A Design State of Mind

If this doesn’t sum up what I just ranted about ….

suntimesdarktimes:

Front pages, June 26, 2013. 

It’s All Part of the Big Picture

(Sorry for the rant in advance)

The other day, I was speaking with an editor of a smaller paper I design. I had just heard their photographer had been let go and wanted to hear the whole story. Apparently, it was an issue of money - as it always will be in this industry - and they were already feeling the loss.

It all made me … upset, to say the least. And it came amid the news that the Chicago Sun-Times had laid off its photo staff (which I ranted about here already). Today, I found Jim Romenesko’s link lamenting another photo desk loss in Georgia.

I’ve since been on many a tirade to whoever will listen that it’s absurd to think the photographers are expendable. I, like everyone else, understand financial strains on journalism and newsrooms right now. It’s not lost on me that, as a designer, my time is short here. Print production will fall whether I love it or believe in it. But let’s not underestimate how essential each and every piece of the puzzle is here in the newsroom.

I shall now rant:

The reporter, of course, seems most obvious, as they gather the sources, writing the story that the audience will consume. They garner reputations and encourage people to speak out and share their stories or opinions or experiences so that others can engage with it.

And their editors, they hold all the strings. They understand the importance of a story, of what the readership may need or want, and they hone what the reporter gives them into something clean and presentable. Something worth publishing.

Photographers, well, they have always impressed me. I’ve written, designed, edited, but never been able to shoot a great photo. I understand the very basics, but there’s something about those folks that just … leaves me in awe of what they can capture. Rather than having to also worry about garnering quotes and information, they dedicate their photo eye to getting images that compliment - or simply tell - the story. If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll admit that more often than not, it’s a photo or slideshow or gallery that will get your attention more than a 3,000 word masterpiece of terrific reporting. You look at a front page and it’s the art that’ll get you to look on.

And with that, the designer comes into play, making sure all this hard work shines. It’s our soul purpose to create a page that showcases all their efforts. We should always give 120%, because each story and photo was created with that enthusiasm by many others. Make sure the headlines pop and dazzle, so folks will want to read more. Play up local photos and give them the size they deserve. Edit carefully so no error goes through.

And behind the scenes, of course, production and advertising fuel our fires and enable us all to keep doing what we love.

I simply don’t understand how others don’t see how each and every piece of a newsroom is essential. That we all must give our all to ensure our product lives for as long as it can. We cannot just lament the loss of our former prowess, but dedicate all we can to make sure we give it a reason to live on. And by eliminating what is, in my opinion, one of the most important parts - the photo department - these papers are only speeding up their demise. Yes, video is important, and yes cuts need to be made. But please realize how a great photo will sell more papers or garner more clicks than a headline or screen shot. And that a great photo comes from a photographer, not a reporter who’s already acquiring quotes and rapport and observation they’ll need for their story.

I love you, you photojournalists, and admire deeply what you’re able to do.

Just some food for thought for you journos out there.

Newsroom Promotion Over Here

So as has happened before, I’m kickstarting my work ethic and social media motivation, revisiting the Tumblr accounts I’ve (woefully) abandoned over the past few months.

Here’s to not letting that happen again!

And I shall now shamelessly promote them here, to get a few more followers. Thanks in advance!

For great coverage from the fine folks on the news and features desk at the Boulder Daily Camera.

A collection of quirky posts, quality tunes and great writing/art, follow the Colorado Daily’s work. (A great idea for you CU Buffs fans out there.)

For incredible sports coverage, in the know on everything sports-related (but especially those CU Buffs), check out the Buffzone tumblr.

A Shout Out

Here at the Prairie Mountain Publishing office, I’ve been for the past few weeks working on getting our paper’s Tumblr up and going again, full speed ahead. So here’s me linking out to them, reminding everyone to follow them on tumblr!

Check out the Daily Camera’s main page here.

For the Colorado Daily - CU-Boulder’s newspaper, go here.

We’ve got an incredible staff here, filled with designers, reporters, editors and photographers who live and breathe the news, making their sites that much better on here.

A Step in a Web-Centric Direction

Well, after a series of web meetings with the design staff, our presentation crew here in Boulder is going to be producing so pretty amazing stuff this year. I have a feeling our team will shine in 2012, and I’m hoping to find my place in the new web world we’re entering.

For starters, my new opportunity:

I’ve worked with our main editor here at the Camera, and he’s agreed to let me take over the Daily Camera’s Tumblr! While not quite in full motion yet, I’ve got the log in and a few ideas, and I’m hoping this all goes well!

Follow it at dailycamera.tumblr.com.

For anyone with suggestions on how news organizations should post their content to a forum like Tumblr, let me know!

Ironic to post to my … Tumblr account, I thought this article was great for journalists and newsrooms branching into worlds like Tumblr and WordPress. I know I’ve been among the throngs of journos hesitant to allow blogs into our world because they aren’t as credible/informative/trustworthy, etc. But I’d also hate for people to view my site as this!

So here’s some food for thought that explains to us - the more skeptical - that content is content.

Let’s work on making our systems more integrated and faster. Help your readers come to realize that all of your content is fast and awesome. It’ll take some rebranding work, sure, but I bet our industry is capable of it.”

Super Bowl Sunday!!! … In the Newsroom

Well, there’s another Super Bowl spent with coworkers, sitting in the newsroom wishing we were allowed brews and dip while we wait for content to trickle in for Monday’s papers. Not ideal, but definitely not the worst way to spend Super Bowl Sunday.

Canon City Daily Record was the paper for tonight, and with an hour to design once content started coming in from the Associated Press, it was a struggle to come up with a stand-out design that would still remain within their style.

I think this mission was accomplished though.

Keep an eye out for the PDFs from tonight’s sports pages in the next week or so!

The Random-ness That is a Newsroom: Part 1

Here at work, with the scanner constantly going on in the background and idle (and always curious) hands waiting for a story to place on the page, you get a lot of ridiculous conversations. Better yet, you get a lot of random outbursts that quickly draw us all out of our computer-screen staring match and into a cluster of questions and inappropriate jokes.

Here’s a few from the past week:

Pictures and updates on the sea turtle showing off his prosthetic limb. Check it out!

"I’m going Walt Whitman on this cover’s ass." (In regard to a headline inspiration)

A man who continually burns his meal and then walks around town with it, compliments of the police scanner.

"Who’s your arch enemy, Pe Pe LePew?" (Now this one could use some explanation. After my boss’s dog got in a fight with a skunk, their home and his hands now smell like they too joined in the fight with the smelly creature. …or so I’m told. I couldn’t smell it. Having dubbed that my super power, he asked me the aforementioned question. My response? "We do not mention his name, the black and white b******.")

Tune in periodically as I keep note of these words of wisdom and bring them to you all.

A view from our newsroom. This rain in Boulder just won’t quit! I love this kind of rain, so beautiful, and it smells amazing outside. It’s almost comforting to hear outside as we design. Something to override the sounds of the police scanner in the background.