How the world covered the death of a giant

Newspapers around the world carried a tribute to freedom fighter Nelson Mandela on the weekend; we've spoken to CEO Mark Hollands, a former metro daily editor and one of Australia's top newspaper graphic professionals to hear their opinion.

How the world covered the death of a giantNelson Mandela waving during a rally in Osaka, western Japan, in October 1990. The former South African president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate who waged a long and ultimately victorious struggle against apartheid died on Dec. 5, 2013. He was 95. Picture: AAP

A simple message is often the most powerful, particularly when recording a moment in history.

The editor’s main tool of trade in these instances is a powerful image that combines with carefully selected words and design to capture an emotion and the significance of that moment in time.

With the passing of Nelson Mandela, the stature of the man who emerged from 27 years jail to heal the wounds of apartheid demanded world-wide front-page attention.

Many reverted to black-and-white not only as a mark of respect, but because the sharp contrast helped tell the story of a man arrested over acts of violence who became a global symbol of the power of peace and compassion.

Here, The Newspaper Works CEO Mark Hollands, former News Corp Australia editor Ian Moore and an experienced newspaper designer give their views of the world’s front pages:

aAdelaide

The Advertiser, Australia

Mark Hollands, CEO of The Newspaper Works

“The lighting of this photograph makes the front page. You need a lot of faith in your printer to make sure it achieves maximum impact.

“The quote is a cracker because it not only sums up the Mandela philosophy but the man himself.

“I do not they have open quote marks, but not closed ones. I’m putting that down to artistic licence.”

Ian Moore, former editor of Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Herald Sun

“The black background and the face the world remembers sets the right tone for a commemorative edition while the choice of quote sums up his life in his own words.

“However the distraction of a pointer to such lesser events as a cricket Test in this case works against the page’s impact.”

Graphics professional

“Traditional newspaper layout that is simple in its approach, yet still communicates well.”

SMHThe Sydney Morning Herald, Australia

Mark Hollands, CEO of The Newspaper Works

“Busier than most, but crucially with a broadsheet you have to think about the fold.

“What is above the fold is a full commitment to the image. And that’s what readers see when they unfurl the paper from its home delivery wrapping, or stacked in a newsagent.

“I like the idea that the italic text starts above the fold and then lures the reader to want to know what is written below the fold.

“That Malcolm Fraser has written the main article is something, personally, I could take or leave.

“The Herald has great writers.”

Ian Moore, former editor of Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Herald Sun

“It does the job, but the image is not a great one, with a lot of dead space.

“It was also a mistake to move the masthead from its usual spot at the top of the page.”

Graphics professional

“A great layout that works on multiple levels – excellent balance between image and text areas, breakout photos provide extra depth and panels and breakouts guide the reader seamlessly across the page.

“Outstanding.”

TheAgeThe Age, Australia

Mark Hollands, CEO of The Newspaper Works

“Classic execution.

“Very strong.

“Damn that pesky barcode!”

Ian Moore, former editor of Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Herald Sun

“The simplest treatment and one of the most effective.”

Graphics professional

“Great image with skilful use of duotone to enhance the solemness of the moment.

“A simple approach leading to a great outcome.”

aDominionPostThe Dominion Post, New Zealand

Mark Hollands, CEO of The Newspaper Works

“A front page of celebration rather than mourning.

“I’m guessing there’s some Photoshop action for the background as it has a halo effect.

“But the smile and brightly coloured shirt are how many will remember Mandela.”

Ian Moore, former editor of Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Herald Sun

“One of the few papers that went with colour, but it is a little too sparse.

“It would have been better if the name and timeline were above the quote.

“As it is, it is lost against the black in the ad.”

Graphics professional

“A simple and colourful design that relies on the photo to tell the story … perhaps a little too much.”

aUsaTodayUSA Today, United States

Mark Hollands, CEO of The Newspaper Works

“USA Today front pages have been like this pretty much every day since I first saw the paper in the mid-80s.

“Back then, it charted new and exciting territory in design and colour.

“Not anymore.

“They could have shown a little more imagination.

“That said, it is a highly stylised newspaper, and in such environments there are rules. Doesn’t mean I like it.

“What is that blue circle about?

“On the plus side, the ad shape at the bottom of the page did catch my eye.”

Ian Moore, former editor of Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Herald Sun

“It pays homage to the big story, but it is diminished by the scattergun array of pointers.”

Graphics professional

“Whilst this is a text heavy page 1, it could have tried harder with a more visually compelling image and better use of typography.

“The flow from lead image to text doesn’t quite work.”

aTorontoStarToronto Star, Canada

Mark Hollands, CEO of The Newspaper Works

“A slightly different approach.

