to wait and see whether or not he broke his own record.

Read more on Robert’s web site.

Follow his actual tracking data here.

Lisa hired a boat to take her out to see Robert as he passed through his home waters of Hampton Roads Thursday night.

Read her piece here in the Virginian-Pilot.

Robert’s friends have been showing their support via Twitter by posting selfies with his sail number written on their hands. Here’s mine:


Post yours with the hashtag #SailSelfie.

Find Robert’s Twitter feed here, but keep in mind: He’s a little too busy right not to tweet. If you want to track the end of his journey today, you might follow Lisa instead.

Go here to read more about Robert’s record-setting event last summer.

The day’s nine best gay marriage front pages

Here’s a look at what I feel are the nine best front pages today dealing with Friday’s landmark Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage.

Newark, N.J.
Circulation: 278,940

If you haven’t seen this page already, then you’re probably not spending enough time on social media.

This is the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., which elected to lead today’s front page with a charmingly simple illustration of a rainbow heart and the closing lines of Friday’s majority opinion, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy.


That was designed by the Star-Ledger‘s sports designer, Kiersten Schmidt — who is soon leaving the business, she says, to go to grad school at the University of North Carolina.

Kiersten wrote last night on her Facebook timeline:

In my last few months as a newspaper designer, I’ve been fortunate to design pages for some pretty cool events — the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years, the 29th player in MLB history to reach 3,000 hits (who also happens to be one of my favorite players) — but this one was far and away the best.

As I move onto North Carolina and a (ever-so-slight) career change, this is the page that will stay with me.

To be honest, a lot of days it feels like what I do doesn’t really matter. Not today. Today I decided to stray away from what you’re “supposed” to do when big news breaks because I felt that today’s news deserved something a bit more.

I hope when the people of New Jersey pick up their papers on Saturday, they feel the happiness in their heart that I felt when I designed this page. I hope they think of this page and Kennedy’s words when they remember the day we all became a little more equal.

Love wins. And good design matters.

Nicely done.

Find Kiersten’s web site and portfolio here.

Cleveland, Ohio
Circulation: 246,571

The Cleveland Plain Dealer also led today with just the text of Justice Kennedy’s


The text against the stark black background is very sharp indeed.

This was designed by Josh Crutchmer, I’m told. Which explains why it looks so awesome.

Norfolk, Va.
Circulation: 142,476

From a stark black background to a stark white background: The Virginian-Pilot today also used that same excerpt.


Notice how designer Wes Watson used the same trick Josh did in Cleveland: He emphasized that last emphatic sentence.

Wesley tells us:

As I understand it, Paul [Nelson, design team leader] and new editor Steve Gunn had the idea at the same time to use the excerpt as the front.

So Paul had me work it up quickly to see how it would play out. I knew I didn’t want to knockout text; I wanted it as light and fresh as possible. We tried a couple of versions where we had another story and refers, and then just refers. My feeling was if we’re going to dedicate this much space — because we’re saying this is important — having anything else out there takes away from that message. And everyone seemed to agree.

So we removed everything else we could all the way down to the barcode. Simple and clean.

Mountain Home, Ark.
Circulation: 9,156

I realize this is probably stock art…


But, hey: I’d argue it’s the perfect piece of stock art, used in the perfect way on the perfect day.

UPDATE: I’m told this was designed by Valeria Rodriguez of the Gannett Design Studio in Des Moines.

San Francisco, Calif.
Circulation: 229,176

In San Francisco — ground-zero for the fight for same-sex marriage — the Chronicle published this fabulous front page today.


That is Jewelle Gomez and Diane Sabin, who were plaintiffs in a 2004 lawsuit involving gay marriage, at a City Hall news conference. Staffer Tim Hussin caught them in silhouette, against what appears to be a gay pride flag.

Omaha, Neb.
Circulation: 135,223

A number of papers went out to find local folks rushing to be the first married under the new world order.

In Omaha, Jenna Stanley and Kelly Brokaw had planned to get married in Iowa this weekend. But the ruling Friday morning caused them to move up their schedule and to stay at home.


The picture is by staffer Ryan Soderlin.

Note how clean that page is. When you have a gorgeous picture like that and it tells your story well, you know the drill: Play it big and get the hell out of its way.

UPDATE: I’m told this page was designed by Tim Parks.

Clarksville, Tenn.
Circulation: 14,596

That’s exactly what the folks did at the Leaf-Chronicle of Clarksville, Tenn.

Meet Travis Arms and Michael Vanzant, now husband and husband. Staffer Autumn Allison photographed them getting married by the Montgomery County Commissioner himself.


Nice headline, too.

Victoria, Texas
Circulation: 26,531

My former colleagues at the Victoria Advocate — deep in conservative South Texas — also ran their lead art big today and got the hell out of its way.


That’s Nicole Dimetman and Cleo DeLeon at Central Presbyterian Church in Austin Friday evening, photographed by staffer Jaime R. Carrero. The local significance: DeLeon is a descendent of Victoria’s founding family.

The wonderful Jessica Rodrigo had superb access to Ms. DeLeon for several months and wrote a great piece for today’s paper. Read it here.

That terrific page: Run it big. Get the hell out of its way. Right? That’s Kimiko Fieg, who’s semi-retiring this month after a decade or so as the Advocate‘s presentation editor.

Also, for what it’s worth, I left the Advocate with an exhaustive — but, sadly, incomplete — timeline history starting with the birth of the modern Gay Rights movement in New York City in 1969 and running through… well, my last day on Wednesday. My former colleagues updated the timeline and ran it in today’s paper.


