Birthdays for Sunday, March 29

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


Scott Heckel is a photographer for the Repository of Canton, Ohio. He’s a 1983 graduate of Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Mich. Find his SportsShooter page here. Scott turns 55 today.


Ryan Hildebrandt is the creative director of the Gannett Design Studio in Louisville, Ky. A 2002 graduate of Indiana University, Ryan began work as a temporary designer at the Indianapolis Star and then moved through the ranks, designing in every section. He left Indy in 2011 as news design director. Find his portfolio here and his Twitter feed here.


Mike Homan is an editor and designer for the universal desk of the McClatchy Publishing Center in Charlotte, N.C. A 1984 graduate of the University of Georgia, Mike worked as a news artist for the Savannah Morning News before moving to the Charlotte Observer in 1988. He has worked at the Observer as a news artist, graphics editor, advertising art director, and sales director. He spent four years with the Charlotte Business Journal before returning to the Observer newsroom in 2005 as page-one designer. He was folded into the McClatchy hub in 2011. He and his wife, Cindy, also own and operate Homan Designs Photography. Find his Twitter feed here. Mike turns 54 today.


Gary O’Brien is a certified occupational therapy assistant based in Tucson, Ariz. A 1979 graduate of Northern Arizona University, Gary worked for the North Las Vegas Valley Times, the Arizona Republic, the Arizona Daily Sun, the East Valley Tribune and the Mesa Tribune before joining the Charlotte Observer in 1988. He worked as a staff shooter, photo systems editor, regional picture editor and photo lab manager. He became the Observer’s night picture editor in 2006 but returned to Arizona in 2011, where he worked as a photographer, picture editor and multimedia producer. He went back to school to get his medical certificate at the Pima Medical Institute and started his new career last year. Find his portfolio here and his blog here. Find Gary’s Twitter feed here.

Ryan, Mike, Scott and Gary share a birthday with actors Eric Idle, Amy Louise Sedaris, Jessica Michelle Chastain, Lucille Frances Ryan (better known as Lucy Lawless), Christophe Guy Denis “Christopher” Lambert, Marina Sirtis and Hideaki Takizawa; musicians Pearl Mae Bailey, Peretz Bernstein (better known as Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction), John Popper (of Blues Traveler), Terrence Ross “Terry” Jacks and Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou (better known as Vangelis); sports greats Jennifer Marie Capriati (tennis), Dennis Dale “Denny” McLain, Denton True “Cy” Young (both baseball), Emlen Lewis Tunnell, Earl Christian Campbell, Justin Lee Tuck (all three football), Walter “Walt” Frazier (basketball) and George Blaha (announcer); model Elle Macpherson, retailer Samuel Moore “Sam” Walton, presidential brother William Alton “Billy” Carter III; coma victim Karen Ann Quinlan; politicians John Major, Eugene Joseph “Gene” McCarthy and John Tyler Jr. and political commentator John McLaughlin.

In addition to Palm Sunday, today is National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day, Niagara Falls Runs Dry Day, Texas Loves the Children Day and Knights of Columbus Founders Day. Seriously.

Have a wonderful birthday today, y’all! Best wishes!

Front page of the day

There’s a brilliant conceptual centerpiece on the front of today’s Lafayette, Ind., Journal & Courier:



  • A question headline — normally, I hate question headlines. But this one is very effective.
  • A wonderful typographical treatment on said headline.
  • What appears to be a little piece of stock art.
  • Lots of white space.
  • Nice decks on the two stories below.

This would have been designed in Gannett’s Louisville design studio. If anyone there can fill us in about details –  who designed it, how it came to be — please share.

This is the same paper — and the same design studio — that produced this page, back in January.


That, too, was stock art. I sent out several messages at the time trying to get details but came up empty-handed.

Both pages are great examples of how to build powerful, powerful work using stock images. Kudos to the kitchen staff.

Average daily circulation of the Journal & Courier is 25,531.

That page image is from the Newseum. Of course.

Birthdays for Saturday, March 28

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


William Castronuovo is editor and publisher of the Washington Reader in Washington, D.C. A 1983 graduate of the University of Maryland where he served as a reporter and then design director of the student paper there, the Maryland Diamondback, William has worked at a number of places over the years: The Washington Post weeklies, executive editor of the Reston (Va.) Times, graphics editor of the New York Daily News, art director of the Washington Times, sports art director of the National sports daily, publisher of a number of local D.C. suburban papers, design director of the Miami Herald, associate editor of the Gary (Ind.) Post-Tribune and then ten years as associate editor of the State of Columbia, S.C. Bill has been working since 2007 to launch the Reader. In addition, he’s working on a book that he hopes to publish soon.


Gary Nielson is a digital news and social media specialist for McClatchy’s 30 newsrooms, based in Charlotte, N.C. A graduate of the UMass in Amherst, Mass., Gary worked as a reporter and editor for the Valley Advocate, the Hartford Advocate, New Mass Media and the Anchorage Daily News before signing on as assistant features editor of the Charlotte Observer in 1988. He was made online editor of the Observer in 1995 and then moved to Knight Ridder Digital in 2000 as a national producer and then as market relations manager. He moved to McClatchy Interactive in 2012 and took on his current duties in 2013. Find his web site here and his Twitter feed here.

Gary and William share a birthday with actors Vincent Anthony “Vince” Vaughn, Dianne Wiest, Orla Brady, Annie Wersching, Nicholas John “Nick” Frost, Conchata Galen Ferrell and Kenneth Joseph “Ken” Howard; musicians Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta (better known as Lady Gaga), Reba Nell McEntire, Rodney Allan Atkins and Cheryl James (of Salt-N-Pepa); TV personality Kate Irene Kreider Gosselin; sports greats Richard Francis Dennis “Rick” Barry III, Luke Theodore Walton (both basketball), Gerald Eugene “Jerry” Sloan (basketball coach), Keith Matthew Tkachuk (hockey), James Bayard “Jim” Turner (football), Mark David Melancon (baseball) and Christopher Patrick “Chris” Myers (announcer); brewer August “Gussie” Anheuser Busch Jr. and talk show host John Ziegler.

In addition, today is Barnum and Bailey Day, Endometriosis Day, Virtual Advocacy Day, Weed Appreciation Day and Be Mad Day. Seriously.

Best wishes, you two! Have a terrific birthday today!

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.