The Dallas Morning News: An Analysis

nameplates: Basically, the logo for the publication, it lets the audience know what they are reading. The Dallas Morning News, to me, is the New York Times of Texas and the use of this typeface for their nameplates enforces that thought. It’s interesting in comparison to the Houston Chronicle, which has a much more modern feel. The DMN is definitely going for a classic newspaper feel here. teasers & promos: Teasers are like the one at the top of this issue of the DMN. It’s letting the audience know what’s inside the paper. I’m not sure how successful this teaser is though. It is rounded while the rest of the paper layout is more rigid and square. It also detracts from the nameplate. rules: Rules are basically lines, and as we discussed in class on Monday, the DMN indeed did put back a rule below their nameplate. It definitely was needing one. sidebars: Sidebars are smaller stories to accompany another story. I think the DMN does a great job of using sidebars. Here they’ve packaged an entire section with two sidebars about the weather underneath a great picture and headline. cutlines: Cutlines are used underneath photos to give it context. The DMN isn’t too fancy with theirs, but I like it because it reinforces this overall clean feeling. The first words of this two line cutline are bolded, and the rest is in normal weight. bugs: Bugs are small graphic components used to give some personality to the paper. The DMN has created this Super Bowl bug (Dallas is hosting the Super Bowl this year) and has used it consistently for about the past week or so to promo all of their coverage and pre-game stories.

bylines & credit lines: Bylines tell the reader who wrote the story and credit lines give credit to photos. Often, the also tell the reader what their position or role is at the publication, if any. I really like the DMN’s bylines. It starts with a normal “By”, but then turns all caps for the name of the person. Underneath that is their title in a smaller font, followed by their contact information – all centered. It is consistent wit the clean feel of the paper and is as transparent as possible for the reader to get the information. section flags: These let the reader know where they are in the magazine/newspaper. The DMN uses a bold sans serif typeface at the top resting on top a rule for their section flags. While not entirely innovative, it is again very simple and clean, meant for the reader to know exactly what it is they are reading. folios: The folio usually gives a page number and the title of the publication across the top of the page. The DMN has added their website as well as the date to their folio. Again, it isn’t terribly fancy, just enough to let the reader know where they are. So what am I taking away from these field notes about the Dallas Morning News? I think it’s obvious, they are all about the “less is more” field of thinking. Or at least for the “newsiest” parts of the paper. As I perused the paper though, many of their special sections and guides have no problem loosening up and having a little fun. Consider the following from today’s paper:

Maybe as attitudes in the newspaper industry continue to change, more of these creative ideas can start to be seen in more than just two pages.


One Comment

  1. I love that you tied everything up neatly at the end and gave me a “what I’m taking away from this” summary.

    A few other notes:
    • “Here they’ve packaged an entire section with two sidebars about the weather underneath a great picture and headline.” … Sidebars by definition must accompany a main story, but these appear to be parallel stories, not a major and minor.
    • “The DMN has created this Super Bowl bug” … because of its prominence and size, I think I’d call this a logo. Bugs tend to be smaller and simpler.
    • “credit lines give credit to photos.” … as well as illustrations and information graphics.
    • “Underneath that is their title in a smaller font” … that looks more like what bureau they work out of than a title.
    • “While not entirely innovative (nameplates)” … you can say that again!
    • ” The DMN has added their website as well as the date to their folio” … and how awkward is that gap between the name and website? Yuck.
    • “they are all about the “less is more” field of thinking” … while I totally understand why you might think this, I would argue that many of their choices actually add visual clutter, ie, that odd gap in the folio, and centered bylines juxtaposed against flush and justified elements. And while simplicity is key to great design, it’s good to remember that just because something is simple doesn’t mean it’s good.

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