Saturday, 23 May 2009

Size matters

Alexander Chancellor’s piece in yeasterday’s Guardian is worth quoting:

‘I still have a copy of the New York Times from 12 September 2001, the day after the twin towers collapsed in the worst terror attack in American history. The event merited what may also have been the biggest headline in the history of the New York Times – the words US ATTACKED in one-inch-high capitals across the top of the front page. The paper has never screamed so loudly since. But this month, day after day, the Daily Telegraph has been carrying headlines just as big over developments that, whatever their importance, cannot remotely be compared to the events of 9/11.

‘Even yesterday, on the 14th day of its drip-drip exposure of MPs’ expenses, Bill Wiggin’s “phantom mortgage” and Sir Peter Viggers’s floating duck island were given headlines in the same type-size as that used by the New York Times on that momentous day. One wonders how the Telegraph, having already blown its loudest bugle, would respond to a truly shattering piece of news, such as the outbreak of the third world war.

‘The Telegraph is rightly proud of its scoops, but with its overblown presentation it has weakened rather than amplified their impact. If you excessively hype news that doesn’t need hyping, the news starts to seem less important than it actually is. Apart from which, as London’s only remaining broadsheet newspaper, with an old-fashioned gothic masthead like the New York Times, the Telegraph creates expectations of calm and restraint that, as the NYT does, it ought to try to meet.’

1 comment:

Kimberley said...

In my previous life as a newspaper designer we tried in vain get editors to agree to a "volume rating" of headline sizes indexed to the reality of how much impact the event deserved.

I guess the key word here is reality... something that most newspaper editors do not have a good grasp of.