“The quality of newspaper design is declining nationwide.”

Print’s Regional Design Annual 1997

True.

Most of today’s newspapers are devoid of inspiration. Creativity is stifled by the facts-only bias of current newspaper design philosophy. Vision is killed by dull headlines, insipid photos, the deadline designers have to meet and the deadlines no one meets for them.

Too much, designers abdicate to orthodoxy, defer to the heavy harness and thick blinders of the newspaper stylebook and do their design-by-the-numbers.

Micro-managing editors, immersed in word-centric Journalism 101 dictates, mesmerized by their visually crippled city-desk experience, and motivated by fear of the phone call from boss or reader, force pages into non-threatening creative wastelands, devoid of all but a dispassionate regurgitation of factual information displayed in pre-ordained structure and formatted solutions.

Everywhere, the technician is celebrated over the artist.

And designers are bored.

Bored, they design boring pages.

Design is more than creating throw-away textbooks of last-second history or impotent newsletters of hints, lists and briefs targeting the lowest common denominator.

Design is so much more.

In a world of textbooks, what of poetry?


[For complete paper, use “download PDF” button above. Control-click to save linked file to desktop.]

paper 1 info This design manifesto was my handout for the 1997 Design/Type/Color Seminar at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies.
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