Choose Something: The making of an award winning newspaper front page

Brexit. It dominated all our thoughts for so many months, it’s hard to thing how it could have been eclipsed.

But there’s always a bigger fish, and COVID-19 came. It has been centre to our focus, as one might understand.

Yet Brexit hasn’t gone away. It has been like a virus in its own right, stealthily waiting for its moment to do most damage. We will be hearing all about it again all too soon.

Brexit was all consuming for a while in media land though. With print and digital editions to consider, I’d wake at 5am, drive to Glasgow, returning around 11pm or occasionally later as the late night votes in the Houses of Parliament continued.

While working as assistant editor at The Herald and Herald on Sunday, the editorial line dictated by the Editor-in-Chief was one of neutrality on the whole.

But as a paper with gravitas, some days it had to make a stand. Not necessarily partisan or waving a flag of one hue or another, but it had a responsibility in my view to articulate the majority feeling of its readership.

It lead to a series of front pages, poster style, different from what people had become used to.

They were collegiate. An idea would be suggested, designs would conceived, words would be edited and edited again, until a consensus was agreed.

Not every day, but there were moments.

And so, under the watchful eye of a BBC documentary crew who were embedded in the office at the time, an idea was floated.

It was around the idea of the famous ‘Trainspotting: Choose Life’ movie monologue.

Words that had been rattling around in my head for weeks. A desire to break the mould and do something ‘stand-out’ that might even win front page of the year.

Of course, it might be controversial, so a plan was hatched.

Andy Clark, perhaps one of the greatest newspaper talents in Scotland right now, ‘got it’ immediately. So too Mark Eadie, the anchor of the Herald in a sea of daily chaos, and Damian Shields, the deputy picture editor and artist in his own right.

Mock-ups were made to try and sell them to the editor-in-chief Donald Martin who although he operates a newsroom that offers great autonomy and freedom to create, would need to have the final say.

In the end, it didn’t make the broadsheet edition, which could have been spectacular.

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Andy Clark instead turned it into a special for the compact sized Sunday edition he edited, to make it work.

It was trending on social media, got rave reception on newspaper reviews, and put a real spring in the step of all involved.

This month, it was named UK Regional Press Awards Font Page of the Year.

This clip tells the story of how it came about and the brilliant efforts of the team to make it happen.

Much has changed since then, but hopefully it will be something for all involved to look back on some day with a sense of achievement and remembering that even as newspapers change, there are always fun times along the way.



Categories: Blogs, Front Pages, Latest News

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