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Chapter 7 (part 3)

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 2 months ago

Comments and Discussion:

 

 

Gabriela:The expressionism supposed the growing numbers of the images (no photographic imagery, illustrations, logos, editorial cartoons).The cartoons usually decorated the women pages and later children’s. Maps, tables, graphics and even reproduced documents were placed on the news pages.

Between 1920s and 1930s the majority of photos was:weddings,funerals,sports heroes and portraits, which could be group or single.

The larger images and also pictures, as the expressionism proclaimed, had more impact on the readers.

And the journalist decided to transform each back page of each newspaper into tabloids, which contained murder, corruption and sexual ill-discipline.

 

 

Gabriela:

The newspapers started to use horizontal layouts, pages and sections, but with all this fragmentation, the pages remained full and thick.The newspaper’s aspect and hierarchy were:

•A banner head for the top story

•The text in the column

•The illustration

The modernism imposed the division of each newspaper in this sections:news,politics,business,finance,cultural,automobile and sports.

 

Libera:

Until the reading of the chapter, I didn’t know that, in the past, there was a women section. Maybe it had a low intent, and, for this reason, it can’t delight feminists’ movement (and I agree with this point of view), but the fact that in the 1920s there where more photos and information about women than today is something shameful. Or not??


Lorenzo:

Layout and organization

Compartmentalisation into sections: sports, business, various kinds of entertainment pages etc.

Although in Italy the newspapers developed,I believe like the American ones, into a modern section layout I’m looking forward to see the first Italian newspaper broken into “physical” sections like US Today. I mean detachable small sets of pages dedicated to different arguments. I like the idea that I can buy a newspaper that three persons or more can read at the same time. I’m not sure if USA Today is the only example of American n.p. broken (physically) into separate sections.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photographs and other imagery

Pictures of all sorts moved erratically toward modernism and its two schools. The growth in the number and scale of images expanded the expressionism of the emphatic newspapers and the hierarchy of the reserved newspapers. Traces of handiwork that characterized vernacular design went into decline. Non-photographic imagery, such as illustrations, logos, editorial cartoons, and comics, followed the general pattern, with exceptions that reflected internal power struggles and paid growing attention to the marketing and entertainment aims of the newspapers.

 

In 1920 a fair amount of hand-drawn imagery ran in the newspapers. The reserved front pages of the 1920s often carried a political cartoon, a practice that had been common in newspapers through the Victorian era, but these died out in the 1930s. The front was also the least active page for logo design over the period. Elsewhere the Herald and Examiner ran many hand-lettered logos for regular columnists until 1934. Fancy, illustrated logos appeared most commonly above columns dealing with movies, sports, and society. In all the newspapers, cartoons, small line cuts, and drawings decorated pages for women (and, later, for children), appeared as diagrams on the radio page, and also popped up on the sports page. A few maps, tables, and diagrams, and even some reproduced documents, sprinkled the pages carrying the softer news and features. By 1940, the hierarchy of news had hardened, making the front page sacrosanct and leaving other sections open in varying degrees to homemade-looking items.

 

The transition from vernacular to professional design, evident at most of the newspapers, at times met resistance from journalists. In the 1930s especially, artists regularized and streamlined the imagery for all the newspapers. At the Daily News, despite the fairly complete design overhaul in 1933, when all section heads acquired similar illustrated nameplates, other standing heads survived or reappeared. One sports columnist managed to retain his 1929 sig after the redesign. In such cases the celebrity or authority of a columnist overruled the designer's effort to control and unify the appearance of all standing elements. Vernacular designs at reserved newspapers more often lost their power struggles with the professional designs of modernism.

