A1 field notes

Format (size included): The Times of Oman launched in 1975 as a weekly tabloid-sized paper, which is roughly half the size of a broadsheet. In 1991, the Times of Oman restructured into a daily broadsheet-sized paper, which is typically 29.5 inches by 23.5 inches.

 

Grid format: The Times of Oman uses a 6-column grid.

Times of Oman-Grid

Modular/non-modular: The Newspaper Designer’s Handbook states that modular design views the page as a series of rectangles. Looking at the first page of the Times of Oman, I could trace several rectangles with my eyes and therefore believe that this paper uses a modular design. I’ve outlined the rectangles I saw in red below.

Times of Oman-Modular

Function/purpose of the first page: I feel as if the Times of Oman’s first page has two main purposes. The first is to give the people of Oman information they would find most important. For instance, the story at the top of the page on the February 1st paper is titled, “Omani gets elite university doctorate.” It reminded me of my local town paper where the front page is covered with accomplishments of the students. While the Times of Oman has sections dedicated to India and Pakistan and World news, the first page holds information specific to Oman.

The first page’s second goal is to draw readers into the rest of the paper. They do this by putting three promos on the front page and titling them “Top Three Inside Stories.” On this specific issue, they’ve also put a beautiful picture of a snake on the bottom with the only words accompanying the picture being “Aerodynamic abilities of flying snakes unraveled.” Next to these words, in big bold letters, is the page number for the story.

 

Specific design elements on the first page: Color is used throughout the paper, but the first page uses bits of red, which works well because it matches the nameplate. The paper also uses lightly colored lines separating stories from others as well as some boxes in the same light color around photos.

 

How is info organized:  There doesn’t seem to be a consistent way the Times of Oman lays out its stories every day. They don’t have a set amount of space for the main stories, for the “Top Three Inside Stories,” or for the remaining stories. While I initially expected that the paper’s main story would always be placed in the top left, since that is where people typically start reading, I have found that it changes position from day to day. It is not always in the top left and it is not always allotted the largest space on the page. What sets it apart is the headline. Without keeping their layout static, the Times of Oman is still able to indicate to its readers which story they should read if they only have time for one.

 

Hierarchy among elements: While every story has hierarchy among the elements of the individual story, they also have hierarchy among other stories on the page. Hierarchy is meant to tell readers what information is most important and therefore most deserving of their attention. Each story establishes hierarchy with a large headline spanning the length of the story, the writer’s name in small, bold, all-caps type below the headline, the place where the story happened in larger bold type to start the story, and then the story text in the smallest type with regular weight. Less visually interesting stories get a small photo spanning only one column, while more visual stories get a larger photo spanning two. What I am assuming is the most important story has a headline almost twice the size, with the heaviest weight, and in a different typeface of other headlines on the front page.

 

The “feel”/tone/attitude: Since the Times of Oman is so well structured, it feels reliable. While ridged structure typically feels formal and uptight, the Times of Oman breaks up its grid with images. A photo will span two columns, or sometimes even a column and a half. This break, along with the colors both within the photos and the splotches of red, make the Times of Oman seem less formal and more

 

What implicit message does it send about the publication: The Times of Oman, by its design practices, seems to be a publication that will tell you the facts, but not just the facts from the experience of the elite upper classes. It will give stories from all perspectives of Omani life.

 

What role do photos/visuals play: On February 1st the Times of Oman printed six pictures on its first page. Every story on the page has an accompanying photo and two of the photos are used to pull readers into other stories inside the paper, one of which is a photo spread. From this issue, it is clear that photos and other visuals play a big role in the Times of Oman. They not only provide context to stories but also, in the words of the photo essay, capture beautiful moments of life in Oman.

 

How is consistency maintained through issues: Every issue of the Times of Oman includes the section titled “Top Three Inside Stories.” Most issues also have a picture with very few accompanying words that tell readers where to find the story inside. Every issue uses the same typefaces and point sizes for both body copy and headlines. They use one typeface different from the rest and in a larger point size to indicate the most important story on that day’s front page. Almost every issue uses bits of red throughout the first page to tie in with the paper’s nameplate. The pages are always laid out on a 6-column grid with at least 3 photos.

 

Kassie Brabaw