Those air show poster fronts from Oshkosh? Here’s the complete set.

Last week, I showed you a number of poster pages from the Oshkosh Northwestern celebrating the annual Airventure air show: “America’s largest annual gathering of aviation enthusiasts.”

To recap…

Sunday, July 19:

Monday, July 20:


Tuesday, July 21:


Wednesday, July 22:


Thursday, July 23:


Designer Evan Backstrom of the Gannett Design Studio in Des Moines was kind enough to send along the rest of the week’s front pages.

The theme at the airshow Friday was a look back at the near-disaster of Apollo 13, which took place 45 years ago this past April. Evan used a number of vintage NASA images:

For Saturday’s front page, Evan went sideways again with a photo of the newest fighter in the U.S. arsenal, the Lockheed F-35 Lightning II.

The picture was by staffer William Glasheen.

And the final poster front of the week ran Sunday. Even went sideways for the third time in seven days with this picture by staffer Jeannette Merten of the newest, “next generation” Goodyear blimp, Wingfoot One.


Click on any of those pages for a much larger look.

Average daily circulation for the Oshkosh Northwestern is 14,113.

A 2012 graduate of Ball State University, Evan Backstrom served as chief page designer for the student paper there, the Ball State Daily News


…and interned at Stamprint Printing and the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library. Evan tells us:

I was recruited by the Des Moines Design Studio out of college. In the studio I started on the Metro section of the Des Moines Register. I have since moved to the Wisconsin team where I am the lead designer for the Oshkosh Northwestern.

I wrote about him last month. A few samples of Evan’s work:


1506EvanBackstromSamples03 1506EvanBackstromSamples02 1506EvanBackstromSamples01

Find his web site here, his NewsPageDesigner portfolio here and his Twitter feed here.

A peek at this week’s Oshkosh airshow poster front pages

Every summer, the small city of Oshkosh, Wis., hosts a giant air show. Airventure bills itself as “America’s largest annual gathering of aviation enthusiasts.”

Every summer, the Oshkosh Northwestern celebrates the weeklong event by wiping everything else off of page one and publishing a series of poster-type front pages.

The paper kicked of the week with this huge treatment of a 2011 file photo of an acrobatic plane operating at night.

Monday, the designer on the project — Evan Backstrom — went horizontal with a picture of three military planes: An A-10 Warthog, a World War II-era Mustang and a Cold War-era SuperSabre.


Taking the spotlight Tuesday was this photo of an Airbus A-350.


That display and Wednesday’s are both listed as “photoillustrations” by staffer Danny Damiani. I’m guessing that a little sky was extended to fill out the page.

Wednesday’s centerpiece was a new F-22 Raptor.


And taking the spot of honor today was a skydiver. The picture is by Jeannette Merten.


But, as you can see, there was news Wednesday: A plane crashed at the air show. The story and a small picture ran downpage.

Evan tells us today’s page…

…is actually pretty straight forward. All the stories were mostly flushed out when I came into the office. It was just a matter of assembling the pieces. I just let the art speak for its self as I have with the other EAA pages I have designed this week.

There was some talk about what we would do if one of the crash survivors died but as of writing this none of them had.

Just for fun, though, Evan sends along an inside page featuring a handout photo of a skydiving team in action.


The air show runs through Sunday.

A 2012 graduate of Ball State University, Evan Backstrom served as chief page designer for the student paper there, the Ball State Daily News


…and interned at Stamprint Printing and the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library. Evan tells us:

I was recruited by the Des Moines Design Studio out of college. In the studio I started on the Metro section of the Des Moines Register. I have since moved to the Wisconsin team where I am the lead designer for the Oshkosh Northwestern.

I wrote about him last month. A few samples of Evan’s work:


1506EvanBackstromSamples03 1506EvanBackstromSamples02 1506EvanBackstromSamples01

Find his web site here, his NewsPageDesigner portfolio here and his Twitter feed here.

Average daily circulation for the Oshkosh Northwestern is 14,113.

Columbia, SC, State went sideways with its Confederate flag coverage

The newspaper in Columbia, S.C. — the State — went sideways Saturday with an enormous photo of the Confederate flag coming down from its place of honor on the grounds of the State House.

Click this for a much larger look:


More than 10,000 people showed up to view the brief ceremony by the state highway patrol color guard. You can see a bunch of ’em in that picture by staffer Tim Dominick.

There, in the middle of the shot, is the moment.


Friday morning, the State observed the upcoming morning ceremony with an illustration of an empty flagpole and poet Nikky Finney.


The State is selling reprints of both of these pages. Find them here.

I’d be much obliged if anyone out there can tell me who designed either of these pages. All of my contacts at the State have moved on.

UPDATE: I’m told both pages were designed by Meredith Sheffer.

The place from which the Confederate flag was removed Friday was a special monument on the grounds of the State House in Columbia. It was placed there 15 years ago after being removed from its previous spot of honor: Atop the State House itself, just under the U.S. and state flags.

On the day it was removed from atop the State House dome, the State ran this awesome front page:


As I wrote a couple of weeks ago: No headline was necessary — if you lived in South Carolina, then you knew instantly what was missing from the picture.

Average daily circulation of the State is 70,980.

