USA TODAY graphic and photo editor Richard Curtis dies

By David Colton and J. Ford Huffman

Richard Curtis, one of the original designers of USA TODAY’s look, including the bold use of color photography and graphics that revolutionized newspapers in the 1980s, died Sunday. He was 75 years old.

Curtis passed away quietly at home from cancer, surrounded by his wife, Jane, and family.

USA TODAY’s graphics and photography editor for 27 years, Curtis has always said his goal is to be “distinctive” in a crowded, emerging media world.

“You can view a USA TODAY page anywhere, anytime, and it looks like a USA TODAY page whether or not it has the name of the newspaper on it,” Curtis proudly told 2007 Newspapers. »

As a member of the Gannett editorial team that launched USA TODAY in 1982, Curtis helped oversee an unprecedented reliance on pared-down, full-page graphics to convey news and information. He was a tireless advocate of visual storytelling, convincing skeptical editors and reporters that more readers scanned graphics and read photo captions than sometimes read the story itself.

Richard Curtis, editor of the Design Dept.  at USA TODAY, in December 2008.

“Today’s readers – especially younger generations – see narrative as the addendum and visual journalism as the core,” Curtis explained, while still cautioning that the strength of visual journalism “is the reporting that hides behind”.

This uber-visual approach, which many say influenced future online news, has been widely copied by others.

“It’s amazing how many color weather pages made their debut in newspapers in late 1982 and 1983, isn’t it?” Curtis joked in a Poynter Institute interview with George Rorick, who helped design USA TODAY’s groundbreaking full-page weather map.

USA Today

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