Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 8 : 7 July 2008
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         K. Karunakaran, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.



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The Use of Layout in Malay Language Newspapers' Front Pages

Kumaran Rajandran, M.A.


This paper deals with the use of layout in Malay Language Newspapers' (MLN) front pages. It examines front pages as they are the face of MLN and are commonly seen by readers. Layout concerns the placement of elements in space that consists of framing, salience and information value. This paper posits two questions: How is layout used in MLN front pages? How do image and language interact via layout? These questions are answered using front pages from MLN in Malaysia and Indonesia.

MLN front pages might seem aesthetic or haphazard to some but layout tries to make sense of them systematically. Layout recognizes that image and language elements placed in different parts of front pages gives them different values and hence different meanings. This also influences the roles of image and language in front pages and their inter-relations. These elements are not simply placed in front pages as designers have to exploit the space they have to create front pages that are cohesive and coherent. It is ultimately seen that layout helps make sense of MLN front pages. Its dynamic nature is seen that is also responsive to MLN genre and social practice.


Layout is used in print media to decide where to place image and language elements. Layout might seem direct and simple to readers but it includes decisions regarding not only where but also how and why elements are placed on the page. Newspapers are not exempt from such decisions. Their designers are faced with the questions of where, how and why to place these image and language elements daily as many newspapers are daily editions. These elements make newspapers multimodal as more than one mode is used to communicate. Multimodality complicates layout because designers have to consider the relations in and among the image and language elements used. Layout places these elements in different parts of the page to give them different views, values and ultimately meanings.

This paper intends to study layout in Malay language newspapers' front pages from Indonesia and Malaysia. Front pages are chosen as they are the face of newspapers commonly seen by readers that lead them to the interior of newspapers. This paper tries to unravel the presence and function of framing, salience and information value in the front pages of two newspapers from Indonesia and one newspaper from Malaysia. It uses an occidental method to analyze layout developed by Kress & van Leeuwen (1998) that permits the discovery of its relevance and reliability for an oriental corpus from South East Asia.

Firstly, this paper reviews newspapers and their front pages. Secondly, it explains the method developed by Kress & van Leeuwen (1998) to analyze layout. Thirdly, it uses this method to discuss the front pages to answer two questions: How is layout used in front pages? How do image and language interact via layout?


Front page of Kompas, Malaysian Newspaper

Many newspapers are sized as broad sheets or tabloids but tabloids are half the size of broad sheets. Ryan & Conover (2004, p. 529) mention that newspapers perform four tasks, namely informing, interpreting, entertaining and persuading. Newspapers need to perform these tasks properly as they are consumer products (Ames, 1989, p. 21). They must know their market to ensure profitability. Market knowledge is a broad term that includes readers, their culture, their likes and dislikes and their needs and wants (Garcia, 1993) to provide readers news that they would read. This in turn means wider circulation that translates to more profit.

Newspaper layout evolved in time with changes in society and technology. Early newspaper layout was like the layout in books. This is so because most printers were book printers or general commercial printers first and newspaper printers second (Ryan & Conover, 2004, p. 524) that influenced their approach to newspaper layout. Newspapers were read from left to right and top to bottom, with little or no column division. Their layout constrained the reading path as readers had to follow the layout's predictable sequence. Yet, newspaper layout changed with the times. Societal change influenced this as competition among newspapers increased. Each aimed to be the first with the news, to obtain the most advertisements and the best circulation that meant more profit (Ryan & Conover, 2004, p. 526). Newspaper layout responded by not being bound by the book layout and adopted innovations that later became part of newspaper design (Ryan & Conover, 2004, p. 527).

Technological change also influenced newspaper layout as improved or new creations permitted it to be manipulated in many ways (Ryan & Conover, 2004). Layout is very much a part of contemporary newspapers, even if readers do not relate it to newspapers. Their traditional focus on writing and editing is now joined by design that is termed by Garcia (1993, p. 13) as WED where writing, editing and design are not seen as separate components in newspapers but are integrated together to create potent communication packages (Ryan & Conover, 2004, p. 523).

This is only the beginning part of the article. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE IN PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.

Kinship and Gender in Meiteiron | The Use of Layout in Malay Language Newspapers' Front Pages | Exploring Ethnolinguistic Vitality - A Case Study of Lepchas in Dzongu Valley | Tamil Advertisements in Television | The Use of Second Person Pronoun in Tamil and Telugu | Survival of the Minority Kristang Language in Malaysia | Meaning and Technique in Walt Whitman's Poetry | Syntactic Errors in English Committed by Indian Undergraduate Students | Form and Function of Disorders in Verbal Narratives - A Doctoral Dissertation | Problems of Assamese Speakers Learning Manipuri | Stylistic Changes in English-Arabic Translation - With Reference to BBC News Texts | HOME PAGE of June 2008 Issue | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR

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