“I’m not sure that the pale blue panel really adds much to the design. Looks a bit “stuck on” to me.

“However, perhaps this is in the design style of the rest of the paper.”

Ian Moore, former editor of Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Herald Sun

“Right quote, right treatment – but the reader can’t fail to be distracted by the mass of type at the top of the page.”

Graphics professional

“A large format image dominates this design with strong supporting typography, which perhaps could have been more skilfully placed to break up the text heavy nature of the top of the page.”

aTheGuardianThe Guardian, United Kingdom

Mark Hollands, CEO of The Newspaper Works

“A wonderful portrait, complemented by simple design and execution.

“The succinct, factual summary gets the job done.

“If I saw that on the news-stand, I’d pick it up.”

Ian Moore, former editor of Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Herald Sun

“All the right boxes have been ticked, but it still fails to stand out from the pack.”

Graphics professional

“A clean design that utilises an engaging image, complimented with subtle typography.”

aTheIndependentThe Independent, United Kingdom

Mark Hollands, CEO of The Newspaper Works

“Black and white photography always evokes emotion in me.

“I’m sure those who know about this stuff can explain, but there is just something about black and white photographs that hold me longer.

“And that’s why I like this approach to The Independent’s front page.”

Ian Moore, former editor of Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Herald Sun

“A powerful statement that shows what The Guardian did wrong.”

Graphics professional

“A boldly executed front page that allows the image to take centre stage, so much so that a headline is not needed with skilfully placed quote supporting the image.”

DeVolkskrantDe Volkskrant, The Netherlands

Mark Hollands, CEO of The Newspaper Works

“This is a very strong front.

“One of my favourites in this bunch.

“The thick black rules offer the respect of the death of a great man.

“The photo – again in black and white – is striking. Perhaps not as much as the fist alone.

“Nonetheless, a great execution.”

Ian Moore, former editor of Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Herald Sun

“An interesting choice of photo which suggests vulnerability; a hint of human weakness in a great leader, which works to draw the reader in.

“A case should have been mounted to put the ubiquitous bar code on the back page.”

Graphics professional

“Great image which is enhanced with a tight crop.

“Contrast between black and white provides structure and makes you want to read more.”

aDeMorgenDe Morgen, Belgium

Mark Hollands, CEO of The Newspaper Works

“Less impressed with this one.

“The portrait is good but I get a sense of a superiority that does not really personify the man as he is remembered and celebrated.

“A contemporary design utilising white space well combined with a strong photograph to create a balanced and engaging layout.”

Ian Moore, former editor of Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Herald Sun

“A sombre treatment, but the deep etch without a rule around the page lessens the impact.

“What a difference a 2pt can make.”

Graphics professional

“A contemporary design utilising white space well combined with a strong photograph to create a balanced and engaging layout.”

aPublicoLisbonPúblico, Portugal

Mark Hollands, CEO of The Newspaper Works

“Love this. Just love it.”

Ian Moore, former editor of Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Herald Sun

“One fist in the air becomes a metaphor for one man’s life struggle.

“Full points for creativity, but did it work on the newsstands?”

Graphics professional

“A beautifully crafted page that takes a vastly different approach to all others.

“The photograph dominates the page and is complimented by thoughtful typography.

“A picture really does tell a thousand words in this case.”

aGazetaWyborcaGazeta Wyborcza, Poland

Mark Hollands, CEO of The Newspaper Works

“Not really familiar with this newspaper, but the treatment of its masthead caught my eye, and not in a particularly good way.

“They have gone for narrative and a photo, which is a perfectly decent approach.

“The thick black keyline offers the traditional approach to the death of a global figure.

“This one won’t stay in the memory.”

Ian Moore, former editor of Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Herald Sun

“A clean, modern design that allows every element on the page to do its job.

“The other pointers on the page do not distract from the main story – a major achievement.”

Graphics professional

“A tightly cropped image that works well with the very typographic headline.

“Picture and text area are perfectly balanced to create a nicely structured page.”

aSowetanSowetan, South Africa

Mark Hollands, CEO of The Newspaper Works

“Safe.

“But then, was there anything else that needed to be said for the good folks of Soweto?

“Probably not.”

Ian Moore, former editor of Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Herald Sun

“It struggles to express an emotion.

“The page’s sparseness almost suggests the paper was overwhelmed by the story.”

Graphics professional

“A very intimate design that focuses on a simple message.

“This design doesn’t try to be anything other than a simple goodbye.”

Have we missed any fantastic ones? Which was your favourite of the ones above? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

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