Final thoughts, Virginian-Pilot

The Virginian-Pilot was an interesting choice to study this semester. It’s a publication that takes huge risks with typography, color, image and nameplate placement, while still maintaining the newspaper mantra of serious, issue-driven news. Their mixture of bold, all caps sans serif headlines and light sans serif section heads creates a nice distinction, and their visual hierarchy is easily identifiable throughout the pages. The non-modular design illustrates new front pages each day, and they certainly don’t rely on a boxy formula for each A1. It’s a fresh take on presenting the news– certainly with its risks– but in a time when newspaper circulation is dwindling and presentation of content on other formats is a topic of discussion, the V-P proves that innovation in print design is still alive.

That said, sometimes the seriousness of articles gets lost in the overproduction of illustrations. Sometimes, the designers have too much fun. Some of the full-page illustrations detract from the news value of local issues and turn off print readers from the actual article.

But, its personality is vibrant. In taking some of those design risks, readers of the V-P know that issues will be presented in an imaginative way, instead of a text block. It has a young, fresh perspective on issues and reader engagement, which is refreshing.

Through tracking the paper, I’ve learned some of the fundamentals behind why they design the way they do, and how that’s applicable to other models. I’ve learned to take design risks and at least try different models, and break out of the simple modular grid format. Most importantly, I’ve learned to get rid of that voice in my head that says, “You can’t do that, because that’s not the way it’s usually done.” I’ve replaced that with, “Well, why not?”

chrisballard