It wasn’t enough that legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno had announced he would step down at the end of this season. The growing — and shocking — child abuse scandal that happened right beneath his nose resulted in the university’s board of directors firing him immediately last night.
The verdict was reportedly delivered to JoPa over the phone. And then pandemonium erupted in the streets of State College. It was nasty there for a couple of hours before Paterno asked students to go home and study and cops broke up the rest with gas.
Although much of this happened late Wednesday, a number of papers in the region gave the story huge play on A1 today. Here’s a look at the best eleven of them.
The paper in Pennsylvania’s state capital played up the “by phone” angle in its headline. Also notable here is the use of the quote — we’ll see that again elsewhere today — and the wonderful lead photo.
Editor David Newhouse tells us:
The front was by our design editor Chris Boehke.
We had multiple images that our staff photographer Joe Hermitt had taken during the day at practice. He’s been coveringÂ Penn State for more than 10 years and the best there is at shooting Paterno and Penn State. Football practice is normally closed and we were the only media in the country that had the shots. Let’s just say Joe Hermitt knows where to stand, and leave it at that.
Anyway, Chris chose this one of Paterno pensively by himself and mocked up a page earlier in the evening, when we thought he had resigned.
As for the hed, throughout the day there was speculation that he might be fired last night. So it was unexpected, in one sense, but in another sense not a shock. But as we listened to our reporter Sara Ganim on the phone from State College telling us details, right after the trustees’ news conference, she said, “Oh, and they told Paterno by phone.” Everyone was stunned.
An hour later, as we gathered to rewrite the hed, I said, “What about the fact that he was fired by phone? The whole world will have tomorrow that he was fired, but that’s the detail that made our jaws drop when we heard it. Is it crazy to focus on that in our front page hed?”
Everyone agreed it was a bit of a leap, but all week we’ve stayed ahead of the story by zigging when the media horde zagged. So we went with the hed, which Chris crafted. It’s the periods that make it!
One more thing that’s interesting. Joe Hermitt was in just the right place outside Paterno’s house right after the announcement (of course) and got a great shot of a shaken and disgraced Paterno joining the crowd of students who had gathered in chanting “We ARE Penn State!”
Hermitt lobbied hard for that shot on the cover and we loved it. Unfortunately, the hed needed to say Paterno was fired and, whatever we tried, the shot then looked like Paterno was shaking his fist with anger – which he was not. So we couldn’t use it. Instead, we ran it 5 columns on our back page with the jump of the lead story.
The Harrisburg paper has pretty much owned this story. You’ll recall these pages from the past few days:
Very popular on front pages around the state today were shots of Paterno at games or practice, looking down — and, therefore, reflective. Or repentant.
The Reading Eagle made great use of this file shot from the Associated Press.
“Sad end” says it well.
Next up are the two papers owned by Calkins Media, which apparently share design resources. There are minor differences in the front pages, but they do share a common structure, built around an AP file photo.
The Levittown paper used its quote a little better, I think…
…plus, I like the riot photo by Matt Rourke of the Associated Press.
Over in Doylestown, putting the quote at the top of the lead photo took away from it a bit.
I also don’t think Doylestown’s riot photo is quite as strong. Interestingly, both riot photo captions quote the Twitter feed of the Penn State student newspaper.
The Inquirer used a photo of Paterno from a 2008 news conference, shot by Pat Little of the Associated Press.
What’s nice here, in addition to the great picture: The Penn State blue highlights and again, the same quote Harrisburg used today.
The Inky‘s Daily Sullivan tells us the Paterno centerpiece was…
…designed by Kevin Burkett with ideas contributed by Brian Leighton, John Duchneskie and Mike Placentra. Rest of the page by Steve Kelly.
And John tells us:
The main headline went through several changes as events changed through the day, from â€œENDGAMEâ€ to â€œTHE ENDâ€ to, finally, â€œFIRED.â€
PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS
Meanwhile, the Daily News also chose a file photo by Pat Little — this one shows Paterno leaving the football stadium offices after a 2010 press conference.
One of the better pages of the day, I think.
In terms of memorability, though, it would be very difficult to top the photo illustration on Wednesday’s front:
The folks in Stroudsburg used that same picture but with not nearly as much impact.
Having to dogleg the nearly-full-page package around that ad certainly didn’t help. As much as I dislike front-page ads, this example makes a powerful case for strip ads, as opposed to two-column rectangles.
Allentown built its front around a sideline shot from the files. The shooter was staffer Michael Kubel.
Note the way the deck lines up precisely with the word “Paterno” in the headline. Also notice the nice contrast created by dropping the deck back to grey. That keeps it from trying to overpower the main hed.
The tabloid paper in Wilkes-Barre chose a file game shot that seems a little washed-out. I hope it printed better than it looks in this jpg.
The red headline looks a little too bold, if that’s possible. I wonder what it would have looked like with a white headline, instead.
Hmm. Much better. But perhaps not enough impact. How about black, with a very think white stroke?
There. Still plenty of punch.
That’s the problem with red text: It can be a little too strong, sometimes. Especially at large sizes.
The Erie paper used the same AP file art that Reading used.
The fade to grey, however, seems a bit awkward here. I wonder if it might have been better to simply use a grey box in which to put the story, deck and refers.
And kudos to the Scranton paper for resisting the temptation to go with a nice, reflective file shot and instead focus on news pictures, shot on deadline last night.
The lead art here — by Gene J. Puskar of the Associated Press — shows Paterno and his wife thanking supporters in front of their home last night. Paterno then reportedly asked students to go back to their homes and dorms and study. A classy move.
The scary secondary art of a half-dozen cops in riot gear is by the AP’s Matt Rourke.
And — drawn, apparently, before the board fired Paterno last night — Here is an editorial cartoon that sums up the story nicely, by the Times-News‘ John Cole.
All of these page images are from the Newseum. Of course.