EVALUATION OF NEWSPAPER DESIGN: THE CASE OF THREE CAMEROON NEWSPAPERS
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Background to the study
In recent years, newspapers have published coverage of special events or a wide range of topics of interest. Individual sections are described irregularly or numerically and addressed frequently, typically once a week, but occasionally fortnightly or monthly.
According to National Library of Australia (2002), newspapers are printed on newsprint paper, usually appear without a cover and folded that come together with a masthead. They may contain supplements such as colour magazines, or other inserts for special emphasis on certain main items or events.
Newspaper design techniques have evolved significantly starting from the colonial era in 1690, during this period; the design technique was “book style designs”. During the 1850st which was considered as the traditional design era, the design technique was called larger format design. (AJEEP Tim Mitchell, 2013)
During the optimum format era, the designed technique was the evolved design technique (1937) with better technologies available. Finally, in the redesigned era which is the present time, digital allows design ideas to flourish (AJEEP Tim Mitchell, 2013)
During the second half of the 1990s the first page of French daily newspapers truly became the front page for most of them, i.e. not only reflecting the selected reality by journalists but also becoming the central feature of a newspaper’s design and identity.
This is the result of a long process of ‘professionalization’, which began in the 1970s. Traditionally, the different sections of the paper did not really exist yet and politics, economics, general information and sport were in competition for newspaper space.
Papers were organized in a vertical layout until the end of the 1970s. However, the reconstruction of the social environment, as well as of politics, were amongst a number of elements that encouraged editors to provide a better ‘constructed’, ‘clearer’ journalistic product.
The gradual specialization of political journalists, for example, was concomitant with the appearance of rhetoric of ‘critical expertise’, and of ‘society’ services, which divided politics into big policy issues while political correspondents began to focus on political parties and the declarations made by political actors (NICOLAS HUBÉ2014)
Journalism occurs within a social context. People and society rely on accurate and credible reporting of events (KOVACH; ROSENSTIEL, 2014). Without the news, we would have understood only a small portion of the information given to us in our everyday lives.
There is therefore a demand for specialized broadcasting media which, in turn, justifies the existence of journalism. The profession has evolved on the basis of its “specific role of disseminating information about everyday life” (FRANCISCATO, 2005, p. 36), and thus, having greater cultural and social significance in the places where it works.
Similar to the manner in which the printing press has become available on the Internet, the form in which the news is absorbed has also evolved. Printed presses are losing space to digital media and, as a result, the gathering, processing and delivery of content is continually innovating.
While the first online editions were faithful reproductions of the printed type, modern platforms are eliminating the texture, thickness, scent and other features of the paper and are replaced by screens of different formats GRUSZYNSKI et al (2016).
Béguin-Verbrugge (2009) maintains that the information is not tangible, is only measurable through its verbalization or the application of any assistance. Its type of support and application types, which render it visible, are both design items. Yet the realization, filing and dissemination of information is still the result of journalistic work. Thus, “its objective crystallizes a body of evidence that reveals the status of the information it brings to the society that uses it” (BÉGUIN-VERBRUGGE, 2009, p. 38)
Brazil’s major newspapers have made many graphical improvements since 2008. Some journals such as Folha de São Paulo decided to use this phenomenon as a tactic for exposure in this sense (GRUSZYNSKI, 2012). In other contexts, major investments have been made in recruiting firms specializing in the creation of new visual ventures that underline the value of graphics among all improvements made.
The graphic form of a written newspaper is part of the correspondence pact between the publisher and its subscribers. Gäde (2002) claims that readers’ confidence in the material of a publication is connected to the manner in which the original and genuine visual component is displayed to them, how it is perceived: taking into account the texture and consistency of the paper, the quality of the printing, the way in which the items are organized on the page, and so on.
The recurrent graphic arrangement makes the periodical familiar, even when the material varies entirely from one day to the next. Design is strategic to direct the reader’s eyes across the page, since the arrangement of the graphic elements will describe the various reading motions (GRUSZYNSKI, 2011).
Graphic preparation serves as a mediator that provides structure to the periodical, while structuring the organisation and hierarchy of informative elements according to the requirements of the editors.
