Thursday, August 28, 2014

Design by Beetlejuice

This is what I call putting 10 pounds of "design" in a 5-pound bag.

Predictably, the sack tore at the Lincoln (Neb.) Journal-Star, and we ended up with the Ghostbusters blasting the hell out of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man (or something supernatural) right above a story about Omaha cops blasting the hell out of a Airsoft-armed robber . . . and a sound man for the Cops TV show. Tacky, much?

I do love me some nice newspaper design, and once upon a time, I had something of a knack for it. But I love me some journalistic integrity more. And when you let "designers" and artists run roughshod over the editorial process in the name of making tomorrow's bird cage liner nice and pretty today, weirdness is sure to ensue all too often. Because artists.

BUT WHAT gets me is that this isn't that outstanding of a page, designwise. Obviously, the Design Powers That Be appear wedded to having a story with less-than-compelling photos as the centerpiece.

In this case, a better journalistic page would have been a better designed one, too. It would have been easy to avoid this journalistic -- and common-sense -- train wreck. As Lou Grant is my witness, if I've seen front pages built around mediocre art once, I've seen it a thousand times.

On the other hand, if big pictures of crumbling concrete are that near and dear to your ink-stained heart, and you just can't make the lead story the centerpiece . . . just find another Ghostbusters picture for the top of the page. Duh.

You know what I'd do if I were a newspaper editor trying to herd a bunch of cats designers? I'd ask Jim Romenesko for an 8x10 glossy photo of himself and I'd turn it into a bunch of posters like this, to be displayed prominently around the newsroom . . . especially around the design desk.

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