newspaper design
newspaper design


What makes this page a BFD: Going big without ignoring the details

Maybe it's just me, or maybe it's the news itself, but it seems as if newspapers have taken off the gloves when it comes to their front pages. Submitted for your approval:

"It's treacherous out there:" snowstorm coverage from the Beaver County Times.

"Twister:" coverage of a tornado in The Times-Picayune.

"Face of a Killer:" a folo on the Navy Yard massacre in the Philadelphia Daily News.

"6 minutes of horror:" folo on the shooting in Salt Lake City from the Deseret Morning News.

Today's BFD is The Salt Lake Tribune for their over-the-top presentation.

The Tribune skillfully blended their nameplate, a 6-column photo, main headline, and short-form on the hero and the perpetrator. The same level of care was seen beneath the fold with effective packaging of other key elements of the story.

A page like this is rare in America, but hardly unique. Similar pages – with nameplates reversed out of color photos – were published a week ago in The Kansas City Star, six months ago in The Bakersfield Californian and a decade ago in The Virginian-Pilot.

Send similar pages here.

Of course, none of that matters to the readers in Salt Lake and elsewhere who were served by front pages in tune with the tenor of the today's news in their towns. With pages like these, designers are doing their best to connect with readers and potential readers via single-copy sales, rather than merely producing poster pages.

Room for improvement: The Tribune did a good job of separating their lead headline from their nameplate, but the photo was a bit too complicated to serve as a background for these text elements. The examples from Beaver County, Kansas City and Baskersfield demonstrate a better use of this treatment.


By Alan Jacobson, Brass Tacks Design

Last week NYT Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. admitted that he really didn't know whether he'd be printing the Times in five years. Based on recent events, he is wise to admit what he doesn't know and to "Never say never."

Before you say "never" about newspapers, consider this:
  • Two years ago, Tony Ridder never thought he'd sell the company that bears his name.

  • One year ago, Gary Pruitt never thought he'd buy Tony's company.

  • Six months ago, Gary never thought he'd sell McClatchy's "crown jewel" – the Star-Tribune. And certainly not at a half-billion-dollar loss.

  • One year ago, Dennis FitzSimmons never thought he'd put Tribune up for sale.

  • Six months ago, Dennis never thought a qualified buyer would be so difficult to find.

  • We never thought papers like The Boston Globe and The New York Times would cut their newsroom staffs.

  • We never thought newsroom layoffs and buyouts would become as common as typos.

  • We never thought a guy named Craig and websites with silly-sounding names like "Yahoo" and "Google" could undermine our main sources of revenue. And we never thought classifieds were so important.

  • We never thought The Philadephia Inquirer (winner of 17 Pulitzers in 18 years and the biggest paper in America's fifth-largest city) would see its newsroom staff and circulation drop to the size of a secondary market.

  • We never thought we'd publish our stories for free online before we published them for payment in print.

  • A year ago, we never thought we'd see bottom-page strip ads on section fronts (unless we worked for a Gannett paper).

  • Six months ago, we never thought we'd see bottom-page strip ads on front pages.

  • A week ago, we never thought we'd see display ads on front pages.

  • We never thought newsroom raises would be tied to newspaper revenue, as they are now at the Boston Globe. (Four months ago, I suggested that newsroom salaries should be tied to circulation, never thinking that anything close would happen any time soon.)

 There's only one thing we can be sure of: More Never Say Nevers TK.

 Post your Never say Nevers here

 Send an email direct to Brass Tacks Design.

 Click to see all the BFDs in the archives. A selection appears below.

newspaper design
newspaper design
API: New products
newspaper design
NAA: Marketing
newspaper design
Wyoming Press
newspaper design
Kentucky Press
newspaper design
Minnesota Press
newspaper design
New England Press
newspaper design
NAA: Single-copy
newspaper design
Inland: Classified
newspaper design
New York Press
newspaper design
API: Advertising
newspaper design
newspaper design
newspaper design
newspaper design
newspaper design
Read Steve Outing's interview with Alan Jacobson and learn why newspaper web sites are seriously flawed. Then see alternatives.
newspaper design
newspaper design
newspaper design
newspaper design
Our redesigns are catalysts for positive change. Visit the gallery to see how we've transformed publications and websites.
newspaper design
classified redesigns
Bakersfield Californian
The Eureka Reporter
Sunday Star-Times
Yakima Herald Republic
St. Louis Post‑Dispatch
The Virginian‑Pilot
The Sunday News
newspaper design
classified redesigns
classified redesigns
classified redesigns
A redesign is a waste of time and money if it doesn't deliver a return on investment. Download our report to learn how to make your redesign pay off, then see how four newspapers boosted readership and revenue by following our advice.
classified redesigns
classified redesigns
classified redesigns
classified redesigns
See in detail how a content-driven redesign did more than make a community daily look better – it made it a better paper.
newspaper design
classified redesigns

newspaper design
Pocatello Idaho State Journal
newspaper design
Idaho State Journal
The ISJ shows its passion for Pocatello by filling its fronts with faces – featuring five or more per front per day. You can't be too local and you can't run too many faces of local people, because everyone loves to hear these words: "I saw your picture in the paper."

See the pages.

The Californian's redesign earned it a spot on Editor & Publisher's list of “Ten That Do it Right.” According to E&P, Bakersfield is appealing to its “really, really conservative market with a really, really radical redesign.”

And it’s working.

Circulation stops are down and revenue is up – over a thousand inches in the redesigned real estate section alone. See before and after, see more pages and read the stories.


The Eureka (CA) Reporter was just a 6,000-circ. weekly in 2004. Our radical yet elegant redesign helped this startup weekly grow to a daily in less than two years. The Reporter goes head-to-head with an established daily owned by Dean Singleton, who told The San Francisco Chronicle last month that his competitor, “does some good design things.” The Society of News Design agrees – they cited this redesign as one of the best in the world. See more pages.



big pictures
Do 6-column photos boost readership and revenue?>>

tv books
Who would have thought that TV books would lead to the end of newspapers as we know them?>>

Washington Post
Len Downie's memo calls for more emphasis on design.>>

newspaper next
Read our abbreviated version of API's report. It'll only take a minute and it's worth it.>>

lies, damn lies and statistics
See the charts that show why now is the time to redesign for revenue.>>

how to sell more newspapers
A practical, step-by-step approach with examples from newspapers large and small.>>

Knight Ridder sale
Learn from KnightRidder's mistakes at the Inky and the Merc.>> redesign
This online redesign is not enough to please users and advertisers.>>

does design matter to readers

Design does matter to readers, but only if it's reader driven.>>

newspaper innovation
If newspaper markets are so different, why do most papers look so much alike?>>

newspaper redesign
I wish you luck and offer some advice.>>

newspaper tab conversion
This overhyped trend is a non-starter for America.>>

newspaper design contest
We can make a difference, but not by chasing awards.>>

newspaper classified advertising
At stake is nothing less than newspapers as we know them.>>

newspaper design contest
A thousand awards a year? Gimme a break.>>

readership institute
They never said higher RBS scores would sell more newspapers.>>


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