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.

The 12 Days of Christmas, told via outstanding Christmas Day poster front pages

Hardly anyone runs out and buys a paper from a newstand or a convenience store on Christmas Day. So no matter what you do — no matter what you put above the fold — it’s unlike you’re going to push up single-copy sales on Christmas Day.

For that reason, some papers will essentially “blow off” their typical page-one presentation strategy on this day and give readers a bit of a Christmas Card-like gift for the holiday with a giant poster-page treatment featuring photography or an illustration.

Over the years, I’ve tried to shed a spotlight some of the better examples. Here is this year’s installment…


Scranton, Pa.
Circulation: 47,663

Perhaps the day’s most spectacular poster front — certainly the day’s largest — is this enormous illustration by Times-Tribune staffer Bob Sanchuk that wrapped around the paper in Scranton today.


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

The illustration evokes old times, winter weather and the Polar Express. In addition, of course, to being downright gorgeous.

Find more of Bob’s work here.


Santa Ana, Calif.
Circulation: About 160,000

My friends and ex-colleages at the Orange County Register created yet another fun Christmas Day photoillustration for today’s page one:


That’s Santa, setting up a tree and lighting a bonfire on Huntington Beach. Leonard Ortiz made the photo and Karen Kelso art-directed the shoot. Sitting the door of the trailer is Jitterbug, the dog of copy editor Maryanne Dell.

UPDATE: 6:45 p.m.

Karen writes on her Facebook page that she also art directed the front page of the Register’s sister paper, the Riverside Press-Enterprise.


That picture was shot by Press-Enterprise staffer Terry Pierson. For some reason, that’s not the page that showed up in the Newseum today.

These guys have teamed up in the past for previous treatments. Here was the one they did for 2011:


Karen said she really hated dealing with the reindeer for the 2012 page. Dirty nasty animal, she said.


And this is the one they built for last year.


Brilliant work. Definitely worth tooting your pipes for.


Cleveland, Ohio
Circulation: 246,571

This front page photo of a real, live singing angel was enough to make me leap for joy today.


Not only is it gorgeous… not only does it perfectly illustrate the season… but also, it was shot live last night during a Christmas Eve pageant. Staffer Lisa DeJong made the picture.


Newport News, Va.
Circulation: 57,642

My friends at the Daily Press have been doing the relocation dance this month, moving into new digs in Newport News, Va.

Their full-page poster treatment today not only illustrates the season but also highlights their new building.


Note how the sign on the side of the building does double-duty today as the paper’s nameplate. Nice.

The picture is by staffer Adrin Snider.


Oklahoma City, Okla.
Circulation: 130,177

To find maids a-milking, we’ll head to the farmlands of the Midwest.

For its Christmas Day treatment, the Oklahoman today milked the old holiday tradition of a snowglobe.


This attractive illustration is credited to staffers Steve Boaldin and Todd Pendleton.

Steve and Todd did a great job with their snowglobe. But Sean McKeown-Young of the Gannett Design Studio in Des Moines, Iowa, has cornered the market on snowglobes. He’s been building Christmas Day pagetoppers based on snow globe imagery for the past two years. This year, however…

I went a little nuts.

Sean builds his snowglobes to include imagery from each city. He reused the globes he’s built for Gannett’s Wisconsin papers, including Appleton…


…Fond du Lac…


…Green Bay…










…Stevens Point…




…and Wisconsin Rapids.


This year, Sean added snowglobe treatments for Des Moines, Iowa…


…Iowa City…


…Sioux Falls, S.D. …


…Springfield, Mo. …


…and a whole bunch of papers further south. Sean tells us:

We used one basic Louisiana snowglobe…

…for Alexandria…










…and Shreveport…



Wichita, Kansas
Circulation: 67,250

I’m certain it had been done before, but I first noticed Christmas Day poster treatments by watching the Wichita Eagle. They’ve been doing this sort of thing longer than most papers and they do it as well as anyone.

Here is this year’s gorgeous swan of a front-page Christmas card to readers.


Unfortunately, the photo isn’t credited.


Colorado Springs, Colo.
Circulation: 70,021

If you’re gong to fill the role of a goose a-laying, then you might as well lay golden eggs.

That’s just what the Colorado Springs Gazette did today with this photo of Santa greeting kids, shot from outside a window.


The photo is credited to staffer Jerilec Bennett.


A number of papers chose to illustrate page one today with religious-themed imagery. Taking the place of golden rings today are two of the better ones…

Spartanburg, S.C.
Circulation: 31,940

The Herald-Journal of Spartanburg, S.C., typically runs large art of a stained glass window on its Christmas Day front. They went sideways with today’s version.


My only beef with this page: There’s no credit. I suspect this window — gorgeous as it is — is from a cathedral in Europe. But with no cutline or credit, we’ll never know.

Hutchinson, Kansas
Circulation: 25,722

The Hutchinson News also has a Christmas Day tradition: It makes a full-page Christmas card out of classic paintings from long ago.

This year’s painting is 479 years old.


Note the nudity. I think you’ll find that unusual for a small-town newspaper.


The Villages, Fla.
Circulation: 44,624

Yesterday, I highlighted a really fun Christmas Eve page from my friends at the Villages Daily Sun.

Today, they fill the spot of calling birds with this gorgeous illustration of Santa, drifting through the sky with balloons of love.


The art was not credited, so I asked executive editor Bonita Burton about it. She replies:

It was a mashup I did of stock images.

If you ever feel you can’t possibly build a poster front with stock images, please come back and look at this example.


Longview, Texas
Circulation: 24,481

Sometimes, simpler is better.

No, strike that. Often, simpler is better.

Taking the place of simple French hens today is the News-Journal of Longview, Texas, which illustrated the tale of the birth of Christ from the New Testament with a very simple illustration of the wise men, following the birth star through the desert.


The art is listed only as a staff illustration.


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

Doves are symbols of peace — appropriate for this holiday and especially for the troubled social and political times we live in.

So filling the role of turtle doves today is the New York Daily News, which delighted me this morning with this wonderful photoillustration.



Unfortunately, it’s not credited.


The final spot in our Christmas Day countdown of the day’s most remarkable pages — the partridge in a pear tree — will be played today by a pair of pages that are not poster pages but still interesting treatments of note.

Fort Collins, Colo.
Circulation: 19,864

The paper in Fort Collins, Colo., today did a story on ugly Christmas sweaters. To illustrate that, they dressed staffers in the ugliest sweaters they could find.


The story is by Erin Udell. The portraits are by Erin Hull.

Jackson, Miss.
Circulation: 57,710

Remember what I said about simpler being better? After the visual Christmas dinner feast you’ve enjoyed here today, let’s go in an opposite direction for our dessert: This gorgeously simple treatment from the Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss.


The Clarion-Ledger asked staffers to write personalized stories about the holidays and Christmas traditions. Note that the little tree art is made of little quote boxes — what cartoonists call dialogue balloons.

Gorgeous stuff. Once again, sadly, it’s not credited.


In all the years I’ve been posting roundups of Christmas Day pages, I’ve never had one of my own to post.

Until today…

Victoria, Texas
Circulation: 26,531

Ten years ago today, it snowed in Victoria. In fact, the town got 12.5 inches between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

That was pretty unusual. It’s snowed only 18 times in the 100+ years the National Weather Service has collected data in this city. The 12.5 inches was the greatest 24-hour snowfall this area has ever seen. The fact that it happened on Christmas and then pretty much melted off quickly afterwards was a big bonus.

We at the Advocate commemorated the tenth anniversary of this with an eight-page special section in today’s paper plus a big poster front on page one.


We didn’t really have a lot of file photos of the snow. That picture of the town square here in Victoria was shot by Miguel Luna, who was a staffer here at the time.

Side note: Check out the little daily bug at the bottom of the page showing local gas prices. They’re below $2 a gallon here. WooHoo!

But, back to the snow…

Several weeks ago — long before I arrived here — the Advocate began running items in the paper reminding readers it had been ten years since this snow and asking them to send in their snapshots and their memories via email, Facebook or whatever. And dozens did.

We used this in our local section today. We pushed all the usual B-section material into the A-section and opened up eight full pages for readers’ memories.

I built another big display for page B1, using the same typography and color scheme, plus another photo by Miguel Luna — this one, of Victoria’s historic old county courthouse.


The secondary art was contributed by a reader. Staffer Natassia Bonyanpour wrote the nice essay for the front.

On the inside, pages two and three were both black-and-white. I tried to pick only photos I thought might reproduce well with no color. The Glass family of Victoria sent in a very nice collection of pictures, so I ganged five of them for a visual sidebar at the top of page three.


I used another of Miguel’s photos for the snowman cutout on the left side of the spread.

Also, note the page headers. How often can you use that song in this area? Not very. So I thought that would make a nice running gag throughout the section.

Pages four and five was the color doubletruck. I sidestepped any possible production headaches by building two facing pages instead of filling the gutter.


Here, I used only the best, clearest, and highest-resolution pictures we were sent. The one at upper right — “Wyatt’s first Christmas” in the nearby town of Goliad — was professional portrait quality. Building a section like this is a lot easier when you have top-notch ingredients like this.

Also, note the “Lawnmower powered sled” picture at upper left. That makes a lot of sense: We’re very close to the Gulf of Mexico and the land here is very flat. How else are you going to use a sled?

Across the bottom of both pages, I cooked up a little timeline graphic showing the 18 snowfalls in Victoria history, going back 125 years.

Now that I had established a nice flow of stories and some gorgeous visuals, I used the next two black-and-white pages to display the nicest art I could find that would play well without color. On page six, below left, I played off the “beautiful sight” lyric by going with landscape shots.


Note the take on ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas poem sent in by one reader at upper left.

On page seven, above right, I tried to mix some of the more interesting and unusual pictures readers sent us: A cow in the snow. Towels, frozen on the clothesline. A man who, to this day, has kept a bag of 2004 snow in his freezer.

For the color back page: Yes, I went there.


Although I had used a few snowman pictures on pages two and three, I ganged 12 more of them here. A couple of the pictures here were awfully murky. But combined with several others, they didn’t seem so bad.

I hadn’t really intended to build the entire section myself. But when I found our lead designer and our lead copy editor were planning to come in on their days off to work on this project, I urged them to take their days off. Thanks to all that experience I gained this year building photo pages every other Monday at the Orange County Register, I could knock this out myself.

The parallel to my OC Register work is even stronger when you consider I’m still not yet up-and-running on our editorial system here. I built all nine pages the same way I built my Focus pages in California: In Adobe Illustrator. We saved the finished pages as EPS files and then plopped them into place as full-page images.

Lead designer Kimiko Fieg then returned the favor Tuesday night by building a sports front for Sunday I had intended to work up on Christmas Eve. Which, in turn, made Wednesday a very easy day for me. This reciprocal gift-giving was quite nice.

With the exception of my own pages from Victoria, all these pages are from the Newseum.

Previous Christmas Day page roundups:

Twenty-five years ago tonight: Hurricane Hugo

Twenty-five years ago tonight, I spent one of the most terrifying nights of my life curled up with my wife, Sharon, on our fold-out sleeper sofa, listening to our neighborhood ripped apart by the fury of Hurricane Hugo.

A quarter of a century ago. Wow. As you know I’m a guy who’s pretty conscious of history and the passage of time. But this just floors me.

The weirdest thing about that night: We lived in Rock Hill, S.C., just south of Charlotte, N.C. We were 180 miles away from where Hugo made landfall near Charleston.


We expected some wind and rain. But we didn’t have a clue we’d be struck by a full-scale hurricane — one that had spun up to Category 4 in strength before making landfall and wasn’t officially downgraded to a tropical storm until well after it ripped through our area.

In the Caribbean and in the U.S., Hugo did about $10 billion in property damage. Some folks in the region were without electricity for up to three weeks. About 100 people died in total, although — if memory serves — only six or seven in the U.S.

It was a huge event in the history of my home state and in the memories of any of us who were in Hugo’s path.

The Post and Courier of Charleston commemorated the day today by asking the question: What if it happened again today?


As you can see from the deck: It would be a mess. The feds use outdated software to plan for hurricanes and, therefore, they consistently underestimate impact. And Charleston, surrounded by water, is particularly vulnerable to storms of this size.

Those links go to today’s main stories. Average daily circulation for the Post and Courier is 87,817.

The Herald-Journal of Spartanburg focused on the damage Hugo did in Charleston that night.


Read the story here. Circulation for the Herald-Journal is 31,940.

The folks in Florence led today’s paper with a vintage sepia-toned picture of devastation around a local motel the next morning.


No one was quite sure where Hugo would hit, so tourists and residents alike fled the coastal regions as the storm approached. They were surprised to take such a fierce hit that far inland.

Find the anniversary story here. Average daily circulation  for the Florence Morning News is 31,237.

The State of Columbia retold one of the most compelling stories from that night: Folks in McClellanville, a tiny fishing community maybe 30 miles from ground zero on the Isle of Palms…


…huddled together on the highest ground in town — the local high school —  far back enough from the waterfront that it should have been a safe refuge.

