Finding the Nexus: Impact of Front Page Content Selection, Layout and Design on Newspapers Readability

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Addis Ababa University


The use of modern front page for a newspaper graphic design that attract, motivate and effectively communicate the reader has become more popular. This study aims to assess front page news selection and design practice of newspapers published in Ethiopia. For this purpose, The Reporter and The Ethiopian Herald newspapers were selected as samples for this case study. The result of this study revealed that among the modern popular front-page design formats, most of the total 72 sample newspapers (36 each from both The Reporter and The Ethiopian Herald), 61% use modular format, and the remaining 15% and 7% newspapers used horizontal and Total/Single team front page design formats respectively. Despite both newspapers mostly applied modular design, their front pages were not appealing to read, since they lacked white space that serves as a breathing area/space for the eye of readers, and the FGD result from readers also confirmed this. Design elements, such number of stories, number of photographs, caption story, pull out quote, info graphics, index and number of Ads are considered to be building blocks of front-page design. Accordingly, the study found out that except the headline of some newspapers is unattractive and irrelevant with the photographs, most of the sample newspapers used few stories. Among the total sample newspapers 52.8% and 34.7% of them were appeared with 3 and 2 stories respectively in their frontlines. 50% and 22% of them were published with only one and two photographs respectively. Although Lift-out or pullout quote is one of the design elements that bring visual power to the page, only 11% of newspapers use pullout quotes, but 89% were published without pullout quotes in their front-pages. On the other hand, while 25% of total sample newspapers use of caption story and info graphics, only 7% of them have indexes in the front-pages. As the results of this study revealed, inefficient front-page news selection and layout design observed in both newspapers is emanated from three major factors, such as lack of professional skill and knowledge, limited cooperative or team work, as well as lack of creativity, commitment, and carefulness on the part of designers and editors. Therefore, the nnewspaper publishing houses should give considerable attention for front-page content selection and design by preparing front-page news selection and design formats, by providing necessary trainings for designers and editors, and by promoting team work and self-leaning and creativity among them.



Design on Newspapers Readability