January 04, 2006

Now for Something Different on A-1

Chronicle Jack Abramoff front pageThe guilty plea of Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff was old news for morning papers, especially here on the West Coast, but it was still a big story. How to entice Page 1 readers with day-old news is an ongoing challenge for newspapers and a hurdle that must be cleared if they are to fashion a new, relevant role in a world of instant headlines.

The San Francisco Chronicle tried this approach: A magazine-style box filled with Abramoff's fedora-topped mug and just the facts - What Happened, The Offense, The Sentence, The Fallout, Quote. Inside, more than a page of text awaited readers who wanted more. Very Law and Order.

I like it. I would have added another category - What it Means - and invited readers to participate online, but it's a good effort and a sign that the sacrosanct rules of how newspapers That Aren't The Times should play Page 1 news are finally changing.

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Posted by Tim Porter at January 4, 2006 04:51 PM

Good comment. I had been reading The Independent for two years while living in Germany. Their front pages were so odd and commanding (no other word for it) that I routinely shelled out 3 euros just to see what the excitement was all about.

Posted by: jeff danziger on January 4, 2006 06:22 PM

Yes, brilliant -- and not just a magazine-style approach: a homepage approach. The only danger I see is that lazy page designers will over-use the concept... particularly on papers that already use teasers to inside stories in a left-hand rail.

Posted by: dan conover on January 9, 2006 07:47 AM
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