Newspaper layout & design: A team approach

Newspaper layout & design: A team approach

Fee, Frank

NRJ Books

Newspaper layout & design: A team approach

by Daryl R. Moen

(Ames: Iowa State Press, 2000. $39.95 soft cover)


Updated with new examples and enhanced with a number of editorial revisions, Newspaper Layout & Design remains in its latest edition a useful and important design text of value for journalism students and professionals.

Despite the updating, however, this is not a fundamentally new book. Many of the changes are minor editing changes (e.g., a “fast– forward to the 1990s” becomes a “fast-forward to the year 2000,” perhaps foreshadowing a fifth edition), and there is some reorganization (e.g., the color chapter has been rearranged extensively but with no significant change in content). Often, the adjustments in text are the addition, deletion, or substitution of an introductory sentence or example. Some tables and graphics have been jettisoned, with new ones taking their places. The pieces on accuracy, ethics, and mainstreaming minorities, which are cited as new or expanded, are good additions, but not exhaustive treatments. One example of a helpful addition is the expansion of the Words and Visuals in Tandem charter.

Besides its technical content, a real contribution of this text remains its continued focus on teamwork in the newsroom. The author stresses the interaction of reporters, designers, editors, and photographers in producing a pleasing, informative newspaper.

The author references scholarly research to make or support important points smoothly, without turning the text into an academic journal. He also does a good job of placing everyday practice in a historical context.

Although perhaps too rich for the typical news editing course, which may include design in only a third of the course, this text offers a lot for copy editors and others evaluating the work of designers. The sections on infographics are particularly helpful in identifying pitfalls for the unwary copy editor. The risks that may reside in a bad graphic are the risks that may be found in body type as well.

Precisely because of its detail and depth, Newspaper Layout & Design is unlikely to replace Tim Harrower’s Newspaper Designer’s Handbook in many newsrooms and news editing classrooms. However, it’s a dandy for the design class for which it was intended, and a valuable resource for all journalists interested in a serious and comprehensive understanding of news page design.

Frank Fee is assistant professor in the School of Journalism at the University of North Carolina, in Chapel Hill.

Copyright Newspaper Research Journal, Department of Journalism, University of Memphis Fall 2000

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