Erica Smith named digital news editor of the Virginian-Pilot

Longtime Midwest-based print and digital journalist Erica Smith is moving to the Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk, Va.


She tells us:

The digital news editor (that’s me!) is going to help push the Pilot from being an excellent newspaper to being an excellent media company. That means we’re going to be trying some new things online.

She starts April 27, she says.

A 1999 graduate of Northwest Missouri State University, Erica spent three years as a designer for the Times of Munster, Ind., before moving to the News Tribune of Tacoma, Wash., for a year. She returned to Munster as design editor in 2004 and moved to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch as a news designer in 2006. She slid over to the interactive side in 2008 as a multimedia producer and then was named social media editor in 2010.

She left newspapers in 2012 to become “curator in chief” for Infuz, a digital marketing agency in St. Louis. She moved to Real Time STL in 2013 and then to her current position last summer as an online producer for St. Louis Public Radio.

Erica has run a number of other sites, too. Among them:

  • Paper Cuts, which tracks the number and locations of newspaper layoffs across the U.S.
  • The Story of Man, where she collects headlines that say “man did this” or “man does that.” Funny stuff.
  • Live & Kern, a general interest blog. “Wisdom and whimsy in generous doses,” she calls it.

Find her personal web site here and her Twitter feed here.

Joanne Sosangelis named director of Gannett’s Asbury Park Design Studio

Joanne Sosangelis — the creative director for Gannett’s Asbury Park design studio — has been tapped to fill the position left vacant by the departure of studio director Tim Frank.


Hollis Towns, vice president for news at the Asbury Park Press, made the announcement back in March 16. He wrote, in part:

Joanne started with the Studio in June of 2011 as Creative Director, and launched the first paper to be designed outside of a local Gannett newsroom, Cherry Hill’s Courier-Post. No stranger to redesigns, Joanne has spent most of her 18-year career involved in revamping, refreshing and rethinking the approach to presentation. From Westchester’s Journal News to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution to the 15 papers she has overseen as Creative Director, all have been influenced by her touch.

“Tim left some pretty big — and purple — shoes to fill, but I’m confident of a smooth transition because of the strong team we built together,” Joanne said. “Steve Jobs once said; ‘design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.’ The Studio remains committed to ensuring that our papers not only look aesthetically pleasing, but are truly functional for our readers first and foremost.”

The creative director’s position will be posted.

A 1988 graduate of Philadelphia’s Moore College of Art & Design. Joanne spent several years as art director for features at the Journal News in Westchester, N.Y. She moved to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2005 and ran the graphics department there before becoming art director for the Sunday paper. She moved to the Gannett studio in 2011.

I might add that Joanne’s dad is longtime Philadelphia Inquirer design manager Dave Milne. She tells us:


Find Joanne’s design portfolio here and the web site for her photography business, Skye & Raine Photography, here.

Find her Twitter feed here.

Birthdays for Friday, March 27

Here’s wishing the happiest of birthdays to six outstanding visual journalists…


Julie Dart works on the editorial staff of the Indiana Register and Administrative Code Division, based in Indianapolis. A 1980 graduate of Scropps College, Julie earned a master’s degree from UC Berkeley in 1985. She interned at the Los Angeles Daily Journal and the Los Angeles Times before going to work for the San Bernardino Sun. She moved to Indianapolis in 1987 and spent five years with the Indianapolis News and then 10 years with the Indianapolis Star as a content and copy editor. In 2012, she moved to the Arizona Republic in Phoenix as a copy editor for features and business. She returned to Indiana and spent a year with the office for code revision before starting in her current position last summer. She’s currently studying paralegal studies from Indiana Purdue at Indianapolis.


Elisa Glass is art director for the Atlantic magazine in Washington, D.C. Originally from Virginia Beach, Elisa earned a bachelors degree in Spanish at the University of Virginia before heading to the University of Missouri. She worked for the Missourian and for Vox magazine, earning a masters degree in magazine design in 2008. She interned at the Southern Progress Corporation before moving to the D.C. area, where she became a designer for Northern Virginia magazine. She was promoted to senior designer in 2010 and art director in 2011. She moved to the Atlantic in 2013. Elisa turns 32 today.


