James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association, a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media, and a professor of communication studies at Whitworth University.

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Archive for April 18th, 2012

Another reason Romney will lose: Bad graphic design

Posted by James McPherson on April 18, 2012

As expected for some time, the presidential race is down to Mitt Romney(s) vs. Barack Obama. And unless something dramatic occurs–such as Republicans figuring out that they’re running in 2012 rather than 1952–Obama will win handily in November. Regardless of what the conservative activists on the Supreme Court have decided about health care.

I’m not saying Obama deserves to win; there are many reasons he shouldn’t. And obviously some think the Secret Service should be getting ready to retrofit the presidential limo with a rooftop doggie carrier. Even more predict a close election; polls might seem to bear that out. (Not that media have a vested interest in those predictions–otherwise, why would you keep watching?) Those folks are probably wrong, despite the fact that most Americans will pay almost no attention to presidential politics for months, after arguments about a “war on women” and the bitter Republican primary rhetoric have been forgotten.

Recently the students in my media criticism class joined me in figuring out another reason Romney won’t win: His team apparently knows little about graphic design. Check out his logo, in which (as students pointed out in class, and New York magazine noticed earlier), the “R” looks like a smear of toothpaste. One blogger compared it to a cruise line logo, while another compared it to a soft drink ad. (Coincidentally, as a colleague has noted, that smear precedes a set of five letters that if just slightly rearranged spell out an appropriate word for the candidate: money.)

Then comes the kerning, or the space between letters–the last two of which are crammed together, as if the designers ran out of room. Was this a product of some Gingrich-like child-employment scheme? Unlike Romney himself, it’s ugly. Like Romney, the design looks wimpy and indecisive.

My class critiques candidates’ graphic design choices every year, and generally notice things that professionals should have seen. Here is Rachel Maddow’s take on the Romney logo. The New York Times offered interesting logo perspectives in 2004 and 2008.

Posted in History, Media literacy, Politics | Tagged: , , , | 8 Comments »

 
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