Hugo produced a storm surge of more than 20 feet. Water moved inland, surrounded the school and poured in through broken windows and around door frames. Terrified evacuees, gathered in darkness in the school cafeteria, first climbed onto tables and then knocked out ceiling tiles in order to lift children into the rafters to keep them from drowning.

That didn’t seem much safer. Outside, 130-mph winds ripped mightily at the school’s roof.

Then, nature took mercy on the town of McClellanville. The winds and tide subsided. No one had died. Evacuees filed out to discover the wall of water had tossed their cars around like Hot Wheels.


It was — and still is — a terrifying story. The State today led with an account of all that, featuring a terrifying quote headline.


Find the story here by the State‘s Jason Ryan. Find video and photo galleries here.

Average daily circulation for the State is 70,980.

My favorite front page of the day, however, is this one from the tiny Item of Sumter, circulation 13,644.


Reversing the entire front page out of black is a risky thing to do, but not what the folks at the item did:

  • They bumped up the point size of their body copy so it’d be more readable on a black background.
  • They used sans-serif type — rather than the usual serif — because serifs can get lost when reversed out.
  • They kept the rest of their design very clean and let the black background do the shouting.

There’s one more thing you can do with a page like this: You can make sure the black isn’t a four-color black. Use a mix like, say, 15 cyan and 100 black — with no magenta or yellow ink whatsoever. Even if you have a few registration issues, your copy will, most likely, still be readable.

I can’t tell if that’s what Sumter did here. Nor can I tell if print copies looked as good as this PDF does. But I sure like what I’m seeing.

When you go to the Item‘s home page today Wham! — you’re smacked in the eyeballs with an enormous picture of the paper’s front page from 25 years ago this coming Wednesday…


… which was the first time the paper could publish after the storm. Note the note at the top right:

Special thanks to the Times and Democrat of Orangeburg for typesetting and publishing today’s edition. The Item hopes to resume its normal publication Schedule beginning Monday.

What did my paper at the time — the Herald of Rock Hill — do today? I dunno. Here’s their anniversary story, but sadly, their front page was a no-show in the Newseum today. If any of my friends in the McClatchy design hub in Charlotte would care to send me today’s page, I’d be happy to add it here.

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

Back to the night of Sept. 21, 1989…

I sat up that evening watching live TV coverage as the eye of Hugo seemingly smashed head-on into Charleston. We expected heavy wind and rain the next morning, but we didn’t expect it to get bad until after daybreak. I set my alarm for an hour or so earlier than normal — so I could drive to work before it got too messy — and went to sleep right around midnight.


Sharon and I woke up around 3 a.m. to this horrible, horrible howling noise. What the hell is that? Turned out to be the wind. I had never been in a hurricane before. I had no idea the racket they make. God, it was awful.

We tried to go back to sleep. Within minutes, the power went out.

My old Herald colleague Deborah Burriss posted on Facebook, five years ago:

That’s a night I’ll never forget.

The copydesk stayed late, waiting for the storm to hit Columbia, which was supposed to get it bad. Then, we got hit with tornado warnings, so we thought it safer to stay at The Herald.

After the power went off all over town, we decided to go home. I lived less than five minutes away, but it was terrifying. Total darkness, stuff flying everywhere. A transformer blew, flaming out as I drove by.

By 4 a.m., so many tree branches and debris from our disintegrating apartment building had bounced off our bedroom windows that we decided to move downstairs.

We lit candles and found a battery-powered transistor radio with which to pull in a local station. We succeeded for a few minutes, but then the announcer said his transmitter was on fire. Then he was knocked off the air.

We were terrified. How much worse can this get?

Around 6 a.m. on the morning of the 22nd, the wind suddenly died down and the sky brightened just a bit. I ventured outside for just a few moments. Trees and power lines were down. Debris was everywhere.

I ducked back inside. Sure enough, moments later, the wind picked up again. I couldn’t believe the eye of the storm had stayed intact this far inland. But sure enough, it had.

Then, suddenly, the storm was gone. The wind stopped blowing, the rain slowed to a misty trickle and then ended. The clouds parted. The sun came out.

But everything was deathly still. No singing birds. No chirping crickets. No sounds of radio or TV. No sounds of traffic on Cherry Road, a block or so away.

The air quickly became hot and muggy. But the blue skies were a stark — and welcome — contrast to what we had suffered through just hours before.

We were lucky: Our townhouse apartment was surrounded by units on either side that protected us from the worst of the wind.


But we could see what had caused some of the racket overnight: Large chunks of our roof were gone with the wind.


With school canceled, Sharon straightened up the place while I dashed in to work.

All down Cherry Road, I saw things like this:


That was one of my favorite Hugo photos, snapped by my colleagues at the Herald.

Here was the view out on Cherry Road, near our apartment.


That’s a Wendy’s sign, denuded and leaning to the left.

And where had that fickle Wendy gotten off to? She was out messing around with a neighborhood kid:


We were lucky. We got power back at our apartment the very next day. The secret to having your power restored quickly: Live directly behind a Wal-Mart. Works every time.

Power was out for weeks, though, for many residents. We invited folks we worked with to come over and take hot showers.

Not together. However, now that you mention it, that’s not a bad idea, either.

Hugo struck in the wee hours of a Friday morning. That afternoon, our paper attempted to put out our Saturday and Sunday editions with power from a generator trucked in from Raleigh.

I built a nice photo page for our Sunday Perspective front. As soon as the page went to plate, however, I was told we’d be producing a 12-page special section for Sunday’s paper.

A number of us came in Saturday. I came up with a design format, which we handed off to editors. We divvied up the section into geographical regions and turned everyone loose. Here was the cover I designed, with art by photo chief Andy Burriss:


I don’t know if you can read the lede on that cover story. It’s uncredited, but I’d bet you it was written by Terry Plumb, our editor. It sounds like him:

South Carolina does not suffer her villains easily, an she will rank Hurricane Hugo up there with General Sherman, carpetbaggers and the boll weevil.

Pages two and three focused on the city of Rock Hill (click any of these for a larger view).


Pages four and five looked at the rural areas of our coverage area, York and Chester counties.


Pages six and seven focused on whatever cleanup and recovery photos we could get Friday and Saturday.


Pages eight and nine looked at Charleston and the devastated lowcountry.


Page 10 was a state-wide roundup. Page 11 focused on the Caribbean, where Hugo had beaten up the islands pretty badly before it had even gotten to us.


Page 12 — the back page — was mine. However, I found myself handicapped by the loss of my Mac. When power finally came back on Friday night, the surge fried my power supply. I was forced to cobble together pieces from whatever I could find on floppy drives, using one of our ad production Macs.


In the lower left is a hasty recreation of a hard copy I had saved of an Associated Press graphic by Dean Caple and Karl Gude.

Later, I did manage to put together some nicer pieces. I showed you one earlier of Hugo’s trek across the state. This one shows the mechanical forces a hurricane uses to rip apart your house.


I had made the switch from MacDraw to Freehand just five months before. As you can see, I leaned on gradient blends just a bit too much in those days.

Our carriers did a really swell job getting papers out in the aftermath of Hugo. In a gallery of reader-submitted photos on the Herald on the 20th anniversary five years ago, I found this picture of former carrier Betty Johnson, whose work that day earned her a T-shirt. She says she wears the shirt once a year, to commemorate Hurricane Hugo.


Yep: I designed that T-shirt.

While I was digging around in my Hugo files, I also found the special section inserted the Sunday after the storm by our competitors up the road, the Charlotte Observer.


The Observer’s special section contained three or four good-sized graphics — a lot more than I was able to provide for the Herald.


The reasons for that: a) The Observer employed five news artists. I was a one-man staff at the time. And b) Presumably, the Observer didn’t lose its news art Macs to an electrical glitch.


The Observer graphics were drawn by Mike Homan and Mike Fisher. Mike the former  now designs the paper’s page one at the McClatchy hub there. Mike the latter spent a few years with KRT’s News in Motion and is now with the San Antonio Express News.

The Charleston paper — actually, there were twin papers at the time; the morning News & Courier and the evening Evening Post — one-upped us all by rushing to press this magazine-format reprint edition containing stories and photos from the week’s papers:


The design looks a little dated now, but then again, it is dated. This printed 25 years ago.



Hugo set off a series of events that happened very quickly for me that winter.

  • Just a couple of weeks after Hugo, I visited England for my first-ever international speaking engagement.
  • That winter, the Daniels family of Raleigh sold the Herald and its sister papers in Beaufort and Hilton Head to McClatchy company of Sacramento, Calif.
  • McClatchy immediately ordered up a redesign of the Herald, which I executed. It was the second daily redesign of my career. I was only 27 years old.
  • Then, McClatchy authorized us to hire a second artist. We selected Michael Dabrowa of the Savannah College of Art and Design. Michael would later spend eight years as graphics editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Back to Hugo, though: As chance would have it, Sharon and I had spent a long Labor Day weekend in Charleston with her parents, just three weeks before the city was was nearly wiped off the map.

Charleston, as always, had been gorgeous:



After the redesign, Sharon and I took time off during her spring break to visit my dad, who had just moved to Moncks Corner, north of Charleston.  We couldn’t resist driving back into town to see what the place looked like, six months after our last visit.

And, in fact, the tourist-conscious downtown area looked pretty good. Most buildings were already repaired. A few still had scaffolding up, like this place just off the famed battery, along the waterfront.


Here are four houses along the famed Rainbow Row. Three had been repaired; fixes to the fourth were underway.


The outlying areas to the north and east of town, however, still showed heavy scars from Hugo. Rich houses along the beachfront on Sullivan’s Island — actual ground-zero the night of Sept. 21 — sat empty, some no longer attached to their foundations.


Apartments and condos, no longer structurally sound, had been abandoned in place, awaiting demolition crews.


Just a few months before, this area had been lively with activity. What a depressing sight this was.


And along the beach itself, officials had erected fences to collect wind-driven sand, in hopes of accumulating the protective sand dunes lost to the storm surge.


We found all sorts of interesting debris still washing up along the beach, six months after the storm.


A few miles up the coast, though, was where the truly stunning visuals were.

I wrote a few minutes ago about the most terrifying story that came out of Hugo: What happened in the town of McClellanville. I wanted to see the town for myself. We couldn’t find the school. Perhaps it had been demolished.

We did, however, find fishing boats in the strangest places.


Namely, everywhere except the water.


The final item in my collection of Hugo memorabilia is this board game, rushed out in time for Christmas that year:



The orange cards, by the way, are “experience.” The blue cards are “adjustor” and represent comical dealings with insurance companies.

That’s who everyone cursed in South Carolina after Hugo, by the way. Insurance companies, as opposed to FEMA.

I took those pictures five years ago. I’m not even sure this little gem survived the massive purge we made for our move to California last year.

Hugo was my first hurricane. We had had storms come through before — in particular, I remember Hurricane David dumping a ton of rain on us in 1979, causing one of my Friday night high-school football games to be postponed until Saturday.

But the howl of wind moving in excess of 75 mph, I had never heard before that night.
Since then, though, we have been through a series of hurricanes and tropical storms. Fran, which smacked us so hard in Raleigh in 1996 that we didn’t get power back for nine days. Emily. Bertha. Allison. Eduardo. Leslie. Ernesto. Bonnie. Charlie. Gaston. Ophelia. Irene, the only storm for which we evacuated our home in Virginia Beach. Probably a few more I can’t recall right now.

Hurricanes are deadly. They’re loud and terrifying — for years, our daughter, Elizabeth, referred to Fran as the night we had “big thunder,” because that’s what it sounded like to her: Big thunder that wouldn’t stop.

Twenty five years later, Hugo still gives me a shiver. I don’t want to go through that again anytime soon.

A look at today’s UK front pages about today’s vote for Scottish independence

Today is a huge day in the UK — Scotland is voting on whether it should remain part of the United Kingdom or break away to form a separate country.

It would be a completely separate country — much like most of Ireland is. But it would keep Queen Elizabeth as its monarch and it also wishes to keep the pound sterling as its currency.

Let’s look at how papers in the UK are covering today’s vote…

The Scotsman of Edinburgh used a great headline today but kind of wimped out with its lead photo.


A man placing polling signs? Really?

Average daily circulation for the Scotsman is 28,500.

The Herald of Glasgow — circulation 37,728 — also used a nice headline and went with an inspiring — but purely illustrative — picture of a man looking off into the mist of a distant Loch.


I was surprised at English papers. Neither the Sun nor the Daily Mail made a big deal today about the vote, so I didn’t bother to collect them. The Daily Express of London — circulation 488,246 — used a huge headline today, but under a gigantic skybox featuring a circulation-boosting promotion.


Personally, I’d think the news of the day would drive circulation. But perhaps not.

The Times of London, on the other hand, used a gorgeous picture of the UK Union Jack for a wonderful poster front today.


Now, see? That’s more like what I expected to see. What’s more: This is just the front part of a wraparound cover.


Ont the back are the lyrics to Auld Lang Syne.

On its actual front page, the Times ran a somewhat routine headline and lead photo.


Downpage is an editorial advocating a “no” vote.

Average daily circulation for the Times is 394,448.

