New York Newspaper Double Take

Wow. Do the New York Post and New York Daily News share design teams?

Yesterday’s editions of the ubiquitous city tabloids sported covers way too similar to be coincidental. Well, okay, perhaps it was coincidental, but it’s still pretty insane.

What’s The Deal?
The two big stories (apparently) were Mayor Mike Bloomberg leaving the Republican party and Hillary and Bill Clinton making a YouTube video spoof of the much-loathed Sopranos finale. The covers pretty much speak for themselves. Both are laid out with more or less the same grid, and feature the big stories in exactly the same order. Both use pretty much the same still frame from the video (the same stock images being found in both papers happens all the time, but these are just different enough to wonder how they were obtained). Both use the wording “Mike’s Move,” with the News adding the descriptor “Big” for effect. Both, most obviously, create a visual pun with the logo for The Clintons (using the typeface from The Sopranos and flipping the R over to make an L).

Which One Is Better?
Despite the similarities, the News emerges as the clear winner in this battle of the Cover Wars. Reversing the type (white on black) in the Bloomberg section creates a much stronger contrast to what’s above the fold - the Post’s cover just feels weak in comparison. Additionally, the News displays a more subtle and effective treatment of the logo pun, setting the word “The” in smaller type above the more important “Clintons,” rather than keeping it the same weight like the Post (The News’ treatment is also more faithful to the original). The News picked a stronger photo of the Clintons - more tightly cropped and better color - and the Post’s Bloomberg “badge” (which reads, “No really, I swear I’m not running”) is just, well, stupid.

These two papers typically fight bloodily for the hottest cover of the day (as do amNewYork and Metro, the morning freebies) because there’s little else that distinguishes them, so it’s odd to see them run such similar pages. It’d be interesting to know the how and why and when behind their cover decisions, but I imagine they keep such knowledge fairly closely-guarded. One thing I still can’t quite wrap my head around is the decision to lead with the Clinton story, which is about nothing more than Hillary’s campaign making a video, and releasing the winner of her “theme song” contest. That story is such non-news that I’m surprised even these typically-seedy publications found value in it, much less deciding to make it their top item.

But I guess New Yorkers love The Sopranos (or did, before the finale). Maybe that’s all the justification needed.