On the Mississippi state flag issue, no fence-sitters allowed

The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss., attempted to find out whether state lawmakers were for or against removing the Confederate Battle Flag imagery from the state flag.


Sixty-seven legislators went on the record for or against. But 106 of them weaseled out by claiming to be undecided or not responding at all, despite repeated contacts.

This was the front page the Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss., ran this past Saturday. Click for a much larger look:

This was truly a team effort, says Merry Eccles of the Gannett Design Studio in Nashville tells us:

It was Executive Editor Sam Hall’s idea to poll the legislators. After the lack of response, he thought it would be good to publish the names and faces of those who weren’t responding and dodging the question.

The first round of emails and a good portion of the first calls were done by their intern, Royce Swayze. Political editor Geoff Pender also contributed a good bit to it, as did reporter Sarah Fowler. After a few days, they divided up among the entire news staff the names and contact info of all those who had not responded. Everyone called and emailed four, five or six people in an effort to mark more off the list.

I pulled the mugs, and did the layout. And Richard Mullins double-checked me.

Sam said they  will continue to call, email, Facebook, etc. for the foreseeable future. And the poll is live updated on our website and remains on the front page of the site.


Average daily circulation of the Clarion-Ledger is 57,710.

A couple of weeks ago, I showed you two front pages Merry did for the Clarion-Ledger on this topic.

Also, I wrote about the day in 2000 they took the Confederate Flag down from atop the State House in Columbia, S.C., and how the State newspaper covered it.

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

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

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


Ace projects designer Sam Hundley tells us:

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

Agreed. You’ve probably heard of Thomas Jefferson


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


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

Sam continues:

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Other outstanding work from the Virginian-Pilot:

Related posts…

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

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 debate over the Confederate flag moves to Mississippi

I mentioned on Tuesday the state flag of Mississippi, which incorporates the old Confederate battle flag — a symbol of hate and derision throughout the South during the fight for Civil Rights in the 1950s and 1960s.


And, in some cases, to this very day.

Monday, the speaker of Mississippi’s House of Representatives — a Republican — announced he thought it time to begin talking about changing Mississippi’s flag.

The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss., led Tuesday’s edition with a story about that shift.


That page was designed, I’m told, by Richard Mullins of the Gannett Design Studio in Nashville.

Wednesday, the Clarion-Ledger came back with two stories — one on the division among Republicans on whether or not to start this discussion. And one on the background of the flag and how people feel about it.

This page and the illustration were by Merry Eccles, also of the Nashville studio.


Merry tells us:

I wanted something that wasn’t inflammatory or biased to either side. Trying to visually bridge the gap for readers with an image that would convey “coming together,” the dove came to mind.

I pitched having a single subject front without any skybox and [the editors] were on board. I didn’t want a Wednesday Taste refer to take away from the seriousness of the page.

Gorgeous work.

Average daily circulation of the Clarion-Ledger is 57,710.

A few samples of Merry’s work:






I’ve written about Merry a number of times over the years:

A blast from the past: The removal of the Confederate flag from the S.C. state house dome

Unless you’ve been living under a rock over the past few days, you’ve seen the controversy in my home state of South Carolina over its continued reverence for the Confederate battle flag.


The Confederate flag flies from a special memorial on the grounds of the State House in Columbia. I was a bit puzzled when I saw reports last week that noted the U.S. and state flags were flying at half staff after the church shooting Wednesday in Charleston, but the Confederate flag was still at full staff. They’re on separate flagpoles.

But that wasn’t always the case. For 38 years starting in 1962, the Confederate battle flag — or, at least, a bastardized version of it — flew from atop the State House dome itself.


I grew up with us having three flags atop the State House. That’s just the way it always was.

But then one day nearly 15 years ago — July 1, 2000 — the battle flag came down and was moved to its current spot. On that day — for the first time in my lifetime — only two flags flew above the seat of state government.

The next day, the paper there in Columbia — the State — ran this awesome front page.


William Castronuovo — who, at the time, was deputy editor of the State — took the time to tell us about that page.

I’d planned it two months before and had two photographers positioned (backups to each other) to get the shot.

Before my idea was introduced — ideas were solicited and nothing was original in idea, concept or realistic. There was one suggestion that the front page be an illustration.

I got a lot of flack because folks were freaked that there was no headline. My argument was the headline was in the photo itself… …the flagpole sans the Confederate Battle Flag of Northern Virginia.

And I would agree with that, 100 percent. Now, if you were driving through the state that day and happened to stop and buy a paper, you might be baffled by that front page. But if you had lived in South Carolina any length of time, that image alone was nothing short of stunning. No headline needed.

I show this page in my Art of Being Brilliant presentation. It was bold and brilliant 15 years ago and it still is today.

William continues:

Now, page A3 was the “actual” front page with the same format that’s expected.

In other words, this was what we’d probably call a “wrap.” In theory, could pull this page off the paper and still have a standard-looking front page.

Bill says:

The photo on that page was of the hostile crowed the State Police had to keep separated. I have a 40-minute video I made — I was right at the edge. You’d have thought my video was recorded in 1962.

William is a 1983 graduate of the University of Maryland, where he served as a reporter and then design director of the student paper there, the Maryland Diamondback.


