Big football wins merit big A1 poster front treatment

Among the great college football action this holiday weekend were wins by the nation’s two major undefeated teams: The University of Iowa and Clemson University.


These victories were each celebrated in the school’s respective capital city newspapers with giant page-one poster treatments.

[Full disclosure here: I used to work for the Des Moines paper. Plus, I’m a lifelong fan of Clemson.]

Poster treatments should be used very sparingly. But when the story is big enough — and in Iowa and South Carolina, this story was; believe me — I think this type of play is the ultimate in one of my primary directives. You know it by heart, so please repeat along with me:

Run it big and get the hell out of its way.

Here’s a quick look at how these two front pages came together…

Des Moines, Iowa
Circulation: 101,915

The photo on the front page of Saturday’s Des Moines Register shows Iowa Hawkeye defensive end Parker Hesse celebrating after he returned an interception for a touchdown in Friday’s 28-20 win over Nebraska.


The photo is by staffer Bryon Houlgrave. Designer Nicole Bogdas advocated and won approval to give the picture poster treatment.

Bryon also shot the picture played large on the Register‘s Saturday sports front:


Not surprisingly, the paper must have sold out in central Iowa: The Register is already offering reprints of the page.


A graduate of the University of Missouri, Nicole was news projects designer for the Palm Beach Post and also spent a couple of years at the Sun-Sentinel in Ft. Lauderdale. She worked at the St. Louis Post Dispatch before joining the Orlando Sentinel in 2008. She was news editor of the Herald-Zeitung in New Braunfels, Texas before moving to Des Moines in 2010. In 2012, she wrote a wonderful — and brave — first-person piece for the Register. And then, a few months later, she donated a kidney to her dad.

Find Nicole’s portfolio here.

Columbia, S.C.
Circulation: 70,980

The annual in-state rivalry matchup between Clemson and South Carolina was a noon game this year, says Elissa Macarin, who moved to the State from Gannett’s Nashville hub in August. The extra time meant that she…

…had time to comb through our staff photos as they were coming in.

I knew going into the day it would be a poster front of the winner and there were a few minutes there where I thought we might have to come up with a great upset headline. But in the end Clemson won, keeping their undefeated season.

When I saw this photo by Tim Dominick I had a feeling it would be the best to tell the story so I started working with it as soon as the game was over. When our Assistant Sports Editor, Presentation Meredith Sheffer — who also serves as photo editor for football Saturdays — came in, I showed it to her. She agreed we should go with it.


In talking over the headline a bunch of ideas were thrown around, one of the being incredibly straightforward with “Perfect season,” which I decided to go for more impact and just have “Perfect.”

Which, of course, turned out to be just perfect.

Elissa adds:

Next week could be a lot more hectic because we’ll be making on deadline decisions for a full page-poster if Clemson wins the ACC title.


A 2005 graduate of Kent State University, Elissa spent a year as a designer and copy editor for the Dothan (Ala.) Eagle and then four years with the Press-Register of Mobile, Ala. She moved to the Daily Herald of Wausau, Wis., in 2010 and slid over to the Gannett Nashville design studio in 2012. Her husband, Jared Macarin, is also a designer.

Find Elissa’s portfolio here.

The Register‘s sports front was shared via social media by the paper’s consumer experience director, my old pal Nathan Groepper. The two front page images are from the Newseum. Of course.

A stunning multiple-cover gimmick this week by Sports Illustrated

This week, Sports Illustrated celebrates the big World Cup win by the U.S. Women’s National Team with a cover photo.

A cover photo not just of superstar goalkeeper Hope Solo


…and not just of Houston Dash player Carli Lloyd, who scored a Hat Trick in the 5-2 championship win over Japan on July 5.


No, Sports Illustrated produced 25 alternate covers for this week’s edition — one for each member of the team, plus the coach and one featuring seven key players.

Click this for a much larger look:


Chris Stone — managing editor of Sports Illustrated — said in a staff story posted on SI‘s web site Monday:

By the time we settled on the idea, the team was in [Los Angeles] for an event that would end mid-afternoon. The photographer we wanted to shoot it, and who had shot the [World Cup final], Simon Bruty, was headed home to D.C. It wasn’t going to happen on Tuesday.

Then, New York City delivered, big-time, by planning Friday’s [gala, ticker-tape] parade, which would bring the entire team to a single spot.

So the team agreed to be shot in New York’s City Hall, both before and after the parade Friday.

Much of the media buzz about this project calls the effort “unprecedented,” but I recall a similar project that was smaller in scope — slightly — but also done by a newspaper with significantly fewer resources than Sports Illustrated.

Matt Erickson — who, 11 years ago, was presentation director of the Times of Northwest Indiana in Munster, Ind…


… built alternate covers for the paper’s 2004 high school football section so that all the area schools could be on the cover that year.

The catch: There were 29 schools in the area. So Matt built 29 covers.

Insane, perhaps. But a hell of a talker.

The project earned two silver medals and judges’ special recognition in the annual SND contest. If you’ve got a 26th edition of Best of Newspaper Design handy, check it out on page 43.