 

Sparked by an enthusiasm for marketing and brand identity, logos proliferated dramatically during the 1930s. The most common form for section or column headers employed distinctive typography flanked by two line-drawn open boxes called ears (for their shape and position). The most active page for such designs was sports. In the Daily News, at least six distinct designs for the sports nameplate appeared from 1930 to 1938. Some Daily News sports columnists had their own column heads in singular type as early as 1920. Financial columns did the same in 1929, at a time when the newspaper sought to market their expertise. The sports columns then outdid them, acquiring pictorial sigs. The reserved Herald and Examiner preferred simple boxed typography but likewise publicized its regular columnists.

 

Hand-drawn imagery also prospered wherever it helped make the newspapers more entertaining. Over the period, papers adopted more comic strips, single panels, editorial cartoons, and cartoonish flourishes in sigs and as ears next to section headings. A page of comics in Sunday editions in 1920 (in every paper except the Transcript) expanded to a full section by the 1930s, apparently with color added in the process. Daily editions picked up a comic strip or two in the mid-1920s and then added more, until by the 1930s they ran a full page. The Transcript didn't acquire a comic strip until the 1930s, although its comics had grown to fill a page in 1936. Editorial cartoons moved to the editorial pages of the Daily News, Herald and Examiner, and Post, and even the Transcript ran a daily cartoon in the 1930s.

 

Photography at the newspapers progressed to modernism from typography-centered (so-called literary) journalism through a period of decoration (as described in Chapter 5). The reserved school of Victorian design resisted pictures and used less adornment. The Boston Evening Transcript ran fewer news pictures and, for example, separated wedding pictures from type by demure embellishments. The emphatic school used pictures more freely to ornament the page and employed elaborate frames: hand-drawn borders, bric-a-brac, and space (left by showing the figure in vignette, with the background removed). In the Daily News, the Herald and Examiner, and especially the Post, these artistic frames flourished around pictures of women and feature subjects.

 

At first the newspapers crafted narratives from art concepts of picture-making, especially portraiture and landscape genre painting. The two genres sometimes joined together in montage: cut-out close shots of the principal faces, mounted on a static landscape taken after the fact, at the scene of the events. The Denver Post and the Daily News used montage more extensively than did the other newspapers, but the technique died out completely, along with borders and silhouettes, in the early 1930s, once photographers could compose shots at the scene using small-format, easy-to-operate cameras. The new photojournalism, according to Hicks (1952), encouraged sequences of pictures and gave rise to the picture essay. Sequences first appeared, however, in the 1920s. The Denver Post ran a series of close-ups from a motion picture camera in 1922. Action sequences like the pictures of a bombing raid in the Daily News of 1937 (Figure 7.5) then became more common in the 1930s.

 

 

Pictures did not move directly from the static montages of illustrated news to the action shots of modern photojournalism. The Daily News picture of two divers on a 1929 sports page illustrates the transition between the two: the divers hover mid-air, frozen in modern action, but the picture was obviously staged, evidence of Victorian visual habits (Figure 7.6). The vast majority of photos throughout the period were posed: wedding portraits, sports-hero poses, group portraits, and a few scenes of historic significance. Although modernists disparage the clichés (“the handshake,” “chalk-talk,” “me and my prop”), posing continued unabated. Action shots quietly entered the Herald and Examiner in 1931 and the Daily News in 1935, after the wire services were operating, and generally gained ground by the end of the decade.

 

 

The modernist notion of photographs as another form of news content was not entirely clear in the 1920s and 1930s. The trend toward stand-alone pictures, for example, appeared muddled during the key decades of change. Transcript editors showed no clear preference for running photographs with or without an accompanying story. The Daily News meandered between the two options. Only the Herald and Examiner moved smartly toward modernism: stand-alones accompanied features exclusively in the 1920s, invaded news pages by the mid-1930s, and arrived on the front page in 1938.