He has worked at a number of places over the years: The Washington Post weeklies, executive editor of the Reston (Va.) Times, graphics editor of the New York Daily News, art director of the Washington Times, sports art director of the National sports daily, publisher of a number of local D.C. suburban papers, design director of the Miami Herald, associate editor of the Gary (Ind.) Post-Tribune and then ten years as associate editor of the State of Columbia, S.C.

Bill has been working since 2007 to launch the Washington Reader in Washington, D.C. In addition, he’s working on a book that he hopes to publish soon.

A few moments ago, I called that flag a “bastardized” version of the Confederate battle flag. Why?

Because the official Confederate battle flag wasn’t shaped like a rectangle like that flag is. It was a square.

That’s one way to tell whether the person flying a Confederate flag is sincere about his or her respect for Confederate history. If the flag is rectangular, then it’s the type that came into common use in the south in the 1950s and 1960s as a symbol of resistance against integration and Civil Rights.

I’m not generally the type to fly a Confederate flag. But If I were, I’d insist on flying the real “Stars and Bars” — the first national flag of the Confederacy, shown below:


Five or six times in my career as a visual journalist, I’ve done graphics on the history of the Confederate flag. That one is the most recent — I built it a couple of weeks ago for my current paper, the Victoria (Texas) Advocate.

Also, while I’m on this topic: The state of Mississippi still uses the Confederate battle flag as part of its state flag.


Last night, news reports stated the legislature there is considering changing the flag. Finally.

This was the case in Georgia, several years ago. In 1956 — in the height of the Civil Rights movement and the white backlash to that struggle — the Georgia state legislature redesigned the flag of that state to include the Confederate battle flag. Every year, black state legislators would call for that symbol of hate and racism to be removed. Every year, white supporters would claim the flag was changed in order to honor our noble Confederate forefathers.

At the time, I was a graphic artist and editorial cartoonist for the two dailies in Athens, Ga. — the Banner-Herald and the Daily News. Wanting to sound off on the issue, I decided to hit the clip files first. And I was appalled by what I found there: I read the speeches made by Georgia lawmakers as they pushed to add the battle flag to their state flag. Those speeches didn’t really go much into their ancestors and their war losses. The speeches were all angry retorts to the Federal court system and especially Brown v. Board of Education, which called for the integration of schools.

So I drew up an editorial cartoon showing this. And despite the relatively conservative bent of the editorial pages there, my editors approved it.


That ran 28 years ago last month.

They finally changed the Georgia state flag in 2001:


If that looks like something designed by a committee, then you’re quite right. That’s exactly what it was: A compromise. My complaint at the time: That’s not a flag, that’s an infographic.

Two years later, the Georgia legislature took another swing at it. This time, they got it right:


That’s the state seal in the blue field. The rest of the flag looks a bit like the original national flag of the Confederacy. But then again, it also looks a lot like the state flag of Georgia before they went and changed it in 1956:


In fact, those three red-and-white stripes have been part of Georgia’s state flag since 1879.

It took many years, but Georgia finally took steps to distance itself from the racist and sometimes violent backlash the white citizens there had to the Civil Rights movement. It sounds like Mississippi might be doing the same.

It’s time South Carolina fell into line. Honoring your ancestors is one thing. But honoring a racist and divisive past is quite another.

Honor the past. But enable the future. Dump that flag.

Inside the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier’s church shooting coverage

Mitch Pugh, the editor of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier, took some time this weekend to send along pages his paper published regarding the tragic attack on historic Emanuel AME church last week.


The attack happened around 9 p.m. Wednesday night. The Post and Courier responded quickly with assistant digital editor/visuals Matthew Fortner there to shoot police officers, guns drawn, at the scene that night.

The A1 designer  that night — Chris Tabakian — ran Matthew’s picture big and got the hell out of its way.


Click that — or another other page here today — for a much closer look.


Friday’s paper led with mug shots of the nine victims and a quote from Charleston mayor Joe Riley.


That wonderful picture of a woman and her three-year-old granddaughter is by staffer Paul Zoeller. The page was designed by Maureen Hartshorn.

Mitch tells us:

Our entire visuals team has risen to the challenge, from designers and copy editors to a terrific photo team led by Assistant Digital Editor-Visuals Matthew Fortner.

But the whole visuals team has been great: staffers Grace Beahm, Leroy Burnell, Brad Nettles, Wade Spees and Paul Zoeller and intern Lauren Prescott.

I would also bring attention to videographer Chris Hanclosky, who has done some terrific work including this emotional piece he created on Friday.

Page six contained stories dealing with President Barack Obama‘s reaction, the history of the church, a column by the Post and Courier‘s Brian Hicks and a story stripped across the bottom on the Confederate flag issue.


Page seven held the jump of the lead story, anchored by Leroy Burnell’s photo.

Pages eight and nine took jumps of sidebars from A1, on the vigils and this being the deadliest hate crime in the history of South Carolina. That rail down the right side from the AP lists other attacks on black churches.


Page 10 held three shorter stories about events being canceled and other churches in Charleston’s historic downtown area showing their support.


Page 11 was devoted to the suspect, who was caught on Thursday in Shelby, not far west of Charlotte and a good four hours’ drive up I-26 from Charleston.


Saturday’s front page was also designed by Maureen Hartshorn.

The stunning lead art of a woman in anguish at a prayer service is by Grace Beahm.


