Why The Ledger Independent went horizontal with Gadhafi front page

Design Editor Ian Lawson had never turned the Ledger Independent’s front page on its side before, but while designing the Friday cover that featured news of Moammar Gadhafi’s death, he tried it at the last minute.

“I just didn’t love what I had been working on for most of the two hours I get to design our A1,” he told me by email. “To be honest, I’m still waiting for the email telling me my publisher’s head exploded when he saw it.”

Lawson, who has been with the Maysville, Ky., paper for four and a half years, had no newspaper experience when he started out. But after working on inside pages — and a stint at Disney — he became head of pagination a year ago.

The recently-redesigned paper, published six days a week, has a circulation of 8,500 and is distributed in seven counties. Below are the designs Lawson rejected and the final front page published Friday morning.

The final front page used a horizontal design, which Lawson has done on the lifestyles section front, but never before on the front page.
An early design used a photo of the young Gadhafi in uniform.
Another mockup featured Gadhafi in silhouette.

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  • Ryan Hutchins

    Weird. I don’t get it. Credit for trying something different, but I don’t see how this is useful. Also, this paper’s style is total rip of the Virginian-Pilot.

  • Anonymous

    Also, Charles Apple at his newspaper design blog notes more background info re Ian Law’s earlier “Wonderful MLK memorial page by tiny Maysville, Ky., Ledger Independent”……noting:

    ”A number of papers ran nice front page centerpieces today showing the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington, D.C. Sunday.
    None, however, did it as well as did Ian Lawson of the the tiny Ledger Independent of Maysville, Ky., circulation 8,174.The man speaking here is Martin Luther King III. And he’s addressing the crowd under the watchful eye of his dad.The photo is by Cliff Owen of the Associated Press. It was outstanding enough on its own. But I love what designer Ian Lawson did with it.Ian tells us:”On Sunday we are a pretty much a skeleton crew. It’s myself, one other designer, one reporter and a photographer. We had no local news from over the weekend (we don’t publish on Sunday) so it was login to the AP and hope for something great.
    The page came together pretty easily once I figured out which photo I wanted to use. There were nine pages worth on the wire.
    I knew I wanted to play the photo big. I love big art and even bigger headlines. I thought the image of Dr. King and the headline should be the only thing people saw on the rack. I’m still not in love with my headline, but it did the job OK.”
    I asked Ian about shrinking the headline, something he’s done from time to time at the Ledger Independent. He replies:”I don’t think my publisher loves it, but he and my managing editor let me do what I think works best for any given page. I am a huge fan of shrinking it down on days when it would overpower the lead art.”
    I also love the way Ian carefully placed minimal story on page one to maximize the poster-like effect. As a rule, readers don’t like jumps. But today, it’s a tradeoff. A jump for a keepsake treatment. A fair trade, I’d say.Ian tells us:I’ve only been doing this for about three years. I started with no training in news design. I just messed around in photoshop for fun. I kept learning and worked my way up to design editor last October or so.”
    And his diligence shows. The Ledger Independent has made a number of appearances here in Chuck Apple’s blog, ……google for more. DAN BLOOM adds: “I predict Ian Lawson frm 8k circ paper will one day be top designer at major paper or mag. This man is a genius. Julie, can you do a bio profile of the man? Amazing talent and eye and heart and mind! BRAVO”

  • Anonymous

    I love it…this kind of thinking outside the box is what makes print newspapers cool, from time to time! BRAVO

  • http://twitter.com/RyanHoleywell Ryan Holeywell

    This is cool and creative. My only criticism is that I think the index and masthead should have shifted orientation too. Instead, their alignment is competing with that of the rest of the page. But I always support trying new things. Hats off to Ian.