Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Terror in Westminster: The front pages

Like thousands of others I followed the evolving terror attack in Westminster glued to Twitter and flicking between Sky News and the BBC. It is on days like this when I still miss being in the newsroom. But despite the digital and broadcast saturation, there is still an crucial role for the newspapers. They may no longer break the news but the analysis, the comment, the perspective and the in-depth writing is to be found in print. There are also, inevitably, some compelling front pages. 

There are also some very powerful photographs and it must have been a tough call in the newsroom choosing which to use. It is close but the defining image for me is the picture of a bloodied Foreign Office minister Tobias Ellwood giving CPR to a policeman. It is a stunning image. 

The Guardian certainly thinks so too and uses one of the Ellwood images on its front under the headline Terror in Westminster.

The Sun is particularly powerful. It chooses the image of the dead or dying terrorist on a stretcher on Page 1 but uses the Ellwood picture on the back. The paper focuses on the individuals - the attacker and the policeman. Both images are used as full page wipe-outs. Coverage worthy of the story.

The Daily Mail also goes for the terrorist and has the strongest crop. The power of coming tight in on the image is evident. It also uses the picture at the top and the headline at the bottom ... the right way round. 

The other compelling image is that of the terrorist on the ground, a policeman holding a gun to him and two knives on the pavement. This is favoured by Metro which adds the 'We are not afraid' slogan to its titlepiece.

The Times takes the opposite approach. It is the same picture used by Metro but instead of zooming in on the policeman and attacker, it sets the scene.  Look at the policeman running. The photograph captures a sense of perspective ... and chaos. There may be a lot of cobbles but it works. 

The Eastern Daily Press makes a late change once the dead policeman, Keith Palmer, was named. A very sad and strong front.  

The Press and Journal uses a different crop on the picture used by The Times and Metro and updates the number of people who were killed.  

The regional newspapers also see the power of the Ellwood image. The Daily Echo in Bournemouth and the Yorkshire Evening Post are among those who go with it. Strong headline in the YEP too.

In the heat of the moment the i newspaper used a graphic picture of blood trickling from a man's boot. It was a brutal image which I won't show here. The paper soon changed its mind though and produced an 'improved' front page with the Ellwood image. Good call.

The digital Independent goes for a similar approach to Metro - the image, headline and bullets look familiar.

The Daily Express also goes for the same image, muzzing the faces. It might have cropped a bit tighter and sky-ed the picture ... but a strong image nonetheless. 

The Daily Mirror also has the image used by the Sun - the attacker dead or dying on a stretcher in the street - and a powerful headline too. 

The Mirror's sister Paper the Daily Record uses the same image but crops it tighter and goes for a different headline approach.

The Daily Telegraph also goes with the stretcher picture - full width of a broadsheet - but it is driven under the fold by the headline and the bullets. It might have pushed it up the page.

The Daily Star uses the image at the top and, like Metro, adopts the 'We are not afraid' slogan.

My old paper, The Northern Echo, takes a similar approach to The Times but crops a little tighter. 

The Cambridge News goes for an interesting angle ... solidarity with the capital. Not sure why they have done it in black and white though ... especially as the advert is in colour. 

The Birmingham Mail goes for a strong local angle. 

The Evening Standard rightly ran a late edition, showing the crashed car on Westminster Bridge. Had it happened in two months time I guess the editor would have been locked down in the House of Commons rather than in the newsroom. It doesn't matter though - his team know what they are doing.

Metro also put together an afternoon online newspaper - free to download. Quick-thinking and a nice job.

The story stretches across Europe too - although the papers don't quite capture the drama in the same way.

It has been a terrible day of tragedy, stoicism and heroism. Well done to the emergency services, to Tobias Ellwood, to the doctors and nurses St Thomas' Hospital and to those who kept us informed. 

Thanks, as always, to Tomorrow's Paper's Today.  

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