In addition, my pal Jordan Rubio converted my work into an interactive version. Find that here.

Springfield, Mo.
Circulation: 35,531

But the award for luckiest shot of the day — which made for perfect lead art, if somewhat accidental — is this picture by Valerie Mosley of the Springfield, Mo., News-Leader of a rainbow after a Friday afternoon rain.


Does that sum up the story perfectly, or what?

UPDATE: This page, I’m told, was designed by Eric Fields and Sean McKeown-Young.

I put out a few messages this morning, seeking names of designers and so on. If you have any information to share — especially a few sentences on how the page came together — please send it to me. I’ll add it here as quickly as I can.

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

Charles Apple moving to the Houston Chronicle

My stay here in Victoria, Texas, has turned out to be a brief one. I’m headed two hours up the road to become assistant design editor for the Houston Chronicle.


I’m a graduate of Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C. — although it wasn’t Winthrop University when I was there. It was just plain ol’ Winthrop College. I graduated in 1984 after several years of working in the school’s sports information operation and stringing for the Charlotte Observer.

Two pictures of me at the Athens Banner-Herald,
around 1987 or so. On the left is my first Mac.
On the right, I’m drawing an editorial cartoon.

I spent several years working at small papers: the Athens, Ga., Banner-Herald and Daily News and the Rock Hill Herald.


I joined the staff of the Raleigh, N.C. News & Observer in 1993, won a handful of SND awards for graphics and graphics reporting.




Among the many talented folks I worked with there:

  • Our editor, Frank Daniels III, who went out to found TotalSports.com and who now is community conversations editor and a columnist for the Nashville Tennessean.
  • Our city editor-turned-editor, Anders Gyllenhaal, who’d go on to become editor of the Miami Herald and who is now vice president of news and the Washington editor for McClatchy.
  • Our projects editor, Melanie Sill, who spent several years as editor of the Sacramento Bee and who is now vice president for content at Southern California Public Radio in Pasadena.
  • Our design director, Damon Cain, who’s now managing editor for presentation and design at the Denver Post.
  • Stuart Leavenworth, who’s currently the McClatchy bureau chief in Beijing.
  • And our Chapel Hill bureau chief, Nancy Barnes, who spent six years as editor of the Minneapolis Star Tribune and who is now the editor of the Houston Chronicle.

I was there only a brief time before I was hired away by the Chicago Tribune in 1996.


I entered the world of management in 1999 at the Des Moines Register


…and then moved to the Virginian-Pilot in 2003.


Here I am in 2007, with my award-winning Virginian-Pilot graphics staff.


After the Pilot eliminated my department and my position, I spent a brief time as an art director for the Sporting News in Charlotte, N.C.

For the next four-and-a-half years, I worked as as a free-lance instructor, consultant, writer and designer, teaching news design and graphics seminars around the country. I spent a total of eight months teaching at and consulting for the Media24 newspaper chain of South Africa.


I’ve also taught in the Philippines…


…in Nigeria…


…and in Kenya.


Mostly, though, I blogged.


Blogging has never paid anything. But during my long years out of work, it keep me productive and positive — at times — and it allowed me to help make your life and your job a little easier. And, perhaps, a little more fun.

Or, at least, that was my hope.

In 2013, I was hired by the Orange County Register of Santa Ana, Calif., in the southern suburbs of Los Angeles, not far from Anaheim and Disneyland. Basically, they gave me a full page five days a week and told me I could do anything I wanted with it. The only real instruction: Make it spectacular.

And so I tried to do that.





Focus page editor was the greatest job a research geek like me could have. It was fun for nearly two years — until cycle after cycle of layoffs and furloughs and news reports suggested that the situation at the Orange County Register might not be as secure as I had hoped.

Not wanting to have yet another job die under me, I tried to go proactive: Last December, I became managing editor for visuals of the Victoria Advocate — a small, family-owned newspaper that wasn’t likely to go anywhere, anytime soon.

I’ve done pretty good work, I think.



But yet, it’s not been a good fit.

That’s where my old Raleigh friend, Nancy, comes in.


I’ll start at the Chronicle on Monday the 29th. I’ll be working with the paper’s news presentation and projects design.

Added bonus: I imagine I’ll be building a lot of work that originates with the Chronicle‘s investigations and enterprise team. That team is led by Maria Carillo, who was my managing editor at the Virginian-Pilot.

It’s an awfully small world, isn’t it?

I live in Victoria with my 22-year-old daughter, Elizabeth. My wife, Sharon — a special ed teacher — never made the move to California and she also doesn’t live with us in Victoria. She moved in with her folks in Lilburn, Ga. — outside of Atlanta — and helps care for them. She comes to visit every few months or so…


…and, in fact, will be here next week to help plan our move to Houston.

What will become of this blog? I’ll keep on posting as often as I can — which might not be very frequently over the next few weeks. I’ll keep the blog alive as long as it’s useful to us in newspaper land.

Want to see more samples of my work? I’m in the process of overhauling my NewsPageDesigner portfolio. You can find it here.

I’m all over social media: I’m on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. If you’ve not friended me, please feel free.

You know where to find my blog. Obviously.

Erica Smith named digital news editor of the Virginian-Pilot

Longtime Midwest-based print and digital journalist Erica Smith is moving to the Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk, Va.


She tells us:

The digital news editor (that’s me!) is going to help push the Pilot from being an excellent newspaper to being an excellent media company. That means we’re going to be trying some new things online.

