2009 Better Newspaper Contest — Page Design

WinnerCircle2009

Division 2 Dailies 7,000 to 99,999

1. Victoria Advocate — This is a paper not afraid to be bold. Strong use of photography for dramatic presentation is most appealing along with equally bold headline displays. Editorial page is clean and appropriate with a nice variety of horizontal and vertical contrasts and excellent display of letters all in one column. Sports cover, again very dramatic, is a little heavy-handed with too much text crammed into the lede photo affecting readability slightly. Terrific graphic on the H&G cover with very reader-friendly features, but the GOING GREEN at the top of the page is over the top and detracts from an otherwise very successful page.
2. Lubbock Avalanche-Journal — This paper too doesn’t hesitate to be bold with sizing and story count. Front page package is particularly appealing though I do wonder if the lede photo has had water cloned to its bottom for the sake of this design. Opinion page uses a nice rail down the left with contrasting and very reader-useful info in bit form. Living also grabs me, but the designer got a little carried away with, again, too much type crammed into the lede photo and some difficult text skews resulting. Sports well designed and effective though the two photos are actually redundant to each other. That could have been better thought out.
3. Odessa American — A newspaper that knows itself and plays things with confidence and simplicity. A few too many color entry points tend to hurt that simplicity on these pages. Back off on so many and the overall design would be much finer. Sports cover very nicely handled with terrific headline and visual pairing in the centerpiece. Nice to see an opinion cover that doesn’t play visuals too small, but this illustration is a little too corny for my tastes. Ticket cover very effectively uses handout photography to advantage with a nice masthead treatment that also keys to inside content.
4. The Facts, Clute — Good use of spot color without being gaudy as so many newspapers are these days. Effective use of white space on A1 with thoughtful picture editing. Opinion page is a little busy and more use of ragged right than I think necessary. Sports gets a little carried away with color headlines but the bottom skateboard display is cleverly handled. Living cover gets a little busy and would be better if a clearer grid was adhered to. I do like the two side rails as a way of forcing more verticality onto this page to contrast with the bottom of the page and that distracting ad. More air between content and ads would help that in the future.

Division 3 Dailies Less Than 7,000

1. River Cities Daily Tribune, Marble Falls — Very strong lead photo and A1 layout. Contrasting headline fonts are effective. Living layout is very cool – good use of headline font, text in a photo, thick box. It would be even better if box also contained story and if column on page was not boxes. Great column sig. All pages had a dominant photo, which is good, but sports could use a stronger lead package without a competing package to the side.
2. Alice Echo-News Journal — The top half of A1 is really sharp – great teasers, strong top story and good wild art overline. Top of sports also has a great column package with art fading into the story. The centerpiece is so good, but a little too busy with the sideboard piece between it and the top package. Lifestyles has good art, but it would benefit from splitting up the gray text by adding drop caps, quote boxes or moving photos around.
3. Taylor Daily Press — Strong dominant photo carries a good A1 design. On lifestyles, good use of headline font and photo cutout. The text wrapping didn’t quite work, but the idea was there. The top sports package clearly was important, but the page overall would have looked better with a photo above the fold.
4. Henderson Daily News — A1 teasers looked good and the lead photo was great, but needed to be bigger, more dominant. Briefs on A1 doesn’t work. Too cluttered and not interesting enough. Thick lines on opinion help break up the gray text. The family page layout was a great attempt at creativity and innovation. It would be better if text wasn’t so tight to photos. Sports had a good dominant photo and clean layout.

Division 4 Semiweeklies 4,001 or More

1. Hood County News — Very clean front with a dominant photo and good headline weight. Opinion is nice and airy, with good headline weights. Fun sports page. Great use of tennis ball in headline and cutout photos. Good readout head and enlarged first few graphs. The drop cap color is creative but a little jarring. Life page is really nice. It grabs you instantly with the photo and headline. The scale text is creative, but package would be cleaner with some style for both headline words. Great photo.
2. Williamson County Sun — Very cool election graphics, the map and the precinct voting breakdown. Strong photos. Nice life layout, attractive headline treatment, story/photo credit and photos. Sports looked great above the fold; at the full view, it needs a dominant photo instead of two large ones. But the overall look is still nice and clean. Comment is airy and welldesigned, with plenty of text but not a too-gray look.
3. Wise County Messenger — Lovely page 1. Great headline treatment and solid lead photo. Big mugs and quotes are great, might have tried them at the top of the page. Faces of Halloween is a great photo layout, clean design and good pictures. Sports looks cool, but needs more content. The design grabs the eye, but then you wonder where the story or more photos are.
4. The Highlander, Marble Falls — Front page is a little cluttered, but good modular design. Life photo package is very clean and appealing. Sports design is quite clever, great headline and font, good photo cutouts, good read out heads. A little more air between that package and the stories at the bottom would be better, as would a smaller secondary photo at bottom.

Division 5 Semiweeklies 4,000 or Less

1. The Bowie News — Good use of color, not overwhelming. Heads nicely sized and consistent, pages clean, liked sports rail with schedule, briefs.
2. Copperas Cove Leader-Press — If reproduction were part of judging, this entry would have dropped a few places — registration not good — otherwise nice clean design, well-organized with good use of type, left hand rail on section fronts.
3. El Campo Leader-News — Headline on garden story distracting. Nice treatment of mugshots, use of drop shadows, gray lines.
4. The Canyon News — Overall readable and pleasant design, but not remarkable.

