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Chapter 7 (part 1)

Page history last edited by PBworks 18 years, 1 month ago

Comments and Discussion:



All new technologies and competition from television drove U.S. newspapers into a redesign revolution in the 1970s, and so, the news design accelerated. [Kevin: Careful not to fall into technological determinism and the arguments journalists forward, which are local and not culturally broad enough. Your comments below are more to the point.]

In the period between 1920s and 1930s, the newspaper began to develop modern designs with fewer items and stories under simplified headlines running across more columns.


Here I am trying to resume each newspaper’s characteristics:

The Denver Post is a notoriously sensational paper in a booming western city.

Chicago Daily News is a bastion of popular journalism in an established Midwestern metropolis.

Chicago Herald and Examiner represents a Hearst paper that evolved into a tabloid.

The Boston Evening Transcript was a staid paper that first adopted a more emphatic style and then dramatically streamlined.

Syracuse Bugle was a short lived weekly tabloid in a small eastern city.





The change of all newspapers design was like a response at the social, cultural trends and conditions. Changing its visual form, enlarging it, the newspapers “physical format and design” made each reader to read the newspapers and not the reporters.

The changing of the visual form in the journalism affected also the world of the tabloids.

All the modern currents were born in consonance with the new types of organization of the space and time in the world of the newspapers. The social transformations were at first connected with the modern wave and then the postmodernism challenged all the existing forms of the cultural space.

The modern newspaper, after all the interventions of the new-born current, appeared as a social map, like a day by day basis gender, and so it replaced the Victorian newspaper (in which the reader was used to see a cascade of stuff, placed in thin columns, separated by headlines in “multiple tiers stacked like an outline on top of a story.”Barnhurst)

As the modernism arises, the newspaper had to choices: to be a tabloid or to be a broadsheet.



__About professional Journalists and licensing__.

In USA like Europe the growth of professional expertise in various fields justified the erection of barriers to entry for new people e.g. licensing exams for doctors and lawyers.

It is interesting to see how in USA the licensing for journalism is forbidden by low since the American constitution guarantee the free expression.

In Italy as well we guarantee the right for free expression, to give information, the free access to information etc. (Fabrizio please correct me if I say something wrong: it is OK!!) but we allowed the licensing for journalists.

Is this only an Italian situation? Some friends can tell the situation in other European Countries?

Anyway I like to see that in Italy like USA (and probably in every countries) journalists adopted a “code of ethic”: the actual Codice Deontologico, implemented in 1998.

In addition there are Italian laws (Legge sull’editoria), I leave to Fabrizio eventual comment on this subject.



Prevailing opinion think design revolution started in the 1970s but, as we read before, it begins in the 1920s and goes on more and more fast until nowadays.

The main features of changing newspapers designs during the 1920s and 1930s compared to the past were:

1. fewer articles and stories

2. easier newspaper structure

3. simple headlines which put together more columns


This chapter wants to find answers to three questions:

1. what are the driving forces which caused design changes in newspapers?

2. why did newspapers keep well-structured form while the country was facing rough period?

3. what routes did newspapers follow through this changing period?


The authors will analyze five different newspapers published during the 1920 and 1930s.

They differs in format (tabloid and newspaper) and geographic publication (some of them were published in the west area, other in the east – Gabriela has given a well summarize of them).


Changing newspapers design was not caused by technological development but a reply to cultural and social historical events.

Modern newspapers began to concentrate themselves more to high-quality professionalism as well as evolution in the concept of space and time between the two wars.


Moreover, scholars has talked about professional journalism without considering it in relation to design but professionalism and visual design worked together. Both changed traditional newspapers into modern.

The idea of professionalism was the result of new technologies, which changed the way of space and time, too.

Newspapers started to be a social map. Journalists needed to be well-prepared during this evolution, so there were universities where to study and a license were required to work in the field.

Journalists must knew the ethic and rules to do their job because working for newspapers was a public service. To sum up, they should be responsible.



Between the world wars, Victorian design were gradually replaced by new creations.

But before 1920s there were published two distinct forms of Victorian newspaper:


1.__reserved __(The Times of London): long straight columns all along the page, no big titles, no hierarchy.

