Field Notes 1: Zaman

One of the first things that stuck out to me while looking at different issues of Zaman, a major Turkish newspaper that’s roughly 11 by 20 inches, was the consistent, modular, rarely-changing layout on the front page. The name plate tends to be exactly the same, a white “Zaman” against a navy blue background paired with orange, where a tease photo to an inside photo is usually placed. Tease photos strip the top of the page, and in most cases the A1 story is placed in a top right box right below the name plate, the A2-24 stories stripped in a rail across the left of the page and any other stories align the bottom page. For a newspaper that’s won several news design awards, I find it a little odd to see the same layout over and over, but perhaps as I continue to study the newspaper I’ll find different examples that show otherwise.

On one hand, it’s easy to decipher the A1 when looking at the page, through since it’s always in the same place — the top right hand corner. A gray, descending “L-shaped line immediately carries your eyes to the corner, while a bold headline is stripped across the top. Information is organized in hierarchy, with the A1 first, above the fold, and the A2 and A2 on a rail on the let side of the page. Hierarchy is also defined by a large, four-column package for the A1, whether it’s a four column photo or a colored background emphasizing the story over the others. Visuals are taken seriously, and there are usually about four or five tease photos on the front page leading to a story somewhere on the inside, which in an excellent way to draw reader interest. While they may not be interested in any of the front page headlines, they may still pick up the paper to read something inside.

As a new reader of Zaman, I find that through looking at the front page and flipping through some recent editions, I already get a taste of Turkish culture and what Turks are interested in reading. I think it’s hugely important for news design and visuals to reflect the interests of their audience — by looking at a front page, you should be able to understand the audience the publication is geared toward. Many of the teases and photos have soccer players, politicians or images of the streets of Turkey, which help me understand what Turkish readers are looking for.

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Marwa Eltagouri