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By Special Guest, Mr. Robert Knilands
The news of the day was President Obama's housing foreclosure relief plan. Some newspapers chose to put down shaky foundations with illustration gimmicks and non-clever question headlines, but one paper made a good investment in photography.
The Kansas City Star's
illo showed a utility worker pumping up one side of a house, with colored arrows carrying the details of the plan. The walls come tumblin' down on this one for me, as I'm left to wonder why a house has to be illustrated at all. Certainly there are many of these structures in the K.C. metro area. Take a camera and shoot one.
In San Jose, the Mercury News
constructed an illo of a family holding up a house, with text package inside the frame. Again, this isn't hard: Take camera. Leave building. Find suitable house. Shoot picture. Return to building. Use unaltered photo.
The Detroit Free Press
did take a photo of a homeowner inside her house. Unfortunately, it's back-lit and not pleasant to look at. Perhaps the sunlight streaming in symbolizes the promise of a new day, but the tan shading for the rest of the package offsets any beneficial contrast in tone.
The Chicago Tribune
went with its one-size-fits-all approach of blowing up a photograph of someone's head. These days, whether the subject is politics, houses, or coffee, we can count on a cranial close-up in the Windy City. The photo subjects' downcast eyes and somber moods tell us a little, but the body of the details lies somewhere else.
I was left to wonder why more papers did not go large with the stimulus story. A few Arizona papers played it up, but mainly because Obama was speaking in their state.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Indianapolis Star,
and the Idaho Statesman
in Boise rolled out the boiler-plate headlines of "Will the housing plan help you?" I have to wonder why more thought is not put into writing something that will lead people into the article.
The newspaper with the best front design today is the Rocky Mountain News, which succeeded where others stumbled. A photo of belongings along a street tells the tale of a tenant who's been evicted because the homeowner stopped making mortgage payments. The subject's wind-blown hair symbolizes the loss of control over the situation. Bravo to the staffers who put in the time to find this photo and to give it the play it deserved. The headline, "A hand for homeowners," is not an award-winner, but it's far more clever than simply regurgitating an amount (one that differed in papers nationwide, BTW) or asking a pointless question.
On a unrelated note, 2008 was the Year of the Redesign. Only three U.S. papers were honored by the Society for their overall efforts: the Chicago Tribune,
and the Wyoming Tribune Eagle.
Well done, lads and ladies!
See the stories that tweens are reading today at TweenTribune, like Barack getting Shaq's shoe; Plane gets away from 80-year-old pilot; And a woman on trial for piercing cats.
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