The New York Times is famous for their usage of words–among many other things. However, it’s the quality of those words that really thrusts the publication into the limelight–the context of how they use the words and how they highlight them. Whether it be in major headlines, deks, or pull quotes, the power of the word is very important in such a publication with such great readership because it determines how much effect the experience is going to have on the reader and whether or not they decide to come back. However, one such thing that has become synonymous with The New York Times is their perhaps their lack of creative use with their words. It’s not to say that they don’t do it, but for a lot of the stories what you see is the obvious stated in headlines or in deks. Comparatively if you look at say a publication like Politiken, which challenges the status quo of newspaper verbage, The New York Times is pretty much the grandpa of standards.
For example, in the front page layout above you can see that the main story (accompanied by a big photo) is titled “Rescue Efforts Grow as Chile Calls On Army.” It’s not exactly the most glamourous use of words, but it gets the point across. The dek reads, “Millions Are Displaced–Quake Toll Rises.” Again, you see that it’s not some creative touch on words that leaves the reader curious as to what the article may be talking about, instead, it tells you exactly what the article is about. However, despite it’s lack of creativity, this is what the type of readership is perhaps looking for. This not exactly the same audience as say Wired, of which the demographic may be significantly younger and therefore stimulated by such variety.
In this front page you can see another example of how the main stories that first draw the eye, usually associated with image, tend to use less creativity on word play. This one does get a little bit more creative, using the title “In Ethiopian Desert, Fears and Cries of Brutality.” It doesn’t exactly tell you verbatim what the story is going to be about, but leaves a little to the mind so that your interest is piqued. Their promos on this page are also the same type of secondary headlines that you see in the first example. However, these definitely get a lot more creative, giving you little snippets of what the story is but taking advantage that they can get a little more smart with their word play.
While the front page of The New York Times tends to follow a standard of straight-forward verbage, pull quotes, bylines and photo credits, other sections of the newspaper have a little bit more flexibility because it’s not the first thing that draws the reader into the publication–whereas the front page is entirely responsible for. In the example above, you can see that headline “Just Feist. Just Wait.” is a much more interesting use of words in a headline. The dek is a litte more straightforward in that you don’t want to lose the reader with a double use of perhaps curious wording. The byline is also different. Whereas on the front page it reads “By Writer”, here it plays a little bit with graphics and simply has a horizontal line running under the writer’s name, which is a bit bigger than on say the front page. These types of stories also use a dropcap, where as you don’t commonly see that on say the news section of the paper.
You can see in this example above that their section names are not necessarily the most creative, as say Politiken for example, but instead like many news publications are just a descriptor for what the section is. Arts. Business. Travel & Leisure, etc. etc. However, as much of this post has identified, that is what The New York Times is synonymous with. However, you can see that their promos on this page differ a little bit that say what the front page looks at. For one the words are bigger than on the front page because there is a litte bit less to compete with. Another is that this tells you where each story fits into, for example “Technology” or “Media”.
The New York Times is one of the most, if not the most, influential publications in the world. They have a set of standards in such things as how they use their words across the publication that helps define what type of quality publication they are. They may not get creative as some younger publications that have set a different standard, but they are are a reliable news organization that have developed a loyal readership based off of the straightforward word standards they have already set.