Front page of The Guardian joins world’s best

Jim Day
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Power of press

Guardian Page Ones now updated daily at on-line museum dedicated to power of news

Our front page is now history.

We have become a part of an impressive daily collective gathering of Page One news for posterity.

Our front pages are now standing alongside the world’s best in the Newseum, a dynamic, engaging and interactive museum in Washington, D.C., that allows visitors to experience the stories of yesterday and today through the eyes of the media while celebrating guaranteed freedoms.

Through a special agreement with more than 2,000 newspapers worldwide, from the New York Times to The Globe and Mail to our — and your — very own paper, the Newseum displays these front pages each day on its website.

Roughly one million visitors per year click online to visit these front pages that appear in their original, unedited form. Some, the site cautions, may contain material that is deemed objectionable to some visitors.

Last year, perhaps more than ever, many newspapers used their front pages more graphically and more frequently to ruffle feathers, awaken social conscience and herald free speech than ever before.

As Sharon Shahid, online managing editor at the Newseum noted in a recent column, with 2015 being marked by terrorism, gun violence, war refugees and religious freedom, the press wore its heart on its sleeve by airing opinions on Page One.

“The Jan. 7 terrorist attack on satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo’s Paris newsroom, which resulted in the deaths of 12 people, including the paper’s editor-in-chief, set the tone for an advocacy press that frequently used the front page as its soapbox,” she observes.

Shahid adds the 10 newspapers singled out for special recognition by the Newseum in 2015 were notable for “their emotion and boldness; the ability to provoke sympathy, joy and outrage; and an unfettered willingness to overstep boundaries.”

Each day, more than 800 daily front pages go up on the Newseum’s website. Count us among them.

Sonya Gavankar, manager of public relations, is among those charged with selecting a daily Top 10 List from those hundreds of front pages.

So what makes the list these days?

“The tenets of what makes a front page a great front page is something that really grabs the reader and makes them want to pick up the paper and read further,” says Gavankar.

That has been the formula for many decades. The ingredients are just different today.

Graphics commonly grace front pages in deference to photos.

Advertising has found its way onto many Page Ones.

And many articles on the first page provide links to deeper stories online.

Gavankar notes smaller dailies, like this one, are putting more focus on localizing the bigger stories, including national and international ones.

Readers, she believes, still expect a great deal from their newspapers — and their front pages. She notes last year some newspapers did very interesting things with anniversaries, for instance showing what the newspaper looked like 50 and 100 years ago, serving as a good reminder that the printed paper is still kicking and giving people the information they need.

“I would hope that readers would actually remind themselves of what they feel when they read a newspaper,” says Gavankar.

“Readers need to be reminded of the importance of newspapers.”

Front page news is often not news at all to anyone these days, notes Paul Knox, a former Globe and Mail reporter who recently retired from teaching journalism at Ryerson University.

But, it sure can still be a very good read, perhaps even a better one than in the past.

“Now there is more of the sense that newspapers are not in the business of breaking the news but interpreting news by putting their own interesting take on something that people already know about,” he says.

Greater emphasis is placed on creative visuals and strong, colourful writing to draw in readers, he explains.

Or, as Knox puts it: “Putting a really distinctive twist on running stories.”

For many, he adds, reading a newspaper — and those front page stories — bought at the stand or plucked out of the mail box still holds appeal to many.

“It’s the only physical product that you have that is kind of about your town,” he says.

Organizations: Newseum, Globe and Mail, The Guardian New York Times

Geographic location: Washington, D.C., Paris

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