Grace also shot the picture of the church framed by a twilight sky.

Go here to read the lead story by Andrew Knapp.

Mitch writes:

Headlines were often born from the teamwork of terrific desk people and frontline editors. Cindy Cloutier and Fred Rindge can likely take credit for Saturday’s choice.

However, I would be remiss not to mention that we employ one of the best headline writers in the business – Beth Harrison. She’s a regular award winner. In a time when the value placed on copy editors and headline writers seems to be diminishing, it’s a privilege to work alongside a copy editor like Beth. Most everything beyond the banner heads was written by Beth.

Also you might have noticed something by now. As Mitch tweeted Saturday:


When another editor saw my retweet and pushed back, Mitch explained:


Damn right. This is why God created inside pages. My former colleague Steve Buttry feels the same way.

Page six — below, left — holds a story about reaction from South Carolina’s governor and then the jump of the lead story. A couple of sidebars help fill out the backstory of the suspect.


Page seven — above right — addresses the prayer vigils and lists other memorial events to be held throughout the weekend. The pictures are by Paul Zoeller. That one showing folks joining hands as they sing We Shall Overcome is worth a larger look:


Page eight holds an AP story about how the suspect was identified and trailed by a woman in Shelby. Downpage is a story about commentator Glenn Beck, who came to town.


Page nine held the jump of the tick-tock story you may have read by staffers Doug Pardue and Jennifer Berry Hawes — it went viral in a big way this weekend.

Here’s a closer look at the graphic at the upper right of page nine, drawn by former MCT graphics assistant art director Robert Dorrell.


Page 10 held what I’ll call the political angle: Stories about the Confederate flag and whether or not the attack is to be considered terrorism.



The Post and Courier cooked up something really special for Sunday’s paper: A four-page wrap.

Mitch tells us:

We began to explore the concept after designer Krena Lanham came to us Thursday afternoon with an idea for the Faith & Values page – a stark and powerful list of the names of the deceased. We liked the idea but felt an inside page diminished the concept. Instead, we began exploring how we could do this as a four-page wrap on Sunday and put the names on the front of the paper.

Publisher P.J. Browning, President of Shared Services Ron Cartledge and others acted quickly to help us determine a way to make this happen.


Those are Palmetto roses on the front: Nine of them.

Mitch continues:

In addition to the front with the names of the nine victims, we decided to craft short anecdotes for each victim on the inside pages. We envisioned these as brief glimpses into their lives that would show readers their true character.


Three Pulitzer Prize winners and a Pulitzer finalist were among the teams working on these profiles, evidence of the great care we took to get them right.

We are also forever grateful for the contribution from South Carolina Poet Laureate Marjory Wentworth. Reporter Adam Parker contacted her Thursday afternoon to see if she was willing to write an original piece for this edition, and she immediately agreed. Within 24 hours she produced the beautiful and profound poem that you see on the back page of the edition.


I was floored when I read it and still can’t believe she was able to craft something so perfect in that amount of time.

I couldn’t find an online version of this poem to link to, so here’s a tighter and larger crop:


Mitch tells us:

Chad Dunbar and Maureen Hartshorn worked with the concept over the weekend to develop the final product. The inside pages and back page were designed by Chad.

The wrap was printed on premium, white paper, Mitch says.


And today’s front page features a huge photo by Paul Zoeller of worshippers at Emanuel AME Church on Sunday.


And the pictures of that “Bridge to Peace Unity Chain” event last night are spectacular. Between 10,000 and 15,000 people gathered on the Ravenel Bridge over the Cooper River. Find the story and pictures here.

Average daily circulation for the Post and Courier is 87,817.

The story behind Manitowoc’s cool sideways Monday front page

The Herald-Times of Manitowoc, Wis., ran an unusual time-sequence series of photos on page one Monday. And they did it sideways.

Executive editor Kevin Anderson tells us:

The page grew out of a photo montage – an analog animated GIF of sorts — created by a freelance photographer, who used to be the features editor for the Herald-Times and has a great eye for photos and layout. He created the montage and posted it to Facebook and offered it up for print.

After seeing the photo montage, designer Evan Backstrom offered up the idea of radically going horizontal.

Evan adds:

I was given a stellar photo and my immediate thought was to design the page on its side so we could run the photo series as large as possible.

Click this for a much larger version:


Kevin picks back up the story:

I am always game for something different, and my only reservation was readability, an issue raised by some of our readers when we have reversed text. However, Evan and our design team leader Bill Wambeke produced a great design that didn’t sacrifice copy clarity so I instantly thought that we’d start marketing this as a collectible edition.

Find video of the demolition here.

Average daily circulation of the Herald Times Reporter is 10,253.


A 2012 graduate of Ball State University, Evan Backstrom served as chief page designer for the student paper there, the Ball State Daily News, and interned at Stamprint Printing and the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library. He went to work for Gannett three years ago.

A few samples of his work:

1506EvanBackstromSamples03 1506EvanBackstromSamples02 1506EvanBackstromSamples01

Find his web site here, his NewsPageDesigner portfolio here and his Twitter feed here.

Illustrating a sensitive topic in a small community paper

Jay Redfern, assistant editor of the Register-Mail of Galesburg, Ill., posted his paper’s front page on Twitter Sunday.