Matt is now assistant editor of — part of the USA Today sports group — where he covers mixed martial arts fighting.

Three huge centerpiece-worthy games. One front page. What’s a sports designer to do?

Tuesday was an uncommonly interesting sports day for the folks in Washington, D.C. — both the NBA Wizards and the NHL Capitols pulled off big playoff wins and the baseball Nationals came back for a thrilling win.

The Washington Post‘s rose to the occasion with an uncommonly brilliant sports front page. Dan tells us:

It was a fun night!

Click for a larger, readable look:


Dan writes:

Last week when I knew all these teams would be playing on the same night I wanted to do something different to give the playoff teams equal play, and thought the Nationals would go on bottom somewhere with the Redskins schedule story.

But at start of Tuesday night, I sold our sports editor, Matt Vita, on stripping the Redskins schedule to make room for this setup of our three live games.

We had staff photogs at each game so I emailed them my cover early in the night on what I was hoping for. Also talked to night editor Greg Schimmel that if all teams win or lose we can do a head treatment to tie it all together.

When the Nats hit their walk-off home run to end the night, we were off and running.


Toni L. Sandys shot the Nats game in D.C. and James Wagner wrote the story.

Dan continues:

I worked with Karl Hente on what I was aiming for with the headlines and we came up with a head for the Wiz and Nats…


Jonathan Newton shot the Wiz game in Toronto and Jorge Castillo wrote the story.

…before Greg Schimmell and Scott Silverstein added the “boost” for the Caps.


John McDonnell shot the Caps game in New York and Alex Prewitt wrote the story.

The games were arranged in the order in which they finished. We highlighted that info in the photo captions.

Lastly, to keep the theme going, our headline for the Redskins schedule was “A blueprint.” in the teez bar at the top of the page.


A graduate of Western Illinois University, Dan Worthington spent a year-and-a-half as assistant sports editor of the Daily Review Atlas of Monmouth, Ill. before moving to the Beaufort (S.C.) Gazette and the (Hilton Head) Island Packet in 2008.


He moved to a sports design position with the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., in 2009 and was promoted to assistant sports editor a year later. He moved to the Post in 2013.

I most recently wrote about Dan’s work at the beginning of March Madness.

A few more samples:



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Find Dan’s web site here, his YouTube channel here and his Twitter feed here.

Here’s your annual peek at the Toledo Free Press’ Opening Day edition

I know spring is finally here when my pal James A. Molnar of the Toledo Free Press sends me his Opening Day pages. The 115,000-distribution free weekly tabloid goes all-out every year to celebrate the start of the season for the famous Toledo Mud Hens.

James tells us:

We published a 60-page edition on April 12 dedicated to opening day April 16 and I’m excited to share it with you.

Our fantastic cartoonist Don Lee produced some great cover artwork for the third consecutive year, now. The cover idea stems from various promotion nights by the Hens, which include Back to the Future Night, a doubleheader honoring the 30th anniversary of the film franchise.

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The cover also features a double-headed dinosaur since there will be a Jurassic Park theme night in anticipation of the fourth movie in the franchise, Jurassic World, coming to theaters this summer.

The Mud Hens will even wear special post-retro jerseys for Back to the Future night.

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Find the online version of that story here.

James continues:

For the inside cover, I had Don Lee send me separate elements to use.

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I thought it would be fun to include his concept drawing and revised sketch for this year. We’re really lucky to have him in our editorial arsenal.


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Find more of Don’s work on Twitter and Facebook.

James continues:

You’ll remember the Ghostbusters-themed cover last year…

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…and the Angry Birds cover from two years ago.)


James also sends along a number of inside pages, including the welcome page…

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…the schedule page…

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…a page full o’ team member mug shots…

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…and even a fun baseball-themed crossword puzzle.

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James writes:

One of my favorite stories is written by Associate Editor Tom Konecny, who profiles the history of the team.

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Although baseball has a long history in Toledo, the current franchise is marking 50 years in 2015.

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Find the online version of that story here.

(Story online:

Kudos to Managing Editor Joel Sensenig for his hard work organizing the content for the section. Sensenig wrote a story about new food offerings at the stadium this year and you don’t want to miss one of the new treats: A S’more donut.


Again, here’s the full story. Click for a readable version.

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Find the entire Opening Day e-edition here.

The Toledo Free Press recently celebrated its 10th anniversary in print. Read about that here.

A 2009 graduate of Marquette in Milwaukee, Wis., James served as a reporter, designer and then visual content editor for the student paper there, the Marquette Tribune.


He spent a couple of months as a designer and editor for the Daily of Chatauqua, N.Y. and then seven months as an apprentice optician at Eyeglass World in Toledo before catching on at the Free Press in 2010. He also covers movies for the Free Press.

Find James’ personal blog here, his portfolio here and his Twitter feed here.

An interesting angle to hoops, smack in the middle of Big Dance season

Looks like Ian Lawson — lead sports designer of the Omaha World Herald — has been up to more cool stuff lately.

