One of These Things is Not Like the Other: Why West Hawaii Today Should've Played This Game

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In the West Hawaii Today paper, the pictures overlapping with the text is the sort of visual pull a casual observer may need to take a closer look.  However, as Angela mentions in her blog, the headline "Ondoy leaves more than 100 dead, missing" seems to contrast too much with the "fun" pictures.  While the headline is important news, it's poorly juxtaposed on a page with a whale reaching into a column of text and a football player hauling back to make a pass.

Though, does that really matter?  The front page has already done its job; it's grabbed a potential reader's attention.  Is that headline placement a little tacky?  Possibly.  Will the reader be so appalled by its placement that she tosses the paper aside?  Probably not.  100 people dead or missing is big news, and, while we don't know what the rest of the paper contains, we can probably assume that many of the other stories paled in comparison to the confusion, panic, and thirst for information that this story undoubtedly provided. 

I also can't imagine that those in charge of layout can wait for a day of purely happy news to include pictures of wildlife and athletics on the front page.  There will always be a somber story to include.  I'm the first to agree that it's odd to see Free Willy leaping towards a headline about death and destruction, but in this case, I don't think the oddity would have cost the paper any readers.

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4 Comments

Greta Carroll said:

Yeah, I totally agree with you Josie. While it may seem jarring to see such unrelated pictures and headlines beside each other, there’s not a whole lot that newspapers can do about this. The news for the day is what it is, and the paper has what pictures they have. Not all the news is going to happy and not all of it is going to be sad, regardless of the nature of the news, it still needs to be reported on. In some ways perhaps the contrast is good, it helps the reader to keep things in perspective. Frequently, the news media is accused of reporting on only gory topics, well here they are going their best to do both.

Aja Hannah said:

I'm so tired of saying this, but "if it bleeds, it leads" and readers today are much like children. We like immediacy and that includes information we can find in a picture rather than reading a paragraph (picture holds a thousand words). So put the two right next to eachother and Bam! frequently read front page.

Jennifer Prex said:

That is something I guess that should be taken under consideration--how the reader would respond to the layout. You're right, though. They have to complete the layout and get the paper out so quickly that there most likely isn't time to consider that. They just need to make sure the most important stories and best pictures to accompany said stories can fit on the front page and then come up with a layout that works.

Josie Rush said:

I know some people in our class have worked with layout before. I'm not one of them, so this may be a dumb question. Is it common to have a problem like this: Two very incongruous images that both deserve the front page? Is it even really considered a problem? I mean, as Aja says, if it bleeds, it leads, so maybe this is something layout workers don't even think twice about.

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