Nov 21, 2010

Ohio's top news(papers)

We wanted to map out of all the daily newspapers in the United States. But that number is too great (we guess that's still a good thing).

So instead, here are the top 10 newspapers in Ohio, by daily circulation. 

You might be surprised; there are some wild cards in the mix.

View The Big Ten in a larger map

(Circulation numbers gathered from Mondo Newspapers.)

Enhanced by Zemanta

Nov 17, 2010

Ch ch changin'

We know news designers are desperately trying to get people to look at their papers to increase readership and therefore profits. But design is also being used to sell newspaper websites.

And design change is not limited to the print family. Web design is also rapidly changing. Take a looksy at this graphic:

On the left is a basic layout for a news website as few as fiver years ago. It includes minimal ads and a large block of space for articles.

On the right is a basic box model for a current newspaper site. Ads have roughly doubled, taking up a great chunk of sidebar space. But with all this advertising, what is left to design?

As journalism fades from online to print, what will happen to news design? Will it fade as well?

Your guess is as good as ours. Stayed tuned to newspapers everywhere over the next decade to find out.

Nov 15, 2010


The Pulitzer Prize is for writing and photography. I can't think of an award for copy editing. And the Pulitzer doesn't give out design awards. Despite its hardcore connection to journalism, neither does the Society of Professional Journalists Annual Awards. I'm not sure if SPJ thinks designers are real journalists.

Are designers real journalists? Yes. (But we all know that soon they won’t be. Soon all designers will be cyborgs created by Gannett to randomly fill space on the front page (on every page) of every paper. Every journalism competition that doesn’t have a category for designers is only making it easier for Gannett to go through with their robo-designers plan.)

For now, though, anyone who works at a newspaper (at, not for) is a real journalist (ad salesmen don't count — they work for a newspaper). Easier definition: anyone who considers a newsroom their second home is a real journalist, whether they currently work in one or not. It's a bit weird to think about designers as journalists, because when people decry the mass media, they are almost always talking about the reporters. Never the copy editors, never the designers. I'm not sure if citizens even know those jobs exist. Well, they do.

Back to my point. Awards. Newspaper design is important enough to warrant its own awards, though they aren't as high caliber as the Pulitzer or as well-known as the SPJ awards. Here's a list of some of the competitions, so you, too, can try to become Sports Designer of the Year.

Society of News Design
Sports Designer
Michigan State University

Nov 12, 2010

Press Plagiarism

Plagiarism is everywhere, and even journalists are not immune. (Remember Jason Blair?)

Copying someone else's words may seem obvious, but plagiarism also exists with news design, though it is harder to document and even more difficult to punish.

If a design looks similar to another, could it be pure coincidence? I'm sure it's possible for two people to produce similar pages without knowing or seeing one other's work.

And how else will designers get inspiration except for looking at other well-designed pages?

Where do you draw the line between inspiration and plagiarism?

Take a look at these two pages.

This one was printed in the Virginian-Pilot Feb. 24, 2006.

The Journal Review printed this front page April 3, 2006.

Both centerpiece stories were about a smoking ban with the same shape and even extremely similar type.  I find it hard to believe such similar results could be produced without copying.

While no legal action can be taken, closely copying another page makes a designer look lazy and unoriginal.

How can a designer stick to getting inspiration and avoid stealing? I heard a solid piece of advice once: It's OK to copy the idea but not the execution.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Nov 10, 2010

Web Design vs. Print Design

1. Print design doesn't include hyperlinks
2. Web design has essentially unlimited space to work with
3. Print design usually has a new layout every day
4. You can't spill coffee on your web edition (Well, you can, but it will only damage the machine, not the paper. And you can't just buy a new 50-cent newspaper, you have to buy a $1500 laptop. (That is, if you're using a laptop. iPhones are running anywhere from $700 to $1,000 (maybe more? I only checked Amazon).))
5. The web edition doesn't get nasty newsprint all over your fingers and face
6. You can't wrap your fish with the web edition
7. You can't wrap your holiday presents with the web edition
8. You can't punish your puppies with the web edition
9. You can't paper mache with the web edition
10. The web edition doesn't turn yellow with age

1. They both are vying for readership

As you can see, there are a great number of differences between web and print design, and not a whole lot of similarities. I think one way to get more people reading more news online is to make the newspaper's website more similar to the newspaper. The New York Times is successful online partly because it's the New York Times, but partly because its website looks so much like the newspaper:

Each website needs to have this connection with its respective newspaper, because a lot of people in a community feel a connection to their newspaper. If the website looks nothing like the newspaper they love, then why would they check it?

Nov 9, 2010

Design Overhaul

We've all heard it, especially those of us in journalism school — print media is changing.