Division 6 Large Weeklies

1. Park Cities People — A generally clean, well-designed paper with strong typography and an appealing straight-forward approach to sizing and word/picture interplay. I applaud the very loosely leaded body text as highly readable particularly for older readers who often complain about readability. Screened liftouts on the editorial page are very effective at pulling me in on a very text-heavy page. Nice to see such a strong belief in the story-telling potential of photography on the sports page but the blending of the cutout with the nons is a little jarring with live football. Society cover does a nice job of using cutouts in a more appropriate way. Well done.
2. Mansfield News-Mirror — Clean, straight-forward, simple (not simplistic) design at this newspaper respects the reader’s time and doesn’t frill up the pages with unnecessary cosmetics. I admire that greatly. Front page uses a gray screen for the centerpiece effectively (though probably don’t need the bordering rule also). Despite the deep ad on the Life cover, the editorial space left is handled deftly. Editorial page is typographically clean and publishing the masthead material at the bottom of the page makes so much more sense and is ego-less. Sports does a fine job of varying photo sizing and shapes for best effect. Love the top bits on covers as well.
3. Belton Journal — Although the quality of the photography could be better, the display given is highly engaging as is not trying to cram too many pieces on to covers as is so much the trend these days. The use of the overline labels is effective and very reader friendly without resorting to jarring spot color. Letting the reader know how to reach the staff right up top in the byline is refreshingly respectful of the readers as well. I like the muted section labels not drawing more attention than is really needed. Wish there was better sizing contrast with the photos on the otherwise very clean sports cover. Editorial page also very clean and easy to navigate.
4. Hays Free Press — Strong photography helps this newspaper uses its design approach effectively. A nice sense of horizontal and vertical contrasts of play on the front page. Section flags and facial logos on inside pages are too heavyhanded and draw unnecessary attention to what’s really just furniture. Neighbors cover is very bold, but the poorly handled mortise/overlay of the cutout story hurts that display. Sports cover is the best of these four pages by far with excellent use of photography.

Division 7 Medium Large Weeklies

1. Westlake Picayune — Very cool centerpiece package on sports. Innovative design coupled with strong photo selection and clean typography. People design also very innovative, with a clever headline in terms of words and design and strong art. The background graphics were a creative choice, although the page felt a little cluttered. Still life was overall good, but could have used one dominant photo and a little more white space or side-saddle cutlines to mix things up. The front had a nice, dominant lead photo but the photo teasers down the side made it a little too busy. Overall, strong design, good font selection and creative approaches to layout.
2. The Community News, Aledo — Very clean layouts. Nothing felt cluttered, headlines were well-sized and distributed, fonts were easy to read. The sports page was especially good, with clever headlines and a creative feature layout juxtaposing boys and girls teams. Even more creativity would strengthen the feature pages. Typography looked really good, attractive bylines and readout heads, good headline fonts and body copy.
3. Lake Travis View — Very attractive teaser at the top of A1, if a little big. Page 1 layout is a little busy, especially with the rail teasers, but that provides many entry points and is designed well in and of itself. A1 cold use a more dominant lead photo. Sports is a great – a strong centerpiece layout and great photos throughout. Nice byline style. The text-in-photo piece on the viewpoints page is great.
4. Alpine Avalanche — Attractive front page centerpiece. The photo teasers down the side makes the page a little busy. Headline weights look good, but byline style is weak, not enough contrast. Sports centerpiece had strong lead photo, well packaged with a good headline and secondary photo, and the heavy box outline. A second, heavy headline font would help build contrast with designs.

Division 8 Medium Weeklies

1. Clay County Leader — Good use of photos, illustrations not overdone, bright green fights a bit with other graphics, let good photos stand out with more muted colors.
2. The Canadian Record — Very nice use of photos, cover design and graphics, good use of white space. Very clean without being busy.
3. Hill Country News, Cedar Park — Nice graphically, photos should be more active, variable screens are distracting. Nice skybox design. Let strong photos be dominant page feature.
4. Pilot Point Post-Signal — Good modular design, nice inside feature layout with good use of white space. Clean typography.

Division 9 Small Medium Weeklies

1. The Albany News — Classic look, very readable. Very attractive opinion page. Great teasers in banner. Great job.
2. Cedar Hill Today — Good fonts, nice sports spread, good photos on last page. Love the SPLAT!
3. The Gladewater Mirror — Great sports photos. Love the last page. Good font choices.
4. Joshua Star — Nice mix of photos, graphics on front page. Good sports photos.

Division 10 Small Weeklies

1. Big Sandy Hawkins Journal — Nice tight sports with headlines that jump out at the reader and good, disciplined use of color. The front page uses white space to highlight its features quite well. Solid use of boxes and unexpected type on the back pages.
2. The Malakoff News — Nice concept on the front page, and the sports spread works well, although it needs a dominant photo. The “guiding light” piece works as a central piece and the pages is clean.
3. Olton Enterprise — Readable, clean pages and nice use of dominant headlines/stories to draw the reader. The teasers could use a bit more explanation, however. The typography in the paper works well, and photos are placed in a smart way.
4. Dripping Springs Century News— Classic newspaper design. The frong page concept is excellent, clean and has plenty of room to breathe. The community sports spread is a good use of space. The paper is hurt by the absence of color, however.