He tells us the page…

…was designed by Adam McHugh at GateHouse Center for News and Design [in Austin, Texas].

Adam fills us in on the details:

It was the first part of a 7-day series. For a paper its size, this is a truly ambitious project.

I handled all of the design/graphics and wrote the main headline.

…The original plan was to shock the reader with police photos of several victims of domestic violence in the area, but decided it was just too jarring and might scare some away.

We thought about ways to illustrate it, including use of shadows featuring arms and hands in conflict, but felt that would border too much on cliche.

After reading all of the Day 1 content, I went back to an illustration that incorporated a simple stock image of a hand imprint.


I originally felt it conveyed the idea of someone desperately trying to get out of a situation, but then realized it’s also about the hands of these perpetrators, the hands of those trying to help victims and the hands of a community who must come together to address this issue that is plaguing their county.

I built in a lot of white space to make an already stark image pop, then used small accents of color to play off the black and white.

The text on page one essentially set up the series and, specifically, Sunday’s part one. The story itself began on page A2.


Note the graphic at the bottom of the page. You just about have to use little dots or squares to convey numbers of this type. Anything else might seem cartoonish.

The story jumped to the middle of page 12, where it was accompanied by a couple of key sidebars, including one illustrated with a jarring photo of a victim.


That portrait is by Register-Mail staffer Chris Zoeller.

The amount of data covered by this series is downright staggering. Editor Tom Martin wrote in a Sunday notebook column about the project:

We collected 4,815 digital police reports from four years (2011-2014) and dumped them into a Google spreadsheet and then with each report we noted the gender of the aggressor, whether minors were present, whether alcohol was involved, whether a weapon was used and if the conflict was physical.

The Knox College journalism class of Assistant Professor James Dyer worked with us on this series, researching, writing and logging data. In fact, we might still be logging the police reports if not for those journalism students. Everyone in the newsroom who worked on the series was required to go through at least one month of reports. It helped everyone understand the problem.

Then reporters matched up the arrests from the police reports to the actual court cases and followed them through to see how many cases during those four years were dropped and at what point in the process.

…The series includes 30 stories, along with graphics, maps, photos and videos. The regular news didn’t ease up for us while we put this together, which required us to push the date back a month. It was a lot of work, but we feel this is an important story.

Find the series online here.

Average daily circulation for the Register-Mail is 10,059.

Nine days in Baltimore

As you know, there has been a lot of news out of Baltimore over the past few days. The Baltimore Sun has done a superb job covering all the events there and even waiving the paper’s metered paywall so folks around the country can better keep up with the protests and unrest in the wake of a police shooting there.

Jay Judge — senior editor for visuals at the Sun — tells us:

It was an incredible week when we had to tell our journalists to go home for some semblance of rest. Everyone just ran toward the news and gave their all. It was an incredible effort.

I love the papers and content we produced, but could not help but be amazed by the fantastic effort of our reporters and photographers in the field, reporting the news in the field better and faster than the competition, which in this case was about every national news outfit out there.

Jay took some time to walk us through the visual highlights of the Sun‘s print coverage over the past nine days. Click on any page here for a much larger — and, hopefully, readable — view.

Edition of SUNDAY, APRIL 26

Jay says:

Our plan was to run an enterprise story on the route of Freddie Gray’s police van at the top, then use protest art if the event merited it. On Friday we did not know how significant the march would be.

It turned ugly in the early evening. With a 8:20 close for our state edition, we made some subtle changes for the first edition and remade the page for later.

For the first edition, we ran a screen grab from a reporter’s video.


For the next edition, we subbed out the screen grab for a still.


The covers were designed by me.

Sunday’s lead photo was by Jim Watson of AFP/Getty Images.

Jay continues:

The picture page was by Peter Dishal.


The lead picture on that page is by staffer Algerina Perna. Kim Hairston shot one and three are by staffer Jerry Jackson.

Edition of MONDAY, APRIL 27

Jay writes:

The calm before the storm. Cover by Bill Wachsberger.


The lead photo is by Algerina Perna.

Edition of TUESDAY, APRIL 28

Jay tells us:

The clashes between police and protesters started during our 3 p.m. news meeting. It was hard for us to all focus without checking TV, Twitter and e-mails.

As the protests turned violent and started to spread, we dispatched reporters and photographers while trying to ensure people were in groups in and effort to make sure everyone was safe. On that day, a photographer was hit by a rock and another assaulted. It was intense.

There was so much noise, at some point I went to my office to spend five minutes of uninterrupted time thinking about the page. Three minutes later, I was back on the floor looking at photos and working the page. We wanted to show multiple sides of the event – the fury of the protesters, the restraint of the police, the aftermath and the funeral of Freddie Gray. I tried to keep the page as clean and elegant as possible.


The lead photo is by Algerina Perna again. The secondary art is by Amy Davis and Jerry Jackson.

Jay says:

I also included a picture page. There were so many great images from photographers who working under tough circumstances, we tried to do a page like this every day.


The lead photo here is by staffer Lloyd Fox. Other pictures are by Jon Sham, Jen Rynda, Algerina Perna and Christopher T. Assaf.

Jay continues:

I also included another jump page with a graphic by Emma Patti Harris.

Here’s the page…


…and here’s a closer look at the graphic:


Edition of WEDNESDAY, APRIL 29

Jay says:

There was lots of varied activity this day that we wanted to show as best we could – from protests to dancing.


