There’s mixed reaction to yesterday’s Washington Post Style section and its design (the section was made to look as if it had been shot with bird shot…Oh, sorry, you didn’t hear? Yeah, the vice president apparently shot somebody in the face…)
On the Post’s internal critique boards, Associate Editor Gene Robinson wrote:
[W]hen I saw the page this morning I nearly gagged on my coffee with glee. The buckshot effect is terrific, unexpected and laugh-out-loud funny, especially with the illustration of the quail (which the shooter seems to have missed). Both stories are classic Style stories — Hunter writing as only Hunter can, on the primal satisfaction and codified etiquette of hunting; and Leibovich on the buzz. A package for the ages.
Style’s Chief Art Critic–obviously–agreed. Said Blake Gopnik:
Today’s shot-peppered Style front was the most daring, exciting piece of design I’ve seen in the paper. And then when I turned inside, and saw that the shot had gone RIGHT THROUGH the section, I realized that I was in the presence of some design genius I hadn’t come across before, clearly with a substantial background in conceptual art. My compliments to Herr (or Frau) Genius
I think today’s visual treatment in Style is brave, inspired, smart, hilarious–characteristics that define us when we’re at our best. Even better, the stories “underneath” the graphics were just as good. I can’t imagine another daily newspaper capable of pulling that off.
Sure they can pull it off, but should they?
Says Financial Desk Copy Editor Philip Blancard (who clearly is not afraid to lob spitballs at the paper’s higher-ups when he’s not copy editing):
Even in Style, a “humorous” treatment of the “hunting accident” was inappropriate. There is nothing — absolutely nothing — funny about being shot. In addition, the spots on the page look like a printing error.
Here’s one thought: If the press is, in part, beating up on Scott McClellan & Co. for their failure to treat this story seriously (even, apparently, laughing about it), does the Post’s attempt at design humor/creativity only reinforce the notion that this is a light-hearted story?