Bob Stepno's Other Journalism Weblog
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Friday, April 3, 2009

In this short TED video, newspaper designer Jacek Utko, says the transformation from circus to performance art by Cirque du Soleil inspired him to search for equally revolutionary design ideas in newspaper publishing.

From the TED intro: "Jacek Utko is an extraordinary Polish newspaper designer whose redesigns for papers in Eastern Europe not only win awards, but increase circulation by up to 100%. Can good design save the newspaper? It just might."

For more examples, try his home page,

photo of news readers R.B. Stepno and grandmother, by R.S. StepnoNewspaper-use habits -- from scanning the headlines over breakfast to the daily crossword and the Sunday comics -- only apply to people who *have* those habits.

People under 30 don't, and their parents probably didn't. (I was knee-deep in newspapers before I was two, as shown on the right.) A note at tries to compare newspapers to that other old medium challenged by digital distribution -- the CD. But  CDs -- or vinyl LPs -- have the "build a collection" theme, which newspapers don't --  except for the "Dewey Beats Truman," "Man on Moon," "Obama Wins!" type of historical front page.

Could newspaper front pages become not only informative, but collectible works of art, like LP jackets were in the 1960s? Seems far-fetched, but maybe Mr. Utko is onto something. A few days after I posted the original version of this item, the Louisville Courier-Journal printed a front page that I might even order in hard-copy for $20, even though it's on the Web: An artist's hand-drawn facsimile of a typeset front page. Take that, Mr. Gutenberg and Mr. Mergenthaler!

Could collectible front pages pay for investigative reporting, watchdog journalism and the whole "Fourth Estate" role of the press? Maybe not, but they might get new readers to open the paper. The next step would be to keep putting something equally valuable inside. For examples, bookmark Extra, Extra!

3:30:13 PM    

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