Inaugural coverage

The Times printed an extra 5,000 copies of today’s paper so that all the school kids in our Newspapers in Education program would have a commemorative issue. One of our editors decided we should just use the entire cover for photos and tease to the coverage inside. Because the inauguration took place in the middle of the day, we had so many more photos to choose from (as opposed to the election, when we didn’t have the option of running a shot of Obama’s acceptance speech due to the press time).

I rarely get to work on the front page of the paper; it’s usually designed after my shift. But because today’s edition was so unusual, I got to do the layout. Eric says it could have been bolder, and I agree, but I argued that this is pretty bold for our paper.

The editors initially picked out a different picture of Obama. Very similar to this one, but he looked a little stern and you could see the entire presidential seal on the podium. That shot was a bit more vertical and left no room for a headline or additional teaser photos, so I asked if we could use this one instead.

The headline font (and yeah, if you know me, you know I have font psychology) is not our usual one. Because the cover was getting special commemorative treatment and the headline was a quote (also unusual for the main story on A1), I wanted it to have a different look. We’ve heard from at least one person so far that our cover was “a bit over the top.” After perusing hundreds of other front pages at, I see that we were far from alone in dedicating such an amount of real estate.

Ten percent solution

This was the illustration I made for an article we ran last year on tithing. I had zero trouble scanning the $100 bill, but when Eric overheard me asking Andy Powell for a $10 to scan, he informed me that Photoshop wouldn’t scan money. He jinxed me. (Several years ago, I scanned a $5. I maintain that one can scan money, as long as they don’t tell Eric first.)

It was a pretty good article, too. Some excerpts:

“Tithing is not just giving 10 percent of your income, but it really is about worshiping God,” said McDonough, pastor of Faith Life Church in Tampa. “Instead of having our financial well-being determined by the economy, we look to God. Tough times economically really do try our faith, but … God really is our source.”

At St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church in St. Petersburg, the Rev. Chris Schuller recently challenged his members to tithe. He told members at a Wednesday night service that if they tried tithing and didn’t realize any benefit, he would write them a refund check from his personal money market account. So far, no one has asked for a refund.

Andrea Long, a 19-year-old student at Hillsborough Community College, said the high price of gas has made her think twice about tithing.

“I’m very tempted not to tithe,” said Long, who makes $11 an hour as a data entry clerk. “But when it really comes down to it, I have been greatly blessed because of tithing. A lot of people say you can’t afford to tithe this month or this week. But I just look at it as I can’t afford not to.”

Whenever Debbie Carter gets paid, her tithe check is the first one she writes. It wasn’t always that way. After her divorce in 2000, Carter, who lives in Temple Terrace, struggled to raise her two children alone. Sometimes she had to choose between paying tithes and covering her rent.

After three years of spotty tithing, Carter made a commitment to tithe regardless of her financial situation. Since then, she claims she has been the beneficiary of just what she needed when her funds were lacking. Sometimes someone gave her a free bag of groceries, said Carter, who works as an administrative assistant at Faith Life Church. Other times, a check mysteriously arrived in the mail.

“Provision was always there,” said Carter, 53. “A lot of times there wasn’t an abundance, but our needs were always met. I feel that it was just a direct result of being obedient to what God says about tithing.”