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Dyson at Large: Using the web to focus on print

David Higgerson, Trinity Mirror’s digital publishing director, regularly blogs on his editorial thoughts, and in one of his recent posts he introduced me to Pinterest.

This relatively new social network allows users to create a virtual pinboard. To be honest, its own blurb sounds a bit sicky: “Pinterest lets you organise and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.”

No thanks! But when whizz kid Higgy decided to use Pinterest to display his favourite front pages of regional newspapers, I was instantly hooked.

At the time writing, there were 42 regional splashes displayed, so take a look and see if you agree with my analyses.

First of all, front page adverts can often ruin wipe-out splashes. Take a look at the front pages of the Daily Post on 8 October, the Western Mail on 9 October, The Press on 27 September and the Swindon Advertiser on 23 April to see what I mean.

The Daily Post and Western Mail were both leading on sombre displays reflecting the local emotion surrounding the murder of April Jones.

But their strong headlines were confused by colourful strap adverts beneath them: the ‘UNITED IN PAIN’ splash versus ‘The Bay City Rollers Story’ advert in the Post; and ‘We may never find April, say police’ versus ‘Park, stay and go at the Holiday Inn Express’ in the Mail.

Meanwhile, the ‘SWAMPED’ headline in The Press, holding up a huge picture of floods in York, looked ludicrous directly above the ‘Thinking windows, conservatories or doors’ advert.

And ‘THE CRYING GAME’ splash in the Swindon Advertiser, with a huge close up of Town manager Paolo Di Canio’s face and weeping eyes, was horribly diluted by the advert for a £10 eye test from Specsavers directly beneath it.

If a story merits a wipe-out splash, it’s surely worth a conversation with the advertising director about occasionally dropping the front page adverts.

Or are wipe-out splashes just becoming too common, so that instead of the exceptional surprise it’s become one magazine-style front after another?

That certainly seemed the case with some of the editions displayed by Higgerson, and in particular I was scratching my head with the following:

  • The Western Mail on 6 October – a dramatic attempt at displaying a court snatch of Mark Bridger came across as trying too hard with little to show for it.
  • The Journal’s ‘Our humble Queen’ splash (the date and price are whited out) – it looks pretty enough, but I don’t understand what it’s trying to do with a picture that would have been better as a pull-out poster, not a page one seller.
  • The Citizen on 6 June – ‘THANK YOU MA’AM’ was a good headline, but the main picture choice was a strange, dark affair, not really helped by a floating Queen drop-in.
  • The Bolton News on 12 May (‘PRAYING FOR A WIN’), The Gazette, Blackpool on 21 May (‘AGONY… BUT WE’LL BOUNCE BACK) and the Lancashire Telegraph on 8 May (‘DOWN’), just three examples of many sporting miseries that failed to say ‘grab me’.

You may disagree, of course, and that’s the wonder of Pinterest – you can allow comments and therefore have mini-debates with all and sundry on the supposed quality of your favourites.

What did impress me on Higgerson’s gallery was the Liverpool Echo’s sheer impact on 13 September – ‘96 REASONS FOR THE TRUTH’ framing the Hillsborough victims’ faces in early editions, and ‘41 COULD HAVE BEEN SAVED’ heading a list of findings in the 5pm live edition.

But my favourite of all was the traditional news approach with a touch of design brilliance in the Evening Chronicle on 13 February: ‘MARLEY THE MONKEY AND ME’ telling how a couple illegally kept a marmoset in their living room, with a picture of one of the accused attending magistrates in her pyjamas.

I’d have bought it! Brilliant stuff, and refreshing to see how Higgy’s using the web to display regional print. What do you think?

4 comments

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  • October 24, 2012 at 12:11 pm
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    You are living in a cloud cuckoo land where newspapers are still king and everyone, but everyone, is infatuated with the local media. A bit like Whitehall journalists amazed by the latest shenanigans in Government, when the rest us couldn’t give one

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  • October 24, 2012 at 1:15 pm
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    Well, in fairness Scoop, this IS a local media website so it’s pretty safe to assume that those of us reading it will at least have some interest in the subject.

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  • October 24, 2012 at 3:09 pm
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    Point I am trying to make is that there are so many wider issues but Steve still seems imagine we are still in a golden age. We are not

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  • October 31, 2012 at 11:01 am
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    A bit behind the times here, no wonder Steve comes across so badly in that book the chap who went to America wrote!

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