The Times was just one paper that built its display around a flag motif today. The free Metro papers of England went with a picture of the Union Jack and the Scottish flag on a flagpole but also managed to find a clever headline to pair with it.


The Independent of London used a much more dramatic picture of flags and came up with perhaps the most clever headline of all.


Average daily circulation for the Independent is 63,907.

The Independent‘s i — circulation 292,801 — didn’t do nearly as nicely as its sister paper.


The Daily Mirror of London photoshopped the cross of St. Andrews out of the Union Jack for this morning’s lead art.


Average daily circulation for the Mirror is 962,670.

The Daily Telegraph built its front around what appeared to be a picture taken at the same time as the Daily Mirror‘s.


Average daily circulation for the London Telegraph is 523,048.

My favorite flag-themed front page of the day, however, was this one by the Glasgow version of the Daily Mail.


Now, that’s outstanding. And powerful.

The Daily Mail circulates 113,771 papers in Scotland.

Metro publishes two editions in Scotland: Glasgow and Edinburgh. Those papers today used page one to urge citizens to the polls.


This is important, because in 1979, Scotland voted on whether or not to create its own Parliament. The “yes” side got 52 percent of the vote, but the decision didn’t stick because not enough people voted. In the fallout afterwards, the UK elected a new prime minister: Margaret Thatcher.

I doubt a low turnout will be an issue today. But still, it’s an interesting approach.

The Daily Record of Glasgow — circulation 253,500 — also urged citizens to vote today on the cover that wrapped around its daily edition.


Take note of the list of inside pages across the bottom. That doesn’t seem well thought-out, does it?

Meanwhile, the actual front page of the paper today showed the very latest poll numbers — this referendum is simply too close to call.


The Glasgow version of the Sun used its front page today for a very interesting conceptual piece illustrating the importance of today’s vote.


Naturally, there were folks out there who had a little fun with this today.


The Sun circulates 340,000 papers in Scotland.

But my favorite treatment of the day was the huge satellite photo the Guardian used today.


Average daily circulation for the London-based Guardian is 185,313

These front pages were culled from a number of sources, including Press Display, the Paperboy and Wales Online.

For a truly great look at today’s UK front pages, though, make sure you check out Peter Sands‘ blog.

UPDATE: 9:20 a.m. PDT

In addition, my Focus page today was on Scottish independence. This was aimed at folks here who might not have been keeping up with all the issues involved.

Click for a much larger — and, hopefully, readable — look:


The picture is by the New York Times Andrew Testa of a rail line that runs from England to Scotland. I played off that picture — both in theme and with color — for the rest of my page.

Polls close tonight at 10 p.m. local time. That’s 5 p.m. EDT and 2 pm here on the west coast. I’m not sure when we’ll know results.

A look at today’s most interesting Fourth of July pages

Here’s a look at some of the day’s most interesting Fourth of July pages…

Colorado Springs, Colo.
Circulation: 70,021

The best page of the day, hands down, is an enormous page-one illustration that ran the front of today’s Colorado Springs Gazette.

The Gazette‘s Stephanie Swearngin tells us:

We wanted to do something a little different for July 4, because the holiday always seems to be a very light news day for us.

I threw out a couple of ideas to our presentation director. The original idea that I had was to run quick fun tidbits, history blurbs or by the numbers related to July 4. For example, how many people consume hot dogs on the 4th? Or what’s the history behind using fireworks? But sadly, I didn’t have time to implement that idea since I’m also heavily involved with preparing for our DTI upgrade.

So, the photo staff came in and saved the day. Michael Ciaglo, photographer, created this photo illustration. He was able to shoot sparklers and place a red and blue background behind it to create the flag. Michael and our photo editor called me over to show me the work in progress. At that moment we decided it would run full page.

Click this for a much larger view:


And they ran it sideways, too! Note how the placement of the nameplate still put it above the fold.

Stephanie continues:

I discussed the new idea with Dena Rosenberry, presentation director, and we ran with it.

We also wanted to run a few promos on the page to inform readers of the news of the day. That part was a little tricky, since I didn’t want to put those directly on the image of the flag. So I worked closely with Michael to extend a little extra blue background to separate the promos without taking away the attention from the flag.

This was just another fun way to celebrate the holiday with our readers.

Excellent work. As is this next one…

The Villages, Fla.
Circulation: 44,624

The Daily Sun of the Villages, Fla., ran a big story today on local folks who have ancestors who fought for the country’s freedom, 238 or so years ago.

The paper made a bold decision to illustrate this on page one. With a wonderful watercolor painting…


…that was done by the editor of the paper herself, Bonita Burton.

I love this. And I’m not just saying that because she hired me to teach at her paper three weeks ago.


Although that does show she has exquisite tastes.

Chicago, Ill.
Distribution: 250,000

RedEye — the Chicago Tribune‘s free commuter tab — illustrated its Thursday front page with this giant illustration of fireworks over the windy city.


The photo illustration is by staffer Lenny Gilmore.

Shreveport, La.
Circulation: 37,666

The Times of Shreveport, La., illustrated page one today with this military-themed piece that highlighted the sacrifices the military have made to secure our freedom.


I might argue this would seem more appropriate for Memorial Day — but, then again, I might be wrong. Either way, it’s a gorgeous presentation.


And, while we’re talking about flag-centric illustrations, let’s take note of the two papers that used giant U.S. flag motifs on page one today.

On the left is the Daily Herald of Roanoke Rapids, N.C., that wrapped a few interesting factoids and refers to inside around a flag.


On the right is the News Tribune of Duluth, Minn., that inserted quotes from local folks on what freedom means to them.

Average daily circulation of the Daily Herald is 8,259 . The News Tribune circulates 30,606 papers daily.

A few papers chose to lead today with huge photos.

Fall River, Mass.
Circulation: 14,979

The tiny Herald News of Fall River, Mass., led today with a poster-sized photo of a back-lit U.S. flag.


The picture is by staffer Jack Foley.

Appleton, Wis.

The Gannett paper in Appleton bucked the trend set today by the rest of the company’s Wisconsin papers — more about that in a moment — with this fabulous shot of a local family enjoying fireworks last night.


Now, that picture — by staffer William Glasheen — is just gorgeous.

Burlington, Vt.

The Gannett paper in Burlington, Vt., also led today with a picture of fireworks shot last night.


What I really like about that one: The headline.

Yeah, the weather on the East Coast isn’t what folks would have hoped for this holiday weekend. But at least the Free Press got a great line out of it.

Nationally distributed

One of my favorite pages of the day ran on the front of the USA Today section that inserted in various Gannett papers around the country today in what that company calls “the butterfly edition.”


The picture was shot at Fort McHenry, Md. — the very fort over which flew the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem that would later become the words to our National Anthem. This year, the caption notes, is the 200th anniversary of that poem — it dates from the War of 1812, as opposed to the Revolutionary War.

USA Today‘s Abby Westcott tells us:

My photo editor, Chris Powers, approached me with what he thought was a different and interesting photo from freelancer Matt Roth. I thought it was a good opportunity to go big with it for the 4th of July and take over the page for America. Everyone loves America.

My editor was on board and loved the design.

And I love Abby’s work. I gushed over it at length here.


Several papers today chose to lead page one with giant Independence Day-themed alternative story forms or graphics.

Greensboro, N.C.

Perhaps the most fun of these was this one by Margaret Baxter of the Greensboro News & Record.


Birmingham, Ala.

Advance’s Alabama papers led today with a roundup of factoids focusing on Alabama — or, to be more precise, the region that became Alabama. Since, after all, Alabama wasn’t a state yet during the Revolutionary War.


I think the Birmingham version was a bit more effective than the Huntsville version, which saw its page topper eliminated to make room for the larger ad across the bottom of the page.


Average daily circulation for Huntsville is 44,725

Frederick, Md.

The News-Post of Frederick, Md., cited a handful of “big number” factoids and illustrated them with a collection of local Independence Day photos from their files.


I like that quite a bit. It’s clever, it’s local and it’s attractive.

The word cloud at bottom right: Not quite so much.

UPDATE – 5:40 p.m. PDT

I’m told this page was designed by News-Post news editor J.R. Williams, formerly with the Pensacola News Journal.


The folks at the nation’s largest newspaper company also built a really great Fourth of July infographic that ran today in at least nine papers.

The largest and most elaborate version I could find of this was this one, afront the Reporter of Fond du Lac, Wis., circulation 10,186.


Click that for a larger, readable view.

There is, in fact, a lot of really fun stuff there. Unfortunately, I have no idea who put it together. If any of my Gannettoid friends out there can enlighten me, I’d love to dish a little credit here.

I suspect this came out of the Des Moines design studio, because it ran in five of Gannett’s Wisconsin papers, which are all designed there in Iowa.


From left to right:

  • News-Herald, Marshfield, Wis. – Circulation 8,139
  • Daily Tribune, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. – Circulation 7,924
  • Northwestern, Oshkosh, Wis. – Circulation 14,113
  • Press-Gazette, Green Bay, Wis. – Circulation 41,767

UPDATE – 3:50 p.m. PDT

Sean McKeown-Young of the Gannett studio in Des Moines confirms this was his work:

It started as a small graphic that I shared out. Green Bay asked if I could blow it up into a centerpiece. Then, on Tuesday, Appleton asked if I could make it into a full page. It evolved.

The package — or major pieces of it — also ran in at least four other Gannett papers around the country.


From left to right:

  • News-Star, Monroe, La. – Circulation 23,884
  • News Journal, Pensacola, Fla. – Circulation 40,435
  • Democrat, Tallahassee, Fla. – Circulation 35,238
  • Bulletin, Baxter, Ark. – Circulation 9,156

Santa Ana, Calif.
Circulation: 162,894

And what did my own paper do today for the Fourth? My good pal Kurt Snibbe took great care of my Focus page — inside the A section — in my absence this week, building this quiz with which to test your knowledge of the Declaration of Independence.


Unfortunately, that’s the largest copy I have of this. If I can get ahold of a PDF, I’ll replace this image with one that might be clickable and readable.

That page would have also appeared in today’s Los Angeles Register and in the Press-Enterprise of Riverside.


But just to prove you don’t necessarily have to be quite so elaborate with your Fourth of July package in order to catch a few eyeballs, consider the nameplate play today by the…

Jackson, Miss.
Circulation: 57,710


There! Wasn’t that fun?

With the exception of the USA Today butterfly section front and the OC Register Focus page, all of these images are from the Newseum. Of course.

  • From 2013: The one Fourth of July page you really need to see
  • From 2012: Today’s five best Fourth of July front pages
  • From 2011: Thirteen wonderful front pages for the Fourth of July
  • Also from 2011: It’s hard to beat a Fourth-of-July presentation like this

Today’s best Christmas Day front pages

A well-known secret in the world of newspapers: It’s very, very difficult to sell a newspaper from a newsrack or convenience store on Christmas Day. Single-copy sales take a huge, huge nosedive on many holidays — other than Thanksgiving, of course.

Also, news rarely happens on Christmas Eve. And most papers push deadlines up early.

As a result, Christmas is often the one day a year even the most conservatively-designed newspapers might take a chance with a large illustration or Christmas card-like photo on page one.

Creativity reigns. Sometimes.

Here’s a look at some of today’s most interesting page-one treatments…

The Birmingham (Ala.) News led today with a fun story about a gag Christmas gift.


The art, I think, is interesting and understated. The red and yellow also provides a gorgeous contrast with the wonderful blue artwork above the nameplate.

Naturally, all of Advance’s Alabama papers used the same centerpiece today.


The Record of Stockton, Calif., wrote a fun A-to-Z guide with Christmas factoids and trivia. The story was presented in the form of a huge Christmas present.


I suspect some of that is stock art. But still, it’s a darned good use of stock art.

My pal Sean McKeown-Young — the Wisconsin team leader at the Gannett Design Studio in Des Moines, Iowa — designed a series of snowglobes to run across the tops of the array of papers for which he’s responsible.

Sean tells us:

I riffed on what I did last year. I wasn’t absolutely thrilled with how the 2012 versions came out. I wanted to do something that felt more dramatic and aligned to the page.

In all cases, Sean tried to find imagery that meant something to each specific town.Here’s Appleton…


…Fond du Lac…










…Stevens Point…





…and Wisconsin Rapids.


Here’s what each looked like atop their respective front pages.


The Post-Gazette of Pittsburgh continued its tradition of using art from the Westmoreland Museum of American Art on its Christmas Day front page.


That one was painted by Will J. Hyett in 1912. This is the eighth year the Post-Gazette has used vintage this way.

The Journal Sentinel of Milwaukee has a similar tradition — it asks local folks for nominations and then has a panel of experts choose each year’s page-one art.

This year, the winner was a Christmas tree painted by the late Robert Schellin.


The News-Item of Shamokin, Pa., held a contest among student artists to choose art for page one. The winning entry — of the St. Pauline Center in nearby Kulpmont — was by Alexia Wheary.


A number of papers lead their Christmas front pages with religious paintings or photos of manger scene dioramas or whatnot. One of the best of these this year was the Morning News of Sumter, S.C., which used stained-glass windows from two local churches to built a photoillustration.


