Wick Communications

All the papers looked the same

In Design on 12 Aug 2011 at 8:50 am

I noticed something interesting on Friday, the day after one of the biggest single-day Wall Street swoons on record.

Virtually every large regional daily played the story big on the front page. Most of them used the downward graph of the trading period and, strangely, many of them used the photo of the same frazzled trader as part of their spread. (There has since emerged something of an Internet sensation surrounding all these traders with their heads in their hands.)


Oh, sorry. Did I nod off? It’s just that the 1A newspaper presentations are so predictable and boring.

Here’s something else I noticed: Smaller, more community-focused newspapers were much less likely to fall into that trap. Now, that is partly because papers like ours often don’t do a very good job with business coverage … not that many of these big dailies do much better. Most of them just printed the AP lead and called that front-page coverage. …

I think this was an example of conditions that are plaguing the big-city daily. Coverage of a falling stock market that is 12 hours old is not good enough for anyone who really cares about the movement of stocks and bonds — and it’s not terribly interesting to the rest of us. Community papers were focused Friday on a range of things happening locally … the start of summer football practice, the opening of a local business, a change in trash rates for the county.

Too often, editors at big dailies take their cues from what they see on CNN or on top of the AP wire. I think they would do well to remember their readers first and not what editors in New York tell them is imporant.

I like to check out the front pages at newseum.org from time to time. It’s instructive to see how other designers ply their trade. And sometimes you notice trends, disquieting and otherwise.



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