Dec 13, 2010

News apps a growing trend among college students

More are getting news from phones and Internet rather than newspapers or TV
Before Bowling Green State University sophomore Max Filby heads to class every morning, he checks the day’s news.

But he doesn’t have to go to a newsstand, or in his case, the front desk of Founders Residence Hall. Filby simply grabs his iPhone and scrolls through the New York Times on an application.

“Every day when I get up I check my iPhone,” Filby said. “I grab it and look up the New York Times app and see what the top headlines are, see if there’s anything interesting to read or tweet about.”

Though the New York Times is usually delivered to the residence halls on campus, Filby said that’s not always the case.

“The New York Times costs a lot of money, and the app is pretty much free,” he said. “I live in Founders and sometimes they don’t always deliver the papers over there.”

A growing trend
Filby is part of a mass trend of people following news on the go.

About 33 percent of people read news stories online, according to When newspapers first began publishing stories on the Internet, they attracted anywhere from 2 to 4 percent of the population.

So, while printed newspaper readership is falling, online news readership is climbing.

But Filby doesn’t think that this will cause the death of newspapers.

“News is always going to be around,” he said. “No matter how people read it, it has to come from somewhere.”

It's the only way some get news
Meg Kettinger, a junior at BGSU, said she hardly ever checked the daily news before she got her droid phone.

“Whenever I go to that screen on my phone, it shows me all things, from news to celebrity, stuff like that,” she said. “I think [apps] are popular because…you don’t have to pick up a newspaper and read the stories, you don’t have to sit in front of your TV and you don’t have to sit in front of your computer because now they’re on your phone. And who’s not on their phone all the time, in this day and age?”

Before Kettinger got the news on her phone, she said she did not really keep up with current events. 

When she would watch TV and the news came on, she would not watch the news. And when she surfed the Internet, she was not looking for news stories.

“When I got my phone it was more helpful to keep up with things because I had an app rather than literally having to change the channel,” Kettinger said.

Future of newspapers not in trouble
Sarah Culmaker, a BGSU alumnus, said she would call herself a “news junkie,” and spends a lot of her time looking up stories on her iPhone.

“It’s mostly celebrity, gossipy stuff like that,” she said. “I still pick up the newspaper, but not as much as I used to. For those national and international stories, I think it’s hard to get those in the local paper.”

Culmaker also said she didn’t think the presence of online news would cause the death of newspapers.

“It’s just a different way to read the same news,” she said.

Dec 5, 2010

Space Jam

This blog post is not about Michael Jordan teaming up with the Looney Toons to beat some weird alien creatures in a basketball game.

This blog post is about the jam designers get into when there's too much space and not enough content.

What to do?

This affliction often befalls newspapers, especially daily newspapers, because slow news days do happen. Sure, everybody prays for a drug bust or a political scandal or for someone prominent to die (don't judge, you know you do it too), but sometimes the most newsworthy event going on all day is a feminist bake sale outside your own newsroom. That's no good. But don't worry; it happens to everyone at some point (if someone tries to tell you they never have to run mediocre photos or stories to fill space, he is a liar).

Here are some ways I've seen extra space used well and not-so-well in the past.

Good use of empty space:
BIG HEADLINES - You don't want to blow up the headline about the abundance of cats at the local animal shelter, but a nice big one for a story about the weather works nicely.
PHOTO SPREAD - This doesn't work so well on those days when literally nothing is happening on campus, but for the most part, a photog can whip something up. If not, it's a good idea to keep something in your back pocket, like if swing dance practice happens every Tuesday. Save events like those for a rainy day.
ANOTHER STORY - Get a reporter to get off his ass and go do his job.
LIL' SOMETHIN' EXTRA - Deckheads, pull quotes, headshots, etc.
TEASERS - Tease something on the web. Works every time.

Bad use of empty space:
BIG HEADLINES - This is both a blessing and a curse. Bigger doesn't always mean better. Be careful.
HOUSE ADS - These work well when they're tiny and nothing else can fit, but don't make them giant. Please.

So remember, white =/= right.

Dec 4, 2010

How to

No two designers tackle a page the same way. Some start with the centerpiece, others save that for last; some place stories right away and others wait until the page is complete.

Basically, there is no right or wrong way to to be a page designer.

However, here is a method which works.

Aspiring designer Rachael Betz shares her method of getting down with news design. Enjoy.

Dec 3, 2010

And now for something completely different

Tis the season for chilly weather, hot chocolate, holiday music and all things festive.

But don't forget your newspapers when getting into the holiday spirit. They may not keep you warm at night, but, with a little imagination, they can be more than words.

First, why not ditch that boring white paper for some snazzy newspaper when making snowflakes? It looks more interesting and will provide those around you with festive reading material.

This alternative will always be a favorite under my tree. Newspaper gift wrap is cheap, readily available and more eco friendly than the shiny stuff from Wal-Mart. Newspaper people love recycling.

This next one may be a bit time consuming, but if Martha Stewart can do it, you can too. This glittery newspaper Christmas tree is the perfect decoration for home and newsroom alike.

Last, but not least, don't keep your newspaper love inside. Proudly display it on your front door for all to see. 

This newspaper wreath will, again, cost you less than the prickly, evergreen assortment. And all of your neighbors with their ostentatious plastic reindeer will be jealous of the beauty this simple, elegant wreath provides.

Dec 1, 2010

Read the story

Designers need to read the story for which they're trying to think of a clever design. It would be so much easier than asking reporters what the story is about. Chances are the writer will just give a four-second synopsis, but if the designer reads the story, he or she will be able to see exactly what the reporter focused on and what details should be standing out to the reader. The entire front page will be much more collaborative, and here in the newspaper business, we like collaboration.

Some front pages to check out.