The pictures were made by staffer John P. Russell. The Episcopal and Baptist windows were then combined by staffer Justin Johnson.

Also, a number of papers led today with imagery of manger scene reenactments. I loved the way the Gastonia, N.C., Gazette color-coordinated its nameplate with its lead art today.


It’s hard to go wrong with a cute kid. The picture is by staffer Mike Hensdill.

I didn’t care so much for the red ribbon, or the squashing in of two more tiny photos downpage.

And David Clemons, publisher of the Times-Journal of Fort Payne, Ala., wrote to say:

I wanted to pass along the work of my chief designer, Huck Treadwell, and chief photographer, Melissa Henry. We were encouraged by your postings of great Christmas fronts in past years and wanted to do something that captured the right spirit for our readers this year. I was really pleased with what they did.

Layout 1

The top picture is of one of our best local light shows and the main art is of a production at a local cave, Sequoyah Caverns, which actually closed this year but reopened for the Christmas season just to produce the live Nativity (with the notable exception of the baby, much to Melissa’s chagrin). The caverns are between Fort Payne and Chattanooga, Tenn., a place I know you’ve mentioned spending time before.

Very, very nice. I also like the photo in the nameplate/skybox area. Best wishes to the great folks in Fort Payne.

The Brainerd Dispatch in Minnesota shot a family of carolers for today’s front page.


Notice how the colors of the front-page typography fits with the candlelit photo by staffer Steve Kohls.

There are a number of papers that turn scenic photos — or gag Santa-centric photos — into Christmas Day art for page one.

The Telegram & Gazette of Worcester, Mass., used a nice picture of Boylston Common by staffer Christine Peterson.


Nicely done, but I’d argue the wreath in the headline detracts from the photo.

The Repository of Canton, Ohio, led with staffer Scott Heckel‘s photo of the Stark County Courthouse, as seen through the branches of a Christmas tree.


The Wichita Eagle focused on a gloriously red Cardinal, outstanding in snowcovered branches.


The picture is uncredited, unfortunately.

The Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser ran a picture by staffer Mickey Welsh of the huge Christmas tree in front of the state capitol building.


The Cleveland Plain Dealer chose two holiday-themed photos for page one today. The larger one up top is of a rehearsal for a local production of the Nutcracker.


The photo is by staffer Lisa DeJong.

The downpage photo of kids on a special holiday ride at the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is by staffer Joshua Gunter.

The Times-Shamrock papers of Pennsylvania had staffer Bob Sanchuk build photo illustrations showing an exhausted Santa Claus reading the local newspaper while his reindeer steals his hot chocolate.


I thought the image played best on the front of the tab-sized Citizens’ Voice of Wilkes-Barre.


And two papers — that I know of — elected to turn their photographic Christmas card fronts sideways.

The first is the Gazette of Colorado Springs, which went with this gorgeous picture by Christian Murdock.


The other are my colleagues at the Orange County Register, here in Santa Ana, Calif.


The picture of Santa and his elf assistant loading up his Woody at Huntington Beach is by Leonard Ortiz. Design director Karen Kelso did the art directing.

Those wrapped presents sat around our office for days.

The Fort Payne front page and some of the Gannett Wisconsin pages are from those papers. The rest are all from the Newseum. Of course.

Today was football poster front day

Today was poster front day in the land of winning college football teams.

Here’s a quick sampling of front pages, as found at the Newseum…

Columbia, S.C.

The news: Arch rivals South Carolina and Clemson went into Saturday’s game both ranked in the top ten — the first time that’s ever happened. South Carolina stomped Clemson 31-17 to give the Gamecocks its fifth straight win over the Tigers.

The front page: Featured a post-game celebration shot by State staffer Gerry Melendez.


My take: I’d prefer a nice action shot. But, yeah, if you’re a Gamecock fan, you probably love this page.

I’m a Clemson fan. So naturally, I’m trying to hold down my lunch…

Tallahassee, Fla.

The news: Florida State buried Florida 37-7 to go undefeated. Unless they do something stupid in the ACC championship game against Duke, expect the Seminoles to play for a national championship.

Florida, meanwhile, finishes 4-8 and will spend the offseason trying to figure out why two Gators were blocking each other in the Georgia Southern game last weekend.

The front: Was built around this gorgeous picture of Kelvin Benjamin — who caught three touchdown passes yesterday — by staffer Mike Ewen.


My take: I’ve never minded headlines on or in a photo, as long as they don’t interfere with the foreground of the shot. This one, I think, went a little over the line. Granted, I’m not sure I’d have minded it so much had the picture not been this nice.

Even more obtrusive is the giant bear in the skybox. It’s a good thing he didn’t lean over the red rule and smack the ball out of the air as if it were a trout in a stream.

Big, bold skyboxes can be terrific. Big, bold front page photos can be terrific. But typically, you’re going to want to use one or the other. If you try to cram both onto your page, you end up with something like this.

I would argue that the game and photo would sell enough papers today. Give the skybox the day off.

Columbia, Mo.

The news: Missouri defeated Texas A&M 28-21 to earn a spot in the SEC championship game.

The front: Built around this postgame celebration shot by Kholood Eld.


My take: As I said earlier, I prefer action shots to celebration shots. Count that double if the celebration picture mostly shows backsides. I mean, what’s the point of leading with a celebration if you can’t see the emotion on the faces of the crowd?

That’s the problem with a poster front. You gotta have the right photo. This wasn’t it.

The player being held aloft here — by the way — is defensive end Michael Sam, a finalist for the annual Lombardi award. Perhaps Missouri fans don’t need to be told that. But it’s not like there wasn’t room for a cutline in all that dead space… in the bottom third of the page.

Hattiesburg, Miss.

The news: Southern Miss defeated UAB 62-27, which is an impressively one-sided score. But it’s even more impressive when you learn that the Golden Eagles were suffering through a 23-game losing streak. The win saves Southern Miss from a second consecutive 0-12 season.

The front: Features this impressive photo of Freshman defensive back Kelsey Douglas.


My take: This page — designed, obviously, at a Gannett Design Studio — is truly nice. The headline is huge, but is inserted behind the foreground, so I don’t mind it as much as I did the Tallahassee front. I love the headline, the way it’s tilted and the way the paper’s nameplate was reduced in order to make room for it all.

My complaint here is the lack of a photo credit. If you’re going to run a full-page photo on page one, the least you can do is slap a credit on the thing.

In researching this post, I went to the Hattiesburg American web site to find out who shot the picture — I figured it’d be in an online gallery or something — and what Freshman defensive back Kelsey Douglas was doing in this picture. But the kid isn’t mentioned by name in the game story.

There’s a reference to five UAB turnovers, so I presume this was an interception. But I’m having to guess.

Birmingham, Ala.

The news: Unless you were living under a rock yesterday — or in mourning in Clemson, S.C. — then you know what happened in Alabama yesterday: No. 5-ranked Auburn beat No. 1-ranked Alabama when cornerback Chris Davis caught a missed field goal and returned it 109 yards for a touchdown as time expired.

Some have called it the greatest play in college football history. It’s kind of hard to argue with that.

The front: Davis celebrates afterward. The picture is by Dave Martin of the Associated Press.

Note the fairly unusual swear word in the headline. Which — given what happened — is also kind of hard to argue with.


Naturally, the front page ran all editions for Advance’s Alabama papers.


In the center is the 44,725-circulation Huntsville Times. On the right is the Mobile Press-Register, circulation 82,088.

My take: I really wish we could have seen a picture of the run itself out front. But whatever — again, it’s smart, on a day like this, to please fans who’ll want to run out and buy extra copies of the paper as souvenirs.

However, the same thing applies here that was true for the Hattiesburg paper: If you’re going to run a full-page photo, make room for a photo credit somewhere. It’s the least you can do.

Montgomery, Ala.

The front: Same photo — this time, credited.


My take: I love this headline. It’s the best of the day, in my opinion.

Again, all these front pages are from the Newseum.

Ten interesting takes on the end of the federal shutdown

A deal has been struck. The government shut down has been — well, shut down. A deal to raise the debt limit has been reached.

The Republicans went into this debacle having made unrealistic promises to the citizens who elected them and they came out of it looking petty and foolish. The Democrats came out of it looking marginally better — but only because they didn’t talk themselves out of losing their advantage of numbers.

But not from a lack of trying. Man, those Democrats sure run their mouths a lot.

Make no mistake, though: The Democrats didn’t win — Instead, the Republicans hurled themselves off a cliff. I’d argue that there were no winners at all here. Certainly not the American people.

And in just a few months, we’ll do it all again. Sigh.

In the meantime, here is a look at ten interesting takes on the most important government news since… well, since the Fiscal Cliff deal on New Year’s Eve.

Rochester, N.Y.
Circulation: 114,502

For the past two weeks, a lot of papers have turned stock art of the Capitol building into centerpiece art. The D&C does it well here, but that’s not why I like most about this page.


What I like most is the main headline. Especially the “finally” bit.


UPDATE – 8:45 a.m.

This was designed by Abby Wescott of Gannett’s Asbury Park studio, who proudly tells us:

The headline was also my idea.

McAllen, Texas
Circulation: 32,086

I’m not crazy about the layout of this page. It’s got a number of flaws:

  • Too many elements are crammed above the fold. A little white space might have helped.
  • I don’t like the way the photos seem to shift to the left when you get to the sidebar.
  • The lead-in deck seems a bit too wordy


What I like about this page — and why I bring it to your attention — unlike many of the front page treatments you’ll see around the country today, this one acknowledges the political battle over U.S. fiscal policy is not over. This was just one more round in what will be a long, long war.

That’s not fun, but that’s the truth. The less we sugar-coat that for readers, the better informed they’ll be.

Fargo, N.D.
Circulation: 45,298

The champion today at making this very point, however, has to be the Forum of Fargo, N.D.

Savvy observers complained that Wednesday’s deal didn’t solve anything; it just kicked the can down the road. The Forum actually illustrated this.


St. Louis, Mo.
Circulation: 187,992

Rather than use its front-page real estate on huge stock art of the Capitol building or of oversized mugs of Boehner and Obama, the St. Louis paper went with a retro-like series of decks to relay the day’s major talking points to readers.

This was placed under a headline that, yes, implied that this was just one round of a longer war.


Interestingly, the Cardinals’ failure to clinch a World Series berth was pushed to the bottom of today’s front page.

The young man wearing the baseball jersey could almost be reacting to the main news package above.

Greensboro, N.C.
Circulation: 57,274

The Greensboro paper picked up this thread I’m advocating here and took it a step further: It went out and asked local folks what they think about the partisan battles in D.C. this month. That became the focal point of the front-page presentation, rather than the deal itself.


Bitter squabbles are not likely to stop.” Right.

However, consider this: North Carolina is in the middle of its own Tea Party-like political battles at the state level. I’d be curious to see that same treatment, but talking to folks who say stuff like: “Hell, yeah! I elected my Congressman to go up to Warshington (sic) to repeal Obamacare, and I don’t care how he does it. I’m GLAD they shut the government down. I say KEEP it shut down.”

I’ve spent most of my life in the Carolinas, Georgia and Virginia. I know these folks are out there. I see their comments attached to the bottom of online news stories.

But I’m not seeing them very often on page one.

This isn’t to criticize what the Greensboro paper did today — I like it quite a lot. This is just an observation.

Omaha, Neb.
Circulation: 135,223

The Omaha paper decided to focus on the vote itself.


The little box at right summing up the deal is quite nice.

Davenport, Iowa
Circulation: 46,824

This is the only non-front-page I’ll show you today. And I’m showing it to you because a) The editor/designer sent it to me overnight. And b) I think it’s very, very nice.


Nate Bloomquist of the Quad-City Times tells us:

I was inspired by NPR’s graphic from a week ago that was making the rounds on Facebook, so I made my own debt graphic.

I pulled pieces from AP stories and other sources for the explainer at the top. There were several sources to find the raw data, but the best is the Government Accountability Office. There is all kinds of useful stuff there.

It was great to get plenty of feedback from the Lee design hub in Munster, Ind., and a designer there, Claire Moreno, built my icons at the top of the page after I decided on the color scheme. Everything came together really well, and I’ve quite pleased with what I have here.

I’ve featured some of Nate’s stand-alone inside-page work before: For the presidential inauguration in January and for a golf tournament in July.

Des Moines, Iowa
Circulation: 191,915

A number of papers went with photoillustrations today. One of the better ones was this one by my old friend Mark Marturello of the Des Moines Register.


Mark’s work was used by the Gannett Design Studio on two other papers that I could find: The Press Citizen of Iowa City (circulation 12,130) and the Daily Advertiser of Lafayette, La. (circulation 29,368).


Chicago, Ill.
Distribution: 250,000

Perhaps the most fun today was had by youth-oriented tabloid versions of major metros.

This wacky cover illustrated by the Chicago Tribune‘s RedEye reminds me very much of the kind of work you find at JibJab.


Unfortunately, the illustration is not credited.

Washington, D.C.
Distribution: 183,916

Perhaps the most amusing photoillustration of the day, however, is this one afront the Washington Post‘s Express tab.


Amusing… if you’re not a Republican, that is.

