Sunday, 5 August 2012

How super Sundays reported on super Saturday

I was going to take a night off looking at the front pages - but after a day like that, how could I resist? The adrenalin in the newsrooms will have been fantastic. After an early holding edition, there will have been all hands to the pump when the Jessica Ennis pictures arrived, just on deadline. But then Mo Farah was running even later - and in the middle of it all there was a ginger bombshell in the form of Greg Rutherford. Six medals, Britain's greatest performance and a selection of marvellous photographs. What to do? Well, this is how they fared.

For me, The Observer leads the way. The picture of poster girl Jessica Ennis is stunning - capturing the complete joy of her moment. And using the ecstatic Mo Farah across the top of the masthead is spot on. The headline just sums it up. When you get a day like this you just need to tell it how it is and cut down on the superlatives. I like the six Gold headlines down the side too (preferably without the exclamation marks). A good lesson in how to tell a complete story without using many words - and all put together in minutes. Fantastic. 

The Observer had brought out an earlier edition, to meet the needs of its country-wide distribution. The earlier front wasn't half bad though. The picture of the sculls duo is brilliant. Kate Copeland has one of the best winning faces of the Games. Gold Rush has, to be fair, been done to death this week. The paper took a punt on the pictures across the top - but missed out on Mo Farah and, perhaps unsurprisingly, Greg Rutherford. A change was inevitable.

The Sunday Telegraph also gets it right - poster girl Jessica Ennis as the main image, right across the full eight columns, and then every other Gold medalist featured. All turned around in a matter of minutes too. 'Sensational!' in caps with a dog's cock is about a tabloid as you can get - but these are extraordinary times. There are lots of words, a thorough round-up by Cole Moreton and Robert Mendick, but they could easily have gone inside.

And the The Sunday Times is top notch too - just a joyous picture of Jessica Ennis for its wrap with an understated 'Six of the very best' headline. Minimalist and powerful.

Inside the front page proper mops up the other stories. I hadn't expected anyone to go with Greg Rutherford ... but here he is across the full eight columns. I'm not sure about the headline over the picture though ... it was more than an hour, it was a full day. To me, it also suggests that Rutherford's performance was our finest hour? 

I only had the early edition of The Independent on Sunday last night but here is the later version, which is stunning and gives The Observer a run for its money. The picture is just a joy, cropped and placed really well. I know we saw the Happy and Glorious headline a few times during the Jubilee but it works. The flag cutting across the titlepiece is a smart touch.

Here's the earlier version of the Sindie ... strong in its own right.  

The Sun is the pick of the tabloids. It keeps the non-Olympic clutter to a minimum, has the cleverest headline and uses the picture well. Using the other five Gold winners in medals is a classic tabloid device. Not sure many will be bothered about the Jacko story but, on any other day, it would have been a splash.      

The Mirror reckons its 48-page football magazine is a big seller. It could be right as, with everyone else going Olympics crazy, it needs something to give the paper an edge on the news-stands. I will probably pop out and buy it on the strength of the blurb (although my views on 'Free inside' are well documented). The Mirror, like The Sun, goes for a three-deck headline but ends up squeezing it all into a tighter space. 'Yes. yes, Jess!' is OK but the paper could have used it smaller and let the cracking photograph dominate. No mention of the other three Golds. Wonder what the take-up will be on the 10p cuddly (really) mascot.  

Woah. There's an awful lot going on the Daily Star's front. It looks like a TV mag. Peel away the clutter and it's not a bad piece of work. Jessica Ennis in Seb Coe pose is a great choice, neatly cutout and 'Joy of six' is an ideal Star headline. Like The Sun it uses the other five Gold winners in medals. Few words needed.  

This version of the Mail on Sunday looks like it had to go to press not long after Jessica Ennis's race, so no Mo Farah on the front. Using 'Jess' as a pun for 'Just' stretches it a little and the heading could do with a tad more leading. Taking those great photographs and making them all squares is an unusual decision too. Ten thousand Olympic bags to give away is a strong promotion. Overall, though, it looks like it was put together in a rush. There is probably a later edition. 

The Sunday Express persists with its blurbs. Free CDs and Union Jack Flags (seems a bit tautological to me). The paper could have wiped them out and replaced them with some of today's extraordinary pictures. Jessica Ennis is probably the best story - and it's an iconic image - but we won six Gold Medals. 'Jess the Best' is the sort of thing my kids used to write on their schoolbooks. 

'Gold rush' is, by far, the most widely used headline of the Games so far. It's clearly difficult to keep finding more ways of describing Team GB's amazing success. The Herald uses the same picture as the Independent and, rightly, leaves in her left hand. The javelin through the sixth ring is a nice touch. 'What happens to sport in Scotland after the games hype fades?' is a good question ... nice to know the Herald is keeping our feet on the ground. This also looks like an early edition.

There has been some first class work by the writers, subs, designers and photographers again ... and there is a whole lot more inside. Hopefully people will not just admire the great designs but go out and buy copies of the newspapers.

Thanks as always to @suttonnick #tomorrowspaperstoday 


  1. What about The People? I thought it was a terrific pic, better than all the smiling Jess's with medal/flag. Overworked headline but still my pick of the bunch.

  2. An interesting piece but I have to take issue with a few of your observations:

    [1] I'm a big fan of The Observer but don't see anything at all remarkable about their Jess Ennis front page. Indeed, I'd go as far as to say, it's distinctly average.

    For what it's worth, I reckon it'd be a whole lot better if you: shifted Jess to the left and the Britain's Greatest Day text to the right; cut out the very top of her head and overlapped the masthead, which would be better if it was in gold [with the other headings in an alternative colour].

    [2] I think the Telegraph's front page is a mess. There's already far too much going on at the top of the page without putting "Sensational!' over the pic. It would, IMO, have worked far better sandwiched between the main image and the set of five pics with the bulk of the copy turned inside.

    [3] I think the Sunday Times' photo of Greg Rutherford is spectacular and, that being the case, can understand the desire to use it on the front page. I don't agree that the phrase 'our finest [Olympic] hour' would be taken to mean our finest 60 minutes, nor that anyone with any interest in the Games - and who, one presumes, would have watched the preceding night's events - would take it to refer solely to Rutherford.

    [4] I like the Independent front page but not the juxtaposition of the red, white and blue masthead with the flag which, I think, is messy. Once again, I reckon a gold masthead could have added an extra dimension and heightened the page's aesthetic.

    [5] I think you're being too kind to the MoS when you say 'it looks like it was put together in a rush' and the fact that even the Sunday Express' front page is markedly better says it all!

    Just my thoughts like!