He tells us:

We were in the middle of our coverage of the Omaha rounds of the NCAA Tournament when sports editor Thad Livingston told us we had a really cool local story coming up for Sunday: It was about how the Sudanese population in Omaha have really taken to and learned a lot from the game.

The story follows the arrival of one young man at age nine, how he’s introduced to the game, how it helps get him into college and then he goes home to help other members of his community.

It also touches on what life is like for these refugees and what they go though knowing nothing of the way of life outside of war-torn Sudan and adjust to things like, cars, toilets and seeing yourself in the mirror for the first time.

I was feeling a little burned out on college ball, so I asked  if I could take it on.

Once I read through what turned out to be a great story — backed up by some cool photos and lots of interesting sidebars — I worked up a cover design and asked if we could play it up and treat it special.

So Thad, [deputy presentation editor] Tim Parks and I went back and forth on the main photo and then once we settled on the group shot we decided to make the page mostly the display.


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

Ian continues:

We were also fortunate to have plenty of pages in this edition so we were able to spread it out over 4 color pages inside.

Here are pages nine…


…and ten.


I wanted to play the images big so used them to top each page and tried to come up with a design that would hold all the elements but not feel too crowded. We love our white space in Omaha.

Here are pages 11…


…and 12.


It took some finessing to make it all fit, but I think it came together nicely.

Those wonderful photos were by Kent Sievers. Read the story here by Jon Nyatawa.


Ian spent three years as an editor and designer for the Ledger Independent of Maysville, Ky., before moving to the Gannett design studio in Louisville, Ky. in December 2011. He moved to Omaha in 2013.

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

How to celebrate a 15th seed in the Big Dance

Hayden Goethe, assistant sports editor of the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, writes to share:

We put together an eight-page special section honoring the North Dakota State men’s basketball team’s Summit League championship and berth in the NCAA tournament.


Those photos are all by freelancer Dave Eggen.

Hayden continues:

The section was put together in one day — Monday — by myself and Colton Pool, who works part-time for us and just happened to be filling in for one of our full-timers that day.

We had good advertising support, which made the section easy to put together. Jeff Kolpack cranked out a ton of copy for it in a very short period of time.


The illustration on page four was something I had built for a centerpiece the week before but ended up holding. At least we were able to put it to use eventually.

I might add: That’s a pretty sweet above-the-nameplate presentation atop today’s page one.


North Dakota State takes on No. 2 seed Gonzaga tonight at 8:50 p.m. CDT at Seattle’s KeyArena.

Average daily circulation for the Forum is 45,298.

Behind the Washington Post’s fun NCAA emoji page

The Bracket Monday page that seemed to create the most buzz yesterday — and deservedly so — was this one masterminded by Dan Worthington of the Washington Post.


Click that for a much larger look.

Dan wrote Monday via Facebook that he…

…spent an unhealthy amount of time with emoji in my life after Brian Gross said [back in January] “what about emoji?” for our NCAA special section.

Found an amazing illustrator in Julia Heffernan who has a special talent for creating emoji. Cover design and art direction was me. Headline by David Larimer.

Those little emoji icons are cute as can be. Spend some time with them and you’ll find some you love.

One of my favorites is the Alabama-Birmingham Dragon…


…although I might argue the Iowa State Cy looks an awful lot like the Louisville Cardinal.


You gotta love that UC Irvine Anteater, though. Zot!

The Duke University Dookie sure looks as if he’s up to something, doesn’t he?


Also, the Oregon Duck made me smile…


…as did the all-feline Villanova vs. Lafayette matchup…


…and the canines vs. felines N.C. State vs. LSU bracket.


Wonderful illustrations, made even better by the Post‘s eagerness to give them away so fans could add them to their text messages, social media feeds and whatnot.



And if you scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page, you’ll find the “bubble” teams that had emojis drawn up but then didn’t find their way into the tournament.


Hey, why let perfectly good emojis go to waste, right?

Find the entire set here.

Naturally, the presentation had its naysayers. Indiana fans, in particular, seemed displeased with the emoji that represented their team — as you see here, reported by the Indianapolis Star.


That’s supposed to be a basketball fan with her face painted for a game. Indiana fans complained about the rendering. Never mind no one seems able to explain just what is a “Hoosier” in the first place.

When I think of Indiana basketball, I think of chairs being flung onto the court. But that’s why the Post didn’t hire me to draw the emojis.

The wonderfully talented artist who did draw the icons — as Dan mentioned — is New York-based illustrator Julia Heffernan. Here’s a self-portrait, drawn in emoji style.


Julia specializes in emoji art. Here are a few examples of her work.


Naturally, she does other types of illustration as well:




Julia seemed delighted to get a byline on the front of Monday’s sports front.


Find her web site here, her blog here and her Twitter feed here.

A graduate of Western Illinois University, Dan Worthington spent a year-and-a-half as assistant sports editor of the Daily Review Atlas of Monmouth, Ill. before moving to the Beaufort (S.C.) Gazette and the (Hilton Head) Island Packet in 2008.


He moved to a sports design position with the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., in 2009 and was promoted to assistant sports editor a year later. He moved to the Post in 2013.