All these pages but the one from the Quad-City Times are from the Newseum. Of course.

Today’s baseball playoff pages

Y’know, it’s a bit of a shame that, after all the last-minute effort the Plain Dealer put into their eight-page Wild Card wrap that the Indians then tanked big-time last night in Cleveland.

Small consolation is this gorgeous front page, designed by assistant managing editor David Kordalski.


The picture by Chuck Crow shows Carlos Santana consoling Jason Kipnis after Kipnis was told he had to pick up all the trash from the dugout.

Here’s today’s sports front, designed by Greg Darroch around a truly wonderful picture by Plain Dealer staffer Joshua Gunter.


That is the Rays’ Evan Longoria, sliding in for a score in the fourth inning as catcher Yan Gomes stretches for the throw. A pivotal moment in the game, David says.

Wonderful work by the Plain Dealer. Suddenly, I’m sorry the Indians are out.

The two major papers in the Bay area celebrated the Rays’ 4-0 win with the same photo from Getty images.


Hmm. Do you suppose they got some kind of package deal?

The picture is a good one — that’s Delmon Young, acquired from the Detroit Tigers in August, smacking in a home run in the third inning. But, still.

In particular, it’s interesting how the hockey season preview gets better play in the Tribune than the wild card win. Go figure.

Average daily circulation for the Tampa Bay Times is 299,497. The Tampa Tribune circulates 144,510 daily.

Circulation for the Plain Dealer is 246,571.

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

Previous blog posts about 2013 postseason baseball:

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.

Front page flood coverage this weekend from Colorado

The sun may have come out for a while on Friday, but the flooding situation across Colorado only got worse on Saturday.

Again, front pages across the state did a great job documenting the story…

GAZETTE, Colorado Springs
Circulation: 70,021

The trend for Saturday’s front pages was aerial photos. And several of the aerials were of washed-out bridges on hard-hit U.S. 34.

This picture was from the Associated Press.


That page was designed by Stephanie Swearngin, as was today’s front page. Which also featured an aerial picture by the Associated Press.


As you can see, today’s coverage was pushed downpage by part one of a series. It’s always difficult when breaking news gets in the way of a special project.

Still, these aerials are pretty spectacular. And we’re just getting started…

TRIBUNE, Greeley
Circulation: 25,185

The small paper in Greeley did outstanding work this weekend. Both Saturday and Sunday front pages were knockout designs.

Saturday’s aerial picture was supplied by the folks in the channel 7 helicopter.


Those are mobile homes, floating down the South Platte River. The cutline mentions that officials fear they’ll smack into a bridge downstream.

The Tribune came back today with an even more awe-inspiring photo. The editors wisely gave it poster treatment.



The photo by staffer Joshua Polson shows what used to be U.S. 34 between Kersey and Greeley.

If anyone out there can tell me who designed these pages, I’d be much obliged.

UPDATE – 2:55 p.m. PDT

Greeley staffer Trenton Sperry designed both the Saturday and Sunday fronts, he tells us via Twitter.

COLORADOAN, Fort Collins
Circulation: 19,864

Fort Collins, too, went with an aerial on Saturday. This picture of the Poudre River swallowing LaPorte is by staffer Rich Abrahamson.


Today, the Coloradoan went with an emotional shot of folks in an evacuation center.


My friend Josh Awtry — a longtime visuals manager who’s now the editor of the Coloradoan — tells us:

The Saturday and Sunday fronts were both a partnership between Phoenix design studio pro Chelsea O’Donnell and me. Chelsea is new to the design game, but she shows tremendous potential, and she’s been a quick study!

Josh has been all over social media for days now, posting links to headlines, road closures and puncturing rumors. One of these days, I need to pull together some of that and show it to you. It’s a textbook case in how to report breaking news.


Find Josh’s Twitter feed here.

POST, Denver
Circulation: 401,120

The Post, too, led Satuday’s page one with a giant aerial photo.


The picture is “special to the Post” by John Wark. The unusual thing here is: The cutline lists the counties the governor declared as disaster areas. But it doesn’t identify where the picture was taken.

Maybe this is a picture that area residents can identify on sight. Or something.


It’s in there — in fact, it’s in the break between the two lines. The photo is of Lyons.

This, of course is why I’m not a copy editor…

On Sunday’s front, the flooding story shared real estate with a story about a Colorado Rockies player who announced his retirement Saturday.


The photo by staffer Craig F. Walker — which ran four-and-a-half columns — shows a man being evacuated from his home in the town of Hygiene.

The cutline mentions they also rescued the man’s two cats. Call me stupid, but I’ll probably lay awake tonight worrying about those cats.

Circulation: 25,207

The paper in Boulder used its weekend fronts to focus on people being rescued.


Check out the concentration on the face of the man in front, with the shovel.


That picture is by staffer Jeremy Papasso. The page was designed by Alexandra Sieh.

Jeremy also shot the picture on today’s front page, showing a Boulder woman toting her two toddlers to safety.


That page was designed by Joe Prentice.

TIMES-CALL, Longmont
Circulation: 17,522

Saturday’s Longmont paper led with photos of residents evacuating their homes in Lyons.


That picture is by staffer Greg Lindstrom. The page was designed by Martin Hess.

Todays’ paper focused on Longmont residents returning to their homes and seeing all the damage.


The lead photo is by Lewes Geyer. Staffer Deanna Hardies designed the page.

Circulation: 15,494

And in Loveland, Saturday’s front featured local folks looking over a washed-out intersection.


The picture is by Jenny Sparks.

The picture by staffer Steve Stoner on Sunday’s front shows families reuniting at the local airport


Both the Saturday and Sunday front pages were designed by Lauren Fagan.

These pages are all from the Newseum. Of course.

See Friday’s front pages here.

How papers in Colorado played flooding on page one today

Last year, Colorado was struck by a series of wildfires. On several occasions, I rounded up front pages from around the region to see how newspapers there played the story.

This year, Colorado has been inundated with rain, bringing floods. And, naturally, the state’s daily newspapers have risen to the challenge.

TIMES-CALL, Longmont
Circulation: 17,522

Longmont was particularly hard hit. It’s not just a 100-year flood there, as in parts of the rest of the state. There, they’re calling it a 500-year flood.

The Times-Call led with a label head — no problem there — and a fine deck head.


I was a little baffled by the lead photo, however, of a man walking down a railroad track. It didn’t really register on me, at first glance, the magnitude of the water surrounding him.

This is a good example of how a photo probably plays better on the actual page than it does in JPG format at 500 pixels wide. In print, I suspect you get a better sense of all that water. For example, you can probably see the car in the distance behind the man, up to its door handles in water.


The picture is by staffer Lewis Geyer.

Circulation: 25,207

Boulder seems to be the epicenter of a lot of the flooding. And indeed, the headline here would be fine… had we not just looked at a paper that proclaimed this as a 500-year flood.


Now, the Boulder paper made a number of choices here that I suspect they may regret. For example, it led with a picture by staffer Mark Leffingwell of a man clearing debris from around his home. The Daily Camera ran the picture at five columns, pushing downpage a very dramatic picture by staffer Cliff Grassmick of two pickup trucks and a car that had fallen off a washed-out road.

As you’ll see, two other papers led their front pages today with that same picture. But the Daily Camera ran it downpage at three columns.

This is also a day in which the Daily Camera‘s elaborate nameplate hurts the play of its lead art. That picture of mountain peaks is gorgeous… but it competes with the main photo. When the main photo is just a little less than compelling — today, for instance — the front page suffers a bit.

And I’ve written before about how silly it looks when we plug lighter stories in our skyboxes when we have huge, local breaking news on page one. Here, we have massive flooding and at least three dead. The president has declared the area a disaster.

Yet, what does the Daily Camera have across the very top of page one?


A headline about a football player “feeling good,” paired with tiny little social media icons. And headlines about politics and Syria. And an ad for… is that acupuncture?

Yeah: This paper needs an emergency plan, one that will allow it to dump the skybox headlines and the ad on big days like today.

GAZETTE, Colorado Springs
Circulation: 70,021

Now, here’s that same picture by the Daily Camera‘s Cliff Grassick, blown up to six columns and used as lead art.


Pretty dramatic, right? Terrifying stuff.

Note the extra-bold headline. One of the deaths was there in the Colorado Springs area, with two more around the state. The two decks with bold lead-ins are well done as well.

And while I’m gushing here, let me pile on with praise for the secondary picture by staffer Michael Ciaglo. This is water shooting up through a manhole at Pike’s Peak.


UPDATE – 7:53 p.m. PDT

The Gazette‘s Stephanie Swearngin tells us:

This week has been insane, especially with our recall election and now flooding. It’s crazy! I can’t believe it’s still raining. Never seen anything like this in my 20-something years of living in Colorado.

I always manage to sit in the natural disaster hot seat. When I was working in Florida it was hurricanes and now wildfires and flooding in Colorado. Unreal!

When I arrived to the office, I already knew that three people died in the floods. On the front page, I wanted to convey to readers that this is a very dangerous situation and these waters are taking lives. So again my approach was to go big and bold.

We originally discussed using Michael Ciaglo’s photo of the water shooting up as our lead image. Our social media sites were going nuts over this with comments. It’s a pretty stunning photo. I’ve never seen anything like it. But up north got the worst of it. Joanna Bean, Managing Editor, pointed out the photo we used as lead. She saw the photo circulating on social media and on the wires. When we all saw the photo we felt like it really conveyed what this storm is capable of doing. Mark Reis, Photography Director, searched through the wires and other sources to make sure we weren’t missing anything. Several staff and state photos were used on an inside photo page.

On A1, pairing up two amazing photos was a no-brainer. I wrote the headline “Fatal flooding,” not really expecting it to get through the copy desk, and placed the two decks under it to tell readers the two angles of the story. After running the lead photo at six columns, the page pretty much designed itself. Then I put our normal rail across the bottom of the page, so we could get a mention to other non-flooding stories in the paper.

Of course this was very much a team effort and I couldn’t have done it without the work and dedication of some amazing journalists.

COLORADOAN, Fort Collins
Circulation: 19,864

My friends at the Coloradoan — led by editor Josh Awtry, a longtime visuals manager — picked up that same lead art from the Daily Camera and put it to even more spectacular use, running it nearly half-a-page and beneath the paper’s nameplate.


Wow. The descriptive headline — rage — really adds to the drama.

I noticed that Josh was up pretty late last night, posting flood updates via Facebook. So I was surprised when he replied right away to my query this morning. Josh tells us:

No sleep during breaking news — we’re all over it.

The page was a partnership between me and Lisa Naujokaitis at the Phoenix Design Studio.

The Coloradoan is picking up right where they left off with their remarkable work during last year’s fires. There’s a great master’s thesis or dissertation just waiting to be written about Josh and the way his paper displays news.

POST, Denver
Circulation: 401,120

We’ll close our roundup with a look at the state’s largest paper, which led today with a photo by staffer RJ Sangostt of a woman in North Boulder clearing debris from around her home.

What makes this picture better than the one used today by the Boulder paper: This woman is up to her knees in water.

130913ColoFloodsDenver I’m pretty sure experts say you really shouldn’t try to wade around in flood water that deep. But still, it makes for a compelling picture.

Downpage, you see the Post‘s own version of the Cliff Grassmick picture that led the front pages in Colorado Springs and Fort Collins:


That’s by Post staffer Andy Cross.

In particular, the Post used great language today in its display copy. Quote heads work particularly well, I think, when news breaks.


And note the verbs here:

  • Drench
  • Swallows
  • Prolong the menace

Nicely done.

I did send queries to my friends at the Denver Post and the Colorado Springs Gazette, asking who designed those pages. If I hear back from anybody, I’ll update this post.

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

How Bay-area papers played yesterday’s plane crash on page one

It’s difficult to call yesterday’s jetliner crash in San Francisco “horrific,” since all but two on board survived. Still, as much as I’ve flown over the past few years, I certainly was riveted to my iPhone reading about it yesterday.

I became a bit annoyed, though, with all the folks bragging about how twitter was kicking the news media’s ass. Sure, passengers onboard and at the airport took cellcam photos and tweeted those pictures for us all to see. Those pictures were everywhere before TV and newspapers could even arrive at the scene.

But actual news — what happened, how some passengers ended up in the water, and that two died — didn’t come out until professional journalists became involved. Yes, “citizen journalists” are valuable when something like this happens. But there’s no substitute for professionals.

Here’s a look at how Bay area papers displayed the crash today on page one…


San Francisco, Calif.

Circulation: 229,176

This great aerial picture of the burned out Boeing 777 where it came to rest just off the runway is by Chronicle staffer Carlos Avila Gonzalez.


In addition, note the nice diagram built atop an aerial photo of the airport. The graphic is by staffer John Blanchard.


The most recent Chronicle story identifies the two passengers who died: Both were 16-year-old girls.

Here’s an interesting sidebar: A similar incident in 1968 involving a Japan Air Lines DC-8. No passengers were killed in that crash.

Find all the Chronicle‘s coverage here.


San Jose, Calif.

Circulation: About 225,175

The Bay Area News Group papers led today with a picture taken from the ground and from further way, but not long after the accident happened. So there’s plenty of smoke still pouring from the wreckage.


