In the future, whenever you think of the horrifying tragedy Monday in Oklahoma, you’ll remember this image:
That was shot in Moore, Okla., by Sue Ogrocki of the Associated Press.
Sue’s first-person story is downright chilling:
I expected chaos as I approached the piles of bricks and twisted metal where Plaza Towers Elementary once stood. Instead, it was calm and orderly as police and firefighters pulled children out one by one from beneath a large chunk of a collapsed wall.
Parents and neighborhood volunteers stood in a line and passed the rescued children from one set of arms to another, carrying them out of harm’s way. Adults carried the children through a field littered with shredded pieces of wood, cinder block and insulation to a triage center in a parking lot.
They worked quickly and quietly so rescuers could try to hear voices of children trapped beneath the rubble.
The way to play that photo — no matter where your paper was located today — was to run it big and get the hell out of its way. You’ll notice the similarities between how my former paper and my current paper built the top of page one today.
On the left is the Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk, Va., circulation 142,476. On the right is Scott Albert’s take in the Orange County Register of Santa Ana, Calif., circulation 280,812.
Several other papers also elected to give that same picture prominent play on page one today — and with a variation of that same headline. Click any of these — or any page here today — for a larger look.
- Los Angeles Daily News, circulation 94,016
- Chattanooga (Tenn.) Times Free Press, circulation 75,336
- Harrisburg, Pa., Patriot-News, circulation 70,446
- Cincinnati (Ohio) Enquirer, circulation 144,165
And several papers paired their “devastation” headlines with this equally moving picture by Paul Hellstern of the Oklahoman of Oklahoma City, of teachers walking students away from the rubble of their school.
Do yourself a favor, folks, and don’t look too closely at that photo. Especially at the bruised and bleeding faces of those heroic teachers. Especially if you’re married to a teacher.
On the left is the Forum of Fargo, N.D., circulation 45,298. On the right is the Chronicle of Augusta, Ga., circulation 55,444.
Just to show you didn’t have to use “devastation” in your headline today, here are four more pages using that same Oklahoman picture, but with different — and wonderful — headline treatments.
- Newark, N.J., Star-Ledger, circulation 278,940
- Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald, circulation 135,223
- Des Moines (Iowa) Register, circulation 101,915
- Chicago (Ill.) Tribune, circulation 414,590
Here are three that used the Sue Ogrocki photo, but with different headlines.
- Los Angeles (Calif.) Times, circulation 616,575
- Minneapolis, Minn., Star Tribune, circulation 300,330
- Detroit (Mich.) Free Press, circulation 232,696
In particular, I love how the Free Press headline puts an additional terrifying spin on an already alarming story. What I don’t like is how far down the page that story is shoved by the hockey skybox.
On the other hand, the hockey story a) is local, and b) will sell a lot of papers. Note how the picture is moved below the fold, but that dynamite headline will peek out of a news rack. Nicely played.
Even the New York City tabloids today created what I call “regional twins.”
If I had to choose between the two, I’d argue the Daily News (left, circulation 595,636) shows the scope of the devastation behind the woman and child. The size and position of the headline on the Post (right, circulation 555,327) hides a important part of the photo.
Now, let’s turn our attention to the papers in Oklahoma…
The suburb of Oklahoma City that was struck Monday — Moore — was hit hard 14 years ago in a storm people there remember very clearly. Which explains the headline used today by the Tulsa World.
You already know I love the photo and the “play it big” treatment. The above-the-headline bullet points are a nice touch here.
PERRY DAILY JOURNAL
I realize this is a tiny, tiny daily paper. But still, given the enormity of Monday’s events, this is perhaps the most unfortunate headline of the day.
From what I can tell, the story — and presumably the headline — was written before Monday’s storms struck.
“Nightmare” sums up Monday on the front of the Norman paper today.
Instead of leading with school photos, the Transcript went with a photo of a woman being pulled from the rubble of a medical center in Moore. That seems an odd choice, given the number of victims at the school. The photo in the bottom left corner is a Sue Ogrocki picture from the school, but credited only to the “Associated Press.”
Oklahoma City, Okla.
The headline atop today’s Oklahoman made me stop and scratch my head.
I’m told this is a reference to the big storm that ripped through Oklahoma City in 1999. Locals get it.
However, one correspondent told me this morning:
In fact it was not worse than the tornado on May 3, 1999.
If that turns out to be the case, then someone might regret this headline.
MY WORK FROM MONDAY
I’ll close with some of my own work from Monday.
I was working away on my next Focus page for the Orange County Register, here in Southern California, when our news editor wondered if we could pull together some information on what is a tornado and how dangerous they can be for today’s paper. They have a few waterspouts in these parts, but actual tornadoes are quite rare. So a backgrounder seemed in order.
It was around 3 p.m. I dumped what I was working on and jumped on it.
Luckily, I’ve done tornado graphics many, many times in the past. (And some of you will remember this blog post from March in which I explained why I’m so well-read on this topic.) So I knew where to go for statistical data. In addition, one of my colleagues here had done a nice “how a tornado is formed” graphic that beat hell out of the most recent one I had done. So I used his as a starting point.
Here is the resulting graphic, which ran on page three of today’s paper. Click, of course, for a larger view.
I didn’t want to interfere with whatever my friends on the A-section desk were doing with live coverage, so I stayed away from pictures of Monday’s tornado — which was of a less photogenic type, anyway, from what I can see in the videos. As the little caption says, there, in the bottom right: That is a tornado that was photographed Sunday near Wichita, Kansas.
Down the right side is a series of graphics that show how a tornado forms and — most importantly, for folks here in California — how they can spot them on radar and give people in their path early warning.
On the left is a look at stats: The ten deadliest, a month-by-month look at numbers over the past three-and-a-half years. See the two bars that stick way out to the right? Those are the months that produced the tornadoes in Tuscaloosa, Huntsville and Joplin.
In particular, I liked the bit that shows “tornado alley” and “Dixie alley,” where these storms are more frequent.
This was the first time I’ve built one of these pages on short notice, off the day’s news.
Today’s front page images are all from the Newseum. Of course.