What are your top principles in news design?
MARSHALL MATLOCK (Associate professor, Syracuse University; 16 years teaching design in 28 years of teaching; director of the Society for News Design’s Best of Newspaper Design Competition):
- Good typography.
- Reader friendly.
- Excellent illustrations played the correct size.
- Excellent use of color to move the design forward. No color for the sake of color. All color must have a purpose.
- Careful editing of all design elements. Elements must have purpose, or they should not be used. They should help the reader with the publication’s content.
SUSAN MANGO CURTIS (Assistant professor, Northwestern University; second vice president, Society for News Design, 2002; five years teaching design, four and a half of them at Northwestern):
- It has type legibility.
- It’s organized to be reader friendly.
- It’s content driven.
- It has good design ethics.
- It has visual impact that pulls the reader in.
PEGIE STARK ADAM (affiliate faculty, Poynter Institute for Media Studies; 22 years teaching design at Indiana University, the University of Florida and Poynter; owner, Stark Adam Design, and designer, Garcia-Media):
- All visual elements connect with the content.
- Headline, image, text, readouts, color choice, nuance and spirit all make sense with the message being conveyed through the story.
DARYL MOEN (professor, University of Missouri; 27 years teaching design, 20 at MU; director of a national collegiate news-design contest; former editor of three daily newspapers):
- Design for readers.
- Create page heirarchy.
- Respond to two levels of readership: the scanners and the devotees.
- Make it legible. If they can’t read it, they won’t read it.
- Design is journalism, not decoration.
What were the main principles when you started teaching news design?
- The same above, except for software skills.
- We’re using more things to promote the paper than ever before. Readers say they want to read about ordinary people – and to know what’s in the newspaper.
- About the same as above, but what I’ve learned in 20 years is the emphasis on content, that content must drive the design decisions.
- Pretty much the same, though the evolution of a community of scanners has changed the approach somewhat.
Have you witnessed any design Cinderellas — once-discouraged techniques that are now acceptable, even encouraged?
- Some of the basic design rules are now not as important as they used to be. For example, bumping headlines.
- L-shaped text – the dog legs – have come back. I used to get my hands smacked for doing those, and now you see them all the time.
- L-shaped design pages, now accepted as modular.
- Trapped white space, pretty much non-existant these days.
- Placement of lead story no longer at top right or left. It goes where we “display” it as the main entry point.
- Lead stories, well, is there a lead story? Sometimes not.
- At one time, decks of any kind were discouraged to give the pages a clean look, which, in itself, was a reaction to the multiple deck era. Turned out that throwing out decks was akin to throwing out the baby with the bath water.
Name three newspapers whose typography inspires you.
- The new design of the Wall Street Journal.
- Le Devoir, Montreal.
- Die Welt, Berlin.
- La Vanguardia, Barcelona, Spain.
- Hartford Courant
- Die Ziet, Hamburg, Germany.
- LaGaceta, San Miguel de Tucuman, Argentina.
- St. Petersburg Times
- Miami Herald
- Hartford Courant
What are the main challenges facing rookie news designers?
- First is creativity. It takes a creative person to do a good job on a daily basis.
- Second is software skills. Software is playing a major role in today’s design industry. A person must know programs that will do a quality job, i.e., QuarkXPress, Photoshop, Illustrator, FreeHand, etc.
- Getting feedback on their work so they can grow. Most of them are so overworked that they don’t have the time to invest in training.
- To think as a visual journalist, not just as a designer. They must bring basic graphic-design skills and training to the newsroom, but they must know how to communicate as a journalist, to know about news judgment, to read the paper and to work with the writers, editors and photographers.
- Systems in which the approach to content is not team-based.
What’s your greatest annoyance as a newspaper reader?
- Poor typography and poor editing.
- Lack of ethics in coverage.
- Boring stories displayed poor ways.
- Badly organized papers.
What’s your greatest annoyance as a news-design teacher?
- I become annoyed when a student is not motivated and does not put in the time required to do a quality job.
- Lack of support for more visual classes and staff.
- People who still don’t understand that content drives design.
- When the technology interferes with the teaching.
What book or text do you use to teach news design?
- The two I use are “The Newspaper Designer’s Handbook” and “The Best of Newspaper Design.”
- Tim Harrower’s “Newspaper Designer’s Handbook,” fifth edition.
- Kim Elam’s “Geometry of Design”
- My “Color, Contrast and Dimension in News Design”
- My “Newspaper Layout and Design: A Team Approach,” fourth edition.
Was there an earlier book or text that helped you get started? One that inspired you as a rookie news-design teacher?
- Ed Arnold’s books. I appreciated his “one, two, three” approach. Ed loved to give exacting rules for designers to follow. His use of the POA (primary optical area) and the TA (terminal area) was the beginning, I think. He talked about the fold and what should or shouldn’t be done. He gave examples of the many types of headlines and their uses.
- Mario Garcia’s “Contemporary Newspaper Design” – its first, second and third editions.
- “Contemporary Newspaper Design,” Mario Garcia.
- Bauhaus books on design.
- Ed Arnold’s.
- Also Harold Evens’.
Has technology helped or hurt news design? How?
- It has helped in that the work can get done faster.
- It has hurt in that one no longer had true typography. By that I mean one can do anything he or she wants with the the type faces, leading, kerning, etc.
- I think it has helped it, but it has hurt it. We don’t have enough time, and there is more pressure on the individual to learn new software alone.
- Helped in that things are faster, more precise, better and more professional.
- Bad in that designers don’t draw any more and are quick to jump on the computer making the first pass at the design the last.
- Helped. Computers have put the responsibility in the hands of the designer instead of the compositor. Designers are able to go through multiple options in a short time.