10 responses to “Page from: Marc Stumbo | The Beacon

  1. I agree with Ed on a few points but I want to applaud Marc on a very clean, well-thought out design. I can see you put a lot of thought into all the pieces on the page. But, you may have over-worked it just a bit. I agree with Ed that you needed to have a dominant image on the page. Though every image tells a story, a larger image would have more impact and could draw a reader in. I personally believe that in tragic disasters, such as the destruction in Haiti, people need to see the face of who it is impacting. The photo I was drawn to was the little boy with his head bandaged. That photo larger, in my opinion, says more than all the smaller ones.

  2. Marc Stumbo

    Thanks for your comments, Ed.

    The wider center gutter is a staple of mine and it works very well in print, especially since it sits on an inside fold. Looks terrible on a flat page, makes perfect sense when printed. And, if the printer were to miss the center gutter (it happens) the fold can’t touch any type or art … if it did, now THAT would be distracting.

    I agree that the hands photo has more impact. However, we’re a Catholic newspaper — the prayer shot won out. You’ll have that.

    Grouping photos always works better … except when it doesn’t. Having a lead/dominant photo in a layout is always my intent going in; I had the prayer photo much larger and it worked very well — it just took up too much space on a 15” tab.

    The headline/drophead treatment was by design; I wanted the pictures and story to be the center of attention, not the layout.

    The line around the color boxes is part of our printer’s spec – guess it helps them hide their hanging dots.

    Done differently, I would have broken up the main story less and put the small sidebars together with a different treatment. That would have allowed me to group most of the photos and give some breathing room to the layout. I could have designed this page many different ways; however, the luxury of time is rarely at my disposal.

    Again, I appreciate your comments.

  3. Kudos to a well-designed spread. And phooey on the notion that every page, or in this case, spread, needs a dominant photo. And if the reader doesn’t know where to start, let him move along, there’s nothing here for him.

    There’s a lot of copy, and the designer did a good job of breaking it up. The dominant photo/cluster idea works fine for someone who wants a “page” that looks nice, but our job is to make reading easier. This spread accomplishes that. Never forget the reader.

    The photos are of adequate size so they can be studied, and there are plenty of them. Sometimes when we shoot for the impact of a single photo, we have to settle for a single photo and perhaps a secondary photo. In general, this concept works fine. But in this instance, there are so many fine, compelling photos, it’d be a shame not to share.

    The designer here broke the rules and pulled of an inviting spread. I’d be proud to have this spread in my paper. Good job.

  4. Overall I’d say my biggest thought is the lack of a focal point photo as Ed pointed out. I’d probably remove one of the smaller photos in order to get a larger one.

    Ed made the comment that the boxed screens is a double-hit… I’d agree. At first glance they look like totally separate items rather than sidebars or insets… granted, I’m often guilty of doing the exact same thing.

    The style we work for at Oakville Today is to have big headlines as well, so that struck me out of training and physical punishment from my GM.

    I really like the pull-quote. It’s nice and clean and easy to read and separates the copy. Too many papers use a weak font or are afraid to drop a line in to distinguish… it’s good!

  5. I’m sorry, but I think the page is sort of a mess, and could benefit from a dominant photo, perhaps a grouping of the photos. I do like the sidebars and smaller blocks of type. There is no place to enter the page.

  6. Emily Killian

    I agree completely with Ed on the clutter. I think I would have also done a few things differently. (Sorry in advance for the bluntness. Please don’t hate me!)

    I think the overarching theme you wanted to portray through the page is that Catholics are offering peace and help, etc. But the page is showing anything but that. It’s chaos. There is a way to show destruction and have it still be calming and classy.

    A few other thoughts:
    -Kill the drophed. It’s not needed and your headline sufficiently tells the reader about the story. That would carve out a little more space for you to work with.

    – Cut some copy. I know reporters think their stories are their babies, but seriously, 1,700 words? You’re trying to fit 10 pounds of sugar into a 5-pound bag.

    There are ways to tighten a story’s length just by rephrasing a few paragraphs or cutting a few here and there. At this point, every little bit you can cut is critical. Sometimes working with a reporter to cut a story goes a long way.

    – Cut just one photo and you’ll have even more space to use for a larger photo. On the same token, you could have used a couple of the images smaller than they are now, which would also have helped you get the clean feel of having a dominant photo.

    I know I’m Monday morning quarterbacking it here, but I might have taken a dominant image, and then run the rest in a strip with white space between each one along the bottom of the package. They would all be the same height as each other, but would all be different sizes overall.

    – Kill the drop cap. It adds even more “busy-ness” to an already busy page.

    – Ask for a third page. You made the argument that the photos are compelling – make that argument to your editors and see where it gets you. You never know what they’ll say unless you ask.

    On the upside, you chose compelling photos, and your pullquote placement and style is quite nice.

    I know you had a nearly impossible situation to work with and you didn’t have the luxury of being able to dissect it over time.

    • Emily:
      Sorry it took so long to post your comment. I just found it this morning in my WordPress spam folder! Dunno why that happened. I usually check that folder more often but I have been pretty busy lately so didn’t look until a few minutes ago. Thanks for your comments. When do we get to see more pages from you?

  7. Roger

    I agree the page is somewhat confusing, sort of like Haiti itself. I get the idea the designer was going for. The idea of breaking it into bite size pieces, for a modern reader to digest is a good one. But do that by leading me through the content not by dropping me in the middle. Just a thought.

  8. I agree with the poster who said cutting the text would’ve been a wise choice. We all know reporters hate to cut, but with that much copy, little time, and tons of photos to make the package, you’ve got to get a little ruthless on text occasionally.

    I don’t think the hands holding the rosary is a compelling photo. CNS posts something like it at almost every event from the Vatican to weekly Masses around the U.S. You can’t see the person’s face or the locale, so it could be anyone, anywhere. It’s a kind of “filler Catholic,” if you will, and that would have bought you some space, too. (And I write this knowing full well I’ve done the same and will probably have to again!)

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