Size Matters

December 18, 2008 

"Good things come in small packages. Just ask my wife. She’ll tell ya," Herald sports editor Jeff Morrow proudly proclaimed recently, referring to his wife's petite frame.

The rest of the newsroom hilariously misinterpreted his meaning, which got me thinking:

Despite what some say, size does matter.

It's no secret that print media is struggling. Even before the current economic downturn, newspapers were facing hard times due to dwindling advertising revenue and falling circulation. One symptom of tightening the proverbial belts is the shrinking news hole, which is the empty space on the pages after ads are placed that we fill with content every day.

The sports section has felt this pinch as well, affecting how big our photos play.

With this knowledge in hand and because I'm such a helpful, friendly guy, I try to offer multiple options when possible. I dabbled enough in page design during college to know that it's a huge pain and that options are your friend. Plus, if there's only room to run a small photo, choosing a wide-angle shot will likely result in an unreadable photo.

When Sundowns opened another season back on April 5, my favorite shot from the first day at the track fit that description:

And while it showed the end of a race instead of the start, which this tighter panned shot showed:

What I did like about the wider shot was the symmetry and the sense of crowd size.

Nearly 6 months later to the day, Pasco hosted its Big Cross Country meet on Oct. 4. Again, a wider, more scenic shot with elements of symmetry caught my eye:

Pasco junior Marisa Vander Malle, right, and sophomore Danielle Friend of Ephrata finished the varsity girls competition in first and second.

And again, I feared it wouldn't read well if published small so I offered up a more standard running photo:

In both cases, I felt the tighter shot was a little lacking. The white bar and red truck in the horse race photo are distracting and the lighting sucks. The cross country photo is a little out of focus and doesn't contain the sense of competition that the scenic shot does.

Good things may sometimes come in small packages, but in the photo department bigger photos are always better.

But no amount of excited finger pointing and sales pitches could create more space in the sports section for my top choices and in both cases, the worse photo won.

In the end, it’s really not that big of a deal. The technical flaws of the cross country photo were masked by the technical flaws of the printing presses, and the horse photo ran so small that it was even a tough read.

What's funny about writing this blog, however, is the satisfaction I get from finding a home for some of these lost photos, but without the blog, I probably would have forgotten about this long ago...

...or just bored my friends and family to death with my moaning instead of you.

~~~~~

kyau@tricityherald.com
(509) 585-7205
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