A few samples of his work:



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Find Dan’s web site here, his YouTube channel here and his Twitter feed here.

A sampling of Super Bowl pages from the Boston Globe

Joe Moore, sports designer at the Boston Globe, shared a selection of pages from before and after the recent Super Bowl.

I can’t remember who won that game. Some guy in a shark costume, I think. But, for some strange reason, the Super Bowl was a huge story for the Globe.

Anyway, Joe tells us:

We had 30-40 pages of Super Bowl content in the week leading up to Sunday’s game, followed by a 32-page Score section, which is our weekly NFL gameday section. The following Sunday, we ran a 28-page commemorative special section.

Here, he walks us through the pages. Click any of these for a much larger look…

Thursday, Jan. 22:
The 1/22 sports cover featuring reaction from Deflategate.


Wednesday, Jan. 28:
Profile of Matt Patricia, the defensive coordinator. Illustration by Rafa Alvarez.


Thursday, Jan. 29:
We answered the question: Do you have to be smart to be a Patriot? Illustration by Rafa Alvarez.


Friday, Jan. 30:
A look at Ernie Adams, the man behind the curtain for the Patriots.


The photo there is by the Globe‘s Jim Davis.

Seahawks and Patriots stats on facing pages.


Just look how simple those pages are. Look at all that white space. Just gorgeous.

Roger Goodell bombarded by Deflategate questions.


That features another photo by Jim Davis.

Sunday, Feb. 1:
Comparing the personalities and coaching styles of Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll. Illustration by Rafa Alvarez.


Here’s one I showed you last week. I like a lot, though, so let’s see it again:

Doubletruck graphic by Luke Knox breaking down 25 of the most memorable plays in Super Bowl history.


Monday, Feb. 2:
The cover of our Score section.


The photo is by Larry W. Smith of EPA.

Thumbnails of every Super Bowl program to date.


Comparing the first three years of Tom Brady and Russell Wilson’s careers.


That was compiled by Sean Smith.

Sunday, Feb. 8:
The commemorative cover for the special section that ran the Sunday after the Super Bowl.


Yep, that’s another Jim Davis picture.

Stats recap of regular season.


You guys know how much I dislike bubble charts, but this one seems very clear and easy to read. As does the bubble charts on this page:

Every one of Brady’s 53 record postseason touchdowns.


A 2006 graduate of the University of Missouri, Joe Moore worked as a reporter, copy editor and graphic artist for the Missourian.


He spent five-and-a-half years as a graphic artist and multimedia coordinator for the Daily Journal of Vineland, N.J., before rolling into the Gannett Design Studio in Asbury Park in 2012 as lead sports designer. He moved to the Globe a little over a year ago.

Find Joe’s NewsPageDesigner portfolio here.

Average daily circulation for the Boston Globe is 225,482.

Previous blog posts about this year’s Super Bowl:

Behind that gorgeous portrait afront Monday’s Greensboro News & Record

Tuesday, I showed you the 10-page special section published Monday by the Daily Tar Heel — the independent student newspaper at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill — honoring basketball coach Dean Smith.

Today, let’s take a closer look at probably the most spectacular front page published by a non-campus-based daily commemorating Smith: The News & Record of Greensboro, N.C.

Feast your eyes on this magnificent illustration by Tim Rickard:


Click that for a much larger look.

Tim tells us:

I used to do portraits in traditional media – water color, guache, prismicolor pencils, etc. – but that took too long. I had to learn to do portraits fast in relation to breaking news. (no, Dean Smith’s death caught me by surprise, so no work was done in advance.) So, Photoshop and the Wacom tablet to the rescue.

I start with digital images to work from, and I use a combination of drawing, painting and some Photoshop imaging to create a portrait like this on the fly.

I open and size the main image in Photoshop.


For Dean Smith’s head, I used the Waacom tablet to draw pencil-like line art over the photo on another layer.


Then — using a series of filters — I obliterated the photo underneath until just the basic shapes/colors were visible. I used this as my underpainting.


It’s this step that saves a ton of time.

I then paint and draw — also using the tablet — directly on that underpainting.


Here’s the finished portrait:


I then added the other images. One was a UNC logo done in illustrator. The top image had a combination of over-drawing and Photoshop imaging…


…and the bottom image was a photo with a straight Photoshop treatment using filters and layering.


This whole piece came together in about four hours, including the time spent searching for pictures to work with.

I worked on this at home on my laptop computer — it was a Sunday after all, when I’m normally off. I e-mailed an early draft to the designers for layout, and e-mailed them the finished art a few hours later.


Designers Ben Villarreal and Margaret Wimmer designed the front.


A graduate of Kentucky Wesleyan College, Tim is a member of Mensa. Seriously.


Tim has worked at the News & Record for nearly 30 years. He’s illustrated dozens of book covers and freelanced illustrations to clients like Better Homes and Gardens and the Washington Post.

In addition, Tim is a syndicated cartoonist: He’s the creator of the Brewster Rockit: Space Guy comic strip, distributed by Tribune Media Services. The title character is kind of a Captain Kirk crossed with Buzz Lightyear, with a dash of Duck Dodgers and then set on a high boil.

