Fitchburg, Mass., Sentinel & Enterprise turns over A1 to an art project

The Sentinel & Enterprise — a 15,031-circulation daily in Fitchburg, Mass. — is running an interesting experiment on page one this month.

The normal front page pushes inside to page three while the front is taken over by a community art project, spearheaded by a German-born artist, illustrated by more than two dozen artists around the world and supported by a team of six interns from Fitchburg State University.

What’s more: This little project displaces the front page for 26 days.

The project launched more than a week ago: Monday, July 13. Here was the front page of the Sentinel & Enterprise that morning:

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That’s right. The theme for Day One was the letter A. Note how the three stories — actually, two stories and a poem — each have headlines that begin with the letter A.

The theme for Day Two? The letter B.

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Now, who out there can guess what the theme was for Day Three?

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That’s right: The project will depict one letter of the alphabet per day.

The project was commissioned by the Fitchburg Art Museum with an “Our Town” grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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You’ll notice the museum looks a lot like the artwork for Day One typographical illustration. I’d have to believe that was intentional.

Born in Germany but now based in New Orleans, project leader Anna Schuleit Haber

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…has been working for months with her team of interns on “the Alphabet.”

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A profile the paper ran earlier this month described Schuleit Haber as…

…a visual artist whose work lies at the intersection of painting, drawing, installation art, architecture and community. Her works have ranged from museum installations made with paint, to large-scale projects in forests, on uninhabited islands, and in psychiatric institutions using extensive sound systems, live sod, thousands of flowers, mirrors, antique telephones, bodies of water and neuroscience technologies.

She studied painting at the Rhode Island School of Design, creative writing at Dartmouth, and was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard. She was named a MacArthur Fellow for work that has “conceptual clarity, compassion, and beauty.”

Current projects revolve around seriality and memory, and include a body of 104 paintings based on Thomas Bernhard’s short fiction, as well as large-scale drawing commissions for architecture.

Ready for another couple of pages? Here was Thursday’s Day Four…

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…and this was Friday’s Day Five:

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The list of contributors is suitably eclectic for a project of this nature:

A – Felix Salut
Specialty: Multimedia artist
Based: Amsterdam

B – Andreas Schenk
Specialty: Calligraphy
Based: Switzerland

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C – Dan Keleher
Specialty: Letterpress
Based: Hadley, Mass., near Amherst

D – Matthew Carter
Specialty: Typography
Based: Cambridge, Mass.

A story about the contributors says Carter is…

… the creator of web fonts Georgia, Verdana, Tahoma and Bell Centennial. He has designed type for publications such as Time, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Boston Globe and Newsweek, and has won numerous awards for his contributions to typography and design, including an honorary doctorate from the Art Institute of Boston.

E – Shoko Mugikura and Tim Ahrens
Specialty: Typography
Based: Munich

F – Nina Stoessinger
Specialty: Designer
Based: Netherlands

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Assisting Schuleit Haber on this effort are six interns from the local college. From yet another story published earlier this month by the Sentinel & Enterprise:

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Townsend resident Justin Keohane is the graphic design intern, and is helping Schuleit Haber lay out each of the 26 front pages.

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Jarad Nelson of Leominster is handling public relations, and will work on the project website, draft press releases and make phone calls.

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Fitchburg native Ariana Garcia, Orange resident Shannon Gugarty, who grew up in Fitchburg, and Pepperell resident Johnathan Jena are writing short pieces on Fitchburg and Leominster for the front pages. Each piece will be somewhere between 100 and 600 words, and will focus on history and local culture, looking into things like the history of street names or old buildings in the city.

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Jonathan Berglind of Leominster and Anthony Earabino, who recently moved to Fitchburg, will film all aspects of the project, from meetings between Schuleit Haber and community members, to interviews for the written pieces, to the other interns at work.

“Anything that happens while Anna is in Fitchburg,” Earabino said.

“We’re going to put footage up on the website as we go,” Berglind added, “and then hopefully end up with a 10- or 15-minute documentary.”

My favorite of the nine pages published so far was the letter G, which ran Monday:

G – Cyrus Highsmith
Specialty: Typography and illustration
Based: Providence, R.I.

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The paper reported:

His “G,” Highsmith said, came about when he was sketching and doodling.

“I was fooling around, imagining it printed big,” he said. “I wanted to do something fun, something to catch people’s eye.”

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He initially sketched his design with paper and pencil, then filled in the letter with ripped paper to make a sort of collage. The coloring and precise lines he did on the computer, he said.

Here was Tuesday’s page:

H – Laura Meseguer
Specialty: Typography, logos and book design
Based: Barcelona

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And here is today’s page:

I – Therese Schuleit, sister of project leader Anna Schuleit Haber
Specialty: Visual and audio artist
Based: Beirut

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If you’re like me, you have two burning questions at this point. Sentinel & Enterprise editor Charles St. Amand took a few minutes this week answer them for us:

Q. Do you have a conventional front page on the inside of each day’s paper? On page three, perhaps?

A. Page 3 has our “regular” front page. Page 2 contains any jumps from the Alphabet Page 1, a brief “About ‘The Alphabet'” explainer, a story about the designer and writers who contributed to the project that day, a profile of the artist leading the project, and photos taken by her interns, my staff and ​submissions from readers. We’re also going to include some reader feedback.

Oh, and “The Alphabet” takes Sundays off.

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Q. Do you have a contingency plan for a day you have breaking news? Might the letter of the day get pushed off page one for some reason? What happens then?

​A. We can delay the project for a huge story that must get out front. We haven’t come close to that having to happen — yet. As I mentioned in a Page 1 column to readers the day before the letters began appearing, giving up the ​front page for 26 straight days would not have been possible without our digital-first mission. We don’t hold breaking news for print.

We’ll know when we have to put “The Alphabet” on hiatus. I hope we don’t have to.

