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If you ask readers what they want Page One to be, most would answer “newsy.” They want facts. Summaries. Stories. Actual news meat.
Newspapers often forget this. They sink into a lazy rut, running big photos of cute kids and sunsets on Page One. Usually, this is because editors get preoccupied with meetings and money stories for which there are no interesting photos — so at the last minute they panic and yell, “Quick! Get me a photo! Somebody run to the park and shoot me a squirrel!” Which results in pages like this:
When it comes to warm ’n’ fuzzy front-page photo clichés, the worst of the repeat offenders are these:
These images aren’t evil. And yes, some readers do glance at them and say, “Awwww . . . cute!” Keep in mind, however, that you’re producing a news product, not a greeting card. You’re supposed to be educating readers. Teaching. Explaining what's going on with meaningful stories -- not recycling tired cliches.
Many newspapers adhere to the adage that you should never run wild art as lead art. In other words, if you consistently run soft, stand-alone photos as lead art, it’s a sign you’re not doing enough photojournalism, enough packaging or enough advance planning.