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Front Page Appeal

A quick glance at the front page of your local morning newspaper may stir powerful emotions of curiosity, pride, joy, anger, sadness or any other sentiment depending on the day. Just as art purposefully conjures emotion and seeks to grab our attention, so do newspaper headlines and front page layout. It is, in an immediate sense art. Often this type of newsprint is passed down from generation to generation much like an exceptional work of art. With better technology, newspapers are able to use advanced layout and design, creating a front page that not only has visual appeal but also sells.

On November 5, the day after the 44th Presidential election, newspaper subscribers opened their front doors to a newly printed piece of history. Pedestrians gazed at historic headlines in newspaper boxes, ranging from President-elect Barak Obama’s campaign slogans to civil rights themes, to a single name. The Newseum features 724 front pages from 66 countries in their online feature “Today’s Front Pages” Wednesday, November 5. If you were curious to know Oprah’s favorite…the Chicago Sun-Times front page with the headline “Mr. President”.

However, the example that took me most by surprise was not posted on the Newseum’s Web site. The headline reads “Barak Obama” in small type and “HISTORY” in large bold letters spanning a photo of Obama waving to the crowd in Chicago’s Grant Park. As the text runs off the photo, it symbolically turns from white to black. Talk about content-inspired design! This front page belongs to the Mint, a business newspaper in India launched in collaboration with The Wall Street Journal in 2007 with a circulation of about 133,000. In addition to the five print editions of the paper, an online version was created called “Livemint”. Here I found the fascinating article “The making of an Obama front page.”

According to Livemint, planning for the front page started nearly a week before Election Day and involved about a dozen different ideas. Mint art director Abel Robinson “had to work without knowing exactly what images [he] would finally get or if the page would have an ad on it (plus a backup plan if John McCain pulled off an upset).” See how the page evolved here.

There are many more stories that can be told of front pages from this historic event, each representing the people and the geographic region of the paper. For example, one Texas newspaper didn’t put Obama’s win on the front page. But most papers were selling off the racks in record numbers. The Washington Post printed an extra 350,000 copies of the special edition. And the The New York Times, with the headline “OBAMA”, is selling for a pricey $14.95.

If you didn’t save yours, The Indianapolis Star is offering its historic election edition for sale at local Kroger stores as well as a 2008 Election Souvenir Pack online, complete with a poster reprint of the November 5 front page. The Star also offers advice on how to preserve your newsworthy work of art:

  • Lay the newpaper flat. Do not store with paper folded along the middle. The fold is the first place a newspaper will decay and discolor.
  • Store in an acid- free paper folder available at most art and office stores.
  • Keep paper away from extremes in temperature or humidity. Do not put the paper in a plastic bag for storage in an attic or basement where it will decay.
  • If framing, use an acid free matte and UV-3 Plexiglas, which protect paper form most of ultraviolet rays and prevents discoloring and fading.

Filed under: Art, Current Events, Design

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