Birthdays for Tuesday, June 30

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


Kristin Askelson is news director and content strategist for the Daily Advertiser in Lafayette, La. A 1991 graduate of Michigan State University, Kristin spent two-and-a-half years as copy desk chief of the Journal-News of Hamilton, Ohio. She moved to the Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer in 1998, serving as assistant features editor, features editor and then assistant managing editor before moving to Louisiana in 2010 as managing editor. She was promoted to her current position in 2013. Find her Twitter feed here.


Greg Haas is assistant online director for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. A 1985 graduate of Colorado State University, Greg has been at the Review-Journal for 27 years, starting as a copy editor and then as assistant news editor and then assistant managing editor for systems and design. He moved into his current position in 2012. Greg turns 53 today.


Dan Murphy is head brewer at the Fairhope Brewing Company in Fairhope, Ala. A 2002 graduate of the University of Alabama, Dan served as a photographer, photo director and managing editor of the student paper there, the Crimson White. He spent five years as assistant manager of marketing for the university’s athletic department before joining the Lake City (Fla.) Reporter in 2003 as a page designer. He moved to the Mobile Press Register in 2004, designing pages and writing a beer column. He moved to the beer business in 2012. Find his Flickr feed here. Dan turns 36 today.


Patrick Smith is a digital journalist for the World-Herald of Omaha, Neb. A 2004 graduate of the University of Nebraska, Patrick worked as a reporter and a copy editor for the student paper there, the Daily Nebraskan, and served internships at the News-Post of Frederick, Md., and the New York Times. He spent a year as a copy editor for the Des Moines (Iowa) Register and then two at the Stelter marketing company before re-entering newspapers again in 2008 as night city editor of the Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star. In 2010, he was named assistant online editor for sports. In 2011, he leaped to the World-Herald.


Aaron Steckelberg is art and graphics director for the San Diego Union-Tribune. A 1998 graduate of the University of Nebraska, Aaron spent a year-and-a-half as an artist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and a year at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution before moving to the Philadelphia Inquirer in 2000. He moved to the Boston Globe in 2004 and then to the Union-Tribune in 2006 as principal news artist. He was promoted to deputy graphics director in 2012 and then to his current position in 2013. Find his web site here and his Twitter feed here.


Brian Stewart is media relations director for and based in Washington, D.C. A 2011 graduate of the University of Iowa, Brian worked for the Student Press Law Center and served as editor of the student newspaper there, the Daily Iowan. He started work at the Center for American Progress in 2011 as an associate editor and was promoted the next year to journalism and online communications manager at Campus Progress. He moved on to MoveOn last summer. Find Brian’s web site here and his Twitter feed here.

Aaron, Brian, Dan, Kristin, Patrick and Greg share a birthday with actors Vincent Phillip D’Onofrio, Brian Keith Bloom, Wendy Davis and Elizabeth Anne “Lizzy” Caplan; musicians Fantasia Monique Barrino (who normally goes by just her first name), Cheryl Ann Tweedy (better known as Cheryl Cole), Florence Glenda Ballard Chapman (of the Supremes), Hal Andrew Lindes (of Dire Straits) and Lena Mary Calhoun Horne; sports greats Michael Fred Phelps II (swimming), Chan-Ho Park (baseball), Mitchell James “Mitch” Richmond (basketball), Miles Jonathon Austin III (football), Sterling Marlin (auto racing) and Michael Gerard “Mike” Tyson (boxing); magician Harry Blackstone Jr.; oceanographer Robert Duane Ballard, Your Grammar Sucks video host John Patrick “Jack” Douglass and nationally syndicated columnist Thomas Sowell.

In addition, today is National Organization for Women Day and Leap Second Time Adjustment Day. Seriously.

Have a great birthday, folks! Best wishes!

A lush graphic look at a biodiverse mountaintop rainforest

Have you ever heard of the Google Forest in northern Mozambique?

Me, neither.

Botanists from the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens near London theorized there must be some virgin biodiverse rainforest-like territory near Malawi and Mozambique, nearly a mile above sea level.