She starts April 27, she says.

A 1999 graduate of Northwest Missouri State University, Erica spent three years as a designer for the Times of Munster, Ind., before moving to the News Tribune of Tacoma, Wash., for a year. She returned to Munster as design editor in 2004 and moved to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch as a news designer in 2006. She slid over to the interactive side in 2008 as a multimedia producer and then was named social media editor in 2010.

She left newspapers in 2012 to become “curator in chief” for Infuz, a digital marketing agency in St. Louis. She moved to Real Time STL in 2013 and then to her current position last summer as an online producer for St. Louis Public Radio.

Erica has run a number of other sites, too. Among them:

  • Paper Cuts, which tracks the number and locations of newspaper layoffs across the U.S.
  • The Story of Man, where she collects headlines that say “man did this” or “man does that.” Funny stuff.
  • Live & Kern, a general interest blog. “Wisdom and whimsy in generous doses,” she calls it.

Find her personal web site here and her Twitter feed here.

Photographer-turned-editor Denis Finley to leave the Virginian-Pilot

I loved working for Denis Finley at the Virginian-Pilot. He was a terrific managing editor and then an even better editor.


But after 28 years at the Virginian-Pilot — the last ten as the top dawg — Denis is leaving the paper.

My former colleague Joanne Kimerblin reports:

Finley has led the 150-year-old Pilot during some of the industry’s most challenging times. As traditional newspapers struggle to navigate the digital age, layoffs and downsizing have become facts of life. The Pilot has not been immune.

That “tremendous pressure,” Finley said, is one thing he won’t miss about his job: “It takes its toll on a person. I’ve been thinking about this for a year or so now. I resisted because I wanted to be here for my staff.”

Evidently, it’s been very tough lately there at the Pilot. Despite the cutbacks and layoffs and buyouts and whatnot, the staff there put together an earthshaking series of investigative reports on the mayor of Virginia Beach that caused the mayor to step down from his day job at a local bank. The Columbia Journalism Review lauded the Pilot for its work despite the layoffs.

Just two months later, that same CJR reporter wrote a piece about how ownership at the Pilot subsequently put pressure on the newsroom to dial it back a few notches.

Was it really as bad as all that? It’s not for me to say. I can tell you, though, that the owner of Landmark Communications put his entire company on the block in late 2007/early 2008. He sold the Weather Channel to NBC, and his other two dailies — the Greensboro, N.C., News & Record and the Roanoke Times — to Berkshire Hathaway.

The Pilot still sits there in the petshop window, all forlorn, staring at potential buyers with puppy dog eyes. Yet, no little boy or girl has come along, willing to adopt it.

And despite all this — the Pilot is still consistently the best looking newspaper in the country.

A 1975 honors graduate from Temple University in Philadelphia, Denis worked as a cook, a pastry chef and a bartender before heading to the University of Missouri to earn a master’s degree in photojournalism. Which he did in 1987.

Joanne reports in her story:

In [the Mizzou] library, he saw his first copy of The Pilot.

“That was it,” he said. “I knew right then I wanted to work here.”

He joined the Pilot that year as a photographer and then worked as photo editor, features editor and news editor before becoming deputy managing editor for presentation in 1999. He was later promoted to managing editor and then editor in 2005.

He hired me to be his graphics editor in 2003. I worked there just shy of five years.


Find Dennis’ Twitter feed here.

Find the Pilot‘s story here. And while you’re there, make sure you shuffle through the 14-part photo gallery to see a few of Denis’ old pictures and at least one old picture of Denis himself.

He had hair at some point! Can you imagine that?

Springing forward with enormous sets of bar charts

As you know — and as you perhaps struggled with over the past couple of days — daylight saving time went into effect early Sunday.

I built this timeline history for Sunday’s Victoria Advocate.


Click that for a much larger, readable version. Or, better yet, follow this link to read the online version.

In the far right chunk of intro copy, I addressed what we call daylight saving time: It’s “saving” and not “savings,” and it’s all lower-case letters with no hyphenation. I’ll bet money I’m the only journalist who wrote about daylight saving time this weekend who quoted Mignon Fogarty, better known as Grammar Girl. I’m rather proud of that.

The photo up top is a five-year-old file photo by the talented Frank Tilley.

This page was a revised version of a Focus page I did last fall for the Orange County Register.


But the real reason I’m showing this to you is the back page of the Your Life section in Sunday’s Advocate: This enormous diagram showing the number of daylight and nighttime hours for every day of the year.


Again, click on that for a much larger look.

Down the side are various superlatives: Longest day, shortest day, earliest sunrise, earliest sunset and so on. The little notches are the days daylight saving time kicks in and out.

And that page, too, is a do-over of a Focus page I built a year-and-a-half ago for the Orange County Register.


Note, however, that the gigantic bar chart — with more than 1,000 separate data points — had to be redrawn from scratch. Victoria, Texas, and Santa Ana, Calif., are at completely different latitudes. The longest day of summer in Texas is a whole 22 minutes shorter than the longest day in California.

So what would this chart look like if it were drawn for a city way up north — say, a city like Fargo, N.D.?

Glad you asked. My friends at the Fargo Forum also drew a version of this chart for Sunday’s paper.


That was built by the Forum‘s Troy Becker. When I was teaching at the Forum a couple of weeks ago, I showed them this chart and suggested they try it for the day the clocks changed. Troy was brave enough to give it a try.

But talk about a difference in latitude! The longest day of the year in Fargo lasts nearly 15 hours and 53 minutes — that’s a whole hour and 49 minutes longer than it is here in South Texas.