 

Other changes enhanced the expressionist tendencies of photographs: they got larger on the page and began portraying greater detail. In all the newspapers, the scale of pictures increased over the period. Although large photos appeared in the 1920s, the contrast of scale between small shots and large increased, making large pictures look even more dominant by contrast. At first the photos presented mostly long and medium range shots. Closer shots (or cropping) became more common in the late 1920s, and longer shots declined after 1936. As a consequence of more close-ups and tighter cropping, the pictures had a heightened emotional impact. These shifts were consonant with the emergence of modernism, which valued dominant imagery and emotive detail.

 

The conversion of the Herald and Examiner to tabloid intensified the use of photography and other imagery. The tabloid ran many more pictures than in previous years, often several to a much smaller page. Unlike the modern broadsheet, which moved to unadorned rectangles for pictures, emphatic newspapers gave play to vernacular journalistic design, cutting pictures into irregular shapes, retouching a photograph of a teacher to show her shaking hands with a cartoon-style John Q. Public (Figure 7.7). In emphatic journalism, the subjective power of these photographs supplied an additional measure of moral authority (Szarkowski, 1973).

 

 

A similar tendency to emphasize imagery reigned in the Bugle. Although it began with few pictures, fairly quickly the Bugle was running a wide variety of doctored photos, engravings, and gag shots, along with reproductions of documents and suppressed images. The tabloid reached a fevered pitch right away and kept up until the last a constant and ever more shrill concern with what they called fairies and perverts, along with the usual mass of tabloid murder, corruption, and sexual naughtiness (Figure 7.8).

 

 

Modernists tend to ignore the expressionist side of the movement, but some newspapers gave full play to the emphatic imagery. Although the record revealed many reversals and contradictions, the imagery on the whole moved in the direction of modernism. The resulting action, emotion, and detail, although usually invoked as serving the public need for information, also served other goals of the newspapers: to engage audiences in consumption and private diversion. Images also contributed to the other side of modernism, its hierarchy and organization.

 

Layout and organization

Several generalizations apply to the organization of all the newspapers: All experimented with their design order, as the decades passed. All used more horizontal layouts that made their stories wider rather than taller. All began to package stories that shared a topical similarity, compartmentalizing them into pages and then sections. Finally, all used more bylining. These changes confirmed our expectations that newspapers became more modern in design.

 

Yet the pages remained dense and crowded. Newspapers did not become more spacious, contrary to our expectations, although the number of items on front pages declined over the two decades by about a third, from roughly thirty to twenty items. New space came from streamlined type and upper and lower case headlines. An increased orderliness on the front page also generated the appearance of spaciousness. Contrast, for example, the whirlpool effect of an early Denver Post front page (Figure 7.9) with a later front, organized in a more top-down fashion (Figure 7.10).

 

 

Simple visual ordering became less of an overriding concern at most papers. The early years, especially on front pages, saw an attempt to achieve some kind of balance - either with stable diagonals (Figure 7.11) or with formal symmetry (Figure 7.12). Such layouts typified vernacular, rather than professional, design. Holding obvious layout in low regard, as a sign of the amateur, professional designers and photographers tended to frame things off center. For their part, professional journalists did not fetishize a forced visual symmetry for clearly asymmetrical content. Where naive layouts might impose obvious balance arbitrarily, the ministrations of the professional would assign places according to some rationale. The diminishing concern with such ordering, then, reflected the mentality of the professional reporter as well as the aesthetic values of design professionals.

 

 

 

As obvious forms of balance declined, hierarchy generally advanced. At the beginning of the period under study, most papers distinguished top stories by using either a banner headline or a dizzy stack of subheads (see Figure 7.1). Beyond that, at least in visual terms, papers did not clearly signal the importance of individual items. Throughout the period, newspapers experimented with hierarchy, deploying and discarding a variety of different patterns. Some were confusing - the Post's whirlpool, for example (see Figure 7.9), or the stacked banner heads on the Herald and Examiner. By the end of the 1930s, however, most papers had come to a modern sense of hierarchy: they ran a banner head for the top story and placed the text in a right-hand column, often accompanied by illustrations or related stories. They also respected a hard-versus-soft distinction by placing stories above and below the fold.

