Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Muddy Mess Gets Big Play

For some reason, the DeSoto Sun seems to be relying more and more often on amateur photography to fill its pages. The result is clearly inspired by the bulletin board at the laundromat rather than the tenets of photojournalism, the principles of page design, or even the urge to be reader friendly.

Instead of one story-telling shot, well composed and thoughtfully selected, the page pourer (I can't bring myself to say "editor" or even "designer") uses nine muddy, back-lit, identically posed gangs to report a local hospital golf benefit. "Line 'em up against the wall and shoot!" seems to have been the command. Even the guys who couldn't stay for the photo op are included as "not shown."

This muddy, unreadable, uninviting report straddles the "double truck," the newspaper's center page -- prime territory for good design.

And just in case you're thinking this page is a fluke, here's page 14 in the same edition:

Small-time papers like to "get everyone's name in." The old wisdom was this would draw in readers. Please. No one wants to look at, much less actually read, a page presented as a hodge podge of random heads in hats except the principals themselves.

In reality, there are more readers -- and more appreciation for the nature of the event -- when the kids in charge of pouring InDesign plan an inviting, you-gotta-read-me layout. Quantity does not equate to quality.

As for reading, apparently the editors didn't. Every cut line -- all five of them -- in this hodge podge contains the refrain "... vets at the Arcadia Veterans Day parade Tuesday." OK, we get it; all the pictures are of the vets at the Arcadia Veterans Day Parade Tuesday.


  1. SCMG's favorite word: PROVIDED! The key is, the more material readers submit, the less we have to do and the fewer people we need to keep. No credentials necessary! SCMG is a pioneer in the "you report" phenomenon!

  2. First, I hope no one will criticize the person who took the photos. She is not a professional, not paid and probably was, to her credit, doing people a favor.

    She differs from the non-professionals at this newspaper who are paid.

    I could comment on why this page is bad and how it could be fixed,because it could be.

    But I won't.

    I didn't comment on why Humpty Dumpty could not be put back together again and I will not waste my time commenting on this disaster.

  3. Expect more poor quality photos; the Sun has laid off all of its staff photographers.