There is much more about The Alphabet project on the paper’s web site. Caution, though: The Sentinel & Enterprise uses a metered paywall that allows you to see only five or six stories before you’re hit up to buy a subscription. So take a moment and choose which of these stories you’d like to see before you start clicking:

All of the photos illustrating this blog post were shot by the Sentinel & Enterprise staff and Schuleit Haber’s team of interns. Many thanks to Charles St. Amand for making this archive available to us.

Thanks to Dave Dombrowski for the tip.

Use comic sans on page one and the reaction is ‘swift and fulsome’

What happens when you use Comic Sans on page one?

The world comes to an end. That’s what.

Or so our friends at the Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald found out Wednesday.

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Matt Martel, executive editor for photography and presentation at Fairfax Media — which includes the Sun-Herald, the Age, the Sunday Age and the Australian Financial Review as well as the Sydney Morning Herald — tells us:

The reaction was swift and fulsome. The day started with us being pilloried for its use and ended with us being praised widely for the same thing.

The treatment was the idea of Tom Reilly, who is our weekday print editor until today, his last day. It was executed, under some duress, by senior designer Kevin Kearney.

I wasn’t involved, but had to clean up the pieces the next day. I first saw it when the paper arrived.

Apparently our use of Comic Sans was the end of the world. Our competitors, mainly News Corp’s publications, were quick to attack, as they normally are.

But it went viral on Twitter, with Editor in Chief Darren Goodsir‘s Twitter handle, @sirgooddarren, trending during the day and the article I wrote between arriving at 10:15 a.m. and my first meeting at 11 a.m. getting more than 2,500 shares to Facebook alone.

I had to do a video, too, with five minutes notice, which went quite well.

My Twitter feed (@matt_martel) also got a workout much bigger than anything I’ve experienced before. This morning, a woman claiming to be an art director was insisting I should resign in disgrace.

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Darren’s email to BuzzFeed was written in Comic Sans, and that helped get social media going.

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A TV channel in Florida has done a piece on our use of Comic Sans. As has…

…and all of our competitors.

I wasn’t able to find the HuffPo story but I did find this one at Gizmodo.

As Matt mentioned, much hash was made Wednesday out of this rather extreme Twitter put-down by news.com.au editor Rob Stott.

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Stott works for the aforementioned Rupert Murdoch-owned News Corp.

Now, hold that thought. Because I have, in my collection  — from June 14, 2010 — an example of another newspaper using Comic Sans.

Please note the folio:

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That’s right. The Wall Street Journal. Which is owned by Dow Jones… a division of News Corp.

And what’s more: A few days later, the WSJ did it again.

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Now, granted, Rob came back a short time later and “kind of” apologized for his tweet.

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But heed my warning, News Corp.: I have my eye on you. When they record the downfall of News Corp., that ‘comic sans’ tweet by Rob Stott may very well be seen as the beginning of the end.

While I’m at it, I have in my collection two more examples of Comic Sans in U.S. newspapers: USA Today used it — prominently on page one — on Nov. 5, 2010…

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…and the Virginian-Pilot used it in an editorial on April 23, 2011.

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But one thing in common among those four uses — even the two Wall Street Journal examples — is that the font was used fairly well for comic effect.

My take on all this: Sometimes, it’s OK to use Comic Sans. Just like it’s OK to use substandard English from time to time. Or even sentence fragments.

[Full disclosure: I, too, had some fun with these older examples when they hit the streets. “Another sign of the apocalypse” and all that.]

Matt tells us:

There are four daily newspapers based in Sydney and it is fiercely competitive. The SMH was founded in 1831 and converted from broadsheet to compact over the past year. We are a fairly serious upmarket newspaper and we treat news seriously.

But New South Wales has a lot of political corruption and the treatment worked because we were highlighting the comical comments these politicians were making to the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

My attitude is that we inadvertently got some great attention for our print version and that is a good thing. But Comic Sans has had its little outing and can now go back in its box.

New weekly — very attractive for a tiny ‘mom and pop’ — launches in Kansas

Joey Young — owner and publisher of the Clarion and Maize Free Press, a new weekly serving south central Kansas — writes:

I am a huge fan of your blog and I am the primary designer for my newspapers. I am a terrible copy editor — it’s why I let my wife (she is an accomplished editor) edit our two community weeklies.

We are limited as a small weekly staff, so we can’t do some of the really fun stuff featured on your blog sometimes, but we just launched a brand new newspaper, Maize Free Press, and I would really like your opinion on it.

Here’s the front page Joey sent me.

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What might be fun would be a peek at our correspondence over this weekend.

My reply:

Hi, Joey!

Wow — what a great looking front page! That’s certainly head-and-shoulders beyond most weeklies I’ve seen.

Several years ago, my friend Doug Jessmer was out of work. He walked into a tiny weekly in St. Pete, Fla., and volunteered to redesign their paper — just to have something to do.

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For years, I’ve used the pages he did there to illustrate what can be done by a tiny weekly if they set their mind to it.

This is extraordinary, though. In particular, I love your furniture items: The nameplate, the skyboxes and the index along the bottom.

The one thing I might question would be your headline font. Is that Melior? You might want to find a serif font that gives you more weights and is slightly more condensed. Your serif headlines seem a bit small, but that’s an optical illusion caused by the font. A condensed font appears a bit larger and might give you one or two more characters per line when you’re composing them. I’m sure there are some low-cost options out there.

For that skybox at the upper left, too: I’d decrease the leading and punch up the size of the letterforms themselves. I like white space, but that skybox seems a bit too airy.

Layout 1

Really nice stuff, though. In particular, the photo work is remarkable. You don’t often see shots like this in a weekly.

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This is a powerful lesson in the need for good art. Better ingredients makes for better pizza.

Very cool!