There’s one Brewster Rockit softcover book collection out there — published in 2007 — collecting some of Tim’s strips.


If you’re an e-book kind of guy, there are two more collections available via iTunes: Dork Side of the Moon from 2012 and Rockit Like It’s Hot from 2013.


Find all sorts of cool Brewster Rockit items on Tim’s CafePress page.

While we’re at it, my friend and former colleague Eddie Wooten — who’s now the sports editor of the News & Record — was kind enough to send along his Monday sports front.

This was designed by Ben Villarreal, Eddie says:

Photographer Lynn Hey and designer Ben Villarreal helped choose the image.


I went into the attic and grabbed my Dean Smith 877 section, the 12-pager that we produced live at the [Raleigh] News & Observer when he passed [Adolph] Rupp, and worked off that a little bit. Keith Simmons did a beautiful portrait of Smith for that one.

Average daily circulation for the Greensboro News & Record is 57,274.

Inside the Daily Tar Heel’s commemorative Dean Smith edition

Legendary basketball coach Dean Smith died Saturday night. He was 83.

The independent student paper at the University of North Carolina, the Daily Tar Heel, published a 10-page special commemorative edition Monday.

Click any of the pages below for a larger look.

The cover illustration consisted of a file photo of Smith with the background blacked out.


The illustration is credited to visuals editor Katie Williams.

Page two, below left, starts out with a passage from Smith’s book. Page three, below right, holds stories in which folks share their memories of Smith.


The story at the top of the page — focusing on Chapel Hill’s Franklin Street — is by senior writers Jordan Nash and Gabriella Cirelli. The story below is by senior writer Dylan Howlett.

Daily Tar Heel editor-in-chief Jenny Surane answered a few questions for us:

Q. How long ago did you begin planning this section?

A. We heard the news around 9 a.m. Sunday morning and I called a noon meeting with my desk editors and the sports senior writers. I told them to come with ideas. We all sat around our conference room table for an hour and brainstormed the stories you saw in today’s issue.

I knew as soon as I heard the news that I wanted to do a whole issue about his life. I’m just happy my incredible sports, photo and design desks were able to deliver.

Q. Did you have stories and visuals built in advance? Or did you do all this on the fly over the weekend?

A. We did it on the fly. We had an obituary prepared in advance with biographical information (age, hometown, etc.). It was about two years old. We ultimately didn’t need to use any of that. Dean Smith was such an incredible guy, we had no trouble finding people to talk to us about him.

The center spread focuses on the Dean Smith coaching legacy. On the left are brief bios of Smith’s players who went on to become noted coaches themselves, written by Pat James. On the right is a by-the-numbers piece, paired with a file illustation by Tyler Vahan.


Across the bottom is a timeline of Smith’s life.

Page six holds columns and editorials about Smith and his legacy at UNC. The DTH even managed to work in a few letters to the editor.


Page seven looks at Smith’s role in the world. Senior writer Aaron Dodson writes about Smith’s humanitarian work and University editor Bradley Saacks addressed Smith’s role in the Democratic party.

Page nine, below right, features a large picture by visuals editor Katie Williams of students holding a vigil outside the Dean Smith Center.


Senior writer Daniel Wilco wrote the story of students gathering to honor Smith.

Two more questions for the editor-in-chief:

Q. Who masterminded the plan?

A. It was truly a team effort. I just asked them to fill the paper and the sports writers, design team and photo editors went crazy. It’s beautiful.

Q. Who designed the pages?

A. It was a joint effort between Mary Burke, the art director for our special projects and investigations team, and Tyler Vahan, our design and graphics editor.

If you’re a UNC fan or graduate, then you probably love one of Smith’s most controversial gifts to the game, the Four Corners offense. If you’re a fan of other team — especially another ACC team — then probably not so much.

The story on page eight, above left, by assistant sports editor Brendan Marks addresses this:

“The crowd in Carmichael would erupt when the point guard raised the four,” said Dave Chadwick, who played for Coach Dean Smith from 1968 to 1971. “When we saw the fours go up, game’s over.”

A graphic by Katie Williams diagrams the infamous delay tactic.


Page ten closes with the perfect image: Smith and his star pupil, Michael Jordan. That was shot in 2010 by David T. Foster III of the Charlotte Observer.


The story downpage, by sports editor Grace Raynor, tells the story about how Smith touched the lives of his players, his assistant coaches and even a 12-year-old girl who somewhat randomly wrote a school paper on Dean Smith.

In a paper full of good reading, this story was probably the best.

One final question for DTH editor-in-chief Jenny Surane:

Q. Andy [Bechtel, a former colleague at the Raleigh News & Observer who now teaches at UNC] tipped me off about an article somewhere — [turns out it was Jim Romenesko who posted it] — that said you went back to press for more copies. Clearly, reaction on campus to your work was pretty significant. Care to comment on this?

A. We printed an extra 1,100 last night. Boxes were empty by 9 a.m. this morning. So by 10 a.m. we put in another order for 7,000 additional copies.

