Field Notes 2: A1

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De Morgen originally used the broadsheet format, but it redesigned to the Berliner format — which is usually 12.4 in x 18.5 in — in 2006. The paper also uses a 6-column grid and is modular.

The A1 introduces the publication’s voice, purpose and identity (i.e. color scheme, typefaces, what the publication covers, etc.).

The purpose of the front page is to draw the readers’ attention by including large photos at the top of the page. These photos have captions which introduce the main stories in the issue. Therefore, the front page engages the readers through the eye-catching photos and the introduction of the stories inside. The top features teasers to give the readers a sense of what’s inside the issue. Then below the nameplate is a large photo to catch the readers’ attention. The front page is different than the rest of the issue because the purpose of the front page is to give readers a sense of what the issue is about, while the other pages elaborate on what the front page introduces. The third example somewhat deviates from what De Morgen usually does, as an infographic takes up the majority of the front page and there is not much text. However, that front page succeeds in engaging the readers with a large image.

There is hierarchy on the page, with the nameplate being the biggest and having its own typeface and color scheme. The headlines are bold and take up about two lines. The bylines, which are under a rule, are smaller, bold and in a different typeface than the headlines, and the body text is the same size as the byline, but it’s in a different typeface. Photos also dominate the page. These characteristics are mostly consistent throughout the publication. For example, in an A1 from April, one photo takes up the page, but the photo is striking because it is a blurred photo of a biker. It is large, colorful and mysterious. Why is the picture blurry? Even though it is blurry, the colors in the photo are strong (black, red and white) and the size shows that the photo is important. (Photo is below).

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The design and organizational elements of the front page, which are consistent for the most part, contain teasers at the very top, the nameplate, a large photo and then the text. Color is also consistent on the first page and throughout the issues. The nameplate contains red and black, and those colors are used throughout the pages. The paper also consistently uses boxes and rules, and it doesn’t use that much white space.

The front page displays a newsy and sophisticated tone because it is neatly and specifically organized. It also reveals an engaging tone because the publication ensures that images and headlines pop out at readers. These in-your-face techniques emphasize to readers that the content inside is worth the read.

samarkhoury