The picture is by staffer John Green. The diagram is by graphics editor Karl Kahler.

The Oakland Tribune, of course, had a new-identical design today.


Average daily circulation for the Tribune is 52,459.

The third Bay Area News Group paper, the 67,464-circulation Contra Costa Times, didn’t show up in the Newseum today.

Find the BANG coverage here.

These pages are from the Newseum. Of course.

A look at Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling front pages

I got up very early Thursday in order to build you a nice collection of Supreme Court decision front pages. But then I ran into another series of technical glitches: I couldn’t upload images to my blog.

I managed to upload the pages last night, but it literally took me hours to do what should have taken five minutes.

So, a day late, here’s a look at some of the day’s notable Same-sex marriage front pages…

Many of Thursday’s front pages did a great job of showing the emotion involved in earning the right to marry, shown on the faces of the nation’s gay and lesbian folks in D.C. and around the country.


Lafayette, Ind.

Circulation: 25,531

The Associated Press picture on the front of Lafayette shows plenty of emotion. And that’s good.


That headline, however, was fairly typical in that it suggested a win for gay marriage in both decisions announced Wednesday.

However, as you might know, that really wasn’t the case. Sure enough, the Defense of Marriage Act was struck down. But California’s Proposition 8 banning gay marriage in the state of California was less than a perfect victor for gay marriage supporters. That case was essentially dismissed on a technicality. So that wasn’t actually a victory for supporters of gay marriage. In fact, as a result, we’ll continue to see these legal battles go on at the state level. It’s only because California currently has supporters of gay marriage in office at the moment that Prop 8 will be pursued no further.

So in effect, Wednesday might have been a ” win-win” for supporters of gay marriage. But not in fact. The struggle is far from over for gay and lesbian folks throughout the country.


Norfolk, Va.

Circulation: 142,476

We see the same afront the Virginian-Pilot. The Pilot picked a photo that I didn’t seen anyone else use — one just dripping with emotion.


And while the main head refers to “two victories,” note how the deck on the Prop 8 story makes it clear that gay marriage is not coming to the notoriously red state of Virginia.

The photo is by Mark Wilson of Getty images.


Rochester, N.Y.

Circulation: 114,502

The Rochester paper went with a quote headline: “Equal in every way.”


But again, that’s only in the eyes of the federal government. Gays are not equal in every way from state to state. And that’s from where the court says decisions on marriage licenses must come.

The photo by Charles Dharapak of the Associated Press is of the same couple you saw on the front of the Virginian-Pilot.


White Plains, N.Y.

Circulation: 72,764

Possibly the most spectacular front page of the day was this rainbow banner-waving gentleman on the front of Gannett’s New York-based papers.


I’m a little baffled about where the picture came from, however. It’s credited to J. Scott Applewhite of the Associated Press in the White Plains paper, above, but to Getty images in the Binghamton, Elmira and Ithaca papers, below.

130627ScotusBinghamtonNY 130627ScotusElmiraNY 130627ScotusIthacaNY

From left to right:

  • Binghamton, N.Y., Press & Sun-Bulletin, circulation 34,311
  • Elmira, N.Y., Star-Gazette, circulation 15,172
  • Ithaca, N.Y., Journal, circulation 9,668


Des Moines, Iowa

Circulation: 101,915

In Iowa — which has seen its fair share of legal battles for gay marriage — The state’s capital city paper managed a nice pun in the main headline.


Banner day? And the man in front of the state capitol is holding a banner? Hey, I never got away with puns like that when I worked at the Register.

The banner picture is by staffer Bryon Houlgrave.


Iowa City, Iowa

Circulation: 12,130

The paper in Iowa City also built page one around a local person waving a banner, but minus the pun head.


In particular, I like the way the Press-Citizen broke up the issue into two decks. Notice the one on the right. The Press-Citizen got it right here, which delights me.

That great picture is by staffer David Scrivner.


Chicago, Ill.

But nowhere is the divided nature of Wednesday’s ruling more apparent than on the front pages of Chicago’s two tabloid newspaeprs.

RedEye takes note of the celebrations to come during the upcoming gay pride celebrations…

130627ScotusChicagoRedEyeIll  130627ScotusChicagoSTIll

while the Sun-Times focuses on the fact that neither ruling will help gays or lesbians in Chicago.

The couple on the front of RedEye was photographed in Chicago’s “boystown” district by Tribune staffer Anthony Souffle. The Sun-Times also used a picture from the northside, but from Charles Rex Arbogast of the Associated Press.

Average free daily distribution for RedEye is about 250,000. The Sun-Times circulates about 184,801 papers daily.


Davenport, Iowa

Circulation: 46,824

In Davenport, too, the Quad-City Times went with local celebration art. This picture is by staffer John Schultz.


But look at the headline: Sets the state for fights at the state level. Yep. Less of a grabber headline. But more accurate — especially for folks in the Midwest.


Camden, N.J.

Circulation: 46,547

However, I had to admire this front by yet another Northeastern Gannett paper. Sure, some of these states — in this case, New Jersey — might not gain gay marriage with Wednesday’s decision. But it’s just a matte of time.


The picture is from the Associated Press.

Now, let’s turn our focus to California, which did indeed gain — or, perhaps, I should say regain — gay marriage with Wednesday’s decision. The governor said Wednesday he’d honor the lower court’s earlier smackdown of Proposition 8 and have officials issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples as soon as the legal paperwork goes through on a court-ordered temporary stay. It should take about a month, he said.


Los Angeles, Calif.

So with gay marriage in fact the new law of the land, California papers have a bit more leeway to refer to things like weddings and marches. The L.A. Daily News did well with this great headline and a celebration shot by staffer Hans Gutknecht.


That’s the L.A. Daily News, of course, circulation 94,016.

That same design played out across many of the group’s front pages Thursday. From left:

  • Long Beach Press-Telegram, circulation 82,556
  • Torrance Daily Breeze, circulation 15,000

130627ScotusLongBeachCalif 130627ScotusTorrenceCalif

130627ScotusPasadenaCalif 130627ScotusSanGabrielCalif 130627ScotusWhittierCalif

  • Pasadena Star-News, circulation 24,778
  • Covina San Gabriel Valley Tribune, circulation 59,989
  • Whittier Daily News, circulation 14,691

The group’s San Bernadino Sun opted for a different photo, by staffer Will Lester


…as did the Daily Facts of Redlands (circulation 6,607) and the Inland Daily Bulletin of Ontario (circulation 61,699).

130627ScotusRedlandsCalif 130627ScotusOntarioCalif


Walnut Creek, Calif.

Up in the Bay area, the couple in the left of this lead photo look happy, but not so much for the rest of the folks in the background.


The picture is by staffer Jane Tyska.

130627ScotusOaklandCalif 130627ScotusWalnutCreekCalif

On the left is the Oakland Tribune, circulation 52,459. On the right is the Contra Costa Times of Walnut Creek, circulation 67,464.


Santa Cruz, Calif.

Circulation: 25,000

The Santa Cruz paper led with a picture of a man waving a hybrid rainbow banner + U.S. flag.


The picture is by staffer Kevin Johnson.


San Diego, Calif.

Circulation: 230,742

The San Diego paper found a massive street parade going on in the wake of the announcement. Which, naturally, made for great A1 art.


The fabulous photo is by staffer K.C. Alfred.

The paper loses points, however, for its display type. When is the last time you’ve seen the word “bolster” used outside of a headline?


Los Angeles, Calif.

Circulation: 616,575

The Times, as you might expect, covered a lot of bases on page one. The headline was plain and simple. The lead art focused on which justice voted which way.


And a great celebration picture by staffer Al Seib played well downpage.

Particularly nice is the headline on the sidebar about the losing side:

A movement swept aside

Prop. 8 backers go from jubilant to marginalized in five years

Nicely done.


Santa Ana, Calif.

Circulation: 280,812

The best headline of the day, however, was by my colleagues one desk over at the Orange County Register.


You gotta love that. I’m told the Register‘s D.C. bureau chief, Cathy Taylor — who worked a very long day Wednesday — came up with that particular bit of genius.


San Francisco, Calif.

Circulation: 229,176

There was a bit of rumbling yesterday on social media: How come the San Francisco Chronicle didn’t have a word about Prop 8 or DOMA on the front of Thursday’s newspaper?


Whenever you see something like that, you can bet there is some sort of wrap involved.

Sure enough, assistant managing editor for presentation Frank Mina tells us there was a wrap: An entire 12-page special section wrapped around Thursday’s Chronicle.

And what a glorious section it is. Click on any of these pages for a much larger — hopefully, readable — view.

Page one includes the banner headline everyone expected to see from the paper at Ground Zero of the fight for gay marriage rights.


The picture by staffer Michael Macor is of two local men who were plaintiffs in a case that went to the California Supreme Court several years ago. And, like most of the pictures in the section, it was shot live Wednesday for Thursday’s paper.

Page two (below, left) holds the jump of the main story. The picture of a man celebrating on the steps of the Supreme Court building in D.C. is by Pete Marovich of MCT.

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On page three is a sidebar about a local couple who hope to get married.

Across the top of those pages are quotes from the rulings themselves.

Across the tops of pages four and five are Q&A type factoids about the rulings.

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Page four focuses on the opponents of gay marriage and what they can do about the ruling. The picture of a preacher praying in front of the supreme court building is by Joshua Roberts of Bloomberg.

Page five addresses what may or may not happen now across the nation. The picture of two local men is by staffer Ian C. Bates.

Across the bottom is a column about the impact of the decision on personal finances.

The center spread is a picture page experience showing folks waiting for and reacting to the ruling.

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The biggest picture at upper right is by staffer Lacy Atkins.

Page eight (below, left) is a celebration story and illustrated with a picture by Carlos Avila Gonzalez. Like in Chicago, there was already a gay pride event scheduled for this weekend in San Francisco. I imagine that’ll be quite the party.

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The picture at the top of page nine (upper right) is the one I really wanted to see. That’s former San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom. In 2004, he ordered city officials to fulfill requests for marriage licenses by gay and lesbian couples — pretty much in open defiance of state law at the time. That’s pretty much what started the ball rolling that resulted in Wednesday’s rulings.

Newsom, by the way, is now Lieutenant Governor.

The photo is by staffer Lea Suzuki.

Pages 10 and 11 are editorial pages. The paper supported gay marriage, not surprisingly. And note the editorial atop page 11: Despite Wednesday’s rulings, this is still a conservative court.

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In particular, I like the editorial cartoon by Tom Meyer.


At the bottom left, note a story entitled “By any means necessary?” This addresses the decision made by the state government, several years ago, to not argue in favor of Proposition 8. This was a radical idea that eventually led directly to the technicality that caused that conservative court to not intervene. That was the real turning point of the case, as it turns out.

The back page, 12, holds a giant chronology of the entire Prop 8 case from the wedding licenses at the San Francisco City Hall to the Supreme Court rulings on Wednesday.


Across the bottom of the back page is a a great column about a federal judge who heard the Prop 8 case in 2010 and ruled against it. He wasn’t surprised by Wednesday’s ruling, he says.

Not long after his decision, the judge retired. It was then that he revealed that he, himself, is gay. That led to supporters of Proposition 8 filing for appeal on the grounds that the judge shouldn’t have heard the case in the first place.

So this was yet another major figure in the history of Prop 8.

The San Francisco Chronicle pages are courtesy of Frank Mina. The rest are all from the Newseum. Of course.

A look at today’s notable Oklahoma tornado front pages

In the future, whenever you think of the horrifying tragedy Monday in Oklahoma, you’ll remember this image:


That was shot in Moore, Okla., by Sue Ogrocki of the Associated Press.

Sue’s first-person story is downright chilling:

I expected chaos as I approached the piles of bricks and twisted metal where Plaza Towers Elementary once stood. Instead, it was calm and orderly as police and firefighters pulled children out one by one from beneath a large chunk of a collapsed wall.

Parents and neighborhood volunteers stood in a line and passed the rescued children from one set of arms to another, carrying them out of harm’s way. Adults carried the children through a field littered with shredded pieces of wood, cinder block and insulation to a triage center in a parking lot.

They worked quickly and quietly so rescuers could try to hear voices of children trapped beneath the rubble.

Read the rest of it here.

The way to play that photo — no matter where your paper was located today — was to run it big and get the hell out of its way. You’ll notice the similarities between how my former paper and my current paper built the top of page one today.

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On the left is the Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk, Va., circulation 142,476. On the right is Scott Albert’s take in the Orange County Register of Santa Ana, Calif., circulation 280,812.

Several other papers also elected to give that same picture prominent play on page one today — and with a variation of that same headline. Click any of these — or any page here today — for a larger look.

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From left:

  • Los Angeles Daily News, circulation 94,016
  • Chattanooga (Tenn.) Times Free Press, circulation 75,336
  • Harrisburg, Pa., Patriot-News, circulation 70,446
  • Cincinnati (Ohio) Enquirer, circulation 144,165

And several papers paired their “devastation” headlines with this equally moving picture by Paul Hellstern of the Oklahoman of Oklahoma City, of teachers walking students away from the rubble of their school.