 

 

All of the newspapers grew more concerned with topical packaging and segmentation through the course of the two decades, without following a uni-linear process. Some papers regressed. The Boston Evening Transcript began the decade with a system of topical banner heads for inside pages, so that a page with a couple of stories on politics was headlined Politics. The heads were ad hoc, changing day to day and page to page, but told the domain of the news, not its substance (Figure 7.13). Such heads yielded first to a more random grouping, a regression prompted probably by the need to crowd content into the shrinking size of the paper in the Depression years, and then to permanent, consistent topical heads such as International News, clearly differentiated typographically on the page (Figure 7.14). The Transcript thus achieved topical regularity, but only by shifting to a very gross level of labeling. Beyond that level, the paper, like the news, was more of a mess in 1940 than it had been in 1925. The Herald and Examiner also moved backward in terms of topical packaging, losing all topical cohesion in its full tabloid incarnation.

 

 

Compartmentalization into sections proceeded in a more linear manner. All the newspapers developed sections early in the 1920s, and some apparently had them earlier in their Sunday editions, which generally advanced ahead of the weekday editions in design. Typically, a section began its evolution as a page, then grew into several pages; the number of pages in most of the papers increased through the 1920s, but the number of pages in sections increased far more rapidly, revealing overall a process of colonization. The newspapers each had a sports section and a business section in their weekday papers; various kinds of entertainment pages that did not always cohere into a section (although they seemed to move in that direction over the period); a women's page; and a Sunday magazine of some sort (and the Denver Post had a daily magazine). Most featured occasional travel, real estate, automobile, and book sections.

 

The sections topically shared two features. First, they all dealt with “civil society” as opposed to the “state” or the “public sphere” (Habermas, 1963). That is, they centered on the private sphere--intimate, cultural, or financial matters-and they covered soft, not hard, news (although the business section might be called hard news). Second, each had some kind of advertising infrastructure. Newspapers developed automobile sections when auto manufacturers and retailers began to advertise, and likewise radio and movie pages, travel sections, and the rest. The only exception was sports, but clearly the evolving sports sections themselves acted as de facto advertisements for professional leagues.

 

The sports section merits further discussion. At the beginning of the period, newspapers carried sports pages, usually untitled, often including non-sports items. Sport was not confined to that page, but could even be the top story of the day. More commonly, sports news associated with schools and colleges might mix in with other educational news. By the mid-1920s, however, sports had become clearly segregated into sections of at least two pages. At the same time, the content of the section had come to emphasize professional rather than amateur sport. One loser in the transition was women's sport. Shown frequently (by sports standards) as amateur athletes, photos of women in assertive poses stood in vivid contrast to the demure portraits on the society or women's pages. As sports sections modernized, however, the female speed skater disappeared, replaced by the male baseball team.

 

A similar but contrasting story describes women's sections. In 1920, newspapers all carried a Society or Personals page filled with the doings of upscale women. The pages kept matriarchs of the local first families in the public eye, not least by regularly running photo essays of individual women. The photos, invariably done in highly stylized poses and conventional dress, had the effect of minimizing each woman's distinctiveness until they all blurred into one unending Mrs. Claypool (Figure 7.14). Such pages were not a good carrier for the practical concerns of women, however - at least as conceived by advertisers. One would not associate these matrons with pricing pork cutlets or buying dress patterns; such mundane concerns required a different sort of women's page.

 

 

The practical women's page first appeared in newspapers that appealed to the working class, but became a feature of every daily by the end of the 1920s. Sometimes it merged with the society women's page, but often it stood apart or instead melded with the entertainment page. It grew through the Depression, as newspapers made themselves useful to homemakers trying to make ends meet. Like the sports page, it was a fertile field for sigs, bylines, and graphic experimentation.