Joey’s replies included these points:

Thank you for your thoughts. I am going to look at the headline fonts and see if we can’t come up with something better. You make a good point with the skybox and propose a pretty good solution there too.

The spacing issue in the skybox should be an easy fix. Joey obviously knows his way around a layout program, so you can bet that’ll be addressed for the Nov. 8 issue.

The serif headline font might be a little tougher. He’s on a budget, so a free or shareware font might be a good idea. Assuming he doesn’t already have something in house that will work. I walked him through an idea or two for how to find out.

If you have suggestions, though, feel free to comment on this post.

Joey was kind enough to take a few minutes to answer some questions for us:

Q: How is it your photos look so great? Are you working with a professional? Or did you just get lucky?

A: The photos are amazing and they are courtesy of Fred Solis, our full-time writer/photo editor (we all wear several hats at a weekly) and he was the only full-time employee at the newspaper when we purchased it.

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I had a prior relationship with him because I used to run the weekly for the old owners so we were thrilled when Fred decided to stay on for us.

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He has a photo journalism degree from the University of Kansas and we are lucky to have him in the fold.

Q: What can you tell me about your operation that’s not a trade secret? Was this your first edition? Do you have a staff? Where does your content come from? Can you tell me a little about your previous work?

A: My operation is small but effective.

My wife and I purchased The Clarion, a small weekly newspaper in South Central Kansas in June of 2012. The newspaper is my wife’s hometown newspaper and she teaches yearbook, journalism, debate, forensics and public speaking at one of the high schools we cover. I used to work for the old owners and their newspaper group before I left to be a page designer at The Hutchinson News.

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I spent some time there, but missed being an all around do it all journalist and asked to purchase the newspaper from my old boss. He agreed eventually and my wife and I became the youngest newspaper owners in Kansas at 28-years-old.

Since taking over the newspaper, we have hired two employees, an ad rep and a managing editor. Adam Strunk is our new managing editor and he is a graduate from the University of Kansas Journalism School…

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…and he is a dynamic young journalist. He is from our area and we wanted him to help us launch the new Maize Free Press when we recruited him from the Lawrence Journal World where he was working as a reporter.

Adam has redesigned our website, www.clarionpaper.com

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…and launched www.maizefreepress.com

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…all while writing and managing the news team. We couldn’t have launched this new newspaper without him.

The Maize Free Press is brand new and launched Friday. The Clarion always covered Maize, but the coverage was split between several small towns along Kansas Highway 96. Maize used to be one square mile, but now has blown up to nine square miles in just a few years. Maize no longer fit in with the rural agricultural towns in The Clarion, so we wanted to do a suburban weekly model.

As for our content, we generate it by being a part of the community and getting out there and meeting with the people. It is hard work, but worth it at the end of the week. We only have three people who contribute copy on a regular basis, Fred, Adam and myself, with my wife helping out and an occasional stringer writing up something.

Despite being small, we keep a full editorial page with a weekly editorial, columns and cartoon, which is rare for a paper our size. We have taken the super local approach to journalism and think it has helped our company grow along with the emphasis on photography and design because, as you know, no one wants to pick something up that doesn’t look good.

That is probably far more than you wanted to know, but I am passionate about our products and sometimes drone on sometimes.

Again, a big reason I have been able to learn what I have about visual journalism is through your blog, looking at Newseum, and NewsPageDesigner. I only have a two-year degree and took a full-time job right after JUCO at a local weekly. The only experience I had was stringing and being on the Hutchinson Community College newspaper staff, so I learned on the job and then eventually got good through studying online materials like your blog until I got a job at the Hutchinson News as a designer. That is where I got better because I had to do it every day.

I am nowhere near talented enough to do some of the stuff I see on your blog and on Newseum, but I like to think we are a pretty good looking weekly.

Good looking indeed.

The one Fourth of July page you really need to see

Lots of papers did great work today, having a little fun — or paying a little respect — on Independence Day.

But the one front page that everyone is talking about is this one by Sam Hundley of the Virginian-Pilot. Who, as the expression goes, has most definitely “done it again.”

Make sure you click to get a good look at all the typographic details:

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Wow. Isn’t that something?

Sam took some time out of his holiday today to tell his Facebook friends how the page came about:

It all started a couple of weeks ago when the IRS/NSA scandals were really heating up. I was getting the feeling that Washington was completely out of control and I impulsively texted the editor, Denis Finley, that we should run the First Amendment in its entirety on the front page on the Fourth. He wasn’t sold on it, but he liked the idea of doing something special and arranged a meeting the next day where he, Maria Carrillo (managing editor), Paul Nelson (director of presentation) and I tossed around some different ideas.

Maria suggested quotes because even though we all love the First Amendment, there’s not that much for readers to dig into and enjoy, and everyone agreed that was a great idea. So, we started researching and storing quotes we liked and I began designing the page, inspired by the Hatch Show Print poster and 19th-century broadside above my monitor.

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Jakon Hays, Pilot researcher, tracked down and verified the quotes – amazingly many turned out to be apocryphal! I think we must’ve dropped five or six because they were unverifiable! That is a story unto itself and I hope Jake writes something for the paper about it.

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The page went through seven or eight revisions, trying to get the right mix of celebratory and cautionary — I think one nice thing about the page is that, hopefully, readers will feel a sense of gratitude and respect for our founders.

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I came away with a bit of sadness at where we find ourselves today. Did you read the 4th Amendment? Damn.

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But I’m actually happy about the unintended optimism in the look of the page – the overall busy, frantic, loud and cramped type seems to say, “Speak out!” How American can you get?

In addition, Sam tells us:

Would like to add that this bold work is happily encouraged from the top – Finley was a strong supporter of it.

And that’s why the Virginian-Pilot is the Virginian-Pilot: Strong support for visual experimentation from the very top.

