Photograph taken by Alex Barth
An issue of The Daily Titan about two weeks ago featured a full front page picture with no articles. The photo was a colorful depiction of a tattoo as well as the preface for the feature story inside the paper accompanying the photo.
If the photo had appeared smaller on the front page and included the first few paragraphs of the story, would you have continued reading after the jump?
The answer may be no because you might have gotten all the information you needed from the first few paragraphs, especially if the story held little interest to you. Most readers tend to lose focus on lengthy articles or after the first few paragraphs when they’re looking for facts of particular events dealing with breaking news. They aren’t looking for a long wordy article burying the lead.
The Daily Titan’s approach may have ultimately been clever due to the way media is changing. Many newspapers like The Wall Street Journal—which used to be completely against the use of photographs on their front page until the 1970’s when they introduced drawings—have completely redesigned the way they publish their news. Newspapers adopted color photographs, large pictures and less text on the front page; everything has become much more visual.
Since the way we receive news is changing, along with print, websites have changed their way of presenting their homepage as well. A few years ago, news wasn’t as readily available with news clips, polls and general visual interaction as it is today. Just go to any website and notice how busy the homepage is.
The New York Times takes a more traditional newspaper approach with their homepage. The layout resembles that of their print front page; however, websites like New York Magazine feature videos on demand, links, a lot of photographs and a great use of space and design.
One common theme amongst these websites is that there aren’t any feature articles on the homepages. If there is any written text accompanying a headline, it’s simply a deckhead—a brief description of the story—or a photo caption.
Another thing these publications have in common is that their homepages feed into our “we want it all and we want it now” desire. The Los Angeles Times features news, weather, traffic alerts, life and style, opinion, sports, the market, classifieds, entertainment, a view of the print edition front page and much, much more.
Whether the reasoning for our change in news layouts has to do with laziness or disinterest, we do get more colorful news presented to us. Who is to say what the future holds.
Below is a video of how newspaper design has changed. The video touches on design of the front page and what content it cherishes to make it its signature.