Splash of ink with a difference

A hand-drawn front page of a leading regional newspaper has enjoyed widespread attention on social media.

Every element, including two ads and the copy of the splash, of a Bendigo Advertiser front page were crafted with pen and pencil by a cartoonist and a court reporter who won a newsroom audition for best hand-writing.

Editor Rod Case said he was inspired by a local writers’ festival.

“I wanted to do something different to create interest in the event and the newspaper,” he said. “We finished the page on deadline and then banged it up on social media.”

Crafted by hand: Bendigo Advertiser’s front page to celebrate a local writers’ festival

Crafted by hand: Bendigo Advertiser’s front page to celebrate a local writers’ festival

It quickly trended strongly on Twitter and Facebook, according to Trends Australia. “”We’re pretty thrilled with that,” said Mr Case of his August front page.

The Bendigo Advertiser, owned by Fairfax Media, is among several regional newspapers that push their content heavily on social media. It has increased its monthly views from 1.2 million to 4.5 million since Mr Case took the editorship three years ago.

“We like to be different,” said Mr Case of his newspaper. “I was a little nervous of how readers would react to this idea, but it was apparent pretty quickly that it was going to be a winner.”

Cartoonist Peter Broelman, who contributes to a number of regional Fairfax titles, was commissioned to re-draw the ads and puff boxes. The masthead was recreated by news director Ashley Fritsch, who taped a front page to a window and traced over it.

Mr Case then asked reporters to show him examples of their hand-writing without offering an explanation. “They were a little suspicious,” he confessed.

The job fell to Riahn Smith, a court reporter who joined the paper from the Shepparton News earlier this year.

Ms Smith had a few practice runs as the clock ticked towards deadline before getting it right.

She had help with the headline. “A couple of us are left-handed,” said Mr Case, “so if you look carefully, the splash headline is slightly smudged but that adds to the character.”

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