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Do yourself a favor, folks, and don’t look too closely at that photo. Especially at the bruised and bleeding faces of those heroic teachers. Especially if you’re married to a teacher.

On the left is the Forum of Fargo, N.D., circulation 45,298. On the right is the Chronicle of Augusta, Ga., circulation 55,444.

Just to show you didn’t have to use “devastation” in your headline today, here are four more pages using that same Oklahoman picture, but with different — and wonderful — headline treatments.

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From left:

  • Newark, N.J., Star-Ledger, circulation 278,940
  • Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald, circulation 135,223
  • Des Moines (Iowa) Register, circulation 101,915
  • Chicago (Ill.) Tribune, circulation 414,590

Here are three that used the Sue Ogrocki photo, but with different headlines.

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From left:

  • Los Angeles (Calif.) Times, circulation 616,575
  • Minneapolis, Minn., Star Tribune, circulation 300,330
  • Detroit (Mich.) Free Press, circulation 232,696

In particular, I love how the Free Press headline puts an additional terrifying spin on an already alarming story. What I don’t like is how far down the page that story is shoved by the hockey skybox.

On the other hand, the hockey story a) is local, and b) will sell a lot of papers. Note how the picture is moved below the fold, but that dynamite headline will peek out of a news rack. Nicely played.

Even the New York City tabloids today created what I call “regional twins.”

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If I had to choose between the two, I’d argue the Daily News (left, circulation 595,636) shows the scope of the devastation behind the woman and child. The size and position of the headline on the Post (right, circulation 555,327) hides a important part of the photo.

Now, let’s turn our attention to the papers in Oklahoma…


Tulsa, Okla.

Circulation: 97,725

The suburb of Oklahoma City that was struck Monday — Moore — was hit hard 14 years ago in a storm people there remember very clearly. Which explains the headline used today by the Tulsa World.


You already know I love the photo and the “play it big” treatment. The above-the-headline bullet points are a nice touch here.


Perry, Okla.

Circulation: 3,050

I realize this is a tiny, tiny daily paper. But still, given the enormity of Monday’s events, this is perhaps the most unfortunate headline of the day.


From what I can tell, the story — and presumably the headline — was written before Monday’s storms struck.


Norman, Okla.

Circulation: 10,727

Nightmare” sums up Monday on the front of the Norman paper today.


Instead of leading with school photos, the Transcript went with a photo of a woman being pulled from the rubble of a medical center in Moore. That seems an odd choice, given the number of victims at the school. The photo in the bottom left corner is a Sue Ogrocki picture from the school, but credited only to the “Associated Press.”


Oklahoma City, Okla.

Circulation: 130,177

The headline atop today’s Oklahoman made me stop and scratch my head.


I’m told this is a reference to the big storm that ripped through Oklahoma City in 1999. Locals get it.

However, one correspondent told me this morning:

In fact it was not worse than the tornado on May 3, 1999.

If that turns out to be the case, then someone might regret this headline.


I’ll close with some of my own work from Monday.

I was working away on my next Focus page for the Orange County Register, here in Southern California, when our news editor wondered if we could pull together some  information on what is a tornado and how dangerous they can be for today’s paper. They have a few waterspouts in these parts, but actual tornadoes are quite rare. So a backgrounder seemed in order.

It was around 3 p.m. I dumped what I was working on and jumped on it.

Luckily, I’ve done tornado graphics many, many times in the past. (And some of you will remember this blog post from March in which I explained why I’m so well-read on this topic.) So I knew where to go for statistical data. In addition, one of my colleagues here had done a nice “how a tornado is formed” graphic that beat hell out of the most recent one I had done. So I used his as a starting point.

Here is the resulting graphic, which ran on page three of today’s paper. Click, of course, for a larger view.


I didn’t want to interfere with whatever my friends on the A-section desk were doing with live coverage, so I stayed away from pictures of Monday’s tornado — which was of a less photogenic type, anyway, from what I can see in the videos. As the little caption says, there, in the bottom right: That is a tornado that was photographed Sunday near Wichita, Kansas.

Down the right side is a series of graphics that show how a tornado forms and — most importantly, for folks here in California — how they can spot them on radar and give people in their path early warning.

On the left is a look at stats: The ten deadliest, a month-by-month look at numbers over the past three-and-a-half years. See the two bars that stick way out to the right? Those are the months that produced the tornadoes in Tuscaloosa, Huntsville and Joplin.

In particular, I liked the bit that shows “tornado alley” and “Dixie alley,” where these storms are more frequent.

This was the first time I’ve built one of these pages on short notice, off the day’s news.

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

A look at this weekend’s Kentucky Derby front pages

Both Lexington and Louisville went with illustrations on the covers of their Saturday newspapers to advance yesterday’s 139th running of the Kentucky Derby.

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The Lexington Herald-Leader put this wonderfully graphic illustration by Chris Ware on the front, showing roses falling upon the downs.


Meanwhile, the Courier-Journal of Louisville went with a photoillustration of a trainer who had five horses running Saturday.


The picture was by staffer Alton Strupp. Andrew Scheiderich did the cardfront illustrations.

The winner — by two-and-a-half lengths — was Orb, who had won four straight races going into the Derby. A $2 bet on the horse to win paid $12.80.

The pictures for today’s fronts were taken at very nearly the same moment — just past the finish line — and from nearly the same angle. All that was different was the crop and the phrasing of the “Orb shines” headline.

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The Herald-Leader chose a nice, tight crop of Orb and his jockey, Joel Rosario shot by staffer Timothy D. Easley.


Find Lexington’s online coverage here.

The Courier-Journal chose a much looser crop of a picture made by freelancer Kramer Caswell.


Read Louisville’s online coverage here.

Average daily circulation of the Herald-Leader is 92,626. The Courier-Journal circulates 154,033 papers daily.

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

A wild, wild night in Boston

In a city that’s had its share of hell this week, last night was, yes, a night from hell.

By now, you’re probably aware of what happened. The FBI released surveillance photos of two “suspects” of the Boston Marathon bombing on Monday. The pictures were beamed around the world on TV and the internet and ended up on page one of many newspapers around the country today.

The New York Post played them better than most. In the Post, the two suspects looked a lot like NBA basketball players.


Oh, wait, Those are NBA players. The suspects are at the bottom of the page.

With the Post, of course, you can never tell. This is the second day in a row the Post has shown two Marathon bombing suspects on page one. Yesterday’s presentation was totally bogus.

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One wonders why folks in New York still spend their money this garbage. Do newsstands there not carry any real newspapers?

The Boston Globe, of course, played the story across the top of page one today.


The centerpiece of the page was reserved for President Barack Obama‘s visit to Boston to visit with bombing victims.

What’s notable, however, is that tiny story stripped across the bottom of page one. Because overnight — after the Globe went to press — that story developed into something huge.

A campus policeman at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — investigating a reported robbery of a convenience store — was shot and killed by two men who then carjacked a SUV and sped off, with police in hot pursuit. It took a while for TV to join the story. But night owls — and some of us on the West Coast — were able to follow along via Twitter. A few enterprising news outlets rigged up live streaming to their police scanners. Riveting stuff — if you were thousands of miles away.

Eventually, one of the suspects was shot, captured and taken to the hospital where he died. At last report, the other suspect is holed up in a house in the Watertown section of Boston. City transportation is at a crawl today with public transportation shut down. Officials are asking residents to stay home today.

Also eventually, the two suspects were identified as the Boston Marathon bombing suspects. Which converts this from a wild local crime story into international news.

All this happened too late for the Globe…

UPDATEGlobe graphic artist Chiqui Esteban tells us:

The Globe has a later edition:


Ha! What a day for a sticker ad from Sears!

UPDATE No. 2Globe designer and editor Robert Davis sent along the entire front page:


Robert tells us:

We significantly remade Page One for our late editions. The page posted on the Newseum is likely first edition. Attached is the page that most people in Greater Boston saw.

I designed the page that’s on the Newseum‘s site, but last night’s Page One Editor, Colis Ferguson, redesigned the front very late.

This has been a wild week in Boston, but I think the Globe has met the challenge of presenting this ever-changing story. And I couldn’t be prouder to be a member of this team.

As well you should be. It’s been terrific work.

Back to our narrative…

…but the Boston Herald managed to capture at least some of the flavor of the initial standoff before press time.


And, despite the fact it all happened far too late for print editions, the Globe was all over it via the web. The Globe‘s web site — which has been free all week to readers — has a very comprehensive review of the night’s events and is updating minute-by-minute.


The Globe‘s live blog of tweets and cell camera snapshots, in particular, has been a must-read.

Find the current main story here and the Globe‘s home page here.

UPDATE: Consultant Robb Montgomery adds via Facebook:

Data journalists are now giving us a graphic timeline of today’s manhunt in Boston.

Ryan Chittum of the Columbia Journalism Review has the best review of the night’s media coverage, including a well-deserved slap at the wannabe Scooby-Doo gang at Reddit.

Politico‘s Dylan Byers writes an ode to NBC’s Pete Williams, who is looking mighty good this week — especially in comparison to the wankers at CNN.

Poynter’s Andrew Beaujon set up a Storify that links up coverage of two key reporters. However, that Storify isn’t storyifying for me at the moment. Perhaps it’ll work for you.

And Poynter’s Mallary Tenore sounds a warning about fake social media accounts that spring up around stories like this.

A look at today’s best and not-quite-the-best Boston bombing front pages

As you’re already aware, the Boston Globe and its photography staff rose to the challenge of yesterday’s bombings during the Boston Marathon. Pictures by staffers John Tlumacki and David L. Ryan appeared in papers around the world, bringing the horror and the emotion home for readers everywhere.

Here’s a quick review of some of the day’s notable front pages…


Boston, Mass.

Circulation: 225,482

The Globe itself led with a picture of a woman laying on a blood-splattered sidewalk, comforted by others until help arrives. This was one of the pictures by Tlumacki that we looked at last night.


Tlumacki talked to Time magazine about that series of photos yesterday. Find that here.

In case you missed it, check out the story in the bottom left: A mother reels in anguish as her two adult sons are both caught in the blast. They each lose a leg.


That page was designed by AME Dan Zedek, who sent along inside pages this morning just as I was posting this story. So I added the pages and design credits.

Click on any of these for a much, much larger look.

Tlumacki’s pictures are played large on pages six and seven.

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Also on page six: A detailed map of the affected area.

Page seven, below left, contains yet another Tlumacki photo. The picture of the woman on the cell phone on page eight, below right, is by staffer Bill Greene.

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And here are pages 10 and 11.

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Inside A pages were designed by Marc Lanctot, Robert Davis and Dan Coleman.

Metro was designed by Beverly Cronin. Lead art on today’s metro front was of police keeping a lonely guard late last night at the crime scene. Quite a bit of the Back Bay area of downtown has been roped off.


The picture is by staffer Essdras M. Suarez.

Here are Metro pages three and four.

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On the sports front: A huge photo by staffer Yoon S. Byun of the runners who were halted a block or two away from the finish line after the bombs went off.


That page was designed by Luke Knox.

Here are pages eight and nine…

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…and pages 10 and 11.

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Inside sports pages were designed by Colleen Dumont and Greg Lang.


Boston, Mass.

Circulation: 108,548

The Herald wrapped a photo around its edition today.


The downside: That’s not a terribly good photo. It was taken moments after the blast. But you can’t see much, other than smoke and the debris of the retaining fence.

That’s the problem with playing up one picture really, really big: It’s got to be a terrific photo. This one wasn’t.

It’s also not credited.


Boston, Mass.

Distribution: 163,000

Boston’s Metro tabs went with the emotions of a family reunited after the chaos.


The picture is from Getty Images.

Now, let’s look at pages from around Massachusetts…


Hyannis, Mass.

Circulation: 35,776

Tlumacki wasn’t the only Globe photographer shooting the finish line yesterday. David L. Ryan was there, too. He captured a number of horrific images that pass the breakfast test only on huge news days like this.


A great picture and a great headline.


Quincy, Mass.

Circulation: 38,537

The paper in Quincy, in the suburbs of Boston, also paired a great picture and headline today.


That’s a firefighter grimacing as he carries a victim to safety. The picture is by Ken McGagh of the MetroWest Daily News service.


Brockton, Mass.

Circulation: 22,454

The Patriot Ledger‘s sister paper, the Enterprise, used a different headline but also to good effect.



Attleboro, Mass.

Circulation: 14,080

The Sun Chronicle opted for one of Tlumacki’s first shots after the bomb went off — this one showing police not quite knowing how to react but springing to action just the same. And a runner who was knocked off his feet by the concussion of the blast.



New Bedford, Mass.

Circulation: 21,582

The Standard Times of New Bedford used this picture by Ryan of the crowd running for safety moments after the first blast. You can see the second bomb going off in the background.


This picture drives home the pandemonium that erupted across the area — and, indeed, across the nation — yesterday.


Taunton, Mass.

Circulation: 6,703

Taunton used that same picture today and even worked “chaos” into the headline.


Note how the papers played each of these photos well. They used them big and got the hell out of their way.

Nice work around the state today.


