Design Critique: From global warming to teen suicide, important topics


Our third installment of the special series of India newspaper critiques comes via submissions from Suresh N, Senior Visualiser for the Vijay Karnataka daily newspaper (in the regional language of Kannada) at Bangalore, Karnataka state in India. Hello, Suresh!

Example 1: “This page is about global warming.”

Critique from Ron: “I got that right away. Fantastic illustration! Compelling and dramatic and scary and direct. I got the point immediately. The typography, even though I can’t read it, seems beautifully rendered! Now, the potential to take this page to another level lies here: There is a wonderful illustration, and then lots of text. Even though it is illustrated well into the page design and with the illustration, it still requires dedicated attention – if I have a lot of time and interest, no problem. But what about the people who we know are scanners, particularly young readers with attention deficit, what are some of the things we can do to entice them into the page? Often the answer is a simple text box that highlights, in bullet list form, things like ‘Five things you can do to help the planet NOW.’ Or, ‘Five things you did not know are serious problems with the environment.’ Something like that. Or, ‘the debate over global warming: PRO and CON.’ There are two viewpoints about this and to summarize each would help the reader. Something to think about. But otherwise, wonderful page.”

Example 2:  “This story is about MADE IN INDIA, that means how Indians are different from others.”

Critique from Ron: “Very interesting approaches here, mixing photo illustration and graphic illustration as well. I think the top half of the page works wonderfully. So nice to see the story segmented into three sections, which I presume are distinctly different angles of the topic. I would not put the two images at the bottom of the page in circles – that shape is distracting, and can take away from the other visuals on the page. Often, I suggest keeping them in a square. My final critique is that it appears the text is not on a grid – it would appear more orderly if the columns of text were the same size, and they appeared on a grid.

“If your newspaper’s templates do not begin with a grid, you might consider adding this, which will bring more order to your pages. You can still ‘break out’ of this with wonderful illustrations as you use here, but the text will benefit from a grid. To learn more about grids, you can download this very informative PDF about creating a grid, from my friend and colleague Anne Conneen, formerly on staff at The Poynter Institute (and also a star student of mine from years ago, at the Ringling College of Art and Design!) Thanks, Anne!

Example 3: “This page is about teen suicide. In Indian metro cities, teenagers commit suicide because of parental pressure and negligence, educational pressure, love failure, etc.”

Critique from Ron: “Well, a sad topic that unfortunately I have seen the world over. Very powerful illustration. However, I think you may have gone a bit too far. I would advise taking out the text within the black area of the illustration, and just leave the photographic image which is very powerful, within the rope. The text appears to be decoration, moreso than information. I do not readily see it here, but one element that is essential in a story like this, is a glance box (text only) that gives right away, information on “Where to find help – for the teens, or their families, before a problem happens or after.” Names, phone numbers, addresses of counselors if such exist in India. Or websites which offer advice, which should be accessible the world over.  This is, if you can imagine, the ‘consumer’ angle to this story, and you cannot count on someone to read the entire story, or the continuation on an inside page – put that information right up front and center. It is important. Always remember one of our roles as journalists and visual communicators – how to help people in society – these graphical elements can do this job nicely. That is really the main thing I would suggest to make this page a real winner. Beyond that, to take it into a digital realm, you could ask the readers: “have you suffered from these pressures? We want to hear from you.” Again, this should be in a prominent glance box. Then you might have the teens writing in and offering their personal stories; you could create a lively and helpful online forum, and the next week you could print selections and probably easily fill a page of the newspaper with real-life comments from the teens. People would read it for sure.”

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Look for the other installments of this series on this blog. For information on how I can provide a formal critique for your newspaper, similar to the above, at a modest cost, please email It’s easy – you send me pages via PDF, submit nominal payment via PayPal, and I produce a written analysis, which you can then share with your newsroom (and advertising and marketing as well!) perhaps bringing people together for a lively discussion for a training session that you direct. I also provide talking points for leading your training conversation. Until then … happy newspapering!

Just for fun: my photos from travels to the north of India – such a wonderful and surprising nation!

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1 Comment

  1. suresh n

     /  April 13, 2010

    I am very happy for got critique by you for my page designs..

    Thank you sir

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