Of course, it helps if you have a visual genius like Sam Hundley on staff, too.

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.

Just a few of his greatest hits:

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

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

Student newspaper at North Carolina puts a full-page editorial on today’s page one

The Daily Tar Heel — the independent student paper at the University of North Carolina — cleared off page one today for an editorial asking for reform of how sexual assault cases are handled on campus.

Click for a larger view.

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Design and graphics editor Kevin Uhrmacher tells me:

I designed with page with visual managing editor Allie Russell. Design and graphics staffer Allie Knowles assisted with the page.

The front page edit is such a strong statement in itself that I didn’t want the design to get in the way.

In his blog, editor-in-chief Andy Thomason explains why the DTH put the editorial on page one today:

Every once in a while it seems appropriate to move an opinion of great relevance and importance to the front page (though very rarely — editorial production manager Stacy Wynn tells me he can’t recall such an editorial in his 28 years at the DTH).

… The controversy surrounding sexual assault has dominated our pages for months. The first day of Sexual Assault Awareness Month seemed an opportune time to release the conclusion of a discussion had in meetings of the editorial board for many weeks: how to most effectively and honestly fix a system that is the subject of two federal investigations. Especially at a time when the University is eagerly soliciting ideas, we wanted to make sure our voice was heard.

Find a collection of the Daily Tar Heel‘s work on this topic here.

Over the years, we’ve seen a few page-one editorials in non-student papers:

     

From left:

  • Dec. 5, 2008 – Detroit (Mich.) Free Press on a bailout for the auto industry

  • May 2, 2010 Phoenix Arizona Republic on immigration reform
  • Nov. 8, 2011 – Harrisburg, Pa., Patriot-News on the Penn State sex abuse scandal
  • April 22, 2012Sioux City (Iowa) Journal on bullying

Interesting headline treatment in Sunday’s Florida Today sports section

The story: A former high school basketball superstar from Titusville, Fla., is dragged over to the dark side by drugs and “the streets.” Even though his glory years are decades behind him, his old coach reaches out and helps him set his life straight again.

Just as the former player is doing well again, the coach passes away.

Florida Today played the story on its sports front last Sunday. I love the wonderful portrait of the former player by Rik Jesse. But also of interest here is the way Bill Wachsberger of the Gannett Design Studio in Nashville used the third line of the story as the headline.

Click for a much larger look.

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Bill tells us:

The first two grafs are used as the lede-in. The third graf was “Better endings.” I just pulled it out with a headline treatment.

Thanks to Jamie Hall and his set of eyes backing me.

Find the story — by Florida Today‘s John Torres — here.

A 1997 graduate of the University of Miami, Bill Wachsberger spent a year as a copy editor and designer for the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel and three years as a news design planner at the Morning News of Savannah, Ga., before joining the State of Columbia, S.C., in 2001 as an A1 and special projects designer.

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He moved to the Baltimore Sun in 2004 as news design director but was laid off in 2009. He spent two years working off and on as a temporary contract designer for the Washington Post before signing on in Nashville not quite two years ago.

A few samples of his work:

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Find his portfolio here.

Especially for scriptwriters: A free Courier replacement font

It’s not very often, perhaps, that visual journalists need a monospaced typewriter-like type face. When you do, there’s always Courier.

Mark Evanier — writer of comic books, animated cartoons and sitcoms and one of my favorite entertainment bloggers — stumbled upon a Courier replacement that has him all excited. He posted in his blog last night:

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This font is specially tweaked for the needs of scriptwriters. The developers write:

Screenplays have a lot of white space, so we made Courier Prime a bit heavier to balance things out. It looks just as good on your monitor as out of the printer.

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It’s calibrated to match the specs for 12-point Courier and Courier Final Draft. And the italics are real italics — not just slanted characters.

What’s more: The font is free. Find it here.

Three outstanding projects today that you should know about

Now that election season has come and gone, it’s time for newspapers to open up with both barrels and pour out whatever terrific enterprise journalism they’ve been working on this fall.

There are lots of examples of terrific projects on front pages today, including two that were kicked off today with outstanding display type-based front-page centerpieces — what we often call a “type attack.”

 

Let’s look at three of these projects…

WASHINGTON POST

Washington, D.C.

Circulation: 507,615

The topic in D.C. today was the “East Coast rapist,” who committed more than a dozen such crimes over the course of nearly 20 years in Maryland, Virginia and Connecticut. The accused has confessed his crimes and claims to have a pathological-sounding need to treat women as objects.

That was in the key quote A1 designer Katie Myrick focused on today. Here’s a larger look.

Powerful stuff. And a great example of how you can pull off a very effective design even if you have no suitable front-page-worthy visuals to work with.

The Post had visuals. But not anything that really summed up the story well enough for the front. Click on any of the three jump pages for a larger, readable look.

 

Notice how Katie carried through here spacing to every page, which maintained the feel for the entire story.

Naturally, the story is available online. The visual highlight of the web presentation is this interactive map + timeline that follows the case from start to finish.

The interactive presentation was researched by Maria Glod and Josh White and designed by Katie Park. The map was created by Laris Karklis.

Find the story here and the interactive timeline here.

LOS ANGELES TIMES

Los Angeles, Calif.

Circulation: 616,575

Meanwhile, over on the other coast, the story of the day was fatal overdoses of prescription medicine. It is predictable who’ll overdose — they have a history of substance abuse or suicidal tendencies. Yet, no one seems to be tracking this. Or, if they are, they’re not doing much about it.

Here’s that powerful front page display again, designed by Kelli Sullivan.

After all, you don’t often see “vomit” in a headline — or in color — on the front of any newspaper, much less the Los Angeles Times. Yet, the headline is presented in a classy way. Clearly, readers are in for a powerful experience here.

