Headlines, captions and images. Newspaper design is as a key factor in readership, and other than the news itself, these two things are what makes up a newspaper, in fact they are actually the most important parts of designing a page, regardless of whether it is print or web. But why are headlines and images so important?
Images are the first thing that the eye is drawn to. It gets the attention of a wandering eye, and so many people prefer to read an article with an image attached to it than one without. It is also easier for the reader to have an image to reflect with and help focus on what the story is about, as well as visualising the situation and being able to imagine what it was like to be there.
From a publisher’s perspective, images help fill out a page, make it more aesthetically pleasing, and help make it look like it’s worth the money the readers are paying.
Because headlines are the second most prominent element on a page after photographs, their role in layout and design is crucial. However, headlines are more important in online publications than in printed newspapers because online readers tend to scan the text. Often headlines will be the only thing an online reader uses to determine if they will read a story or not and so headlines should be as sharp and direct as possible. Similarly, captions are also especially crucial in the online world. It has been said that effective caption writing is more important in an online context, than with a printed newspaper, because more photographs can be posted online than printed in a newspaper.
I personally love news photography. There are so many pictures that define our news and history, and seeing one image can conjure up so many memories and emotions. Of course there is the iconic photo of the Tiananmen Square protests, and the man with his shopping bags standing in front of the tanks. Any one in the Western world can look at this photo and know exactly what it means and the story behind it. In the same way that anyone in the world can look at a photo from September 11, 2001 and feel so many emotions.
The most harrowing image for me in recent times, was during the Pike River Mine explosion in New Zealand late last year. It was the front page of the Advertiser in South Australia following the second mine explosion that confirmed that all those trapped in the mine were dead. The image took up 3/4 of the front page, and was a photo of a woman in the moment of shock and grief at finding out her loved one was gone. I feel that it is images like this that make the news. There is no way that anybody would ever be able to write well enough to convey the multitude of emotions that these people were feeling, but one single picture can convey so much. Unfortunately I have not been able to find an online copy to show you – although a quick Google search will give you plenty of pictures of grief-stricken family members.