Lindsay Hack is a designer for the Gannett Design Studio in Louisville, Ky. She’s a 2006 graduate of Ball State University who served an internship at the Louisville Courier-Journal and then never left. She designed for all sections of the paper plus special projects and then rolled over into the studio when Gannett went to its hub system in 2011. In her spare time, she creates and sells handmade jewelry. Find her Etsy store here, her hobby blog here, her news design portfolio blog here and her Twitter feed here. Lindsay turns 31 today.


Lauren Huntington is a designer for the Star-Tribune of Casper, Wyo. A 2008 graduate of Casper College, Lauren spent a year as art director for the Moon Valley Tattler in Phoenix, Ariz., before joining the Star Tribune in 2011. Find her Twitter feed here. Lauren turns 28 today.


Christopher Kozlowski is creative services manager for BluePearl Veterinary Partners in Tampa, Fla. 1986 graduate of Eastern Michigan University, Chris worked as a reporter for the Northville Record and Novi News in Michigan before becoming a designer for the Ft. Wayne, Indiana, News-Sentinel. After that, he worked as design editor of the Lansing State Journal, design editor of the North Hills News Record in Warrendale, Pa., graphics editor — and then AME/Presentation — of the Detroit News, and news design editor at the Boston Globe. He spent a year as Creative Director of Belo Interactive in 1999 before moving back into print as AME/Presentation of the Arizona Republic in Phoenix. He joined the St. Petersburg Times in 2006 as graphics and multimedia director and was promoted to design editor in 2012. He departed the Times last month. Koz turns 53 today.


Larrisa Turner is content coach for the Journal and Courier of Lafayette, Ind. A 2007 graduate of Purdue University, Larrisa spent two-and-a-half years as a copy editor for the Journal and Courier before moving to Gannett’s Louisville in 2012. She moved back to Lafayette a year later and moved into her current position in November. Find her portfolio here and her Twitter feed here.

Lauren, Julie, Lindsay, Elisa, Larrisa and Koz share a birthday with actors Pauley Perrette, Nathan Fillion, Brenda Song, Taylor Humphries, Michael Hugh Johnson (better known as Michael York), David Janssen, Richard Denning and Gloria Josephine Mae Swenson (better known as Gloria Swanson); musicians Mariah Carey, Stacy Ann “Fergie” Ferguson (of the Black Eyed Peas), Kimbra Lee Johnson (who usually goes by just her first name), Anthony George “Tony” Banks (of Genesis) and Sarah Lois Vaughan; director Quentin Jerome Tarantino; radio and TV announcer Frederick William Foy; sports greats William Caleb “Cale” Yarborough (auto racing), Robert Joseph Guerrero (boxing), Michael Brent Cuddyer, Gerald Dempsey “Buster” Posey III (both baseball), James Michael “Mike” Curtis and Randall Cunningham (both football); political commentator Anthony Lewis; politician Cyrus Roberts Vance; cartoonist Carl Barks; lithographer Nathaniel Currier and architect Ludwig Mies van deer Rohe.

In addition, today is Celebrate Exchange Day, Quirky Country Music Song Titles Day and Viagra Day. Seriously.

Have a truly great birthday today, all! Best wishes!

An interesting angle to hoops, smack in the middle of Big Dance season

Looks like Ian Lawson — lead sports designer of the Omaha World Herald — has been up to more cool stuff lately.

He tells us:

We were in the middle of our coverage of the Omaha rounds of the NCAA Tournament when sports editor Thad Livingston told us we had a really cool local story coming up for Sunday: It was about how the Sudanese population in Omaha have really taken to and learned a lot from the game.

The story follows the arrival of one young man at age nine, how he’s introduced to the game, how it helps get him into college and then he goes home to help other members of his community.

It also touches on what life is like for these refugees and what they go though knowing nothing of the way of life outside of war-torn Sudan and adjust to things like, cars, toilets and seeing yourself in the mirror for the first time.

I was feeling a little burned out on college ball, so I asked  if I could take it on.

Once I read through what turned out to be a great story — backed up by some cool photos and lots of interesting sidebars — I worked up a cover design and asked if we could play it up and treat it special.