Kelli tells us:

Due to the nature of this story, there was not really any one photo or piece of art that would work. The lead of the story was so compelling that we decided it would work as the single best thing that would draw readers in. So we decided to use the lead as main art. No headline or deck. Just the first sentences leading to the conclusion of what they all had in common which is the doctor at the end of the paragraph.

Here’s a closer look at the rest of the text, beneath the “vomit” line:

Katie continues:

Not sure if you have seen the inside pages, but it allowed me to use the victims photos in the story as vignettes that served both the story and as standalones.

All a very different approach for us but one that is driven by the material to, I think, a pretty successful result.

UPDATE – Monday, 7:26 p.m.

Here are inside pages 26 and 27. The vignettes Katie refers to seem to be the phat cutlines you see here.

Click on that for a readable view.

And here is page 29, on which the prescribing physicians give their point of view.

The online presentation carefully pulls similar typography and spacing into that medium as well. It’s not exactly the same. But it’s close enough to lend a fairly consistent look to the project.

As powerful as the story and galleries are, the real standout here is an interactive chart that allows the reader to see the number of prescription fatalities over a five-year period, grouped by age.

You can mouse over any of the blue dots for a brief bio of that victim.

But here’s what’s really cool: By using the list of warning signs at left, the reader can click them on or off to see how many of the 298 fatalities had those signs. Here, I’ve turned on two warning signs: A history of substance abuse and a previous suicide attempt.

Those two filters at once resulted in 42 fatalities to pop out. That’s 42 needless deaths.

Oh, and the Times found 71 doctors who had three or more of their patients overdose despite warning signs.

Amazing stuff. And well-told. The chart features data analysis by Hailey Branson-Potts, Doug Smith and Sandra Poindexter. Armand Emamdjomeh made it interactive.

Find the story here and the chart here.

DENVER POST

Denver, Colo.

Circulation: 401,120

Today, the Denver Post launched an eight-part series on the failure of the area’s child protection services. Over the past six years, 175 children have died from abuse or neglect. More than 40 percent of those, the Post reports, were cases in which officials could have — but failed to — take action.

Post design director Matt Swaney illustrated the story on page one today with immaculate typography, stark black, white and red type and tiny portraits of some of the dead children.

Here are the inside pages are just gorgeous. The graphics and sidebars are artfully worked into the presentation, while the spreads are anchored by the large vignette portraits.

The mug shot motif carries through to the small shots beneath the large pictures, just to the left of the cutlines.

I really love the quotes that jump the gutter across each spread. You don’t see that done very often. It’s very effective here.

Picture editor Ken Lyons played a large role in this project as you can see. Ken tells us the project…

…consumed most of my year and was an overbearingly sad thing to work on

Although the series is in only its first day, the online presentation is enormous. The same labeling and use of small thumbnails of the victims carries the visual theme through.

There are all sorts of videos and slide shows and even a 911 call posted. This is gut-wrenching stuff. But the story is one we all need to know about. These children can’t care for themselves. It’s sad, but it’s up to everyone to look after the defenseless.

(Some of you know I served in a foster-parent capacity a while back. So yeah: This story hits close to home to me. I was in tears today reading through it.)

Besides the video and audio files that are sprinkled through the story itself, the main interactive component — so far — is this chart of child abuse referral rates.

The numbers go back five years. Plus, the reader can filter via years, counties or type of abuse reported.

The online graphics were by Jonathan Boho, I’m told.

Find the story here and the referral chart here.

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

A free font makes for a fun 8-bit entertainment cover

Kristen Hansen, a designer and copy editor for the Gwinnett Daily Post of Lawrenceville, Ga., sent us her Wreck-It-Ralph cover for Friday’s entertainment tab.

She tells us:

I’ve loved video games forever, so I pushed for this movie to be the cover (sometimes it’s a local play or something).

Q. Did you have to draw the individual letters? Or is there a hugely pixelated font out there somewhere?

A. Thankfully I did not have to draw the individual letters. There is actually a hugely pixelated font out there. I used 8bitoperator. The font was designed by Jayvee D. Enaguas.

The font is free, I might add.

The image is actually made from different press materials that I chopped up and put back together. I did run into the problem of where to put the headline. My co-worker Brian Giandelone suggested that I enlarge the speech bubble and put it there. The woman in the window is actually saying “Fix It Felix!”

A 2006 graduate of Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Ga.,, Kristen served as editor-and-chief of the school’s student paper, the Profile.

She joined the Daily Post upon graduation and works on that paper as well as the Rockdale Citizen and the Newton Citizen.

A few more of her entertainment covers:

 

 

 

Find more in her NewsPageDesigner portfolio.

Average daily circulation for the Daily Post is 60,000.

A Friday afternoon mystery…

James Molnar of the Toledo, Ohio, Free Press Star writes via Twitter today:

Trying to figure out what this symbol in the headline of a competing paper means… Any insight?

That would be the Toledo Blade, of course. But the symbol? Not a clue. I’ve never come across that one before — especially in display type.

My first guess would be it’s a typo. My second guess is that somehow, the Blade’s publishing system hiccuped.

Or perhaps it has some meaning. Anyone out there have any ideas?

USA Today tweaks body copy font

There’s a small blue tint box at the bottom of the front page of today’s USA Today.

In that box: News of a small change to USA Today‘s new redesign. The paper has “darkened and enlarged the typeface” of the body copy used throughout the paper, writes editor-in-chief David Callaway.

In addition, Callaway writes:

We’ve added more color to our famous weather map. We’ve moved the crossword puzzle back to its original page position.

Meaning that USA Today has now learned what every editor in the world has learned: Never, ever screw with the crossword.

In addition, Poynter’s Andrew Beaujon reports:

USA Today may be hearing from readers on another point Monday: Callaway’s note includes a typo:

We take critique from our loyal readers seriously and want you to know we’re listening.

