Eyeing A1

A look at newspaper front pages from around the country

Archive for February 2010

Let’s think for ourselves

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Advertising is a perfect example of visual rhetoric. They get you to think about what they want. The advertisers are getting their message across. This topic came up while discussing Visual Culture when the topic gravitated toward anchorage. Anchorage is text within a picture that grounds the reader into following a train of thinking.

You can take an innocuous object, include text and there is life to it.

Obviously, there are times when you see an ad and think, ‘Well, that was just ridiculous.’

But think about every ad played during the Super Bowl. Doritos, Snickers and Bud Light all conveyed the message that their product is fun and funny. By enjoying their product we don’t have to take anything too seriously. Why? Because that’s what the advertisers told us.

In class, we discussed how text with a picture gives you guidance into what the sender is trying to say. But what if that text is wrong. I’ve seen in newspapers when a caption is wrong. Why do we have to rely on other to make own opinion?

A good exercise when it comes to advertising is to look at a picture without the text. Imagine what the picture is trying to say.

Here’s an ad from Dunkin Donuts. I cropped out the words to the ad so you can see just the picture by itself. The first thing I notice is the body placement of the people. They are doing ‘Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil,’ while sitting behind a table.

There are no drinks or food on the table. Just a small vase on each.

Next, I look at what the people wearing. They are all wearing green aprons. For anyone who has visited Starbucks, this is similar to what the Starbucks baristas wear.

Clearly, Dunkin’ Donuts is mocking Starbucks, but why? They are in competition with each other. DD caters to a different crowd than Starbucks. After seeing just the picture without the text, what do you think is the ad’s message.

… I’ll wait.

Here’s the entire ad.

So, DD took Starbucks ’employees’ and they are so loyal to their company that they won’t speak bad about the coffee even though DD has superior coffee. Awesome.

Good thing I don’t drink coffee.

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Written by Susan Lulgjuraj

February 23, 2010 at 12:03 am

The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

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It’s easy to think of William Blake as just a poet. His works have been read, scrutinized and studied for centuries. But just calling Blake a poet would be unfair. He understood the importance of multimodality and how telling the same story in different ways could lead to a deeper and more meaningful message.

Blake was an artist with words, images, and often, music. According to this article from Canada’s University Affairs, Blake set many of his poems to melodies.

While we do not have the melodies any longer, there are many people who have found their own music for his pieces. Here’s one example:

In The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, the words can exist without the pictures or the music. There is still meaning to them, but it difficult to imagine how the pictures would exist without the words. Sure, the etchings would be open to amazing interpretation, but the words give the pictures meaning while giving the reader insight into what Blake thought when he wrote this.

The pictures also have a way of leaving a lasting impression as opposed to just reading black text on a white page. In Sean Hall’s This Means This, This Means That: A Guide to Semiotics, the prominence section becomes an interesting aspect.

There is a list of 31 words separated by a line. One word is highlighted in yellow and another has a strike through.

On the next page, Hall asks to recite as many words as you can remember.

Usually, the words that are different from others or the words with personal meanings are easily remembered. These words have more prominence than the others.

That’s what Blake does with his poems. He adds prominence.

The pictures provide the poems personality. One picture could also hit home more than others and therefore become personal to the reader, thus making the poem or just that plate more memorable and effective.

Written by Susan Lulgjuraj

February 17, 2010 at 9:58 pm

Finding the right message for Super Bowl fans

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It probably felt like the entire country watched the Super Bowl, so, naturally, the next day most of the newspaper front pages had a story or at least a refer to the Super Bowl.

Two newspapers had a bigger interest: The Indianapolis Star and Times Picayune, which is based in New Orleans.

Both of these papers had the tough task to capture the best moment of the Super Bowl. But the first thing they have to do when creating the page is to think about who is the sendee. The sender has to think about this first and then the message they want to convey because the covers wouldn’t work in the opposite market.

Here’s the cover from The Indianapolis Star the day after the Super Bowl. This one is actually the most interesting of the two. Consider the different factors of the photo.

There are two different emotions in this photo. One of the New Orleans saints celebrating and the other of Peyton Manning walking off the field.

The foreground is in focus and that’s important because that is the important factor. The Indianapolis Star focuses on the Colts, however, the emotion can’t be exactly known without the words.

The alphabetic text is arguably just as important. Without it the sendee may not understand the message.

The Times Picayune front cover is vastly different. It’s a simple photo, but notice the difference in the placement of the words and the person in the photo. The alphabetic text is first rather than the photo. In conventional form for front page of newspapers, you’re supposed to read from the top to the bottom.

So, we see the headline first ‘Amen.’ Then, below there is a picture of Drew Brees holding a trophy. The message here is for Saints fans of the Saints. Besides New Orleans winning its first Super Bowl, the fans have dealt with so many because of Hurricane Katrina.

The message of the photo is being transmitted through the trophy and the confetti. The confetti conveys there is a celebration taking place and the trophy signifies triumph. Without either, the photo would look like a content man standing around.

The Times Picayune page designer/copy editor also had to think about the receiver of the cover and what they were going through during the Super Bowl and how much the game meant to the fans. That’s where the headline comes in.

Normally, it’s a word with a religious connotation and, even though this is about a sporting event, sports can touch fans in ways that go beyond the field.

Written by Susan Lulgjuraj

February 15, 2010 at 10:06 pm

In the beginning …

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There has to be a start to everything. Basic building blocks. A foundation.

The question has come, though, where do we begin with our children in school? When do we start building the basic foundation to give children the tools they need in order to function in society?

Literacy today is in the midst of a tectonic change. Even inside of school, never before have writing and composing generated such diversity in definition.

Kathleen Blake Yancey states this in her speech Made Not Only Words: Composition in a New Key. If that foundation is shifting, where do we go?

No where.

We just need to change the way the foundation is presented. No matter a person goes, they were are key things they have to learn. Arguably the most important is a way to express themselves whether that is with writing, drawing, speaking or any number of ways.

Children and teenagers are already doing this with Facebook, blogs, Twitter and a number of other social media. Teachers have to show students that composing doesn’t have to be boring. There are ways to use what you are learning in the classroom and bring it to your everyday life.

The learning process shouldn’t be a fight. Student and teachers want the same thing, but it’s a matter of finding the right way to say and use things. Rather than taking a pen to a piece of paper, English teachers could take a lesson from VRMC10. Have the students create blogs where they can share their thoughts. In addition, have other students in the class take part by writing comments and provoking thought among each other.

Within the blogs, the students can find a topic, genre, game, picture or trend they are into and focus on that topic. Not only are the students becoming proficient in their area, but the rest of the class can learn from it as well. This will give everyone a broad knowledge and supply a small base to build on.

This is the foundation.

This is where we start.

The shift Yancey talks about doesn’t have to be as big as it looks. The gap isn’t as wide as it seems. As the students change from year-to-year, so the teachers.

That’s part of education. The old cliché is “We never too old to learn.” That’s something we should all remember.

Written by Susan Lulgjuraj

February 2, 2010 at 10:06 pm