As newspaper companies fight to retain readers and advertisers and get out of the red, many of them are giving their approaches a makeover. After all, television has taught us in order to change our lives, we must first change our appearances. And newspapers are basically middle-aged women going through divorces to their previously loyal revenue models.

Bring on the newspaper redesign.

Redesign has many motivations, all are fairly obvious. Most big-name papers have been around for decades, and styles are always changing. Redesigns can help these older papers stay visually relevant to changing readers.

Also, big and bold is in. We've talked about newspaper trying to look more like magazines. Most aren't going that extreme yet, but a nice facelift will buy these papers time.

Most of all, newspapers are desperately trying to make money. Boring gray space no longer sells papers; beautiful graphics and eye-catching designs sell papers, especially to the younger, Web-oriented crowd.

Let's take a look at some of the industry's big redesigns:

This is The Bakersfield Californian in a side-by-side shot.

Notice how much more color the redesign has. The design is bolder, the centerpiece photo is larger and the area around the flag is more decorated. But does the design actually help convey the information better or is it all about the gimmick?

Here is another redesign — the Chicago Tribune's 2008 spiff up.

The new version features a left-aligned flag with a pretty teaser, wider columns and a bottom rail. The inside pages of the Trib received similar treatment with bigger, bolder page headers and more stand out headlines.

Notice one thing about both redesigns — you still recognize the paper. The flags are the same style, even if placement is different. A successful redesign can bring a new feel to a paper without losing the reputation the paper previously had. 

Readers of these two papers still know who and what they are reading. The presentation is just a little prettier.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Nov 8, 2010


As I stare across The BG News newsroom and listen to the solitary click of the keyboards, I realize that of all the jobs at a newspaper, being a designer is the most independent.

Except it's not.

When people think about reporters, peopled tend to think of them as outgoing, popular, talkative, nosy, incessant, annoying, hounding, persistent and evil. But we're not all like that. There are a variety of personalities working as a reporter for The BG News, and for every newspaper at which I've worked. So though designers might seem like lonely, quiet workers, while some are, some are anything but. Which is a good thing.

In addition of his or her boss, every good designer needs to know the name of the photographers, the copy editors and the reporters. It takes collaboration to make a centerpiece good — the reporter writes the story, the copy editor thinks of a headline, the photog gets art and the designer makes it look good. But it almost never looks good unless the designer talks to the reporter about what the story is about (or at least reads the story), talks to copy editors about possible headlines and talks to the photog about which photos are in publishable shape and how those photos could be used. Whew! That's not even close to a solitary job.

I can't remember the point of this blog post. I guess the point is that while designers are not out interviewing anonymous sources, they are just as much a part of the team as those who are in the public's eye. Also the point is that all of this will probably go away when newspapers die and stories and photos get published to the web without a second thought to what the headline should be.

Nov 7, 2010

Becoming a news designer: Part II - Web designer must learn new programs for print

Andy Baltes created a line drawing of the Beatles using their lyrics as typography.

Bowling Green State University Senior Andy Baltes wants to design for the Web, but for right now he’s going to have to settle for newspapers.
Baltes is in the Visual Communications Technology program at BGSU specializing in interactive multimedia. As part of the program, all students must satisfy two professional co-ops. Baltes decided to gain credit for one of his co-ops by working as a designer for the campus newspaper.
Most of the skills taught in his classes translate well, he said. He learns Adobe, Dreamweaver, Lightroom and Final Cut Pro, but not InDesign, which is what the newspaper’s designers use to lay out pages.
“It’s different mainly because of InDesign,” he said.
But there are other differences as well.
Baltes has to be aware of all the pieces and parts of a front page, and of every other page for which he’s responsible, like photos and headlines. He has to be able to change his design as the page evolves; sometimes stories or photos don’t fit, or there might be other last-minute changes.
“I try to figure out where [the front page centerpiece] is going first,” Baltes said.
And while Baltes said his classes do a good job teaching him how to use the different programs, students in other majors, such as graphic design, are actually taught how to design, but not how to use the programs.
“They learn the design,” he said. “[But] they don’t necessarily know how to quickly throw it together.”
Of all of the front pages Baltes has designed so far, his favorites include a centerpiece about flu shots and the Black Swamp Arts Festival.
For the flu centerpiece, he was able to be part of the creative process beyond designing the page, as he thought of the art head for the story.
“I had the most freedom doing that one,” he said.
For the centerpiece about the Black Swamp Arts Festival, Baltes said he experimented with the shape of the story a bit.
“Everything was slanted a little,” he said, “whereas most stories are box-shaped.”
Other schools in Ohio with VCT programs include Ohio University, Ohio State University and Kent State University.
According to its website, OU students in the Visual Communications program choose one of four specializations: photojournalism, informational graphics and page design, commercial photography or interactive design.
At KSU, students decide from nine different specializations within the Visual Communications field, according to its website, including Visual Communication Design (2D or 3D graphic design or illustration), Photojournalism and Information Design.
OSU students can only major in Visual Communication Design, and classes include Typography, Graphic Design Production, Design Methodology, Human and Environmental Design and Interactivity Design, according to its website.
The Missouri School of Journalism is one of a few schools that offer a master’s of journalism with a specialization in news design, according to its website. Students enrolled in this program and specialization take classes specifically about how to design for newspapers and magazines. Sample courses, according to the website, include Newspaper Editing, Magazine Editing, Magazine Design and Fundamentals of Photojournalism.