Today’s front page is from the Newseum. Of course.

Previous coverage of the USA Today redesign, here in the blog…

  • Sept. 6: USA Today reportedly to launch a redesign next week
  • Sept. 13: Is this USA Today’s new logo?
  • Sept. 13: A closer look at the hints we’ve seen of the new USA Today redesign
  • Sept. 14: My epic search for a new-and-improved USA Today
  • Sept. 17: A (somewhat belated) in-depth look at the new USA Today
  • Sept. 17: My thoughts about Monday’s edition of USA Today
  • Sept. 19: Stephen Colbert‘s take on the USA Today redesign
  • Sept. 19: A critique of Day Four of the new redesign
  • Sept. 20: USA Today responds to Stephen Colbert’s logo challenge
  • Oct. 16: Has USA Today run out of ‘blue ball’ logo ideas already?
  • Oct. 21: Logo designers of the world: You’re not doing it right

Ha!

Submitted for your approval:

This rather unusual front page is from RedEye, the youth+commuter tab published by the Chicago Tribune. RedEye‘s Trent Koland tells us:

That was done by Sara Stewart. She did a great job on it. All on deadline, I might add.

I wanted to end this post with a tally of laughs. However, I counted 243 and my daughter came up with 242. Feel free to take a swing at it yourself.

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

Kerning is important

Just ask Charlie Furbush of the Seattle Mariners.

That screencap was posted Wednesday by Paul Lukas of ESPN and the famous Uni Watch blog.

You know who else needs a copy editor?

Local TV news operations. Chicago’s WMAQ-TV in particular. And Harrisburg’s Fox43 TV news. And Local 15 News in Mobile, Ala. And WBAL-TV in Baltimore. And Fox2Now in St. Louis. And KTLA channel 5 in Los Angeles. And KNBC channel 4 in Los Angeles. And Charlotte’s WBTV. And KXAN-TV of Austin. And Huntsville’s WAFF-TV. And Miami’s WSVN channel 7. And KCRG of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. And other local TV news operations. And CBS local media. And CBS/DC in Washington. And the web operation for DC101 radio. And the Huffington Post. And the Huffington Post again. And CNN (and CNN again)(and yet again)(and yet again) and CNN Money and CNN mobile and Fox News (and Fox News again)(and Fox News yet again)(and again!)(and again!)(and yet again!)(and yet again) and Fox Business and MSNBC and ABC News and the BBC and German news channel N24. And Fairfax media of New Zealand. And Dagsrevyen, the evening news broadcast of the Norwegian Broadcasting Corp. And Martha Stewart’s TV operation. And the Disney Channel. And AOL. And creators of mobile apps. And Yahoo News. And Yahoo News again. And Google News’ ‘bots. And Baseball jersey manufacturers. And Georgetown University. And Kansas State University. And the University of Iowa. And the University of North Carolina. And Nebraska Wesleyan University. And the New York Jets, the Minnesota Vikings, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Washington Nationals (boy, do they need a copy editor). And the National Hockey League. And the NHL Network. And ESPN (and ESPN again)(and yet again)(and yet again)(and three more times!)(and yet again) and Fox Sports (and Fox Sports again)(and Fox Sports one more time). And CBS Sportsline. And Sports Illustrated. And college athletic department ticket offices. And the NCAA. And Leaf trading card company. And the Virginia general assembly. And college alumni magazines. And pharmacies. And the makers of Sudafed. And Borders bookstore. And the U.S. Postal Service. And government agencies and political candidates. And Tea Party candidates. And the Newt Gingrich campaign. And the White House. And the Vice President. And city and county Boards of Elections. Both the state of Pennsylvania and its department of transportation. And Costa Cruises. And Pittsburgh skywriters. And road paving contractors in Durham, N.C. and in New York City. And the city of Norfolk, Va. And the Ohio Dept. of Transportation. And the West Palm Beach, Fla., police dept. And Lakewood High School in St. Petersburg, Fla. And Sunrise-McMillan Elementary School in Fort Worth, Texas. And South African traffic cops. And the Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico. And gas stations. And billboard companies. And bumper sticker manufacturers. And sign painters. And Home Depot and manufacturers of “hoodies.” And T-shirt designers. And more T-shirt designers. And Old Navy. And Adidas. And Mazda. And rubber stamp designers. And glass etchers. And Starbucks. And Wendy’s. And Applebee‘s. And restaurants, breakfast joints, Chinese restaurants and cake decorators. And more cake decorators. And drive-in movie theater managers. And auto dealers. And romance novelists. And Capcom, the makers of Resident Evil video games. And American Idol. And book cover designers. And editorial cartoonists. And South Africa’s New Age and Sunday Independent newspapers. And Dublin’s Sunday Business Post. And the Echo of Gloucestershire, England. And the London Daily Mail. And the South China Morning Post. And the Washington Post (Hey! Another repeat offender!), the Post‘s Express tab (Hey! Yet another repeat offender!), the Washington Examiner, the New York Times (Wow! Yet another repeat offender!)(Hey! A third offense!), the New York Post, Wall Street Journal Europe, Newsday, USA Today, the Chicago Sun-Times (And yet another!), the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill., the Rochester, N.Y., Democrat & Chronicle, the Daily Mail of London, the Seattle Times, the weekly Manila Mail of San Francisco, the Miami Herald (and again!), the Portland Oregonian, the Durham, N.C., Herald-Sun, the News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C., the Chapel Hill, N.C., News, the Missoula, Mont., Missoulian, the Duluth, Minn., News Tribune, the Springfield (Mass.) Republican, the Bangor (Maine) Daily News, the Times-Record of Denton, Md., the News-Herald of Willoughby, Ohio, the Reporter of Lansdale, Pa., the Times-News of Erie, Pa., the Tribune-Review of Pittsburgh, Pa., the Wilmington, Del., News Journal, the Amarillo (Texas) Globe News, the Laredo Morning Times, the Daily Telegram of Temple, Texas, the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Waynesboro News Virginian, the Virginian-Pilot (and the Virginian-Pilot again), the Des Moines Register, the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Gannett’s N.Y. Central Media hub, the Greenville (S.C.) News, the Daily Herald of Provo, Utah, the Deseret News of Salt Lake City, the Salt Lake Tribune, the Fort Collins Coloradoan, the Olympian of Olympia, Wash., the Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News, the Carbondale, Ill., Southern Illinoisian, the Lakeland (Fla.) Ledger (Hey! Yet another repeat offender!) and the Canarsie Courier of New York City. And Politico. And the Associated Press. And the Associated Press again. And the Associated Press again. And Mann’s Jeweler’s Accent magazine. And New Scientist magazine. And Investment News magazine. And Time magazine (and Time magazine again).