So Thad, [deputy presentation editor] Tim Parks and I went back and forth on the main photo and then once we settled on the group shot we decided to make the page mostly the display.


Click that or any other page here today for a much larger look.

Ian continues:

We were also fortunate to have plenty of pages in this edition so we were able to spread it out over 4 color pages inside.

Here are pages nine…


…and ten.


I wanted to play the images big so used them to top each page and tried to come up with a design that would hold all the elements but not feel too crowded. We love our white space in Omaha.

Here are pages 11…


…and 12.


It took some finessing to make it all fit, but I think it came together nicely.

Those wonderful photos were by Kent Sievers. Read the story here by Jon Nyatawa.


Ian spent three years as an editor and designer for the Ledger Independent of Maysville, Ky., before moving to the Gannett design studio in Louisville, Ky. in December 2011. He moved to Omaha in 2013.

Find Ian’s portfolio here and his Twitter feed here.

Small Mississippi daily seeks an art director with ‘a restless creativity’

Peter Imes, general manager of the Commercial Dispatch of Columbus, Miss., writes:

We are on the verge of making some big steps in terms of visual content in our paper and on our website… We’re a small paper and are aware of the down-scaling other papers are doing, but we firmly believe in the power good design and visuals have on our product and are ready to invest in improving our efforts there.

Any help you can offer in broadcasting this opening would be much appreciated.

Naturally, I’m happy to help play matchmaker. Here’s the official want ad:

The Commercial Dispatch, a family-owned, 14,000 circulation, six-day-a-week newspaper in northeast Mississippi, is seeking an art director to join our newsroom. This is a new position at The Dispatch.


Our community is thriving. There are two universities, a growing retail corridor, substantial industrial development and a thriving arts scene. Our newspaper, too, is riding this wave of prosperity.

We are committed to providing well-written stories relevant to our readers and need someone, who can provide and direct the creation of compelling visual content to complement the work of our reporting staff. This includes graphics, photography and design of section fronts.

The ideal candidate will possess a restless creativity, a passion for daily excellence. He or she will be a team player, a master of Adobe Creative Suite and have well-developed photographic sensibilities. By that we mean a hunger and appreciation for the unconventional image.

Peter’s not kidding. This paper has done some pretty impressive design from time to time. For example, three years ago, the Virginian-Pilot hired away a designer from the Commercial Dispatch. Here were samples from that designer’s portfolio:

with yellow banner

Layout 1

Left page - even

Not bad at all. And keep in mind: This is a 14,000-circulation daily.

The ad continues:

This person will manage a three-person design team and staff photographers. Initial tasks include coordinating and implementing redesigns of the print and online product.

You need to understand our brand, our mission and help make our presentation fit. Your creativity should shine, not suffer, beneath deadlines. Copy editing and headline writing skills are a must.

The salary is in the low to mid 40s. We offer health insurance, paid vacations and assistance with moving expenses.

To apply, please email your resume, portfolio and professional references to:

work [at]

No phone calls, please.

As the ad says, Columbus is in East Mississippi, near the Alabama state line. It’s about an hour west of Tuscaloosa and three hours southeast of Memphis.


The Mississippi University for Women is located in Columbus itself, but in nearby Starkville — less than a half-hour to the west — you’ll find a major college: Mississippi State University. In fact, the Commercial Dispatch is still selling a magazine edition commemorating the success the Bulldogs’ baseball team had a couple of years ago.

The Union army attacked Columbus during the Civil War, but Confederate troops managed to hold firm (which wasn’t the case in places like Atlanta, Ga., and Columbia, S.C.). As a result, the city is full of gorgeous and historic old antebellum homes.



There’s an Air Force Base there — one of only four flight training centers for the USAF. There’s also a steel plant and a number of high-tech aircraft and high-tech military contractors in the area.



Playwright Tennessee Williams was born in Columbus, as was boxer Henry Armstrong and Brooklyn Dodgers/N.Y. Yankees baseball broadcaster Red Barber.

Find the city’s convention and visitors’ bureau web site here.

Find the Commercial Dispatch web site here and its Twitter feed here.

Find Peter Imes’ columns here and his Twitter feed here.