HEADLINER: Osama Bin Laden, Deaded.


Possibly the most accurate use of the term deaded, Osama Bin Laden got his early Monday morning May 1, 2011. Nearly 10 years from the devastating attacks on September 11th, I find it worth taking pause to consider the major changes that have occurred in how we receive, share, and react to important news. Design innovations between the attacks and Bin Laden’s death demonstrate visual similarities but also new levels of engagement with imagery, content, and the events themselves.

Bold typefaces coupled with large graphic images dominated print headlines in 2001.

This New York Times headline is evenly balanced with the imagery of that day.

The Washington Post, which like the NYT released a Special Late Edition on the day of the attacks, also grapples with this information with a contrast of bold imagery and headlines.

Similarly, as soon as news broke about Bin Laden’s death, we immediately saw headlines change on major news publications online. When discussing the layout of the New York Times homepage Razorfish openly told us how their design approach included consideration for major news events. This would change the layout image/headline size and placement, and additionally what information would appear above or below the fold.

These screen shots taken late Sunday evening (Eastern Time) show similarities to the print approach, in using large imagery and headlines as a commanding presence on the home page. The traditional homepage with a somewhat murky hierarchy has been abandoned.

The biggest change in how these events are relayed and discussed involves social media. The New York Times blogged that Keith Urbahn, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s chief of staff first leaked on twitter regarding Bin Laden’s death. An IT consultant in Abbottabad unknowingly “live tweeted” the attack of the compound where Bin Laden was hiding. The usage and design of social media, with an emphasis on discourse and sharing information has transformed how we receive and react to our news. Through these mediums we all can actively choose to have a voice regarding these events, their potential impact, our ideas.

I’m a little unsure yet if so discourse is constructive/useful or distracting people from the real issues and gravity of circumstances. However I suppose if my glass is half full, I’d say open conversations is a move in the right direction toward political awareness. I’m skeptical though of commenters like these:

A little wit and informed criticism never hurt anyone. Spell check didn’t either.


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