We tried to move the ad off of the front this day, to no avail.

Cover by me.

The lead picture is by Lloyd Fox. Bill Wachsberger designed the picture page, Jay says.


The lead picture is by Lloyd Fox. Other pictures are by Amy Davis, Barbara Haddock Taylor and Karl Merton Ferron.

Edition of THURSDAY, APRIL 30

Jay writes:

Many papers focused on the Orioles game in the empty stadium, but that seemed off point to us. There was still a lot of protest in the city, including an enormous and peaceful march to and from City Hall. Going with the protest photo seemed like a better representation of the day to us.


The cover is by me.

The lead photo is by staffer Robert K. Hamilton.

Jay says:

On features, we did a story about coping with the emotional trauma of the riots. We had a great photo from the previous day that had not run. We felt it illustrated that story well.


Page by Peter Dishal.

That picture is by Lloyd Fox.

Jay continues:

And we blew out the Orioles game on sports with a great panorama shot by one of our reporters shooting with an iPhone.


Page by Tracie Rawson.

The iPhone-wielding reporter was Jon Meoli.

Edition of FRIDAY, MAY 1

The cover was  pretty straight forward this day. We were surprised that police handed over their investigation findings to the state’s attorney a day early.


Page by me.

The lead photo is by staffer Kenneth K. Lam.

Edition of SATURDAY, MAY 2

Jay says:

When the charges were announced, my goal was to get the mug shots of the suspects. There was some concern about whether they would be released, so I had six empty holes at the top of the page part of the night. It made me nervous.  We did eventually get them.

If I had gotten them earlier, I was thinking of trying to do something exclusively with them. But I took a more conventional route not knowing when, or if, we would get them. We had a great reaction photo which helped me feel good about that decision.


We added the mugs and quotes on the side for balance.

The lead photo there is by Kim Hairston.

Jay adds:

Cover and jump pages by me.


The lead photo on the jump page is by Lloyd Fox. Secondary art is by Kim Hairston and Karl Merton


Edition of SUNDAY, MAY 3

This was another day we thought that the size of the protest might require we sub out lead art, but it didn’t.

The police had given us exclusive access to follow their investigation into Freddy Gray’s death. We wanted to highlight that on the front. Using some different tools allowed me to highlight the investigation and look different than other days.


Cover by me.

The lead photo is by staffer Karl Merton Ferron.

Jay continues:

Photo page by Peter Dishal.


The large photo there is by staffer Jerry Jackson. Other pictures are by Jen Rynda and Brian Krista.

Edition of MONDAY, MAY 4

Curfew lifted. National Guard preparing to leave. We all try to catch our breath.


Page by Bill Wachsberger.

The lead photo is by Algerina Perna.

Average daily circulation of the Baltimore Sun is 179,574.

Fun with the nameplate

The Clarion Ledger of Jackson, Miss., wins the interwebs today with this fun skybox that interacts nicely with the paper’s nameplate.


Is that cool, or what?

I don’t know who designed this, but these two similar examples from last summer…



…were designed by Merry Eccles of Gannett’s design studio in Nashville.

Find more of Merry’s work here.

Average daily circulation of the Clarion-Ledger is 57,710.

UPDATE: 10:43 a.m. CDT

Bill Campling of the design studio tells me:

Richard Mullins designed this one.

Here’s an idea you might try: Find a local photographer who shoots the night sky

I just love astronomy. I tried to work astronomy into my Focus pages every once in a while in California.

Remembering that, perhaps, Philip Maramba — managing editor of the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail — shares something really cool his paper ran on Friday.

He tells us:

Our photographer, Tom Hindman, spends a lot of time outdoors and churns out wonderful nature images on Facebook and his blog. In particular, his starscapes from various points around West Virginia draw plenty of oohs and ahhs on social media and drew the attention of our features editor, Billy Wolfe, himself a photographer as well.

With the weather finally warming up, Billy thought it would be a neat idea to interview Tom to share some tips on how to get good starry sky photos.


One of the photos inspired Billy to see if we could incorporate it into the nameplate to promote the feature. We set our graphic artist, Kevin Cade, to thinking on it and, well, you can see the results. Everyone seemed pretty happy with it.


The story is full of really good tips for readers who have access to nice equipment and would like to try their hand at some amateur astronomy. Read the story here and see if there’s anything you might take away to do your own version with a star shooter in your own neck of  the woods.

Average daily circulation for the Charleston Daily Mail is 17,879.

Behind that cool illustration afront Sunday’s KC Star

Charles Gooch, A1 designer for the Kansas City Star, took time Sunday to tell us about his paper’s big presentation on domestic terrorism.

He tells us:

I really liked the way that the whole package came together.

The story itself was a nearly year-long enterprise project by Judy Thomas that started after a tragic shooting spree at the Johnson County Jewish Community Center by white supremacist F. Glenn Miller in 2014.

Sunday was day one of the series (it will conclude next Sunday) and dealt mainly with how, 20 years after the Oklahoma City bombings, federal authorities have failed to prevent recent attacks from domestic extremists and how the threat from those sort of attacks is growing.

The cover itself came out of a series of sketches by the great Hector Casanova, who singled in on the concept of terror groups “metastasizing” inside of the U.S. like cancer cells would inside of a person.