And, of course, I need a copy editor myself.

I’ve always needed a copy editor. Which is why you’ll see me fight so hard for them.

Why you need an art director who understands typography

Hong Kong-based filmmaker Pang Ho-Cheung released a new movie this past Friday: Love in the Buff, a sequel to his 2010 hit — a hit in China, that is — called Love in a Puff.

Here is the poster being used with the movie in its few U.S. screenings.

In China, the movie is being promoted with an entirely different poster — mostly in Mandarin.

One little problem with that poster: The art director didn’t take into account the effect the slick, modern-looking font would have on the movie’s title where it appears in English.

Yes, it’s in the trailer, too.

As they say: Epic fail.

I apologize for forgetting who alerted me to this over the weekend.

Read more about the movie at the Internet Movie Database and at RottenTomatoes. Watch the trailer here.

Today’s most interesting front page

My daily stroll through the Newseum didn’t result in much to talk about today.

I was captivated, however, by this front page: The Forum of Fargo and Moorhead, N.D., circulation 51,165.

Seems to me that there’s an awful lot here to pull in even the most finicky of readers.

For starters, there’s the lead story about a woman who was fatally stabbed — allegedly by her husband. The story didn’t have compelling art. The story had no real art at all, in fact, other than the mug shot of the victim and of her accused husband.

What the story did have, though, was a great, great quote from the woman’s grown daughter.

If your lead photo is the best thing you have for the day, then run it big and get the hell out of its way. If the best thing you have is a quote, then, you lead with the quote.

And that’s the way you build a compelling page.

It’s interesting to me, too, because the Forum‘s presentation editor, Bill Wambeke, was asking me just the other day about text-driven front pages, after a couple of blog posts about pages where text was the lead art of the day.

 

Find those blog posts here and here.

Note how the designer helped the quote pop out of the yellow tint by using color. Not a bright red, which might have popped too much. But by using a brick-like red.

And then the punch line of the quote is highlighted with simple, bold black text.

The package — which doglegs into the bottom of the page — maintains a magazine-like feel with larger text for the first few graphs.

The only thing I might have tried differently here is the deck on the story itself. I wonder if a sans-serif font might have eased the transition from the yellow-backed quote to the start of the story. Perhaps not. Just a thought.

Admittedly, all this nice presentation is helped by the fact that it’s a hell of a story the Forum is presenting. Read it here by staffer Mike Nowatzki.

As nice as that is, that’s not the only great thing about the page. The second story on the page is about how North Dakota has pulled alongside California in oil production. Only Texas and Alaska outproduce N.D. in crude oil.

I enjoyed the cute graphic treatment the designer gave this story. Such a gimmick might be trite on occasion. But this one worked well.

Find the story here by staffer Stephen J. Lee.

But, as they say — wait! There’s more!

There are two more stories at the bottom of the page. Both were handled in a very standard way. But both were great talkers.

The story at right was about the 85-year-old woman who writes restaurant reviews. Her recent writeup about the new Olive Garden went viral this week, mostly because she is so civil — some might say passive-aggressive — in the way she couches her disapproval.

You may have seen this at Romenesko yesterday. Here’s the story by Melanie Orlins of partner TV station WDAZ.

That story at the bottom? Oh, that’s about the former president of the North Dakota newspaper association. He was found to be a serial plagiarist, so he stepped down from a job as managing editor of a weekly paper in Minnesota. You may have read about that yesterday over at Poynter. Find the Forum‘s version — by staffer Ryan Johnsonhere.

Even the little black stripe across the top of the page is written in an interesting way.

It’s a refer to an advice column:

NAG, NAG, NAG  Not just an annoyance,

criticism can destroy relationships, SheSays B1

In fact, the most boring thing on this page is the very thing that’s usually aimed at being the most exciting: The skybox promos.

And the only reason they’re boring is because they’re about high school sports. It’s hard to get excited about high schools that aren’t in your own area. If I lived in Fargo and knew these schools, I might feel differently.

Great job, Forum.

UPDATE – 6:30 p.m. EST

Presentation editor, Bill Wambeke tells us:

I did the page.

We had a centerpiece in hand at the news meeting with a graphic by our fantastic illustrator Troy Becker but decided to hold it for Saturday because the reporter assured us the daughter of the stabbing victim would send us photos of her mom. It got to 6, p.m. no photos, then 6:30, no photos, then 7, no photos and at 7:30, one of our night reporters gave her a call to see if she was going to send them.

At 7:45, with only the stabbing followup story and a sidebar about her former employer ready to put on the page but no idea how to design it, the daughter sent a small, maybe two-column photo that’s on the page (I had to blow it up to 130% to get it to the size it is). I politely asked her if she could send any more and at a bigger size but she said the only one she had was on her phone so I had to roll with the small art.

