By far the most exciting front page newspaper format I know of was that of a weekly British tabloid: "The Illustrated Police News" which ran from the 1840s to 1938.
The paper was lurid to be sure, but it was immensely popular and it spun off a host of imitators. Of course you could argue that the Police News itself was an imitator.
It was a much more exciting and densely illustrated version of The London Illustrated News (above). It also benefited from traditions laid down by the Penny Dreadfuls and the broadsheet tradition of The Newgate Calendar. Even so, the IPN had a flair that its rivals couldn't match.
Illustrated news naturally favors the type of news that lends itself most readily to illustration, namely violent crime and sex.
Wow! Now THAT's (above) a front page!
The Graphic sold well but it lacked the pizazz of the Police News. It relied on realistic etchings and on photography when that became available. In my opinion that was a fatal decision.
Photography is too literal, too limited to what the camera can actually see.
Not only that, but it doesn't reproduce on pulp paper very well. Photography is a fine supplement to illustration but it doesn't do much to help the newspaper that it dominates. In my opinion photography never worked in pulp newspapers and only came into its own in glossy-paper magazines like LIFE.