According to Golin and Cardoso (2010, p. 9), one of the striking aspects of journalistic approach is the visual appearance, where “historically, this segment uses graphic design as a form of discursive differentiation.”
The opinion of one of the newspapers photography editors, Jefferson Botega (2011), reveals a paradox. At the same time that there is no doubt about the importance of the role of the picture in the newspaper, he mentioned that the staff of photographers has been diminishing throughout the years at Zero Hora.
Additionally, Botega (2011) revealed that many newspapers have not been investing in their own photographic coverage and, as a result they will not have different registers of a certain fact, from a particular point of view, since most pictures have the same origin and the material contributed by the newspaper itself is limited. In fact, a recurring approach to the layout we saw during our observations was that the composition of the pages had the picture as a starting
Virtually the whole industry clings to outdated graphic types, as Philip Ritzenberg, design editor of the now-defunct New York News, wrote in Print in 1971: “Virtually the entire industry clings to archaic graphic forms.
While newspaper journalism continues to change and grow, the average newspaper itself still resembles a bulletin board hung with shreds of information, disorder passing for spontaneity, stridency passing for immediacy.” It eventually dawned on them that they could not relate as well as or better than TV, which had undergone rapid improvements for the better of Ong, Peter (1987).
In the mid-2000s, the invention of social media and the rise of online journalism prompted many a think piece about the inevitable death of the newspaper. With ad revenues and subscriptions in decline, it seemed like the printed paper would soon be a thing of the past.
Instead, what we have seen is a rethink of the newspaper format. Print is now just one part of a multiplatform approach to reporting that includes video, social media and even VR and editors have had to question the newspaper’s role in a world where most of us consume news on a digital device. This has also prompted a rethink of the way newspapers are designed.
The Guardian redesigned its print edition to offer a more focused and curated reading experience, while the New York Times has introduced special print-only sections and Transform its weekly magazine.
Newspaper designers today have to think not just about making the news legible but offering a reading experience that other mediums cannot. A new book from Gestalten offers a comprehensive look at the changing face of newspapers through in-depth case studies and insights from leading editorial designers and raises some thought-provoking questions about the medium. As clearly shown in this study, the study hopes to look at newspaper design, taking a case of some selected newspapers in Cameroon.
1.2 Statement of the problem
It should be noted that Design techniques provide a way to maintain consistent layout placement in Newspapers. Lack of equipments to aid newspaper publishers to carry out their Design, Even though the world is advancing technologically; some newspapers in Cameroon still don’t have good Equipment to use for Design. Again, professionalism is at the core of Newspaper designs, Designing a newspaper requires some technological talent, most Newspaper publishers do not recruit professional designers, most newspapers are being designed by Amateur designers. This is a great problem identified in this study
Another identified in this research is the challenges faced by some selected newspaper publishing house in their design and redesign in Cameroon. News paper designs techniques tend to hinder rather than aid the papers’ main aim.
Design helps to communicate to readers and to attract readers. However, design goes deeper than the visual and clean, good looks. It is the successful marriage of visual elements such as typography, photography, colour, illustrations, information graphics and white space with good editing, taste and judgment. Done successfully, it attracts the reader and then gives him the information faster and easier.
1.3 Research Questions
The research questions of this study are divided into the main research question and the specific research questions
1.3.1 Main research Question
- How are newspapers designed
1.3.2 Specific Research Questions
- How does newspaper design techniques communicate information faster to the public
- What are the challenges faced by newspaper publishers in Cameroon
- What recommendations can be made to combat these challenges
1.4 Hypothesis or propositions/assumptions.
H01: Good newspaper design has a great influence on the sales of newspapers in Cameroon
H01: Good newspaper design does not a great influence on the sales of newspapers in Cameroon
H02: Newspaper designers face significant challenges in Cameroon
H02: Newspaper designers do not face significant challenges in Cameroon
1.5 Objectives of the study.
1.5.1 Main objective
- The main objective of this study is to critically evaluate newspaper design
1.5.2 Specific objectives
- To look at how newspaper design techniques communicate information faster to the public
- To identify the challenges faced by newspaper publishers in Cameroon in adopting a design technique
- To proposed recommendations to combat these challenges