We've seen a lot of great front pages in the last couple months, making the selection process more difficult. But as we whittled down the list, one front page kept our attention.
Taunton Daily Gazette's casino front page is tops for the month of February.
Rory Schuler, city editor for the Gazette, sent us his thoughts about the page:
"This, as are most of our best fronts, was designed by copy editor Emely DelSanto."
"The genesis for the overall design was actually an over abundance of art. We had reporter generated pics, some pics from the AP (covering the event), staff photographer pics for the local angles, and images provided by Foxwoods.
"We went with one of the cheesy, fake-looking overall casino shots though, because it really pegged the almost fantastic nature of casino ventures. I also felt it gave the story more of a hypothetical feel (the "this could happen here too" effect). Since this ran across both pubs, we had a long list of stories and sidebars. But it was up to the front page designer (Emely) to figure out exactly how to play the rest of the page. And with her keen eye, Emely really knocked it out of the park. The colors really pull you in, and the fantastic nature of the main (submitted) pic were balanced by the real-life local pics around the page.
And here's Rory's take on the development of the casino story.
"Our region's been inundated with talk of a future casino, since the Mass. state legislature finally passed a long-awaited gambling bill. As we were gearing up to examine the likelihood we may find a casino in our back yard in the near future, I got a press release from Connecticut's Foxwoods Casino. The resort was about to celebrate its 20th anniversary.
"The majority of traveling gamblers in the area tend to drive the 90 minute one-way trip to Connecticut casinos, so my idea was simple: after two decades in business, how has the casino affected crime rates, employees' lives, the small business community and municipal infrastructure. We wanted a glimpse at the good AND the bad.
"We rarely ship our reporters this far away for an assignment, but I saw an opportunity to pull a package together that could serve both of my publications (the TDG and the HN of Fall River). HN Reporter Will Richmond worked feverishly before he left for the big 20th event to line up appointments with contacts in the Foxwoods vicinity. Simultaneously, two more reporters were assigned other local angles (an examination of "the commuter gambler" and the potential of a slots parlor to replace a former dog racing operation).
"Turns out all of this work really paid off for several reasons. The timing was absolutely perfect. About a week after we ran the story, a Native American tribe announced it would try to build a casino in Taunton. Then, a second tribe made the same announcement in Fall River (the two home base cities of the two pubs in which this package ran). In hindsight, the package almost seemed prophetic."
Clearly a great deal of communication was needed to pull off such a package. Nice job by all involved.
Joe Greco is corporate design director for GateHouse Media.
Contact him at email@example.com.