2.__emphatic __(San Francisco Examiner): the same features of The Times plus a variety of headline typographies and big titles about the main news.


Modern newspapers were quite different from the Victorian design:


1. hierarchy in stories on the page

2. less articles on the first page

3. clear headlines outlining contents


Modern newspapers could be divided into two school as well as the Victorian:


1. __reserved__: prestigious newspapers (the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post).

2. __emphatic__: tabloids.


This classification included the front page and the entire newspaper as a whole.



Chapter 7, part 1 explains that mapping the social required authority supposedly derived from superior expertise.

This change took place during the period 1920-1940.

It seems interesting to note that, more or less in the same phase, Max Weber studied in depth the main kind of leadership and authority.

Although his investigation covered different fields, some of the remarks made by him might be used for better understand the change happened in the press.

According to Max Weber (Economy and society, 1922), there are:

- charismatic domination, such as the familial one: this kind of authority is often unstable

- traditional domination, which for example appeared during the feudalism

- legal domination; its main feature is the presence of a rational legal structure of the power.

The last point deserves more attention.

Weber suggested that there is a kind of inevitable movement in the social evolution towards the direction of the rationalisation.

The authority, to some extend, is linked to the expertise (of the bureaucracy, according to his pattern).

He summarized this idea by talking about legal-traditional authority, however highlighting that there is a great deal of difficulties stemming from the increasing rationalisation of our society (for example the presence of a rational control on the general public, the fact that legal power is very strong and able to manipulate the individuals’ ideas).

Taking into account that a parallel evolution towards the professionalism emerged in the press, I wonder whether similar problems might be raised about the function of the (more professional) press.



If you’ve thought this through and have some insights from Weber, please share them with us. It would be very interesting.


Thanks for the addition, Fabrizio!


Barbara :

Newspaper growth continued quite a lot in the period between the worldwide wars.

The previous chapter 6, we saw that around the period of 1890s appeared the features of the modern newspaper, like bold “banner” headlines, extensive use of illustrations, expanded coverage of organized sporting events. Not only but this was also the age of “ media consolidation“, many independent newspaper were reduced to vehicles for the distribution of the particular views of their owner and so they remained without papers to challenge their point of views.

In the period between 1920s and 1940s all the features of the modern newspaper had emerged.Modern design emphasized simplicity, clarity, rationality and functionality.


This chapter reports the most important elements that emerged during the transition from vernacular to professional design : revolution in design, typography, photographs, layout and organization. Thanks to them the primitive Victorian newspaper changed into the professional newspaper.


It is important to say also that Modernism is not a result of technical advances but it represents a response to social conflict, social disorder and cultural trends. Of course technology, facilitated design features and followed journalistic agency.

The seventh paragraph it is said that: "the modernist newspaper style that came into existence in the 1920s and 1930s presented itself as just such a social map,one redrawn on a daily basis,that is with a spatial rather than a temporalbias, to borrow from Innis."What does it mean? This point is not very clear for me. May be it means that the modern newspaper was a kind of visual tool of social control!



Kevin: A social map is, of course, a map (a schematic, structural, and partial visualization) of the social (relations among persons and groups). Before the modern period, journalists did not try to present an overall picture of social relations. They instead told what happened (that part of it that came into their reach) and let readers form their own picture of the overall world. This isn’t to say that printers and others in journalism didn’t have their picture of the world, but just that they didn’t see their task as one that had at its core the conveying of that picture to the audience. The audience was smart enough to map things. After the advent of modernism (as part of its development in newspapers), journalists began to see themselves not only as in possession of a flow of occurrences to report, but also as empowered to convey to readers a conceptual map (one of the journalists’ making) that described in broad strokes the relationships and connections among the events, a mental picture that made sense of occurrences FOR the readers, who (it follows) were not capable of doing this for themselves. So mapping is an activity that was always present in everyone’s mind (but hadn’t found its way into the news columns, although surely it was in the commentary columns), and one of the moves that brought modernism into newspapers shifted that activity from the background and into the text, and doing so implied that intelligence (a broader understanding of the world) had shifted away from the bundle of tasks assumed to be what audiences do and toward the bundle of tasks that journalists assumed to control. Hope this helps.




