Wick Communications

Imitation in its sincerest form…

In Ideas on 19 Feb 2010 at 10:00 am

Every once in a while, something happens in your community that deserves extra attention. It may be something tragic, like a deadly fire, or as magnificent as the ascension of a native son to the White House. It’s something that pretty much demands a newspaper’s staff pull out all the stops and produce something special, something you hope folks will put away for a later date.

We had one of those days last weekend in Half Moon Bay.

The occasion was the seventh Mavericks Surf Contest. By way of background, the contest plays out in a shark-infested, rocky bit of really cold water almost a mile from shore. A shallow reef, Pacific storms and a whole lot of natural alchemy combine to produce 50-foot waves every now and then and, when it all comes together, a group of absolutely fearless surfers paddles out for a chance to live forever, at least for a little while…

Well, we had a doozy of a contest the other day. The competitors said it was an epic day they will never forget. More than one called it an historic day for big-wave surfing. As if that wasn’t enough, 50,000 people came to our little town to watch. Meanwhile, high tide brought big waves farther onshore than anyone expected, washing out vendor tents and knocking dozens of spectators from their feet. Several people were injured pretty badly.

So we had a heck of a news event on our hands. And that made me think of the Toronto Globe and Mail.

I regularly comb through the front pages of newspapers that are listed on the Newseum site. If you haven’t ever done so, please do. The site has pdfs from hundreds of newspapers from all over the world. It’s heaven for an idea thief like me.

Last week I noticed the front page of Canada’s leading newspaper on the eve of the Olympic Games. I loved the dramatic six-column photo, the “by the numbers” list and the way they put the copy in columns at bottom. It’s sleek and modern. I liked it so much I thought we’d do something similar with our Mavericks coverage.

I’m at risk of taking too much credit for our resulting front page. (This week, you can see a more detailed version of our front page by clicking the thumbnail on our homepage, hmbreview.com). I really only stole the idea. Then I showed the Canadian front to our design director, Bill Murray. He made it all happen in In Design, adding his own touches along the way. And it simply would not have been possible without incredible photos from Lars Howlett and Mark Foyer.

We’ve gotten a lot of compliments on the layout and the photos – there are two full pages of coverage inside as well. It just reinforces that big news requires big ideas. They just don’t have to be entirely your own.


  1. Hooray! Thanks for the Newseum Web site. I am always looking for new ideas for layout. I have no problem whatsoever with taking someone’s good idea and making it my own.

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