Birthdays for Sunday, Dec. 21

Here’s wishing the happiest of birthdays to four wonderful visual journalists…


Esther Kim Cotton is a digital film producer in Sacramento, Calif. She graduated in 2013 from the Art Institute of California at Sacramento. Find her web site here and her Twitter feed here.


Eric Palm is an e-commerce sales and service agent for Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. A 1996 graduate of Auburn University, Eric worked as copy desk chief of the Opelika-Auburn News and as a copy editor for the St. Petersburg Times before moving to the News & Observer of Raleigh as a designer and copy editor in 1999. He moved to the Ocala (Fla.) Star-Banner in 2002, to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune in 2003 and then to the New York Times in 2005 before settling in at the Orlando Sentinel in 2006. After the Sentinel laid him off, Eric worked as a freelance designer and videographer while earning an Associate Degree in digital media at Valencia Community College. After a year as a senior illustrator with Lockheed Martin, Eric moved to Disney in 2012 as an enterprise digital media design and communications associate for social media. He moved into his current position in 2013. Find his Twitter feed here. Eric turns 41 today.


Don Tate is a children’s book illustrator based in Austin, Texas. A 1984 graduate of Des Moines (Iowa) Area Community College, Don had been working at the Des Moines Register for nearly two years when I became graphics editor there in April 1999. Shortly before the end of that year, he left for Austin. Don spent about 12 years as a news artist for the Austin American-Statesman, but his job was phased out in Cox Newspaper’s editing and design hub transition. He left the newspaper two years ago. Don’s illustrated more than 40 books — most recently, The Cart that Carried Martin by Eve Bunting.


In 2012, Don’s first book as a writer — It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie — was published.


Read more about it here and here. His next authored book will be Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton of Chapel Hill, which will come out this fall. It’s being written with the assistance of a grant by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Find Don’s personal web site here, his blog here and his Twitter feed here. Find his Facebook fan page here. Don turns 51 today.


Amy Waters Yarsinske is an author of 56 books, most involving history, biography or current events and many having to do with the Hampton Roads region of Virginia. Her most recent: An American in the Basement: The Betrayal of Captain Scott Speicher and the Cover-up of his Death, published in July 2013.


A 1985 graduate of Randolph-Macon Women’s College in Georgia, Amy earned a master’s degree at the University of Virginia in 1988. Find her web site here and her Twitter feed here.

Eric, Don, Esther and Amy share a birthday with actors Samuel Leroy Jackson, Kiefer William Fredrick Dempsey George Rufus Sutherland, Andrew Ryan “Andy” Dick, Raymond Albert “Ray” Romano, Jane Frances Kaczamrek, Jack Noseworthy Jr., Paul Winchell and Jane Fonda; musicians Carl Dean Wilson (of the Beach Boys), Nicholas George “Nick” Gilder and Frank Vincent Zappa; TV hosts Phillip John “Phil” Donahue and Alexandra Ann “Alex” McLeod; sports greats Florence DeLorez Griffith-Joyner (better known as track star as FloJo), Christine Marie “Chris” Evert (tennis), Walter Charles Hagen (golf), Joaquín Andújar, David Arthur “Dave” Kingman, Andrew James “Andy” Van Slyke (all three baseball), Michael Joseph Alstott (football), Adam Schefter (ESPN analyst) and Joseph Vincent “Joe” Paterno (football coach); movie producer Jeffrey Katzenberg; novelist Heinrich Theodor Böll; writer Cicely Isabel Fairfield (better known as Rebecca West), Founding Father Paul Revere and politicians Hu Jintao, Benjamin Disraeli and Kurt Josef Waldheim.

In addition to the Winter Solstice — which happens at 5:03 p.m. CST — today is Forefathers Day, Humbug Day, Crossword Puzzle Day, Phileas Fogg Win a Wager Day, International Dalek Remembrance Day and Global Orgasm Day. Seriously.

Best wishes, all! Have an excellent birthday today!

Birthdays for Saturday, Dec. 20

Here’s wishing the happiest of birthdays to ten remarkable visual journalists…


Garrett Evans is a designer for the Hill newspaper in Washington, D.C. A 2012 graduate of the University of Missouri, Garrett worked for the Columbia Missourian. He joined the Gannett Design Studio in Des Moines, Iowa, in 2013 and then moved to D.C. this past fall. Find his web site here and his NewsPageDesigner portfolio here. Garrett turns 25 today.


Jon Fisch is social media director for Q Nightclub in Seattle. A 2000 graduate of the University of North Dakota, Jon spent four years on the sports desk of the Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald before joining the Charlotte Observer in 2001. He spent two years at the State in Columbia, S.C., and then four years at the Post-Dispatch of St. Louis before joining the Seattle Times in 2007. He was promoted to assistant sports editor in 2008 but was then laid off in 2012. He caught on quickly with MSN and was promoted to West Coast news editor later that fall. Jon started work for Q last year. He turns 38 today.