In Italy there are some famous examples of pseudonym with respect to the press (they have been evoked last week).

For instance, the director of the “Il Foglio” used to mark his articles with the logo of an elephant.

This is a very interesting option, since it represents a kind of merge between text (by-line) and picture, providing immediately a clear perception regarding the author.

Not only: the animal chosen as logo conveys the idea of consistency: it is well-known that the “weight” of the author is quite significant, so that it is well represented by the image of elephant.

On the other hand, elephant has long memory. Hence, taking into account that Il Foglio is a partisan newspaper, the logo is full of ideological connotations.


Another well-known case is the pseudonym used some years ago by Bettino Craxi when he used to write editorials on the “Avanti” Newspaper

Craxi wrote a book focused on the figures of this brigand, who was the Lord of Radicofani, placed in a strategic position on the boundary between the Church and Sienese States. Ghino di Tacco, born in Torrita di Siena, was Sienese, a Ghibelline rebel and was mentioned by Boccaccio and Dante.

This brigand was legendary because used to give a fraction of his stolen property to the poor, and maybe this kind of romantic aura attracted Craxi.


We also might remind Kurt Erich Suckert (1898-1957) who used the pseudonymous of Curzio Malaparte, famous writer and journalist.


By the way, the pseudonymous is a common practice in the literature: it is sufficient to mention to Ettore Schmitz (Italo Svevo) and to the various names used by Kirkegaard (Johannes Climacus , Johannes de Silentio),


Of course, the significance of this tradition is rather different: in the press (at least in the cases above mentioned), the pseudonym is used in order to denote with no doubts a well known journalist and author, since some times, as regards the literature, it constitutes a way to keep a distance between the author and his work, or a method to emphasize the objective value of the philosophy.

In short, the sense of the pseudonym is completely reversed in the press. Generally speaking (consider for example the internet use of nickname) the nym should not reveal the identity of the holder and must protect him from unwanted disclosures, while in some newspapers it becomes a way to better highlight this identity.

I would observe that, again within the press field, the pseudonym is frequently utilized when the author plays a double role in the Italian political life: journalist and politician (or supporter of a well defined party). Hence, a sort of split between the personality? In my opinion no, since it is just a way to depict him-self in the public arena as much transparent as possible, in order to ensure the audience that no bias among different roles might arise.


I would like to add another remark about by-lines, mentioning their function as tool used in order to state the authorship of the journalist or editorialist. It seems to be performed by the addition of a “link” to the social role of the author (that works especially with regard to Scholars).

Not only: this goal is very often achieved by adding the e mail address, which includes, in the end, the name of the social structure (for instance a prestigious University) where the author is appointed. It is another example of form (since the e mail address is not only a text) which personifies a deeper message.



Chapter 7 deals with the idea of the newspaper as a way to map the society.

In fact, the press might confer (and represent) a well defined role to the different components of the society: women, man, scholars, consumers, children and so on.

By the way, it could be interesting to exam the social map drawn by children with respect to the world of the adults.

One might opposite that this task is not linked with the research concerning the press which is here carried out.

However, at a deeper glance, the answer can be different, since there are many examples of newspapers made by the children which might be considered also in the perspective here analysed.

Of course, no one must be so candid to forget that all these experiences are characterized in a relevant way by the interference of the adults (namely parents and teachers).

Nevertheless, to some extent, we can assume that the authentic ideas (and judgements) of the children are able to come up, even prevailing over the control coming from outside.

Not only; in my opinion the real feelings of the children, within a frame –newspaper- obviously determined by the adults, could be grasped exactly by analyzing the “form” of their essays. Pictures, drawings, balance between text and figures are the main elements which demonstrate the social map they have in mind.

As a consequence, I think that a survey in this direction might be very interesting.


Consider these two examples: “Giornalino scolastico” (http://www.elementari.romentino.no.it/giornalino.htm) and Edmondo De amicis (http://www.itcrovigo.it/)

The frame of these newspapers is clearly influenced by the public context in which they are allocated (therefore, there is also a great deal of administrative information).

More over, we can find the structure of the internet page.