If demand is any indication, I think our issue struck a chord. It was beautifully designed, well written and informative. I’m so so proud to be part of this team.

Find the Daily Tar Heel web site here.

I used to write quite a bit about the Daily Tar Heel. But then — I dunno, perhaps all the students I knew there graduated or something. I rarely hear from them any more.

Previous coverage here in the blog about the Daily Tar Heel

  • September 2010: Daily Tar Heel diagrams the UNC football scandal
  • March 2011: Infographics you truly do NOT want to miss
  • April 2011: Daily Tar Heel of the University of North Carolina redesigns
  • March 2012: Wonderful student-drawn hoops graphics to brighten your (Carolina) blue Saturday
  • April 2012: An e-mail error leads to today’s mini-seminar on infographics
  • April 2012: How two student newspapers are dealing with the week before finals
  • April 2012: How the Daily Tar Heel played Tuesdays’ presidential visit
  • October 2012: Friday is hump day at the University of North Carolina
  • October 2012: Another illustration about football concussions — this one by a student journalist
  • February 2013: Possibly the most perfect headline in the history of SEO
  • February 2013: Behind that swirl of numbers on the front of today’s Daily Tar Heel
  • February 2013: UNC’s Daily Tar Heel celebrates its 20th year of independence with a wrap
  • April 2013: Student newspaper at North Carolina puts a full-page editorial on today’s page one

Inside GateHouse’s commemorative Super Bowl section

Adam McHugh, national and special projects manager for the GateHouse Center for News & Design in Austin, Texas, shares pages from the 12-page Super Bowl commemorative section that inserted in GateHouse properties in New England yesterday.

These pages are from the Cape Cod Times version, Adam tells us.

Page one features artwork by my former colleague Fred Matamoros.


Fred joined the GateHouse hub in October. The rest of the section was designed by Adam.

Pages two and three address the Patriots’ legacy. Page three — “Fellowship of the rings” — puts last weekend’s win in perspective with other NFL dynasties.


The rail down the left side of page two looks at other great sports dynasties: UCLA basketball, the Boston Celtics, the New York Yankees and the Michael Jordan-era Chicago Bulls.

Pages four and five hold nice profiles on the Patriots quarterback and coach, respectively.


Pages six and seven feature a thumbnail look at the 2014-15 season, with a brief summary and a photo of every game.


Page eight, below left, addresses some of the team’s unsung heroes and also holds pictures of the Patriots’ triumphant return to Boston on Wednesday.


Page nine is a wonderful graphic look — also by Adam — at the history of the Patriots. The blue bars show wins in playoff seasons. The grey bars are years the Pats made Super Bowl appearances. The red bars are Super Bowl wins.

Here’s a closer look:


Click for an even larger look.

Robert Kraft took ownership of the team in 1994 — the big red dot in the center of the chart. Notice there are a lot more colored bars to the right of that dot than to the left.

Pages 10 and 11 focus on the exciting end of last Sunday’s game.

Across the bottom of page 10 is that amazing catch by the Seahawks’ Jermaine Kearse that put Seattle up in the waning moments.


But then an interception by Malcolm Butler — an undrafted rookie — changed what looked to be a sure loss for the Patriots. Here’s the page, featuring a picture by Kathy Willens of the Associated Press, turned rightside up.


Evidently, the back page was an ad.

Adam also sent me a preview section GateHouse had produced before the game. The cover, Adam, says, featured a…

…terrific Tom Brady photo illustration, which was done by graphic artist Lawrence Seil.


Adam designed the rest of the cover as well as the inside pages.

The visual highlight of the inside of the section was this fun look at Super Bowl tickets.


Adam tells us:

Much of the content came from the Providence Journal.

Previous blog posts about this year’s Super Bowl:

Super moments of super Super Bowls

One of the more inventive Super Bowl previews that made the round this year was this amazing doubletruck spread featuring 25 goldent moments in the history of the Super Bowl, written, compiled and designed by Luke Knox of the Boston Globe.


Click that for a much, much larger look.

Luke tells us:

The idea was to illustrate the 25 biggest moments, rather than plays, since some of them are things that happened off the field.

But my boss, graphics director Chiqui Esteban, did a pretty great soccer graphic a while back along these lines…


[Read more about this here.]

… and we talked about how we could do a Super Bowl version once the Patriots started getting deeper into the playoffs. Luckily, sports editor Joe Sullivan was on board and helped clear the way for some space to run the graphic.

I came up with a list of 25, plotted out the paths and locations from YouTube clips, and then started creating the illustrations. I’m not someone with a background in creating this type of artwork, and I was definitely out of my element trying it. But it was a lot of fun!

My favorites were the Lynn Swann catch…


… Parcells’ gatorade bath…


…and John Elway’s headlong dive against the Packers.


While the style was intentionally very simple, I did try hard to be accurate in team colors, shoe colors, jersey numbers of nearby players, etc. Credit to Chiqui and fellow graphic artist Dave Butler in particular for good advice on keeping the ilos as simple as possible and to give them a cartoonish feel.