Nov 6, 2010

Becoming a news designer: Part I - Art student tackles news design

Kari Schneider glass blowing in the art building | By Jessica Vogt

Bowling Green State University senior Kari Schneider is an artist.

And every Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to midnight the graphic design major fills newspaper pages with her creativity.

In high school, Schneider tried her hand at several artistic mediums — ceramics, photography, drawing — before finding her niche in typography.

But when a design job opened up at The BG News, BGSU’s daily student newspaper, Schneider jumped at the opportunity.

“It was one of the only campus design jobs I’d heard of before,” she said. “I’ve always had an interest in newspapers, and I was interested to try and make news design more visually interesting.”

But her transition from graphic design to news design was not seamless.

Graphic designers create, choose and organize these elements—typography, images, and the so-called “white space” around them—to communicate a message, according to AIGA, the professional association for design. Graphic design is type and image-based, and requires a different approach and thought process than news design.

“News design is always about the story and following the style guide,” Schneider said. “There is more of a format that is expected. In graphic design, people are always trying to break the rules.”

Schneider’s newspaper spreads also require a different timeline than her art.

Typically, she has approximately three hours to develop and execute a spread. She reads the story, thinks about her approach and designs the centerpiece art, illustration or photo spread.

The rush has its perks, though.

“I like the community atmosphere and the rush for the deadline,” she said. “Sometimes you have to be more creative with what you can do in such a short time. With graphic design, you can overwork an idea and it looks too forced.”

Schneider is not the only graphic designer taking on newspapers.

Portugal’s i newspaper traded its traditional grid spreads for bolder, more beautiful designs featuring work by prominent graphic designers.

"I think the overriding concept, not just in the design but in the newspaper as a whole, is that we want to try to set out to produce a magazine every day," said Nick Mrozowski, i's American art director.

I’s pages, shown below, are custom designed each day, as the designers draw upon their artistic backgrounds.

Schneider finds this cross over between the two forms of design rare.

Many graphic designers who do embrace newspapers ends up crafting editorial cartoons or photo collages, she said. Even Schneider, after developing a deep appreciation and fondness for her newspaper work, prefers more nontraditional and strictly guided design.

And while Schneider’s required course work has prepared her for these visual tasks — a bachelor of fine arts requires 13 art studios and a portfolio review, according to the degree audit — the story-telling aspect of journalism is a new challenge.

“You always have to design not for yourself but for others,” she said. “One big thing about news design is that anyone could be reading it. Your design has to be accessible to anyone, even to people who don’t care about design breaking boundaries.”

Enhanced by Zemanta

Nov 3, 2010

Election fronts

It's the day after Election Day. Every good newspaperman in America is suffering from a hangover today, induced by a late night not of drinking Tequila but of drinking in the Republican sweep across the country. Both local and national elections happened, and here are some first rough drafts of history (the good, bad and mediocre) documenting the occasions.

The Arizona Republic

Weatherford Daily News 

Chicago Tribune

Latrobe Bulletin in Latrobe, Pa.

Post and Courier


Oshkosh Northwestern in Oshkosh, Wis.

Nov 2, 2010

It's the most wonderful time of the year

Ahh, Election Day. Every newsroom in America is filled with the excitement and anticipation of reporting poll results.

The BG News is no exception. Our coverage has been planned for weeks, and today the plan kicked into action. Reporters followed the results and photographers and videographers captured the action.

But what about the designers?

Election Night is synonymous with surprise. All the stories will all come in at once, probably pretty close to deadline. Designers are left with this challenging task of putting pages together with late-night information. No one knows exactly how the races will turn out, so a good designer is prepared for anything.

The concept for The BG News' election edition design was crafted in advance. The headshots for various candidates were pulled. The stories were assigned. And the page layouts were roughly sketched. Basically, the page existed in skeletal form, without any information, names or colors.

Designers also leave room for error — for that election result too close to call. They are ready to deal with any last-minute alterations.

And, at the end of the night, the design sells the page and proclaims the winners.

Here is a sneak-peek of the front page of Wednesday's BG News.

Enhanced by Zemanta