Friday, 27 July 2012

The Times gets off to cracking Olympic start

So, Britain is on the eve of its biggest sporting occasion ever. Not even the World Cup in 1966 or the Olympics in 1948 can match this one. For newspapers that means the chance to go for it ... to create a memorable, historic front page. It's not as easy as it sounds though. The front pages that create themselves are those that record something that has happened. You have photographs, quotes, victims, perpetrators and a record of events. The hardest are those that preview an event and try to report on something that hasn't happened yet. That's when creativity, planning, headline writers, photographers, writers and layout artists all have to come together to build something special. So how do today's papers fare?
For me, The Times wins it by an Olympic mile. A stunning photograph of only two colours used as a classy wrapround. If you'd told me ten years ago the Times would lead on a magenta splash headline, I wouldn't have believed it. But it works. The back page quote by the founder of the modern Olympics, Pierre de Coubertin, is a nice counter to all the corporate nonsense that has surrounded the Games so far. The picture is by the Press Association's Dominic Lipinski @domlipinski. Really deserved a byline.

The Daily Star and Daily Telegraph aren't natural bedfellows but both use the same photograph and, more or less, the same headline. Great photo, although I'm not sure that too much effort has gone into the Let's party/Get the party started approach. 
Despite the universal outburst of positivity, the brilliant Matt still manages to add his waspish view.
The Mirror uses the same picture as the Telegraph and Star and adds a trademark pun to the splash headline. It also tries hard to wipe the slate clean ... by reminding us of all the awful things that have gone before.

The Daily Mail also has a lively picture across the full width. This time it's 81-year-old Torch bearer Florence Rowe dancing outside 10 Downing Street, with Dave and Sam Cameron in the background. It certainly reflects the joy of the Olympics. The headline is on the predictable side - although stronger than Let's Party. But is the ! really necessary?

Instead of gravitas, The Guardian goes for circus. It's main picture is not really an iconic image ... Ab Fab stars Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders partying with the Olympic Torch in London. In contrast the headline has a certain poignancy. One way to deal with something that hasn't happened yet is to get the best writers on the job ... and typically The Guardian does that brilliantly with a think piece from author and columnist Jonathan Freedland.

The Independent wipes out the front page with a classic London symbol - a double decker red bus in Oxford Street.

The Sun has also comes up with iconic British symbols ... all expected to appear in tonight's opening ceremony. Perhaps inspired by Linford Christie's famous claim that he started races on the B of the Bang, they all begin with B. They are an interesting choice ... Bond, Becks, Beatles, The Baked Bean (why the definite article?). What else could they have thrown into the mix ... Beef, Beer, Buses, Big Brother, Breakfasts, Bovril, Brass Rubbing, Blackpool Tower, Buckingham Palace, The Beano, Bingo, Bubble and Squeak, Binge drinking, Bad Weather?  The list is endless. Could have filled the whole paper. 

The Express manages to get the royal family, including the ubiquitous Kate, into its Olympic picture but decides that pensioners being ripped off by the taxman is far more important.
 The FT chooses an arty shot but also decides there are weightier issues to lead on. With the Nomura axe falling on top staff, who could argue?
All very positive though ... fingers crossed for more spectacular and good news pages in the weeks ahead.
Thanks to @hendopolis #tomorrowspaperstoday


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