Providence, R.I.

Circulation: 114,013

In nearby Rhode Island, Providence used that same picture large but with a more cut-and-dried headline that didn’t really add much to the story.


And this brings up a great point: We’ve talked at length about how a good headline will spin a story forward, whenever possible. But this was a day when facts were in short supply. How does a headline keep from repeating facts that the reader already knows when those few facts — two bombs went off, three are dead, about 140 were injured — is all we really know? Speculation or overstatement are not welcome in a headline. What does that leave?


McLean, Va.

Circulation: 1,817,446

Many papers chose to play up the word “terror.” Granted, we don’t know for sure yet whether this was an attack from within or outside the U.S. But it’s safe, most likely, to call it a terrorist attack.


USA Today played that Tlumacki shot as a vertical and then used three smaller vignettes down the side.

I also like the conversational tone struck in that headline at the bottom left:

That post-9/11 quiet? It’s over.

Nice work.


Norfolk, Va.

Circulation: 142,476

Among the papers that played up the word “terror,” none did it physically larger than did the Virginian-Pilot.



Chicago, Ill.

Circulation: 236,371

The Sun-Times also built around “terror,” but used an alternate frame of that same Tlumacki shot.


This one seems to emphasize the man in the blue jacket. I can’t say I quite understand this picture choice.


Chicago, Ill.

Distribution: 250,000

RedEye, on the other hand, stuck with the Tlumacki shot of the cops scattering.


Again, this paper built around the word “Terror.” However, the headline itself is understated a bit in size, giving the page a bit of quiet dignity, despite the chaos in the photo.


New York, N.Y.

Circulation: 579,636

On the other end of the spectrum was the New York Daily News. It chose one of the bloodiest pictures of the day, also by Tlumacki, wrapping the shot around the entire edition.


The headline was arranged so that “Massacre” appears on the front.

Yes, a lot of people were injured yesterday. But I’m not sure that three dead justify use of the word “massacre.”


Melville, N.Y.

Circulation: 397,973

Another Big Apple tab, Newsday, also wrapped today’s edition, going with a picture of the actual explosion shot by Dan Lampariello of the Dobson Agency.


A photo by the Globe‘s John Tlumacki appears at the top of the back page.


Honolulu, Hawaii

Circulation: 124,000

The only broadsheet paper I found going with a wrap today was Honolulu, which wrapped that big immediate aftermath shot by David L. Ryan around today’s edition.


The Star Advertiser also invoked 9/11 with its headline.


Newark, N.J.

Circulation: 278,940

Newark chose the same bloody art that the Daily News used but put it to better use with a less-hysterical headline.


The quote up top was a nice touch.


Milwaukee, Wis.

Circulation: 185,710

The Milwaukee paper used an AP photo of that same scene, but shot from a slightly different angle. I presume this, too was by John Tlumacki.  Ken McGagh of the MetroWest Daily News service tells me he made this picture.


Mayhem” was definitely a better choice than “Massacre.” The wider angle of that picture — showing victims and debris mere moments after the blast — works well with that headline.


Seattle, Wash.

Circulation: 236,929

The Seattle Times attempted the same thing but didn’t quite pull it off — mostly because the photo shows more fencing than aftermath.


All of those pictures are by the Globe‘s Tulmacki and were shot in the first seconds after the bomb went off.

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Again, the Seattle and Newark pictures are by Tulmacki. The Milwaukee picture is by Ken McGagh.


Hazleton, Pa.

Circulation: 20,008

The paper in Hazleton, Pa., wanted to play up the word “terror” even greater that the usual large, bold type. So the designer reversed it out of a red box.


That works, I suppose. But again, its seems a but much. I think the large word “terror” stands out quite well alone, without additional adornment. The effect almost seems to cheapen the page a bit.


Cincinnati, Ohio

Circulation: 144,165

Take the Cincincinati Enquirer. Yes, this red really punches up the Enquirer‘s headline today…


…but it doesn’t seem like a cheap trick. Because the top of the Enquirer‘s front page is red every day.

However, the top of the Enquirer‘s Kentucky editon is blue every day.


Notice how the color takes quite a bit of the edge off of the immediacy of the presentation. Blue is a calming, peaceful color. It doesn’t quite jibe with the story of the day.

This is why I don’t like to use color-coding as a navigational tool or a decorative element in a newspaper. Color can help tell a story or set a mood for a story. Color can help move a reader’s eye around a page. Yes, you can get away with using color for other purposes. But there are days in that will turn around and bite you in the ass.

Today was one of those days for the Kentucky edition of the Enquirer.

That photo, by the way, is by Charles Krupa of the Associated Press.


Detroit, Mich.

Circulation: 232,696

The Detroit Free Press uses a blue reverse nameplate every day. But the designers often balance that out with quite a bit of red text.


The item I take issue with here is the question headline. I don’t really care for question headlines. My feeling is: We should try to answer questions for the reader, not ask readers the same questions they’re asking us.

On a day like this — as we said earlier — answers are in short supply. We can spin this story forward only so far. So your choices for a headline are a) A straight-facts headline that cites things the reader already knows. b) A label head like “terror” or “mayhem” or “chaos.” Or c) A question headline.

I don’t like it. But it’s probably a perfectly valid choice.


Santa Ana, Calif.

Circulation: 280,812

My colleagues one pod away at the Orange County Register also opted for a question headline today.


Note the column across the bottom of the package. One of our own columnists was in the Boston Marathon yesterday and had crossed the finish line maybe 15 minutes before the bomb went off.


St. Paul., Minn.

Circulation: 205,171

Here’s a great alternative to a question headline, I think: It admits we don’t have answers to the obvious questions just yet.



Roanoke, Va.

Circulation: 78,663

I also liked this headline.


I don’t care for the typeface. But I think the headline sums up the day perfectly.


Columbia, S.C.

Circulation: 70,980

And I’ll close with what might be my favorite headline of the day:


The photo by the AP’s Charles Krupa is a wide shot of victims being loaded into ambulances. I think the photo of the crowd scattering as the second bomb goes off might have been a better choice and might have loaned a little more immediacy to that headline.

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

Today’s NCAA basketball championship pages

Here’s a brief look at today’s NCAA men’s basketball championship pages…


Louisville, Ky.

Circulation: 154,033

Huge photo with everything else pushed off the front page: Check.

Picture shows players celebrating a national championship beneath falling confetti: Check.

Punny, celebratory headline: Check.

Looks like the Louisville paper today did everything it needed to do and did it well.


The lead picture is by staffer Michael Clevenger.

Among the items referred to across the bottom: A four-page special section previewing tonight’s women’s title game. Louisville is playing in that game, as well.


That photoillustration looks like a lot of fun. If there’s anyone in Louisville today who might slip me a PDF of this to post here, I’d be much obliged.


Lexington, Ky.

Circulation: 92,626

Here’s how the folks up the road in Lexington played the story today.


The picture is by staffer Mark Cornelison. The page was designed by Bruce Engel.

You can barely see the celebration in the huge celebration shot on today’s sports front.


The picture is by staffer John Bazemore of the Associated Press. Dennis Varney designed the page.


Detroit, Mich.

Circulation: 113,508

In Detroit today, the requisite for every huge display page was a pun on the word “blue.”

The headline for page one of the Detroit News: Red White & So Blue.


The picture is by News staffer John Greilick. Presentation editor Rick Epps designed the page himself.

The headline for sports: Dazed and Blue.


That terrific action shot is by Travis Heying of the Wichita Eagle. Kim Storeygard designed the page.


Detroit, Mich.

Circulation: 232,696

The headline for the front of today’s Free Press‘ wrap: Feelin’ Blue.


The picture is by the Freep‘s Julian H. Gonzalez. Steve Anderson designed the page.

And on the front of today’s sports is… what? That’s not a “blue” pun! That’s a “Cards” pun! How did that happen?


The picture is by Julian H. Gonzalez. Ryan Ford designed the page.


Lansing, Mich.

Circulation: 41,330

And lastly, here’s how the folks in Lansing played the story today.


Not quite as imaginative headline as the others we’ve seen today. But it certainly works well enough.

The photo is from the Associated Press.

The the Detroit pages and all the sports pages are from those respective papers. The rest is from the Newseum. Of course.

Previous coverage of March (and April) Madness 2013, here in the blog…

  • March 18: A look at a few notable NCAA Tournament pages and sections
  • March 20: Five more fun March Madness pages for you
  • March 25: How the Fort Myers paper played last night’s huge win by Florida Gulf Coast University
  • March 26: More Florida Gulf Coast Univ. pages from the Fort Myers paper
  • March 29: Special editions are a slam-dunk today in ‘Dunk City,’ Florida
  • March 30: A look at Saturday’s March Madness pages
  • April 1: A look at Monday’s Final Four basketball tourney pages
  • April 7: A look at today’s Final Four pages
  • April 8: Today’s NCAA Championship preview pages

Today’s NCAA Championship preview pages

We’re well into April now, and you know what that means: March Madness is nearly over.

Tonight, Michigan and Louisville play for the NCAA men’s basketball championship in Atlanta.

Here’s a look at today’s pages advancing the game…


Detroit, Mich.

Circulation: 232,696

The Free Press goes all-out once again with a spectacular photoillustration of the Wolverines — the Michigan team, not the superhero — by staffer Eric Millikin.


Eric worked with images from Getty, USA Today and the Freep‘s own files.

Joe Cybulski designed the rest of that page.

Also in today’s paper was a “Big Dance” special section, featuring a cover designed by Ryan Ford.


The press conference art is by Freep staffer Kirthmon F. Dozier.


Detroit, Mich.

Circulation: 113,508

The News today stripped the story atop its nameplate.


The picture is by staffer John T. Grellick.

If anyone at the News would care to send me the special section cover, I’d be glad to add it this evening.

UPDATE – 9:15 p.m. PDT

Page one was designed by Antone Amye.

Here is Monday’s sports front.


Presentation editor Rick Epps tells us:

I designed in and wrote the headline off a great photo from Daniel Mears.


Louisville, Ky.

Circulation: 154,033

The Louisville paper today wrapped a preview around the newspaper, so you didn’t see this today at the Newseum.


The page was designed by Chris Dye, Jeff Patterson and Ryan Hildebrandt of the Gannett Design Studio in Louisville. The picture was file art.

One reason for the wrap: Louisville is two-times lucky this April: The Cardinals women also won last night, with a 64-57 come-from-behind win over California. So the Courier-Journal plastered that all over the regular front page.


The picture is by staffer Scott Utterback.

The Louisville women will play UConn Tuesday for the women’s national championship.


Hartford, Conn.

Circulation: 132,006

I haven’t been posting women’s tournament pages. But today’s were pretty decent. I love both the celebration photo and the headline afront today’s Hartford Courant.


The picture was by Courant staffer Cloe Poisson.


Bridgeport, Conn.

Circulation: 48,701

The Connecticut Post made good use of a Getty picture by Chris Graythen.



Meriden, Conn.

Circulation: 16,708

The little paper in Meriden used a picture by Dave Martin of the Associated Press, shooting down from the catwalk on the opening tipoff.



Waterbury, Conn.

Circulation: 42,673

The paper in Waterbury also went with AP art today.



New London, Conn.

Circulation: 32,779

And The Day of New London had staff art by Tim Martin, but…


Look how little impact that art had compared to the three or four examples we just saw.

Hey, I’m all in favor of sending staffers to shoot postseason games. But you have to do more than just shoot it well — you have use it well, too. If you don’t, then you might as well just go with wire art.

In this case, the paper might have been better off to plan for vertical art which might have had more impact. Or knock one of those four stories off the front page. Perhaps the one across the bottom that promotes the paper’s own project.


San Jose, Calif.

Circulation: About 225,175

You don’t often see post-game pictures from a women’s locker room on page one. But that’s what the Merc ran today following Cal’s loss to Louisville.


The picture is by staffer D. Ross Cameron. And as much as I like the photo, I just love the headline. Nicely done.

The Merc’s sister papers were nearly identically designed today.

130408FinalFourContraCosta 130408FinalFourOakland

On the left is the Contra Costa Times of Walnut Creek, circulation 67,464. On the right is the Oakland Tribune, circulation 52,459.


South Bend, Ind.

Circulation: 59,351

And in South Bend, the Tribune put the Irish women’s loss in the skybox today.


That, too, didn’t turn out so well. A montage of images rarely works — especially in a confined space like that. Better to pick out one image and use it larger.

With the exception of the Free Press pages and the Louisville wrap, all these pages are from the Newseum. Of course.

Previous coverage of March (and April) Madness 2013, here in the blog…

  • March 18: A look at a few notable NCAA Tournament pages and sections
  • March 20: Five more fun March Madness pages for you
  • March 25: How the Fort Myers paper played last night’s huge win by Florida Gulf Coast University
  • March 26: More Florida Gulf Coast Univ. pages from the Fort Myers paper
  • March 29: Special editions are a slam-dunk today in ‘Dunk City,’ Florida
  • March 30: A look at Saturday’s March Madness pages
  • April 1: A look at Monday’s Final Four basketball tourney pages
  • April 7: A look at today’s Final Four pages