Chiqui came in at the end for some good edits and refining of the lines and shadows, so it was a team effort.


A 2002 graduate of UNC-Asheville, Luke spent two years with the Pensacola News Journal in Florida and then a year-and-a-half at the Albuquerque Journal before joining the Arizona Republic in Phoenix in 2005. He moved to Boston in 2010 as a sports design supervisor. He moved to graphics in 2013.

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

Two takes on last night’s college football championship game

Another year, another national college football champion. Except this one is not from the SEC or the ACC.

Sophomore Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 246 yards and an amazing four touchdowns — and believe me, they were amazing –to lead Ohio State on a 42-20 Oregon Duckhunt. It was Ohio State’s first national title since 2002.

The hometown Columbus Dispatch celebrated this morning  with a fabulous celebration photo by staffer Kyle Robertson, wrapped around its A section today.


Undisputed,” huh? I’ll show this to the TCU grad who sits next to me at work. I’m sure he won’t dispute this at all.

Unfortunately, I don’t know who designed this. If anyone from the Dispatch could let me know, I’ll add it to this post.

Average daily circulation for the Columbus Dispatch is 136,023.

Meanwhile, over on the west coast, the Mail Tribune of Medford, Oregon, came up with the perfect headline for the front of today’s sports section.


The lead photo of the Ducks’ non-celebration is by Brandon Wade of the Associated Press.

That page — and the spread below — was sent to me overnight by Adam McHugh, national and special projects manager for the GateHouse news and design center in Austin, which handles the design for Eugene. I’m not sure who, specifically, designed the pages or wrote the wonderful headlines.


In particular, I like that “Book of Ezekiel” headline. I came up with that one myself last night. I’m unsure whether or not we went with it.

That great photo featured over three columns on page three — of Ezekiel carrying two defenders with him as he seemingly flies through the air — is also by the Associated Press.

Average daily circulation for the Medford Mail Tribune is 22,292.

The Columbus wrap is from the Newseum. Of course.

Colorado Springs Gazette seeks a lead sports designer

Stephanie Swearngin, lead designer of the Gazette of Colorado Springs, writes:

I know you’re in the middle of your move to Texas, but would you mind posting this job opening on your blog when you have a chance? It would be greatly appreciated.

The Gazette in Colorado Springs is in the middle of interviewing for a new lead sports designer. But before we pick our final candidate, we want to give everyone a final chance to possibly work and live in Colorado.

Over the past year, our sports sections have been through a massive transformation. We hope to find someone who will continue making our sports pages “pop” while always thinking outside of the box. You’ll be responsible for designing sports coverage for Broncos, Air Force Academy, Olympics, Avalanche, Nuggets, Rockies, Pikes Peak Hill Climb, USA Pro Challenge cycling race and much more. You’ll also work with a great team of photographers, and have direct input into how sports are presented in The Gazette and at

We need a leader who is deadline-driven. We need someone who will work hard, will share ideas, will speak up about photo and story play and coverage ideas, who is collaborative and who enjoys the spotlight. Also, someone who loves newspaper design and is interested in branching out into digital platforms.

A few samples of the work done at the Gazette, from my collection:





The Gazette redesigned in 2013. Read more about that here.

And the Gazette has a history of bringing along excellent designers. Among the folks who have gone through the Gazette:

  1. Ryan Ford, the extraordinary sports designer for the Detroit Free Press.
  2. Jay St. Pierre, another wonderful sports designer for the Omaha World-Herald who moved to the Chicago Tribune‘s RedEye in 2013.
  3. Alyson Morris, a designer for RedEye’s daily iPad edition, interned at the Gazette when she was a student at Ohio University.
  4. Luis Rendon, who had a great ride at the Victoria (Texas) Advocate and who moved to the San Francisco Chronicle in 2013.
  5. Chris Hickerson, a web designer and developer who moved to the Gazette in January, did some extraordinary work there but then left last year to move back to Kansas City.
  6. And Stephanie Swearingin herself. She joined the Gazette two years ago from the Tampa Bay Times. Several of the pages  just showed you were hers.

Colorado Springs is a gorgeous city, located in the shadow of Pike’s Peak.


There’s a lot of high-tech business there, including quite a bit from the defense industry. The Air Force Academy is located there, as is the Cheyenne Mountain facility of NORAD. Which you might recognize if you’re a fan of the old sci-fi TV show Stargate.


There’s lots of skiing there in the winter, of course. And the U.S. Olympic Training Center is in Colorado Springs.

Famous people from Colorado Springs include actors Lon Chaney and Chase Masterson, writer Robert Heinlein, painter Maxfield Parrish, blogger Michelle Malkin, race car driver Bobby Unser, baseball greats Dave Dravecky and Goose Gossage, NBA legend Rick Barry, ESPN commentator Chris Fowler and NFL Films founder Steve Sabol.

Find the Colorado Springs city web site here and the city’s tourism web site here.

