Wow. Tornado season started early this year.
After storms late Tuesday and early Wednesday ripped through the Midwest and South, killing 13, another wave moved across that same region Friday. This time, 38 people were killed in five states.
The hardest-hit area was along the border of Indiana and Kentucky, as you can see in this map from today’s Indianapolis Star.
A total of 19 were killed in Kentucky and 14 died in Indiana. In addition, another four were killed in Ohio, just a bit further downwind.
Here’s a look at today’s eight most powerful tornado front-page presentations.
First up is the Star. The combination of this brief but huge headline, three curt bullet points and then the enormous aerial photo of Marysville, Ind. — where the devastation just boggles your mind — made for an outstanding visual report.
The picture is by Michael Clevenger of the Star‘s sister paper in Louisville, Ky. The map is by the Star‘s Emily Kuzniar.
The huge picture on the front of Lexington today is of downtown West Liberty, Ky., and was shot by staffer John Flavell.
The headline turned out to be a good one: The deck right above it mentions “at least 12″ killed in Kentucky. As of this moment, that number is now 19.
The map seems just a little awkward because Kentucky shows county lines but Indiana does not.
Indianapolis led today with that awe-inspiring aerial from the Louisville paper, but the Courier-Journal itself didn’t use it. What could Louisville possibly have found better than that picture?
This one, perhaps, of a family surveying what’s left of their business in New Pekin, Ind.:
The picture is by staffer Matt Stone.
The page is quite good, despite the unfortunate ad that hampered what the editors could place downpage.
My biggest quibble with this page is the kerning of the main headline. Does this not bother you? It bothers me.
Big, one-word headlines like this nearly always need a little kerning help, folks. It only takes a second or two. Let’s take that second or two and get it right.
This picture by the Associated Press afront the Maysville, Ky., Ledger Independent of the middle school in Henryville — where the entire second floor was ripped away — I find terrifying.
That’s an awesome, chilling choice of photo and a dynamite design. I have just two quibbles:
- “Storm rages” doesn’t seem like a very descriptive headline. Does that hed need another word or something? Is “rages” an intransitive verb? Perhaps it is. But this doesn’t read well to me.
- Check out the headline on the story stripped across the bottom of the page. Yeah. The editors here had bigger problems than “Storm rages.”
TIMES OF NORTHWEST INDIANA
The Times also led today with a huge, terrifying shot of Henryville Middle School.
This one is by C.E. Branham of the Associated Press.
I could have done without the secondary picture of Marysville, Ind., residents walking down the street and gawking at damage. Surely there was something better to use here.
COURIER & PRESS
Instead of leading today with a wire photo of all the damage downstate, the Evansville paper went with a picture of a funnel cloud hovering over their own city.
The picture was submitted by a reader, Kelley Coures.
The Cincinnati paper — smack in the middle of all the mess — came up with a great headline and a great lead photo full of emotion.
The picture by staffer Patrick Reddy shows a pajama-clad woman in Northern Kentucky’s Boone County, frantically searching through the rubble of her home for two puppies. The cutline tells us the two puppies were found by a neighbor.
I love the way the crop of that picture puts the emphasis on the woman. But if you zoom out on that crop, we see something very interesting in a plastic tub in front of the woman.
Which brings up a number of questions:
- Were there a total of five puppies?
- Were the two puppies found by the neighbor before this picture was taken?
- Did cropping in on this photo make writing a quick cutline — without going into great detail — virtually impossible?
You have to admit, seeing the woman with the puppies there in front of her changes your entire impression of the picture. Instead of a distraught animal lover fearing the worst, she looks like she’s overcome with gratitude and relief.
So while I like the front very much, I’m a bit troubled by how the crop might — or might not — have messed around with the original picture.
For what it’s worth, the headline on this page has similar — but not quite as dire — a problem with kerning as did the Louisville page.
Our eighth and final page today is one that did not appear in the Newseum today. It’s the Huntsville Times, a paper where staffers certainly got a lot of practice last year with tornado front pages.
The lead picture by staffer Dave Dieter — as well as the secondary shot by staffer Eric Schultz — shows folks picking through their damaged homes. Note the mobile home in the background of the lead picture, untouched by the tornado.
Particularly hard-hit in the Huntsville area was the little town of Harvest. As Steve Doyle and Paul Gattis report in that story down the right side of today’s front:
James and Judy Hodges were finally putting the drama of last Aprilâ€™s tornadoes behind them.
The $65,000 remodeling job on their home at the corner of Old Railroad Bed and Yarbrough roads turned out great. On Thursday, Judy Hodges wrote a check to begin paying off the coupleâ€™s brand new Ford Ranger, a 2011 tornado replacement as well.
â€œThe check was in the mailbox,â€ she said. â€œBut the mailbox ended up coming through the window.â€
A missing mailbox is the least of the Hodgesâ€™ troubles after their house took what appeared to be a direct tornado hit Friday morning.
With the exception of the Huntsville front — which came from that paper — the rest are all from the Newseum. Of course.