More on front page editorials

I followed a rather interesting Twitter discussion earlier this week about The Indianapolis Star‘s front page editorial that looked at how newspaper’s should treat their epic front page stories on their website’s home page.

So, like we talked about in class on Thursday, The Indy Star did it big this week:

Then Dan Sinker, a guy I don’t follow but was retweeted several times this week, tweeted this thought-provoking nugget:

I later learned he’s the leader of the Knight-Mozilla OpenNews project, which, according to its website, is “a joint project of Mozilla and the Knight Foundation that supports the growing community of news developers, designers and data reporters helping journalism thrive on the open web.” So that’s very cool.

Anyways, somehow I came across this tweet:

And I think it speaks volumes for the kind of journalism I’m hoping to be a part of going forward.

The homepage is obviously not getting it. Websites largely traffic in social now. Very few people wake up and head to dailytarheel.com first thing in the morning. The Daily Tar Heel’s online editor already had a lot to say about this.

But the reason I love the print product so much is because of the impact it has. It’s powerful when a newspaper’s editorial board, which is usually filled with people who know the most about the issues facing a community of people, stands behind something and plasters it on the front page. That’s a power that I have yet to see done well digitally.

It’s something The Daily Tar Heel has used its front page, albeit sparingly, to really send a message to its constituents. We like to believe it forces students, faculty and administrators to sit up, take notice and start talking about the serious issues facing our campus.

My sophomore year, we told students that rape is a violent crime that deserves a principled solution from administrators. This year, we said student-athletes carry an unfair burden and shouldn’t be expected to attend classes and compete.

But just because homepages are dying and hardly anyone is willing to pay to get the printed front page doesn’t mean editors and publishers can be let off the hook for doing big things and taking strong stances on issues. It’s about more than just content, which is a beast in and of itself. It’s also about packaging that content with visuals that set it apart, get readers’ attention and influence policies.

Publishers and editors have to start investing in the kind of news development teams that will make these dreams a reality.

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