Graphically, this manifests itself in a curvier curve on Fargo’s huge bar chart.


Fargo’s is on the right. Texas is in the center. My old California chart is on the left.

The Forum ran this inside Sunday’s paper. Out front, the Forum ran a story about a local man who changes the giant clocks in the tower atop the Cass County Courthouse.


Read the story here by the Forum‘s Archie Ingersoll.

Note the nice A1 refer to Troy’s graphic.

So, where did all that info come from? Troy built this fun little piece to demonstrate the creative process behind this project.


Ah, yes. Very cute. But seriously…

1) Find a reliable listing of sunrise and sunset data for your area for the entire year. Or if, like Troy, you want to go more than an entire year. My favorite source for this type of data is TimeAndDate.com.

2) Convert all the data — sunrise and amount of sunlight hours — to minutes and then chart them using Adobe Illustrator.

3) Make sure all the data is charted to the same scale. You could probably build all this using stacked bars, but I build mine separately and then stack the bars manually.

4) Once all the bars are in place, group them and then fill with whatever gradient turns you on.

5)Very carefully place all the labels. After all that work, you wouldn’t want to make a mistake at this point.

OK, so there’s an idea for you to rip off — with my compliments. A timeline history of daylight saving time plus an enormous light/dark bar chart.

Daylight saving time ends on Nov. 1 and will resume again on March 13, 2016. Reserve some space now.

Longtime Virginian-Pilot photo editor Martin Smith-Rodden to teach at Ball State

My old colleague Martin Smith-Rodden — a photo editor who’s been at the Virginian-Pilot for 29 years posted on his Facebook timeline this week:

I’ve accepted an appointment to the Ball State University Journalism Program in Indiana for a tenure-track assistant professor position.


Ball State is a forward-thinking program, with a dynamic faculty, and students that, by all indications, seem driven, intellectually curious and bright. And for some reason they like the idea of this quirky hybrid scholar-practitioner that is Dr. Smith-Rodden. Honestly, I’ve never gone anywhere professionally where I’ve felt more welcome. In a word: wow.

This makes it a dream job – and, for me, I guess this makes it two dream jobs in a row. Leaving Scotts Creek, Portsmouth, Norfolk and The Pilot this summer will be harder that you know — parachuting out of a nest and a life that has been nearly 3 decades in the making, which started with Bob Lynn bringing me here in 1986. Hampton Roads: you guys are stuck with me until this summer.

Martin worked as a photojournalist for the Journal newspapers of the Washington D.C. area before joining the San Antonio Light in 1983. He moved to the Pilot in 1986 as a shooter. He moved into photo editing in 2005.

A few samples of his photo editing work, especially on the Pilot‘s weekly Eyewitness photo page.






Martin earned a degree in sociology from Virginia Wesleyan in 2003, a master’s degree in experimental psychology from Old Dominion University in 2010 and a Ph.D. in applied psychology in 2013.

And, in case you’re wondering: Yes, he’ll be teaching journalism at Ball State. Not psychology. Martin is currently teaching journalism as an adjunct at Virginia Wesleyan.

Martin’s wife, Pam, is vice president of communications and marketing for the United Way of South Hampton Roads. She reports on her own Facebook page that she’s applying for jobs in Indianapolis.

Find Martin’s web site here, his photo editing and design portfolio here and his Twitter feed here.

Fun headline alert

From the sports front of yesterday’s Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk, Va., this headline is about San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner and his heroics in Game Seven of the World Series.


Heh. Thanks to Lisa Suhay for posting this on Facebook yesterday.

The three best 9/11 anniversary front pages ever

Today is what I call an “odd-year” anniversary — rather than the 5th or 10th or 20th, this is the 13th — of the horrific terrorist attacks of 9/11.

A handful of papers did large front-page displays today. The best I saw was this one by the Villages Daily Sun of Florida:


That page was designed by senior designer Adam Rogers. The image is from the Newseum. Of course.

If you’d like to see more, Poynter’s Kristen Hare compiled a roundup of 9/11 anniversary pages. Find those here.

Three years ago, many of the nation’s newspapers went all-out observing the tenth anniversary of 9/11. I thought I’d observe the day by showing you two of those plus an earlier anniversary page.

Cleveland Plain Dealer

Andrea created what I called “the most stunning 9/11 image” of the day on the tenth anniversary of 9/11 with this illustration for a special section cover.


Andrea told me that day:

The editors at the paper told me a while ago that I would be doing this cover. So I had been carrying it around in my head. I knew it was going to be practically impossible for one image to say enough.

Finally, I decided to just make an image that expressed how I felt and hope others could relate. I tried hard to make something that didn’t exclude others in the world, even though it is an American tragedy.

The editors had me write some words to accompany the art. The whole experience was just a terrific opportunity.

Here are those words, that also ran in the section:

I made many drawings for this, but in the end, I was left with no flags, no planes, no buildings. Just the human toll.

This image is at once a plea, a scream, an admonition. It is loss of innocence. But it is also conviction. Conviction that we will reach past this and any other tragedy.

San Jose Mercury News

This one, too, published on the tenth anniversary.

Initially, I was a bit confused by this cover: Words? What th’…

But then I downloaded the PDF and took a closer look. Boom — the next 20 minutes instantly disappeared. This page really sucked me in. But I had to actually read it to “get” it.

So please click on this and check out the readable version:


This wrapped around the Merc — in fact, it wrapped around all three of the Bay Area News Group papers that day.

