Newspaper graphics break up long articles, “dry campuses” are hilarious

Last week, we ran a 4,000-word behemoth of a news article based on the results of an unscientific survey of students’ alcohol use we conducted last semester. Now, for any newspaper, asking your readership to commit to reading through 4,000 words is asking a lot, but for a student population with an Internet connection, that’s a hell of a lot of text on a pile of dead trees. So when we were planning out the issue, we figured we would give our readers something to look at. The results of the survey were actually pretty startling, and we didn’t want that to be lost on our readers in a sea of ink and paper.

First and foremost, we wanted a real jaw-dropper of a headline. But at the same time, we wanted a strong, but simple graphic to really bring it home.

We ended up with this. I’m pretty proud of what our Staff Designer came up with.


That shot glass? It’s one of the not-fooling-anyone FSU-themed “toothpick holders” for sale in the school’s bookstore. We’re a “dry campus,” I should mention. Which means the school has a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol, even with those of the over-21 set. And which, as we argued in our editorial last week, is bullshit, and in fact encourages drunk driving.

Back to the point, though. The graphic is your run-of-the-mill cartoony humans representing large groups of actual ones set on top of a toothpick holder” shot glass. And if a giant top-of-the-fold picture screaming “95% of your peers want a ‘no questions asked’ shuttle service for students under the influence” and “87% want a 21-plus dorm” doesn’t get our readers inside the paper, nothing will.

The article continues on three pages inside, which we broke up with some neat photos and four more clean, communicative graphics with a uniform style. They came out like this:

alcgraphic2alcgraphic1  alcgraphic3 alcgraphic6

Sure, adding pie charts to a news article isn’t exactly breaking the mold, but I really thought there was something smart about the way these were put together. First, those black bars at the top kind of tied everything together, and the bare bones set-up let the results, which are not insignificant, speak for themselves.

After all, we figured, an effective newspaper design – especially for one designed for a readership that’s always on the go – needs to convey information quickly. Maybe the results of the survey might encourage students to actually read the article, but at the very least, if they picked the paper up off the stands this week, they knew what their peers had said about alcohol. And on our campus, truth spoken about alcohol use, and spoken widely, is always a good thing.

Follow Spencer on Twitter @SpencerBuell


About spencerbuell

Editor-in-Chief, The Gatepost student newspaper at Framingham State University.
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