Eyeing A1

A look at newspaper front pages from around the country

Archive for the ‘Sender and Sendee’ Category

Looking at race on the front page

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After last week’s discussion in class, I wanted to find a newspaper front page that directly dealt with race.

I found the sub-headline aptly titled for the piece “Conflicting portrait.”

To give more meaning to that headline, The Star Ledger incorporates two photos of the black man. The first is a small headshot, but he looks angry and the photo itself actually looks darker. When looking at the newspaper it’s actually the first photo you see because many people tend to read top to bottom and left to right.

It’s interesting to note on the paper’s website, only the mug shot appears, which the reporter writes: “If a picture says a thousand words, the mug shot police released said “guilty” a thousand times.”

The man pictured in the newspaper is Lee Evans. He was arrested in March on five counts of murder in the disappearance of five teenagers 32 years ago. The article paints a portrait of Evans where is seen as a good person by his friends and family, but neighborhood folks have a much different view of him.

The lede of the story is nearly as important as the photos and the headline.

Here are the first two paragraphs:

Two pictures, one man. One continuing mystery.

Lee Evans was one of two cousins charged in March with five counts of murder in the disappearance of five city teenagers 32 years ago. Police said he was a menacing 6-foot-4, 225-pound street thug known as “Big Man” who kept a dark secret for three decades through intimidation of accomplices and witnesses. If a picture says a thousand words, the mug shot police released said “guilty” a thousand times.

By this point, he already sounds guilty. In fact, the reporter is using the image to make an argument.  Not facts or stories, but an image of the man to make a quick case. By writing these things at the very beginning of an article, the reporter is telling the viewer how to see the photo. There is not much left to intepretation.

Our brains already begin to move in one direction once we learn the headshot is actually a mugshot. That, of course, has a negative connotation associated with it.

This is a tough story because you’re dealing with a case of where is being charged with murder. Obviously, something happened where five teens are missing, but instead of writing about the boys who went missing 32 years ago, this newspaper paints a portrait of a man where they are initially negative.

Only toward the bottom of the article does it state there is no physical evidence against him and that there is only person witness.

The article ends with this:

This is not to say Evans is innocent. In Hampton’s story, only eight people would know for certain what happened on Aug. 20, 1978, and six of them are dead. That leaves Hampton and Evans.

If the police have more on him, they’re not saying. And that leaves two pictures, one man, one continuing mystery.

Written by Susan Lulgjuraj

April 14, 2010 at 10:37 pm

What is this picture trying to say?

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Thursday’s front page of the Los Angeles Daily News had a story on the well-being of women and how it’s on the decline. According to a report from the Los Angeles County Dept., of Health, an estimated 40 percent of women are at risk for health disease while the data rises to 53 percent for black women.

Here’s the front-page of the newspaper:

March 4, 2010 Los Angeles Daily News front page

There is so much going on with the main story. It doesn’t just lend to conventional reading, left to right, because of the statistics box and vignettes from the four different women. It’s a good concept, but the main art doesn’t seem to fit the message.

The message is clearly stated in the main headline “Unhealthy Situation.”

Certainly, there is problem if women are at such a high risk of heart disease and aren’t taking care of themselves. But a picture of a woman, who looks to be in decent shape, while walking her child in a carriage doesn’t tell sort of story. As the main, which is framed and centered on the page, should have a more compelling photo. The photo does not have a caption either to give readers a better understanding of the photo.

When it comes to newspapers front pages, usually they tend to stick with safe layouts. Solid photos with some of the best stories of the day, which are usually all news stories.

With no headline, no story – what does the main photo say to you?

I see a mother, who doesn’t have a lot of time to exercise, getting out of the house to do what she can to stay in shape. She’s not model-skinny, but she isn’t out-of-shape either. Without seeing her face and the expression she is making, it’s hard to discern her ‘well-being,’ which is part of the message of the sender.

Written by Susan Lulgjuraj

March 4, 2010 at 3:35 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