Design director Tiffany Pease told me:

The story is really amazing.

Our reporter, Julia Prodis Sulek, was given access to voicemails left for Flight 93 passenger Mark Bingham as the events of 9/11 were unfolding. The cover is the transcript of those voicemails, which were provided by Bingham’s mom (the hands at the top).

The page was designed by Tiffany, deputy design director Alex Fong — whose birthday happens to be on 9/11— and picture editor Jami Smith.

The entire story is still posted on the Merc‘s web site. Find that here.


Unlike those first two pages, this one ran on the fifth anniversary of 9/11.


That won a gold award from the Society for News Design.

I wrote about this page at the time, but that blog post is long gone. Instead, let’s take a look at what Sam wrote on his portfolio web site about this page…

While trying to come up with an idea for the front page of The Virginian-Pilot on the fifth anniversary of 9/11, I sketched out four vertical lines with a diagonal line crossing through them, showing “5″ – and it dawned on me that there was something there, something important, but I didn’t know what. I remember that as I looked at the sketch, I actually heard a voice, rising up from my subconscious, screaming at me from within, “It’s the Twin Towers! And a plane!”

I was mortified. I felt that “thud” in my heart, as if all the horror of that day was happening again, for the first time.

If possible, I wanted other people to feel that way when they looked at this front page.

It continues to amaze me that Denis Finley, the editor of The V-P, and Deb Withey, then Director of Presentation, got behind this very subjective graphic image and cleared everything else off the front. They put a lot of faith in the readers to make that leap. Underneath the image, in small type are the words, “The World Trade Center | 2,749 killed.”

It was controversial, to be sure, and I’ll never know what percentage of readers saw the double image. But I hope a majority did…

I was graphics editor at the Pilot when this page ran. I had nothing at all to do with this page. But I can vouch for what Sam said: The first time I saw a proof of it, I felt the air suck out of my body — as if I had been punched in the stomach. The page just seemed so… perfect.

There was a bit of discussion on how to render the five lines. Sam tried several. In the end, it was decided the spontaneity of Sam’s original sketch worked best. So that’s what they went with.

The second thing that stunned me about this page: There’s no nameplate. Just a tiny folio line across the top. This was the first time I had ever seen anyone do this.

What a page by Sam. What boldness by Denis and Deb.

What a result.


The ninth anniversary…

The tenth anniversary…

The eleventh anniversary…


  • Go here to see the Newseum‘s collection of pages from the day after 9/11
  • Go here to see the Newseum‘s collection of tenth anniversary pages from Sept. 11, 2011.

A classic problem: No lead art for your great centerpiece story

It’s a problem we all run into: How do you turn a story with no lead art at all into a highly-visual centerpiece story?

Sometimes, you have to use a little sleight-of-hand.

That’s what the Virginian-Pilot did today with the Russian hacker story.


UPDATE – 5:14 p.m. CDT

Design team leader Paul Nelson tells us about a cool Easter egg:

As an added bonus, the binary code in the background repeats “hacked.”

On a day when many papers led with the shooting death in Afghanistan of a U.S. general, the Pilot with with a story that might inspire a little outrage and a little apprehension among readers. What did the Russian hackers steal, exactly? What might they do with that data?

But while the lead visual is interesting and certainly puts the “digital” cue out there, I’d argue what makes this package work so well are the three little orange lines of text embedded in all those ones and zeroes. Essentially, they are bullet points in disguise:

  • 1.2 billion pilfered usernames and passwords
  • 500 million stolen email addresses
  • 420,000 breached websites

But even better are the two breakout boxes along the right side of the package:


Pulling information out into fact boxes like this isn’t really all that difficult to do. So how come we — as an industry — don’t do it more often?

Nobody does it as well — or as consistently — as the Virginian-Pilot. That page was designed by Justin Morrison.

Similarly, I enjoyed this front page today — also a great story but with no lead art to speak of — from the Herald-Tribune of Sarasota, Fla. and designed by Kylee Cress:


It’s a collection of quotes. Note how the designer greyed them all back to take the edge off of the words by reducing the contrast just a smidge. This also allows the “punchline” — the red headline at the bottom right — to pop just a bit more. It wouldn’t have worked as well with solid black quotes.

It’s subtle touches like this that make papers like the Herald-Tribune and the Virginian-Pilot sing.

And, of course, both of these examples show you don’t always have to have an elaborate visual to illustrate a centerpiece story. The greatest illustration tool you have is your brain.

Both pages are from the Newseum. Of course.

Virginian-Pilot’s Robert Suhay going for a world sailing record

As you read this, Robert Suhay — who has designed so many of those Virginian-Pilot front pages we’ve all drooled over — is alone, smack in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay.

And, most likely, he’s loving it.


Robert is spending this week in pursuit of a world record for the unassisted solo sailing of a dinghy. To break the record, Robert must complete 300 nautical miles. He’s aiming for a 317 nautical mile — that’s 365 statute miles — trip from Norfolk to Pooles Island Light, just past Baltimore. And back.

What is a dinghy? This little guy, on the right:


It’s only 14 feet, 5 inches long and it’s made by a company called Laser. Therefore, Robert’s wife, Lisa — a freelance commentary writer and author — is promoting the trip as a Laser sailing record.

In the wee hours of Sunday, Robert prepared his vessel…


…and launched into the Elizabeth River that runs west of Norfolk, near the Suhays’ home. Lisa snapped this next picture at 5:08 a.m. Sunday — Robert launched an hour or so behind his original schedule.