Jen McCaffery is associate editor at Rhode Island Monthly magazine. A 1994 graduate of the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., Jen earned a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University in 1999. She spent six years as a staff reporter covering courts, heath and families for the Roanoke (Va.) Times before moving to a similar beat at sister paper the Virginian-Pilot in 2006. She moved back north in 2010 and worked as an editor for AOL’s Patch in East Providence, R.I. She joined Rhode Island Monthly in 2011. Find her Twitter feed here.


Nina Mehta is a designer for Pivotal Labs in San Francisco, Calif. A 2007 graduate of Indiana University, Nina interned for Amnesty International, Macrovision, the Indianapolis Star, software company RockMelt, Inc. and served as a Poynter Fellow. She returned to the Star upon graduation but was laid off a year later. She then returned to Indiana for grad school and to serve as assistant editor of Majority Report, a publication of that institution’s Office of Women’s Affairs. She spent her 2010 Christmas break traveling with a colleague in Botswana, observing how folks in emerging countries use computers and software. She earned her master’s degree in May 2011, spent time that summer working in Mountain View, Calif., Tokyo and San Francisco and started at Twilio later that year. She moved to her current position in 2013. Find Nina’s web site here, her blog here and her Twitter feed here. Nina turns 29 today.


Josh Moore is copy desk chief of the Messenger-Inquirer of Owensboro, Ky. A 2011 graduate of Western Kentucky University, Josh served as editor-in-chief of the College Heights Herald. He moved to Owensboro after graduation.


Mandi Keown Peebles is a public relations specialist for Kruhu Branding, Design and Creative Agency in Augusta, Ga. A 2002 graduate of the College of Charleston, S.C., Mandi spent two years as a budget analyst for the S.C. House of Representatives before becoming an account executive for Ocozzio business consulting of Augusta. She also spent three years as director of communications and advocacy development for the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce. She joined Kruhu in 2011. She’s one of the few communications professionals I’ve ever run into from my tiny home town of McCormick, S.C. In fact, her stepfather is my own former stepfather (in South Carolina, if you’re not related, we’ll find a way to make you related). Find Mandi’s (really funny) blog here.


Jay Small is president of Informed Interactive — which creates content for a chain TV stations and newspapers around the country — and based in St. Paul, Minn. A 1984 graduate of Southern Illinois University, Jay started out as a copy editor and designer for the Sun and Daily Herald of Biloxi, Miss., and then the News-Sentinel of Fort Wayne, Ind., where he became design director. In 1988, he moved to the Rocky Mountain News, eventually becoming art director. In 1991, he was hired as art director of the Indianapolis Star and, four years later, became that paper’s general manager of online services. He worked for a Minneapolis-based consulting firm for a couple of years an then rejoined news media with Belo Interactive in 2001. In 2005, he became managing director of content operations for newspapers for E.W. Scripps Co. of Knoxville, Tenn., where he oversaw editing design and interactive for the entire chain. In 2009 he earned an MBA in business administration from Kennesaw State University. He spent two years as president of Cordillera Interactive — which owns Informed Interactive — and then moved to Informed in 2012. Jay also runs his own consultancy on the side. Find his web site here and his Twitter feed here.


Jana Thompson is an English teacher at Northern Illinois University. A graduate of that same institution, Jana worked for the Northwest Herald of DeKalb, Ill., before moving to NIU in 2011.


Bill Walsh is a copy editor for the Washington Post. A 1984 graduate of the University of Arizona, Bill worked as a reporter and editor for the Phoenix Gazette before moving to the Washington Times in 1989. He left in 1997 as chief of the Times‘ copy desk and leaped to the Post — where he’s worked for nearly 18 years since.


However, you might know Bill better as the author of books about grammar: Lapsing into a Comma: A Curmudgeon’s Guide to the Many Things That Can Go Wrong in Print — and How to Avoid Them (2000), the Elephants of Style: A Trunkload of Tips on the Big Issues and Gray Areas of Contemporary American English (2004) and his latest, published last year — Yes, I Could Care Less: How to be a Language Snob Without Being a Jerk. Find Bill’s web site here and his Twitter feed here.


Suzanne Yada is a web and social media strategist based in Berkeley, Calif. A 2004 graduate of the College of the Sequoias in Visalia, Calif., Suzanne spent four years as a copy editor for the Visalia Times-Delta before heading to San Jose State for a degree in journalism. She served as social media director for the Public Press of San Francisco, managing editor of the Global Media Initiative — in London and Paris — and as a reporter for the Spartan Daily. She graduated in 2010 and interned at the San Jose Business Journal before joining the Center for Investigative Reporting as a senior web producer. She produced two projects that were judged to be finalists for a Pulitzer prize, but was laid off last summer. Find her web site here and her Twitter feed here.