The concept of his watercolor illo of blue and red cells making up an American flag growing and fighting paired well with the project title “Ignoring the terror within.”

As for the page itself, Mike Fannin (our editor) and Greg Branson (AME of presentation and innovation) had been planning on going big with this from the beginning. (After all, the story and its sidebars fill five full inside pages.)

Once Hector’s illustration started coming together, we realized that we’d need the entire width of our page (and most of the depth) to do it justice. The scope and feel of the page (and inside as well) is definitely a departure from our norm. We felt it was a story that commanded the attention of the readers and deserved a visual approach that could push that idea forward.

Here are the inside jump pages 16 and 17. Click for a larger, readable view:


Here are pages 18 and 19:


Page 20 shows the 52 people killed by domestic terrorism in the U.S. since 9/11.


As the intro copy notes, this does not include victims of the Boston bombings or the shootings at Fort Hood. The FBI does not consider “copycat” incidents such as these to be true terrorism.

Charles adds:

In addition to the print component, there’s also a very nice digital build that was put together by our programmer Jay Pilgreen.


A 1998 graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute, Hector Casanova spent six years as an artist for the Star. He left in 2005 to work as a comics artist, an art gallery director and an instructor at his alma mater.

He returned to the Star in 2008 but continued to handle freelance assignments for clients such as Sprint, Andrews & McNeel, Scholastic Books, MTV and Coca-Cola.

Hector has drawn two graphic novels: The Lurkers (in 2006 with writer Steve Niles) and Screamland (in 2008 with writer Harold Sipe).

A few samples of his work from my collection:





Find Hector’s portfolio site here and his Facebook fan page here. Find an extensive Q&A with him here.

Average daily circulation for the Kansas City Star is 200,365.

Inside the page-one editorial in Sunday’s Nashville Tennessean

The Tennessean of Nashville ran an editorial this past Sunday on page one.

Opinion engagement editor David Plazas tells us:

We have been editorializing about Insure Tennessee since Governor [Bill] Haslam made his announcement in December and have stayed consistent with our message for support, based upon its benefit for our working-poor individuals, job creation, our healthcare industry and rural communities, where hospitals have been starting to close.

Maria [De Varenne, news director] has really shown tremendous leadership in challenging our newsroom to make this effort a priority, and I agree with that focus.

It’s unusual that we would have an editorial on the front page. It’s only happened once before during my five months here – when we wrote an open letter to President Obama during his visit to Nashville in December. However, not even that editorial was designed as boldly as the one on Sunday.


That’s because the stakes are so high and most lawmakers have been so dismissive, in spite of the facts, in spite of concessions from the governor, and in spite of the need by low-income people who can’t afford health insurance.

In crafting this editorial, the approach we employed was to tap into that disdain by lawmakers, which was best exemplified by the a**hole comment that Senator Gardenhire made toward a critic of his “no” vote. I’m not a fan of using cuss words in articles, but this was an extraordinary situation because people felt helpless and we needed to rally the community.

Most important was including on the front page the headshots and contact information of key legislators. So far, I’ve received 125 emails and 42 phone calls – nearly all praising our approach and telling us that they have contacted or will contact their lawmakers.

Maria herself adds:

Bill Campling in our design studio created the page. I think you’ve written about him a few times before.

I have indeed.

Find the online version of the editorial here. Average daily circulation for the Tennessean is 118,589.

Here’s a quick romp through my collection of other page-one editorials…

Just a couple of weeks ago,  the Indianapolis Star devoted its entire front page to a call for rethinking that state’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

On Dec. 5, 2008, the Detroit (Mich.) Free Press urged Congress to bail out the auto industry (below, left).


On May 2, 2010, the Arizona Republic of Phoenix demanded immigration reform (above, right).

On Nov. 8, 2011, the Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Pa., sounded off on the Penn State sex abuse scandal (below, left).


On April 22, 2012, the Sioux City (Iowa) Journal pleaded for a halt to high-school bullying.

Two years ago, the Daily Tar Heel — the independent student paper at the University of North Carolina — called for reform of how sexual assault cases were handled on campus.


And on Oct. 6, 2011, the Northern Star — the student paper at Northern Illinois University — ran a full-page, page-one apology for an editorial cartoon it had run in its previous edition.


A video game took over page one Monday in Fargo

Did you catch the front page of Monday’s Forum of Fargo, N.D.?

Editor Matt Von Pinnon writes:

Troy Becker‘s front-page illustration of Minecraft is getting some love today, as we knew it would. Thanks to Troy for the authentic piece. And thanks to Jason [Miller, presentation editor] for suggesting the illustration idea and letting it cook.


Check out that nameplate, willya? Ha!

Matt continues:

My 5- and 9-year-old daughters, both Minecraft devotees, freaked out when they saw the paper today. That happens very rarely (Taylor Swift concert cover was the last time) and I think illustrates that the newspaper can still appeal to new readers if presented in a certain way.

The story is by Forum staffer Robin Huebiner. Find it here.

A 2000 graduate of Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., designer, graphic artist and illustrator Troy Becker joined the Forum in 2007.


Find his blog here and his Twitter feed here.

Average daily circulation for the Fargo Forum is 45,298. I spent a week teaching there in February.

