Making sure the broccoli tastes great: How the OC Register covered the possible government shutdown in this morning’s newspaper

One of the things that has always fascinated me about the Orange County Register is the newspaper’s commitment to storytelling that does not just involve 50-inch narratives and a black-and-white, two-column photo.

Our editor, Ken Brusic, seems to ask once a week if we have told a story in a way that gives our readers clarity through the chaos.

I relate to that. Have we not only made something complex understandable, but have we also made it so that people want to read it?

Readers’ lives are complicated. They have a lot going on, with tons of things vying for their attention. And most folks aren’t saying: “Boy, I hope the newspaper has a whole lot of words in it today about the possible government shutdown, because I can’t wait to read as much about that as possible.”

So, if newspaper editors feel like something really weighty is important, I’ve always felt like they had an obligation to make it worth our readers’ time. Make it compelling. I’ve written about this before, but we need to make sure that the broccoli tastes great so that folks want to eat healthy things.

Working closely with our Washington bureau, our design team, our Page One editor, our local editor and our wire editors, here is how the Register made the broccoli (a possible government shutdown dripping with politics) taste amazing today:


Here is a close-up on the centerpiece:


Every day, we have one or two Focus pages in the Register’s print edition, where the goal is to take a story that might typically be told as a text-based wire story and we try do something interesting with it.

The mainbar for today’s budget showdown package is a Focus page, except that Matthew Fleming from the Regiser’s Washington bureau wrote it:


And here are some more detailed looks at the page:



Even with our related coverage from the wires, we tried to make sure we had elements like “3 things to know” …


But one of my favorite things we do at the Register is to try to have “learning moments.” What if we viewed Orange County as a classroom with 3 million people in it and we wanted to teach them things?

That’s the idea behind our “Living Textbook” packages. They typically run in our University sections and we reach out to local professors to help us teach our readers about something going on in the news or just something interesting.

How do we demystify something that seems super complicated?

Here is our “Living Textbook” for the possible government shutdown:


Here is closer look at the top of that page:


As someone who may or may not have eaten Buffalo wings, onion rings and Krispy Kreme donuts last night for dinner, I can tell you that right there is some tasty broccoli.


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Dad. Journalist. Nerd. Music lover. Baseball fan. Puckhead.