I wasn’t able to start designing the nuts and bolts of the page until about 8. (And full disclosure, the design inspiration came from a couple of pages by Gannett Phoenix hub design leader Colin Smith did back in Salt Lake. I instant messaged him to let him know I was incorporating some ideas of his and his reply was to the effect of  “I’m spittin mad, or it could just be the tobacco” which I took as playful joking (hopefully).)

Plus, we were waiting on our sister paper the Grand Forks Herald to supply the other three stories on the page and those didn’t start trickling in until 8:30 (first run deadline is 10:15), the oil story got to me to put on the page at roughly 9:30ish, maybe a little before. I felt the bottom of the page needed something to break up the gray so that’s why I put the oil splat in.

I had to print off A1 sans skyboxes at about 9:50 so our super copy editors Kathy Tofflemire and Stephanie Selensky could have time to actually proof the page while I finished the skyboxes and we beat deadline by the thinnest of margins.

In other front-page design news today, three major national dailies used the same lead photo huge on page one. This happens sometimes, as regular readers know only too well. Jim Romenesko has the story — and the pages — here.

This Forum front page is from the Newseum. Of course.

Seven notable Sunday front page displays

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

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

SIOUX CITY JOURNAL

Sioux City, Iowa

Circulation: 33,837

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

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

Click for a larger view:

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

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

Find the story here by Nick Hytrek.

HUTCHINSON NEWS

Hutchinson, Kan.

Circulation: 25,722

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

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

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

BEAUMONT ENTERPRISE

Beaumont, Texas

Circulation: 23,388

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

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

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

LAS VEGAS SUN

Las Vegas, Nev.

Circulation: 213,078

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

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

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

Each paper ran their illustrations on their respective front pages.

 

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

STAR-LEDGER

Newark, N.J.

Circulation: 210,586

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

Here’s a closer look at the artwork.

BIRMINGHAM NEWS

Birmingham, Ala.

Circulation: 102,991

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Nicely done.

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

Q: Is this use of text on page one inspired? Or just lazy?

Via Twitter, David Redwood — reporter, editor and the man behind the North and Agricola hyper-local blog in Halifax, Nova Scotia — poses a question:

Good question, David! This comes up a lot when papers run all-text centerpieces.

Here’s today’s front page, as seen at the Newseum.

I don’t know if I’d call the page inspired. I’m not fond of the lower two-thirds of the page. Basically, I’d like to rearrange everything below that big red stripe.

But above the stripe, I think, is pretty good. I’d grade the paper an A- for above the fold and maybe a C for below.

There are times, David, when you don’t have art for a story. Or when the art doesn’t really tell you anything. I often tell designers and editors: Lead with the best thing you have. If it’s the photo, then play up the photo. If it’s a quote, then play up the quote.

In this case, the editors felt that the headline and the three quotes were the highlight of their coverage. So they played them up. And they dumped whatever the photo was: Of the floor of the House of Commons or mug shots of the three folks who made those quotes. Or whatever.

Using typographical elements as lead art is a perfectly legitimate trick. The designers at the Virginian-Pilot called it a “type attack.” It’s an especially great change of pace for a newspaper that usually runs its pictures big and bold.

I didn’t think it was a cheat when any of these newspapers led their front pages with text-heavy editorials:

 

Left: Arizona Republic, May 2, 2010

Center: Detroit Free Press, Dec. 5, 2008

Right: tbt*, May 21, 2009

Nor did I think it was a cheat when the Sarasota Herald-Tribune used headlines and text as the lead elements for an entire July 2009 series on the mortgage crisis.

 

Nor do I think either of these front pages were a cop-out:

 

Left: Huntsville (Ala.) Times, June 27, 2010

Right: Harrisburg, Pa., Patriot-News, Oct. 13, 2010

The designer of that giant “R,” in fact — my pal Paul Wallen — even taught a session at the Society for News Design workshop in Denver, two years ago, on how to build a nice front page when you have no picture. I suspect he used a number of these pages in that session.

Back to the Gazette‘s front-page package…

Now, do I have quibbles with the package? Yes: The black intro text containing the type jumps out at me just a little too much. I might have suggested pushing that back to 40 or 50 percent grey. I also don’t like the little rule separating the main headline from the three quotes. I might have suggested little rules atop each quote, with the gutters remaining between them.

Or, better yet, toy around with the main headline. Right now, the time is standing out. What we probably want, however, is for “abolish the gun registry” to stand out.

Perhaps something like this:

You get the idea, right?

So I might argue that this front page was “lazy” in that a bit more attention to detail might have helped drive the message home.

But you meant “lazy” in terms of concept. And I don’t think so.

Thanks for the question, though, David.

Now, THERE’S something you don’t see every day: A story about typography. On page one.

The story of the day in Chattanooga, Tenn.: Typography.

A group of designers in that city have decided they want the area to have its own typographical identity. So they started work on a project to create one. The story was the centerpiece today for page one of the Times Free Press.

The main headline is set in Chatype, the proposed new typeface.

Here’s a closer look at the centerpiece. Click for a readable version:

The Times Free PressKate Harrison reports:

To create the typeface’s skeletal dimensions, [designer Robbie] de Villiers turned to one of the city’s most iconic landmarks: the Walnut Street Bridge.

“I was driving over Veterans Bridge and I looked over at the walking bridge and noticed its proportions. It was just perfect,” said de Villiers, who used the Walnut Street Bridge’s “golden proportions” to map out the shape of the characters.

Another major breakthrough was incorporating Cherokee script, which was developed by Sequoyah in Northeast Alabama during the early 1800s.

“The language’s written forms were invented just about 50 miles or so south of here,” said [designer Jeremy] Dooley. “So we thought that would have a really interesting impact on the typeface. And it remains.”

They’ve set up a Kickstarter fund drive to help cover their expenses. The video is quite nice. Check it out:

Find the story here.

Average daily circulation for the Times Free Press is 72,072.

That front page is from the Newseum. Of course.