Garrett, Nina, Jana, Suzanne, Jon, Josh, Mandi, Jen, Jay and Bill share a birthday with actors Jonah Hill Feldstein (better known as Jonah Hill), Michael Badalucco, Nicole de Boer, John Benedict Hillerman and Charlie Callas; musicians Christopher Mark Robinson (of the Black Crowes), David Roland Cook, Joanna Noëlle Blagden Levesque (better known as JoJo), Stephen William “Billy” Bragg, Alan Parsons and George Peter John Criscuola (better known as Peter Criss of Kiss); director George Roy Hill; TV producer Richard Anthony “Dick” Wolf; models Lara Catherina Stone and Jillian Grace; sports greats Richard Joseph “Rich” Gannon, Jack Leroy Christiansen (both football), Aubrey Lewis Huff III, Cecil Celester Cooper and David Wright (all three baseball); tire dealer Harvey Samuel Firestone; alleged spoon-bender Uri Geller and politicians Harry Flood Byrd Jr. and George Ervin “Sonny” Purdue III.

In addition, today is Game Day, Mudd Day, National Sangria Day, the World Day of Prayer and Action for the Children and International Human Solidarity Day. Seriously.

Have an terrific birthday today, folks! Best wishes!

Gannett’s Des Moines design studio promotes Bill Wambeke

Sean McKeown-Young — creative director of the Gannett Design Studio in Des Moines, Iowa — sends along yet another bulletin.

He writes:

I can’t overstate how thrilled I am to announce that Bill Wambeke is taking over my beloved Wisconsin Team as Team Leader.


This was a position near and dear to my heart. Bill doesn’t just meet the high expectations that we all have for Wisconsin Team Management, he far exceeds them. He’s also a really spectacular guy with really spectacular ideas. I can’t wait to see where he takes them. We made the announcement at the studio exactly 7 minutes ago [Thursday] – so you are the first, outside of the studio, to know.

Bill Wambeke is a 2004 graduate of Valley City State University in Valley City, ND. He was born and raised in north central Wyoming.

Bill started in newsrooms immediately after graduation. He was county government reporter and part-time copy editor/paginator at the American News in Aberdeen, S.D. In May 2006, he moved on to the Sheridan Press in Sheridan, Wyo., where he again was a county government reporter and outdoors editor. Then in October 2006 he moved to the Times-News in Twin Falls, Idaho, where he was a copy editor/page designer and then news editor. In May 2010, Bill moved to the Journal Star in Lincoln, Neb., where he was a copy editor/page designer.

In April 2011, Bill became the presentation editor of The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead in Fargo, N.D.

011112 Wed(A1)COLOR

010613 Sun (A1,A10)-2nd-cmyk

111312 Tue(C1) Variety

082811 Sun(B1) Life


Finally, he joined us at Gannett’s Des Moines design studio in June 2013. He has led Green Bay’s design since his arrival.

He is greatly respected and admired in the studio and newsroom.

Find more of Bill’s work here. Find his Twitter feed here.

Birthdays for Friday, Dec. 19

Here’s wishing the happiest of birthdays to three excellent visual journalists…


Dan Buettner is the founder of Port 80 Productions, a company that creates custom web-based software. A graduate of Grinnell College in Iowa, Dan worked for a company called Outsell, Inc., and then spent several years as IT manager for the Des Moines Register. Find his blog here and his Twitter feed here.


Brian Cleveland is a multiplatform editor for the Washington Post. A 1997 graduate of the University of Missouri, Brian spent four years as a copy editor for the News Tribune of Duluth, Minn., before joining the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va., in 2005 as a copy editor. He was promoted to chief of the Pilot’s copy desk in 2007 but left in 2011 to join the Post. Find his Twitter feed here. Brian turns 36 today.


Dan Taylor is a freelance comic book writer in Orange County, Calif. You might know him as the writer and co-creator of the web comic Hero Happy Hour. A graduate of California State University in Long Beach, Calif. Dan spent two-and-a-half years as an editor with IDW publishing before going it alone. Find his web site here and his Twitter feed here.

Brian, Dan and Dan share a birthday with actors Jacob Benjamin “Jake” Gyllenhaal, Alyssa Jane Milano, Amy Rose Locane, Marla Lynne Sokoloff, Jessica Steen, Jennifer Beals, Timothy L. Reid, Cicely Tyson and Robert Michael Urich; musician Walter Anthony Murphy Jr.; magician Christopher Nicholas Sarantakos (better known as Criss Angel); sports greats Reginald Howard “Reggie” White, Warren Carlos Sapp, Randall Cornell McDaniel, Jason Steven “Jake” Plummer, Robert Lawrence “Bobby” Layne (all five football), Kevin Edward McHale (basketball) and Albert William “Al” Kaline (baseball); paleoanthropologist Richard Erskine Frere Leakey, WABC-TV news anchor Lizabeth Aimee “Liz” Cho; talk show host David Susskind and former Soviet leader Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev.

In addition, today is Underdog Day. Seriously.

Best wishes, you three! Have a wonderful birthday today!