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

The story behind Charleston’s video screen cap front page

By now, you know the story of what happened in my home state of South Carolina this past Saturday. And you’ve seen the video of the policeman shooting eight times at an uarmed man who was running away from him.

The unarmed man was hit four times in the back and once in the ear. He was killed. The policeman is now behind bars — thanks to that video.

Maureen Hartshorn, assistant design editor of the Post and Courier of Charleston, S.C. — tells us:

Video screen grabs don’t always translate well in print. In the case of the Walter Scott shooting, the video was the story and, therefore, the lead image. It was our challenge to make the footage as impactful in print as it was online.

The digital editor and photo editor combed through the cellphone video footage and captured stills to show the progression of the confrontation. We selected three smaller images to show the sequence of events leading up to the most telling shot of the video: an officer firing at a man’s back as he flees the scene.

Click this for a much larger look:


Maureen continues:

Editors and reporters chose three bullet points from the story that we used to enhance the headline. We dumped the rail and teasers that normally appear on our front page to give this story the strongest play we possible.

As you might imagine, the Post and Courier web operation is all over the story. The paper switched to a red background color to denote its special coverage.


Find the web site here. See just the Walter Scott material here.

Today’s front page focuses on the protests that took place Tuesday and Wednesday.


Find that lead story here.

The story downpage is about Feidin Santana, the man who shot the video. He was interviewed Wednesday by NBC’s Lester Holt.

Average daily circulation of the Post and Courier is 87,817.

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

Inside the Daily Tar Heel’s special criminal justice edition

Thursday, the Daily Tar Heel — the independent student newspaper at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill — published a special edition that focused on criminal justice.

The lead story on page one is about a man who spent 17 years of a life sentence in a North Carolina prison before being exonerated. In fact, the story says, Gregory Taylor is the first person in U.S. history to be declared legally innocent.

The commission that freed him, however, is in danger of losing its funding when a federal grant expires at the end of this year. The story is by assistant university editor Stephanie Lamm. The portrait was shot by Halle Sinnott.


The story downpage is about the upside of cheap labor by prisoners: The man in the picture there — as a prisoner — worked at an area cafeteria. He’s now working there full-time.

The story is by senior writer Claire Williams. Jordan Nash made the picture. The front was designed by Jose Vallé.

The doubletruck on pages six and seven — designed by Mary Burke — takes on a number of issues…


…1) The difficulty in hiring correctional officers, 2) How organizations attempt to aide prisoners’ return to society after their sentences are served and 3) Freed prisoners who commit new crimes and go back into the cycle.

Pictures are by staffers Ben Lewis and Henry Gargan. The bar chart at lower left is by Ryan Smith.

Page 11 holds the jump for page one’s lead story.


On the back page is a story about a junior at UNC who says he was beaten and choked by members of his church after they found out he was gay.


The story is by senior writer Mary Helen Moore. The portrait is by Cameron Robert.

The back page was designed by Mary Burke.

Behind that front page full o’ mug shots in Friday’s Fargo Forum

There was a bit of a stir caused Friday by the front page of the Forum of Fargo (N.D.) – Moorhead (Minn.).

Jim Romenesko reported:

In today’s Morning Report, I said The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead tried to shame lawmakers for voting against a bill that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.

That’s wrong, says editor Matthew Von Pinnon.

“We did not do it to shame anyone, as many people are [implying],” he says. “We did it simply to convey the info people wanted to know, no matter which side of the issue they are on. They wanted to know how each lawmaker voted. We shared all votes, including from the Senate, which had earlier narrowly passed the bill.”

Click this for a much larger look:


Matt told us over the weekend:

The idea for the cover was born at our afternoon news huddle. We started talking about doing a how-they-voted list and it morphed into the picture thing pretty organically.

I give a lot of credit to page designer Alicia Strnad-Hoalcraft for making it work, Deputy Editor Heidi Shaffer for preparing all the photos, and News Director Dave Roepke for pulling the info and having several checks on it to ensure accuracy. It was a great team effort, paired with a well-done news story by Capitol correspondent Mike Nowatzki.

Alicia adds:

I thought I’d send you the two other versions of the cover that we (briefly) considered in case you found the information interesting/helpful. These were the quick mockups I made after the meeting so we could decide how best to present the information.

One version featured just those House members who voted “no”…


…but we decided that was editorializing and not the best way to represent the votes.

We also briefly considered just highlighting the votes from the more controversial of the two anti-discrimination measures…


…which would have made my life a lot easier because I’d only have had “yes” and “no” votes to illustrate.

We ultimately went with a more complex version that showed who voted “no” on both measures, who voted “yes” on both measures, who voted “yes” on one measure and “no” on the other, and who didn’t vote.


A 2009 graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead, Alicia was a workplace analyst and served as a teacher at the N.D. School for the Deaf before she joined the Forum in 2012.


Find her portfolio here.

I spent a week in February teaching at Forum Communications. Since then, I blogged about the Forum‘s take on an enormous bar chart and a very nice-looking sports package.

I also wrote about a job opening there at the Forum. I’m told a sports designer moved over to fill that news spot. Therefore, the Forum is now looking for someone who specializes in sports. Everything else I wrote about the opening still applies, however.

Average daily circulation for the Forum is 45,298.