Note the interesting contrast with the humongous container ship in the background.

The plan was for Robert to sail under the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel, past the Old Point Comfort Lighthouse near Hampton and then enter the Chesapeake Bay proper. His route, again, will carry him north past Baltimore and back.

So, how’s he doing? Lisa spent much of Sunday unsure, and it was driving her crazy. Robert’s equipped with an Android phone and a Magellan GPS, which he bought after his last attempt at the record. Paul Pierre-Louis of the Baltimore Sun reported:

Last year, he successfully made a 170-nautical-mile trip to Annapolis in 31 hours but feared that strong winds would slow him on the way back to Norfolk.

This time, however, Lisa stopped hearing from Robert after just four-and-a-half hours after he departed Norfolk.

At 5 p.m. Sunday, she was alerted that he had been sighted in the shipping lane north of Matthews, Va. He was spotted again at 5:30 this morning by a container ship near the mouth of the Potomac.

She notified the Coast Guard this morning about the communications blackout — y’know, just in case. She writes she has received

…reports from mariners who have sighted Robert Monday that the Android phone got wet, despite the waterproof case, and has been rendered inert.

That means no communication via tweet, text, or the GPS locator chip that our carrier, T-Mobile, could otherwise access to locate my sailing spouse.

Lisa wrote elsewhere that the Coast Guard…

…is still looking to make a visual confirmation with no assistance rendered that would affect his record attempt.

Around noon EDT today, Robert was seen near Tilghman Island — meaning he was getting pretty close to Annapolis. So he’s making decent time.

Just before I posted this item yet another update rolled in. Lisa writes the Robert was…

…spotted by Maury Niebur off Thomas Point, Md.


Standing to stretch.

That would have been around 4 p.m. EDT today.

A 1985 graduate of New Jersey’s Monmouth University, Robert Suhay spent 15 years as a reporter and for the Asbury Park Press before moving to the Beaver County Times of suburban Pittsburgh.


Robert moved to the Virginian-Pilot in 2003. He was promoted to assistant director of presentation in 2011. He also spent eight years teaching as an adjunct at Norfolk’s Old Dominion University.

Robert turned 51 on Friday.


Lisa tells us:

Since his communications are out, we have initiated a Spot the Sail challenge. Anyone who spots him wins a signed Norfolk Mermaid book!


This would be Lisa’s book, There Goes a Mermaid! A Norfolktale, illustrated by the Pilot‘s legendary Sam Hundley.

Sail #168317. Send us news & photos too! Tweet:


or Email to:

Lsuhays3 [at] gmail.com

Going sideways on page one

The Newseum‘s Paul Sparrow asks today via Twitter:


Here’s the page to which he refers:


The story in today’s Herald-Tribune of Sarasota is about a long-awaited, 880,000-square-foot shopping mall going up in the area. Folks there are getting excited because it’s looking nearly done. But it won’t open for another four months.

The choice to go sideways with the presentation was a bold choice — and, I think, a good one — because that’s what the story was about: The visual of that mall, just sitting there, taunting eager shoppers. But not quite ready yet for business.


Notice how the headline plays off of the story beautifully. And the headline and story are turned sideways to match the picture because: How else would you play it?


Herald-Tribune graphics editor Jennifer Borresen tells us:

We have a great photo editor, Mike Lang, who shot the new mall that is going in here. It’s going to be a high-end mall/destination place.

He stitched the photos together. I think they realized early on yesterday that it would not have as much impact horizontal on the page.

Nicely done.

The downside of that package: There’s precious little above the fold to suggest to readers what that story is about. You could argue that space might be better used for a headline or picture that might help sell the paper out of a rack or convenience store.

But I’d argue this story is a talker. Playing it in an unusual way just enhances the viral nature of the story. I wouldn’t suggest doing this every day. But once in a while, when the content just begs for a horizontal treatment? Sure.

And, to answer Paul’s question — As a matter of fact, I have seen it before. But only because I’ve been collecting unusual pages like this for so long.

Folks turn features pages and infographics sideways all the time. Here’s a features front from the Virginian-Pilot in January 2013, for example.


I try not to do it too often, but if the content works better horizontally, I’ll turn my Focus pages in the Orange County Register sideways. My page for this coming Monday will be sideways, in fact.

And several papers have gone sideways with their sports fronts. There’s even a designer at Gannett’s Des Moines studio who’s done this so often — with spectacular results every time — that I started calling him “Mister Sideways.”

That would be Jeremy Gustafson. I’ve known him since he was a college student.

Those are just a few examples. Search my blog archive for “sideways” and you’ll pull up something like 40 or 50 posts.

But on page one? Going sideways on a front page is not something I’d recommend for the faint hearted.

  1. One of the primary duties of page one is to sell the paper. And when you go sideways, you don’t necessarily get an attractive (literally attracting potential customers) image above the fold. So you might be kissing off a few single-copy sales.
  2. The content has to be served perfectly by using the horizontal dimension. If not, then going sideways isn’t serving the content or the reader. It’s just a gimmick.
  3. Is the sideways content the only element on your front page? It’s a lot easier to go sideways on any page — especially the front page — if you’re not asking the reader to switch back-and-forth between sideways and vertical on the same page.

One of the first sideways front pages I had ever noticed was this one in the Reporter of Fond du Lac, Wis., in March 2010.


The story was a huge wall mural in a local school. The photographer stitched several shots together to make a very wide picture of the whole thing.

Four months later, Fond du Lac’s larger sister paper in Green Bay used a similar treatment for a story on businesses around the NFL stadium there.