The selection of the information represents the main concerns of the children: sport, peace, “domestic” and personal problems, news about the school, interview with administrative staff, besides typical educational matters. In the middle we can put their future in the educational system

The style is pretty vernacular and the structure is somehow naïf, but, as already said, especially with respect to the drawings made by children (the less control element of the newspaper) their authentic feeling might be singled out.




These are excellent thoughts. I wonder, however, if they don't hint at the ideology of childhood as a special status with access to the pure, unadulterated and natural?













Modern Design & Cultural Authority, 1920-1940

Conventional wisdom holds that new technologies and competition from television drove American newspapers into a redesign revolution in the 1970s. The previous chapter showed that news design did not change suddenly in that decade, although it accelerated. In fact, the direction of change had been established much earlier, in the 1920s and 1930s, when newspapers began to develop modern designs with fewer items and stories under simplified headlines running across more columns. What motivated the transformation of the newspaper in the period between the wars? At a time of turbulent social and cultural change, why did newspapers adopt a calm, rational face? What course or courses did newspapers follow as they set the new direction for change?


This chapter seeks to answer those questions by examining design change during the 1920s and 1930s in five newspapers: the Denver Post, the Chicago Daily News, the Boston Evening Transcript, the Chicago Herald and Examiner, and the Syracuse Bugle. We chose these newspapers to reflect the varieties of newspaper design and patterns of design change during the period. The Denver Post was a notoriously sensational paper in a booming western city; the Chicago Daily News was a bastion of popular journalism in an established midwestern metropolis; its competitor, the Herald and Examiner, was a Hearst paper that evolved into a tabloid; the Boston Evening Transcript was a relatively staid paper that first adopted a more emphatic style and then dramatically streamlined; and the Syracuse Bugle was a short-lived weekly tabloid in a small eastern city. Although no selection of newspapers would yielded a representative sample of the era's design, this group allows us to discuss a broad range of patterns and shifts beyond those exemplified in the era's elite papers, which tend not to lead in design innovation.


Not a mirror but a map

The timing of the initial shift to modern design is important. It indicates that the change was not a side effect of recent technical advances but a response to social and cultural trends and conditions. Specifically, modern newspaper design seemed to address two features of industrializing society: the reallocation of cultural authority to new professional groups and transformations in the configuration of space and time.


The rise of the professions as locations of authority in the Progressive era is a familiar theme in U.S. history. In the realm of journalism, the professionalizing impulse is apparent in the appearance of journalism degree programs at universities nationwide, in muckraking indictments of the newspapers of the industrial era, like Upton Sinclair's (1919) The Brass Check and Will Irwin's (1916/1969) The American Newspaper, and in Walter Lippmann's (1922) call for “intelligence bureaus” to supplement newspaper reportage in his Public Opinion. Michael Schudson (1978) has usefully summarized the development of a stance of professionalism and the concomitant rise of an ethos of objectivity in Discovering the News.


Although the textual aspects of the shift to professional reporting have been debated, the discussion has generally gone on without reference to the visual history of the media (Epstein, 1973; Gans, 1979; Tuchman, 1978; Leonard, 1986). Yet a connection between journalistic professionalism and modern design is evident. Individual accounts by professional journalists - the content of the newspaper - were embedded into the larger visual form, the newspaper's physical format and design. Also, clearly, readers read newspapers and not reporters.


Modern design was not simply a side effect of the professionalization of journalism, however. Ironically, changes in visual form affected not just the elite press but were perhaps more strongly felt in the demotic (and deprofessionalized) world of the tabloids, still novel in the 1920s. What then connected professionalization with modern design? The simple answer is that they were parallel responses to massive changes produced by the industrializing process, abstractly grasped as reconfigurations of space and time.