 

Other sections such as entertainment pages also responded to the marketing concerns of the newspaper and to broader social changes. In 1920, the dailies ran usually one page that included ads for live theater and movies, plus a (usually bylined) review or two, and occasionally a photograph (see Figure 7.13). Several features of these pages seem dated. Neither the editorial matter nor the ads distinguished between live and filmed theater, and the printed word dominated the page. In the course of time, the entertainment section changed, but not in any clear direction. In 1922 all of the dailies added a radio page built around a nationally syndicated column about equipment for the enthusiast, along with ads for radio sets. Within a few years, the page focused on programming for the general public, with extensive schedules, previews of shows, and articles on radio celebrities. In some papers, the radio page merged with other entertainments; in some it remained distinct. Other papers added book reviews, comics, crossword and other puzzles, and serialized fiction, items usually present elsewhere in the paper, to form a larger Amusements section.

 

The clear direction through all these changes went from text to visuals. In entertainment sections photos proliferated, mostly shots of stars - taken from a movie, for instance - following the conventions not from journalism, in the sense of capturing developments, but from publicity. In short, the entertainment pages came to feature a cult of celebrity.

 

The journalist's ideology of the public mission of the newspaper partitioned the sections into ghettoes filled with the concerns of specific sub-groups (like women and children) or special interest groups (like businessmen and baseball fans), stuff that didn't pretend to general importance for the common public. As serious journalism came to shun the sections, they became centers for design innovation. This was a logical development. Sections first developed fully in the Sunday editions and dealt with matters readily divorced from a local context. Many items were nationally syndicated, including bylined columns. The sections thus ran weekly, the same time frame as a magazine, and allowed more time for design. They pioneered design innovation by imitating national magazines.

 

A final organizational tool, bylines, also became more modern. Schudson (1978) identified bylines as one of the devices instituted in the 1920s and 1930s that facilitated objectivity, understood as the rigorous attempt to separate personal values from reporting. Bylining reassured readers that an individual with a particular reputation and values wrote a news story. According to Schudson, bylines tacitly acknowledged the irreducible element of subjectivity that distinguishes objectivity from naive empiricism, the notion that the facts can speak for themselves. A byline indicated a commitment to explain rather than simply to relate facts. It also signaled the rise of professionalism in journalism, because explaining the facts required expertise. Moreover, the fact that some journalists could command bylines indicated their elevated prestige, above the status of general reporters, whose pay (by the line or the inch) was vulnerable to the copy-editor's scalpel (Solomon, 1995). Bylines, as a by-product of rising objectivity, would of course appear first in the parts of the newspaper where objectivity mattered most - in the front page, especially.

 

In the newspapers, however, bylines appeared earlier and more often in the sections than on the front page. Front page bylines remained the exception through the early part of the period under study, while they teemed in the sections. Why? The byline appeared as a signature not of an expert, as expected, but of an author. Bylines indicated that what followed would be a performance by a literary celebrity, that it would be inimitable. Experts' work was expert only because any other qualified expert could replicate it. (For the same reason doctors' signatures blur into one ur-signature for the whole profession.) Writers in the sections acquired stardom because they flaunted what front-page journalism prohibited: idiomatic self-expression, strong opinions, and so forth. Serious journalists wanted stardom but had ideological and practical reservations about acquiring it by, for example, covering the state house as if it were Fenway Park.

 

Hence the delay between the use of bylines in the sections and their adoption on the front page. Serious journalists needed a more fully developed and ideologically secure justification for appropriating this artifact of literary stardom (which later analyses of objectivity provide). Accordingly, bylines appeared first on the front pages of papers that were the least concerned with professionalism and objectivity, and apparently migrated to the elite press somewhat later. Along the way, bylines became associated with modernism and professionalism, so that today elite papers are more likely than others to byline a front-page story.

Comments (1)

Anonymous said

at 5:56 pm on May 22, 2006

Probably I'll give you the impression of an uncultured person, but I've not understood what bylines are!!! Help me!!

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