In March 2011, Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer stripped a panoramic shot of tornado damage down the side of page one.


The St. Louis Post-Dispatch went sideways with front-page wraps several times during the 2011 World Series.



Here’s one I didn’t like: The Idaho Press-Tribune ran this impressive picture sideways on page one in October 2011 of Boise State’s famous blue-turfed football stadium stuffed with fans.


But the whole thing was really a big reefer to an online presentation. In particular, the skyboxes down the side of the page seemed weird. It would have been better to put those atop the nameplate, I think.

A month later, the student paper at Iowa State University published a web-only edition after a huge overtime win over No. 2-ranked Oklahoma State. The first three pages were sideways poster pages.

The paper doesn’t normally publish on Saturday, so they went with a web-only edition.

In May of last year, the Palm Beach Daily News ran a huge sideways graphic on page one.


In September, Asbury Park went sideways when that city’s famous boardwalk went up in smoke.


And two papers produced sideways poster front pages for Christmas Day this past year. One was the Colorado Springs Gazette


…and the other was my paper, the Orange County Register.


So don’t be afraid to go sideways.

If you need to. But only if you need to.

Most of the pages in this post were from the Newseum. Of course.

The day’s best Memorial Day front page

If you look at only one Memorial Day front page today, make it this one by the Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk, Va.


Click that for a much larger view.

The script up top is scanned from Lincoln’s handwritten copy of his Gettysburg Address and, as the caption says, “modified for legibility.”

The numbers list 1.14 million Americans who have given their lives to protect their country.


An amazing idea, and so simple. Which is what makes it brilliant.

Designer Sam Hundley tells us:

It was a team effort, Charles — we talked about ideas and worked together to create the page.

The page image is from the Newseum. Of course.

Related posts…

  • July 4, 2013: The one Fourth of July page you really need to see
  • June 11, 2013: An important historical anniversary observed, Sam Hundley style
  • Jan. 29, 2013: The magical properties of a clever illustration
  • Jan. 8, 2013: When illustrating a controversial topic, it helps to have a real, live visual journalism superhero on staff
  • Sept. 26, 2012: A look at the illustrations for the Virginian-Pilot’s NASA history series
  • Sept. 24, 2011: Newsstand alert: Check out the new National Geographic
  • Sept. 21, 2011: Behind those watercolor illustrations in the Virginian-Pilot this week
  • Dec. 18, 2010: A wacky pre-Christmas illustration in the Virginian-Pilot

Virginian-Pilot pays tribute to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel

Folks in Hampton Roads are mighty proud of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel that bridges the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay from Virginia Beach to the Eastern Shore of Virginia. They call it things like “the Eighth Wonder of the World,” which seems like so much hyperbole.

Until you drive across it. I did that while in the area on vacation once in 1991 and just fell in love with the CBBT — and the entire region. That’s one reason we leaped at the chance to move to Virginia Beach 11 years ago.

These pictures are from the last crossing I made, back in 2009. Most of the project is actually a causeway, suspended just a few feet above the water. At two points, though, you land on a tiny manmade island and then drive through the island…


…and under one of three major shipping channels…


…to emerge through another manmade island and back into the causeway.

This is looking across one of those channels, with the roadway below those rocks and linking up with the island in the distance.


That was a particularly quiet morning. It’s not unusual to see giant container ships or even aircraft carriers scurrying though those waters.

The bridge-tunnel turns 50 today (Tuesday, April 15). To commemorate this, the Virginian-Pilot ran a huge story Sunday recounting the construction of this massive project.


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

The print version of the story — written by the Pilot‘s Dave Forster — was illustrated with vintage file photos of enormous devices built especially for the project.


The sections of tunnel — or “tube” — were actually built in Texas and then shipped to the area via barge. The picture at the bottom of that page shows what it was like after the sections were assembled but before ventilation apparati and the roadbed were installed.

Here’s a double-page spread.


In particular, I love the timeline across the top featuring a profile of the bridge.

I also like this picture of the Village People.


Oh, wait. Those were construction workers. My bad.

Also my bad: Failing to ask who designed this. As soon as I find out, I’ll add it here. It was the amazing Sam Hundley.

As nice as all that is, the highlight of Sunday’s presentation was, perhaps, this full-page graphic drawn by my old colleague Bob Voros. Again, click this for a much larger look:


As he does from time to time, Bob documented his process and was kind enough to share it with us.

He writes:

When I got this assignment, my first thought was to find examples of graphics that others have done on bridges, tunnels and similar type of construction projects. So I started to search at the NewsPageDesigners website for infographics that were tagged with bridge, tunnel, construction, etc. and downloaded any that I thought would be useful to get an idea from. Then I did a Google image search to see if there was anything else that might pop up that would be helpful.

Here are some examples of what I found:



All are wonderful graphics. Even the ones that I couldn’t read because they weren’t in English.

My next step was to watch these two DVDs on the construction of the Chesapeake Bay-Bridge Tunnel:


The DVD on the left is very dated — it was originally produced as the project was being built in the early 1960s. It has the grainy footage and monotone narration that took at least three cups of coffee to get through.

But the DVD on the right was much more helpful. It’s one of the History Channel’s “Modern Marvels” series, back when the History Channel had shows about history.

The first time I viewed this was just to see what was on it: I realized I was going to get a lot of information for the graphic from it. I watched it a second time more carefully, paying attention to what images I might need to capture — which I did on the third viewing.

