Sunday Editions: Sept. 15

Each week, newspapers put their best foot (and stories) forward in their Sunday editions. This week, the Chicago Tribune,  San Jose Mercury News and Minneapolis Star Tribune share their most recent projects.

(Click on any page for a larger look.)

The Chicago Tribune

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Chuck Burke, designer: “Youngest victims of street violence” is a story about a Chicago summer that saw an alarming number of little kids hit by stray bullets meant for other people.

Photographer Abel Uribe and a number of other Chicago Tribune reporters worked to earn the trust of several families with children who had been shot during a seven-week span of gun violence. The result is a heart-rending package of vignettes, portraits and documentary photos illustrating how these families are coping.

On Page 1, you just have to stay out of the way of a portrait like that. As a designer and editor, what you do is just as important as what you don’t do. The jump, where we showcase Abel’s documentary photography, needed to be organized but organic — narratives of varied lengths, images of varied textures. For everything we left out in the editing process, I would have loved to spread this story over four or more pages. But there’s a potency in meeting all of these kids in one doubletruck spread.

Here’s a behind-the-scenes account from Abel that includes a link to a documentary video we produced about these kids: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/tribnation/chi-little-victims-carry-lasting-scars-20130913,0,5993663.story

The San Jose Mercury News

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Bert Robinson, Managing Editor/Content: Much has been written about the devastating impacts of the defoliant Agent Orange on U.S. soldiers in Vietnam, and much assistance has been extended to them in the years since their exposure to the carcinogens it contained. But another group that suffered has been comparatively ignored: Vietnamese-Americans. Ngoc Nguyen, a reporter for the non-profit New America Media, set out to examine this disparity. She found that there is ample evidence Vietnamese Americans suffer disproportionately from the same cancers linked to Agent Orange. But, she discovered, the Vietnamese American community has resisted confronting the issue, in part because of a belief it would be blaming America for its misfortune, and thereby siding with the hated communist government of Vietnam. Ngoc brought her story to the Bay Area News Group because of the strong Vietnamese immigrant community in the Bay Area, and the news group’s history of writing about such issues.

Chris Gotsill, A1 designer: The story and staff photography we had at hand provided an interesting design challenge. How do you communicate that a man sitting on a bed surrounded by pills is a Vietnam War veteran?

We all thought the image was very powerful, but needed more context. I sent out some feelers to others in the newsroom, asking what secondary elements they thought would bring this package to life. The next day, we huddled with our managing editor, Bert Robinson. He suggested we find an archive image of Agent Orange being sprayed to tie it all together.

Photo editors Michael Malone and Jami Smith scoured the archives and came up with a few great images. I tried more than a few in early designs, but as soon as I popped the final image on the page, I knew it was the one.

The photo is very simple, but has nice depth and complexity with the defoliant contrails over a forest.
I like the way the plane in the lower right leads into the Vietnamese soldier on the bed.

The next challenge was to add layers of context to draw the readers in. We added a simple explainer box about what Agent Orange is and how veterans are compensated (or not) after exposure.

The drop quote in the shadows of the image point to the one group that has not admitted the problem: Vietnamese-Americans.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune

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Josh Crutchmer, designer: This has been an ongoing project for most of the past year for the folks on our Business team, headed up by Todd Stone, our business editor. It’s the first of four parts on a mini-revolution in medical devices, which is a significant industry in Minnesota, partly because of the Mayo Clinic and partly because of the University of Minnesota. The first part explored (largely anecdotally) how various lives have been altered — for better or for worse — by advances in medical devices. The presentation took care of itself because we got tremendous access and storytelling photos.

Have an interesting Sunday project to share? Email the PDFs and information to katherine.myrick@gmail.com.