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Ok, playing some catch-up here to announce the front page of the month honor goes to the Observer-Dispatch for its Dec. 10 cover. Traditional and alternative formats come together in the centerpiece to give readers a thorough report of a winter storm that hit the area. Strong photo shows a fallen tree precariously held up by power lines. The news in the story — power outages, school closings, etc. — was presented in smaller pieces, each piece getting a headline and iconic visual. We asked Ron Johns, senior editor of production to answer a few question on how the package came together.
NAME Ron Johns
TITLE Senior Editor/Production
What was involved in the planning of this package and how long did the planning take?
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The Editor and Senior Editor for Content posed the idea at the 9:15am meeting. SInce snow is nothing new here, many of the staff have been through this before. The Multimedia team was out early to get photos and video. Reporters and editors gathered weather stats and snippets throughout the day. Rebecca summed up the story in a few paragraphs and the package was sent to the Presentation editor early. She discussed the need for icons to assist in the visuals for the centerpiece with the graphic artist and he pumped them out quickly. Everything came together in a team atmosphere.
How closely did the reporting and photo/graphic assignments follow the original plan?
Photo's assignment was to tell the whole story -- not just the dread. SInce many kids were not outside early in the day, another photographer was sent out later to get the playful side.
How did the elements come together on the front page?
The Presentation editor had full control over the setup -- starting the design and farming out other aspects of the page to her staff. Final story play is decided at the 4:30pm meeting and she took it from there, completing most of the shell that was passed on to the copy desk by 6:30pm.
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What would you do differently next time when planning an ASF centerpiece?
Making sure variety substitutes for a longer story is the challenge. Getting several informative elements along with compelling art to draw initial attention is the idea. While it worked fine here, there have been times when pieces are lacking or too long come design time. We learn from those times and move ahead.
Joe Greco is corporate design director for GateHouse Media.
Contact him at email@example.com.
Check out his design blog here.