Then, I watched it one last time to take specific notes:


Now, I usually start making some rough sketches at this point but I didn’t get the DVDs until later on in the process. I did have a brief meeting with reporter Dave Forster, his editor Carl Fincke and our presentation team leader, Paul Nelson, before this where Dave generally laid out how the CBBT was constructed 50 years ago. He made the point that there were three machines that were key to the construction process – The Big D, The Two-Headed Monster and The Slab Setter. I needed to show all of them, a map of the CBBT and how the tunnels and islands that the bridges that make up the project were constructed.

So really, I only did one sketch:


I decided the first thing I should put together was the satellite aerial photo map that would go on the right side of the graphic. I used aerial images from Bing, pasting screen shots together in Photoshop.

Here’s what that looked like:


The image is bigger than I needed, because there was talk of showing where the other two bridge-tunnels in the region are located in relation to the CBBT. That idea was dropped, but not until after I layered all of this Photoshop. Oh, well…

The next step was to start drawing some of the objects to be used in the graphic. I downloaded a PDF from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel  District website – – that had a page on major components and structures. I used this and other diagrams and images I had captured off the DVDs to draw all the elements I would need to be in the graphic:


Here’s what the graphic looked like early on before some of the elements were drawn…


…and here it is later on in the process:


As you can see, I moved the waterline down a bit and placed the circle diagrams that focused on the construction of the piles and roadway above it.

While working on this, I realized that the pilings are basically the backbone of the CBBT. The project would have failed if the first step of constructing nearly 15 miles of low-level trestle roadway could not be achieved.

Basically, all that was left at this point was fine-tuning all the illustrations and writing the copy to fit and then to get everything copy-edited.

Here, again, is the final version:


Bob continues:

Some of the big numbers were changed: I had initially totaled up costs and other figures for the original CBBT construction in the early 1960s and that of the parallel crossing construction done in the late 1990s. It was decided to focus on the original construction totals only for the big numbers with the parallel crossing figures noted below them.

The online version of the story features not only Dave’s story, but also pictures by L. Todd Spencer and a video by the Pilot‘s Brian J. Clark. Find all that here.

(Oh, and here’s a tip for those of you who are burned out on nasty comments on stories: When you’re done reading that and watching the lovely videos, keep scrolling to the end. There are several wonderful comments from readers who had family connections to the construction and administration staff of the CBBT project.)

A native of Syracuse, N.Y., Bob Voros is a 1989 graduate of the State University of New York at Oswego. He spent five years at the Syracuse Post-Standard and two more at the San Antonio Light before joining the Pilot in 1993.

Bob gets frequent mention in my slideshows and here in the blog, because a) I’ve worked with him closely and b) because I appreciate how thorough he is with his work. You won’t find a better visual journalist anywhere, period.

A few other posts in which I’ve showcased his work:

  • January 2011: Step-by-step through a complex megagraphic with Bob Voros
  • January 2012: Virginian-Pilot plays horrific story, heartbreaking picture, above today’s nameplate
  • March 2012: The 150th anniversary of the Battle of the Ironclads
  • April 2012: How the Virginian-Pilot covered Friday’s Navy jet crash
  • April 2012: An extraordinary diagram to help explain an extraordinary event
  • August 2012: Bob Voros on why AP graphics needs a copy editor
  • August 2012: The Virginian-Pilot’s annual Fantasy Football preview guide
  • September 2013: Friday’s UFO reports explained, five days in advance

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

Average daily circulation for the Virginian-Pilot is 142,476.

Today’s two best snow pages are both from Hampton Roads

It’s days like this when I’m glad I left Hampton Roads last February and moved to sunny (and, yes, drought-stricken) Southern California.

Man. I can’t even imagine all that snow.


That is today’s Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk. The lead photo by staffer Steve Earley, shows a dedicated power company employee using cross-country skis to get to work.

The page was designed by Lisa Merklin, who also designed Wednesday’s front page and who came up with Wednesday’s brilliant headline.

Across the river in Newport News, the Daily Press led today’s front with a picture of a county employee using a snowblower along the waterfront.


The lead picture is by staffer Rob Ostermaier. The page was designed by Kevin Goyette, I’m told.

Both of these pages are from the Newseum. Of course. In my opinion, those were the two best snow pages of the day. But, oddly enough, neither made the Newseum‘s Top Ten list. Go figure.

The best snowstorm headline I’ve seen yet…

…is by the Virginian-Pilot. Not surprisingly.


The headline — and the design, too — is by staffer Lisa Merklin. Find more of her work here.

The picture on top of Norfolk’s Granby Street is by the Pilot‘s Jason Hirschfeld. Find his web site here.

The one below the headline of a truck jacknifed on I-65 in Alabama is by Butch Dill of the Associated Press.

The page is from the Newseum, of course.

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

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

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

Washington, D.C.
Distribution: 183,916

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


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

The photoillustration is uncredited.

Las Vegas, Nev.
Distribution: 220,619

“No, no no. It’s a suppository!”


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

Norfolk, Va.
Circulation: 142,476

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

Um, literally.


That cover was designed by Josh Bohling.

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

Fargo, N.D.
Circulation: 45,298

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


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

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

Oshkosh, Wis.
Circulation: 14,113

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


Several papers, over the past few days, have used images of the power players in Washington. But the designer here — I’m told it was Dave Lafata, a recent graduate of Central Michigan — used an old trick to focus on just the eyes of John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama and Harry Reid.

Think of it as a cinematic treatment, but on paper.

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

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



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

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

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


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

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


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

Here it is again:


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

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

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

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