Stephanie tells us:

Those interested please send resume and link to portfolio to:

Dena Rosenberry
Presentation Director
dena.rosenberry [at]

‘Strike the pose’

Rob Romig, director of graphics at the Register-Guard of Eugene, Ore., directs our attention to his paper’s sports front today…

…in which Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota inadvertently strikes the Heisman pose against rival Oregon State.


You know the line by heart now: When you have a terrific picture, Run it big and get the hell out of its way.

That’s just what Rob did here, along with his colleague Tom Penix. The photo is by staffer Brian Davies.

Average daily circulation for the Register-Guard is 53,812.

Headline + photo disconnect generates reaction from angry readers

I did not watch the Ole Miss vs. Auburn game this weekend and I’m very glad I didn’t.

Auburn was leading 35-31 late in the game when Ole Miss receiver Laquon Treadwell pulled in a long pass and dashed toward the end zone. He broke two tackles and then was caught just inches shy of a touchdown by Auburn linebacker Chris Frost. Treadwell coughed up the ball, which bounced across the goal line.

The referees ruled the play a touchdown but then, after a video review, called it a fumble. Auburn wins. But during the official replay review, Ole Miss staffers worked on Treadwell, who was in great pain after Frost had rolled onto his leg.

That injury turned out to be a gruesomely broken leg. A photo of Treadwell, just at the point where his leg snapped, was played huge across the sports front of the Sunday Opelika Auburn News.


My first thought when I saw this: Oh, my God. They’re rubbing in the injury.

My second thought: That can’t possibly be intentional. No newspaper is that stupid.

Turns out, my second thought was correct. The headline was meant to be a reference to the amazing ways Auburn keeps pulling out victories from certain defeat. The problem here is that the headline doesn’t play well with that particular photo.

Now, the photo itself is horrific enough. Granted, that’s the key moment of the game. But…

  • …an easy argument can be made that the picture doesn’t pass “the breakfast test” — that old rule of thumb we used to use decades ago: If you can’t look at it or read it comfortably over your Raisin Bran and orange juice, then don’t put it in the paper.
  • If you do decide you must use that photo, then consider using it smaller or downpage or even inside.
  • If you do decide to use it big on page one… then you sure as hell want to police the area around it. You certainly do not want to run it below that particular headline.

The paper was swamped with angry comments from readers who felt the paper didn’t handle the horrific injury with sensitivity. An unsigned editorial posted on the paper’s web site Sunday night explained the use of the photo and apologized for the unfortunate headline treatment:

The picture, shot during the final minutes of Saturday’s game between Auburn and Ole Miss, shows Treadwell just before he fumbles the football, with his left ankle contorted. Treadwell suffered a season-ending injury on the play. It was a horrific occurrence, though it’s important to remember that it was a legal play. Many fans watching the game on national television certainly turned their heads during the replays.

However, it was also one of the most crucial plays in a contest between two top-five college football teams. The picture is gut-wrenching. It also tells the story. That’s why we chose to run it. As journalists, our primary job is to report what happens – whether by words or photos. Often, what we write or publish is unpleasant. Regarding the photo, this was one of those instances. We did not intend to glorify Treadwell’s injury or offend any reader. To any person hurt by our editorial decision, we apologize.

Our staff has already spent several hours discussing Sunday’s decisions, and we’ll continue to do that in the next few days. If we could redesign Sunday’s 1B again, we would. One thing we would do is use a different headline. We chose “FINDING A WAY” because after the game, numerous players and coaches discussed how the team keeps fighting and finding a way to win difficult games, such as those against Ole Miss, South Carolina and Kansas State.

The headline was not meant to celebrate Treadwell’s injury. No true fan takes pleasure in the injury. It was a terrible ending for one of the best games of the season, regardless of one’s collegiate allegiances. Our newspaper joins fans throughout America in wishing Treadwell a speedy recovery. Our thoughts and prayers are also with his family.

Average daily circulation of the Opelika Auburn News is 14,339

Thanks to Kristin O. Williams for the tip.

A look at Thursday’s World Series pages

Madison Bumgarner came on in relief and threw five innings of scoreless baseball last night, earning a save, a 3-2 win over the Royals and a third World Series championship in five years for the San Francisco Giants.

Circulation: 229,176

The Chronicle led today’s front page with a picture of Bumgarner getting a congratulatory hug from his catcher, Buster Posey.


Thanks to Elizabeth Burr for sending us that page.

Circulation: 200,365

The hero of the game for the Royals was leftfielder Alex Gordon. Not only did he score the tying run in the 2nd inning, he also hit a triple in the 9th that would have tied the game at 3.

Unfortunately, Salvador Perez then hit a foul ball that Pablo Sandoval caught near the Giants’ dugout, stranding Gordon at third and putting the game away.

Gordon’s sad walk back to the Royals’ dugout was the lead photo on the front of today’s Star.


The picture is by staffer Shane Keyser.

The result of that final pitch was on the cover of the sports section today.


The picture is by John Sleezer.

John also made this great picture of Gordon sliding into home in the 2nd inning to tie the game at 2.


Both the sports page and the poster were designed by Sarah Morris.

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

More 2014 postseason baseball pages: