How Do We Know What's Up?
Modern newspaper design is a calculated mix of graphic artistry, mathematics, and psychology wherein layouts and headlines are orchestrated to convey a maximum of information in a minimum amount of time.
Never before have so many channels competed for our waning attention. The world is coming to us in print, on television, on the internet, and in countless other ways. Staying current is simply a matter of fact-the only question we face is, How?Take a look at the front page of The New York Times. Chances are, like most people you're viewing it above the fold from having just picked it off the stand. Very likely your eyes will scan the main image, positioned several inches from the top, then dart over the headline (if it has one) before settling a moment on the authoritative logo. Notice how the tail of the "Y" drops below the baseline, its thick curve finishing in a point directly above the edition date. Have you got your bearings? All of this takes place in a matter of seconds; before you have even opened the spread to reveal the bottom half, you have been apprised of no less than three stories.The front page of a newspaper communicates information hierarchy through subtle psychological cues that direct your eyes around the page.Modern newspaper design (the front page especially) is a calculated mix of graphic artistry, mathematics, and psychology wherein images, modular layouts, and headlines are orchestrated to convey the maximum amount of information in the minimum amount of time. It wasn't always this way, though. As recently as the mid-20th century, newspapers such as the Times employed rather verbose headlines underneath which trailed a thicket of articles, eight columns wide. Expedience was not the mot du jour.Though not specifically responsible for the evolutionary redesign of the Times, the recently deceased Edmund Arnold is widely recognized as the father of modern newspaper design, having introduced the notion of horizontal layout, graphic elements (such as white space between articles), and key focal areas (ever notice how a lead story is generally in the upper right section?).-BRIAN FICHTNER