Cultural historians have noted that modernism generally emerged along with changes in the organization of space and time (Kern, 1983). Such shifts, associated with new communication and transportation technologies, have long interested communications scholars (Carey, 1988; Innis, 1951; McLuhan, 1964). Not only did modernism and industrialization alter physical space in ways that social theory should note, but social transformations connected first to modernization and then to postmodernism challenged existing configurations of cultural space (Jameson, 1991; Soja, 1989). Commentators on the postmodern condition have argued that postmodern folk, for a variety of reasons, are unable to construct adequate maps of their social worlds. The modernist newspaper style that came into existence in the 1920s and 1930s presented itself as just such a social map, one re-drawn on a daily basis, that is, with a spatial rather than a temporal bias, to borrow from Innis. (A medium with a temporal bias allows preservation through time - clay tablets, for example - whereas a spatial bias allows for broad dissemination through space - network television, for example. These biases Innis and others considered to have consequences for social and cultural coherence and for the creation and erosion of centers of control.)


Mapping the social, however, required authority of the sort claimed by professionals - that is, authority supposedly derived from superior expertise. Professional expertise then justifies the erection of barriers to entry. Professions considered legitimate can erect barriers such as licensing exams for doctors and lawyers. Other groups may mimic the professions by erecting barriers of other sorts, but must then justify those barriers by a claim to expertise and a professed commitment to public service. In the United States, constitutional guarantees of free expression prevent the licensing of journalists. Such factors as economies of scale for attracting advertising and investing in printing plants, however, created conditions of natural monopoly, bottlenecks that in turn allowed for the creation of pockets of professional control. Statistics suggest that conditions of local monopoly existed for most daily newspapers by the 1920s.


The particular set of bottlenecks that allowed for the creation of professionalism in journalism came into existence at roughly the time that the visual shape of the newspaper changed, that is, the period between the world wars. Achieving industrial stability and local monopoly allowed newspaper professionals to act as gatekeepers and consequently required them to profess an ethic of public service. The American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) first adopted a code of ethics in 1923. In the words of the Hutchins Commission (1947), modern newspapers had acquired a responsibility to present the news of the day in a fashion that citizens could understand and use as a basis for action. This is a pretty fair description of the social mapping undertaken in modern newspaper design. The statement of responsibility emerged just when a series of design elements used sporadically for decades - typography, headlines, pictures, bylines, indexes, and sectioning - all congealed into a particular form.


The design shift inaugurated around 1920 amounted to the visual analog of professionalism. The modern newspaper replaced the so-called primitive (or Victorian) newspaper in the same fashion as the medical doctor replaced the itinerant snake-oil hawker. The Victorian front page had consisted of a cascade of items, organized in thin columns on a very broad sheet, with headlines in multiple tiers stacked like an outline on top of a story (Figure 7.1). Victorian pages often had an obvious symmetry but little hierarchy, exemplified by the alternating heads sometimes found at the top of columns (Figure 7.2). One exemplar of this type of design in English-speaking countries was the Times of London (Figure 7.3); in the United States, imitating the Times signaled a newspaper's seriousness (although no U.S. newspaper could quite match the Times in overall monochromatic reserve). A second quite different exemplar was the San Francisco Examiner, which used a variety of headline typographies to present a loud, jumbled presence (Figure 7.4). These two exemplars may stand for two schools of Victorian papers: the Examiner school was emphatic, where the Times school was reserved.






The newspaper in modern style was quite the opposite. Fewer items occupied more space; there was a clear hierarchy, so that the front page constituted a map of the day's events; headlines told the point of an item rather than outlining its content. Again, we can divide modern style into two schools. In this case, the reserved school was exemplified by the prestige broadsheets - the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post - whereas the emphatic school was represented best by the tabloids. (USA Today is sometimes said to represent a next style - the postmodern newspaper. In fact, one might as readily understand it, in terms of design, as a throwback to Examiner style - an emphatic Victorianism.)


The designations for styles (Victorian or modern) and schools (reserved or emphatic) apply not only to front pages but to the whole form of the newspaper. Inside pages were designed like front pages, although with subtle differences. Moreover, the overall shape of the newspaper, including its size and its division into pages and sections (that is, its internal division of labor), was also a matter of design. Modern newspaper formats (broadsheet or tabloid) developed a clearer internal division of labor to go with their more streamlined external face; the spaciousness of the modern front page was matched by the increasing thickness of the whole newspaper overall as well as the expansion of jumbled pages, such as the sports page, into roomier, less frantic sections. The entire newspaper came to express the heightened professional status of journalism.

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