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Better because we're Irish

--Comparison of Front Pages, Newseum website

The headline quoted above is the one that caught my attention the most. Perhaps it was because it had some of the biggest lettering. Perhaps it was also because the picture of the woman showed her with big bulging neck muscles and looking like she was in pain. It could also have been the weirdly worded phrase "Shock death" as opposed to "Shocking death" (maybe that's an Irish thing). I also appreciated the picture of her with her husband at the bottom to give her some more humanity. The bullseye in the top right corner also grabs your eye and shakes it violently. Overall, this front page looked more like a supermarket tabloid though, so I was a little surprised to see it included in the Newseum website. Maybe it really is a reputable paper, and in Irish culture the garish colors and use of huge white lettering aren't seen as signs that the paper is less than truthful in its representation of events. Certainly, the front page seemed very preoccupied with sports and athleticism of all kinds; the deaths of Ireland's strongest woman and a racehorse are big news stories. So is a 24-page soccer pullout. Once again, maybe it's an Irish thing. I was also surprised at the "Better because we're Irish" tagline; you don't normally see American newspapers make such a big deal out of their Americanness. Overall, it's the bizarreness of this front page that caught my eye more than anything else; nothing on the front page seems at all concerned with world events, but there is a huge fixation on sports. Except that the paper doesn't seem to advertise itself as an exclusive sports-related publication, in the title or the tagline. I don't know if that's necessarily a good thing that the bizarreness is what drew me to it; if I saw this paper in a supermarket, I might glance at it for a few seconds, but I wouldn't want to take it home and read it cover to cover. So maybe colorfulness and strange pictures aren't always the best techniques to attract readers. I guess it depends on what kind of an audience you're targeting.

Comments (2)

The Ottawa Sun also had that tabloid feel about it. I like your thoughts about the bulls-eye that "it grabs your eye and shakes it violently." Many of the color schemes for these layouts share that eye catching factor. I blogged about the AM New York's use of red block lettering to attract potential readers. I do wonder though, as you said, if the vibrant images have an opposite effect on some by coming across as untrustworthy. In America a newspaper subscribes to one style and a tabloid another, and we depend on these visual cues to determine content.

Greta Carroll:

I found your blog really interesting Matt, because you had the opposite experience and opinion than some of the other blogs I read. Some people thought the main way newspapers attract a person’s attention is through color and pictures. And I don’t think that is not the case; however, you bring up the other side of the issue. The color and pictures can also dissuade a reader from being interested. As you pointed out, “the garish colors” gave it a tabloid like feel. And yes, perhaps, it is just a cultural preference, but nonetheless the point stands. Color can backfire. It can attract or turn off a reader.

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