They used Google Earth to search for likely spots and eventually zeroed in on Mount Mabu.


Bingo! The area proved to be as biologically diverse as hoped. Scientists have been studying it ever since.

This happened ten years ago. My friends at Graphics24 in South Africa celebrated this anniversary with an ginormous graphic that explains how what’s become known as the Google Forest was discovered and some of the species found there.

Click this for a much, much larger look:

Google Forest new

Graphics24 graphics editor Andre Gouws tells me:

I had an idea for this one when I read an article that this forest was discovered by Western scientists ten years ago. I thought it would be great to show this amazing forest in all its beauty in an infographic.

I did the research, found the names of all the new species, and told Hanlie Malan about my idea to sketch the forest filled with all these beautiful creatures.

I love doing these kind of arty graphics with Hanlie.

Hanlie picks up the story:

This graphic was Andre’s great idea. He asked me to make sure to create the feeling that when you look at it, it must feel like you are inside a forest.


First I made a study of all the trees — I found a great site with all the info, then I proceeded with a rough drawing to be able to figure out where each bird/plant/insect etc must go. I discussed it with Andre first, and then I started the detailed drawing of the trees, after which I added the colors and effects. This took me one whole weekend and the following Monday nonstop.

After that was done, I started drawing each animal/insect separately, knowing it would facilitate the process as I go along, in case it needed to be made bigger or smaller or moved to add info later on.



The snake took many hours to draw.


Andre supplied a lot of info which helped me to me able to illustrate a lot of the newly found fauna and flora. I used a few different artist pens for all of the drawings. I added each one’s colors separately as well, and these took me an additional two weekends, but I also worked on this a few times during the weeks, when I had time, between my other work.

Yes, you are 100% correct by saying I drew it first, scanned it in and then added the colors in Photoshop. I drew everything quite big so that it could have a lot of detail afterwards, when scanned and reduced in size. I tried to make it look hand-colored with the effects I used.


And yes, I added the ‘halo’s’ to make them stand out, I am glad you say it works.

Andre finishes the story by adding:

I sent the graphic to the researcher, Dr. Julian Bayliss (he is in Malawi now)…


…and he very kindly responded with some additional info. He also asked for a copy of the graphic. He says he likes it a lot.

Graphics24 is the infographics division of South African media giant Media24. Among the company’s many holdings: Daily Afrikaans-language papers in Johannesburg, Bloomfontein and Cape Town, two large nationally-distributed Sunday papers — one publishes in Afrikaans and one in English — and a number of tabloids. I did quite a bit of teaching and consulting work for the company’s print operation between 2009 and 2011.

This graphic ran in the English-language Sunday paper, City Press. I’m told it’s possible it might also appear in City Press‘ Afrikaans-language counterpart, Rapport.

Hanlie Malan works out of the company’s Port Elizabeth office.


I posted about her work from time to time during my trips to South Africa. Here’s an example of her graphic work.

Here’s what I wrote about graphics editor Andre Gouws back in 2010, when Media24 appointed him to be graphics director:

Andre is very sharp and very organized. He has a ton of experience as both and editor and a manager, having worked in Cape Town and then at the Gulf News in Dubai.


When I was here [in 2009], I helped write a job description and recommended criteria for a departmental leader. Seems to me they’ve chosen wisely.

In November of last year, Andre and Hanlie teamed up to create a nice piece on the Berlin Wall. A month later, they worked on a piece that observed the 10th anniversary of the gigantic tsunami that affected the Indian Ocean.

Find the Graphics24 online graphics archive here.

Birthdays for Monday, June 29

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


Diane Graham is a freelance writer and editor in Des Moines, Iowa. A graduate of Drake University in Des Moines, Diane spent 32 years at the Des Moines Register, starting out as a college intern and leaving in 2005 as a managing editor.


Larry Holeva is executive editor of the Scranton, Pa., Times-Tribune, the Citizens’ Voice of Wilkes-Barre and the Standard-Speaker of Hazleton. A graduate of Penn State, Larry worked as a reporter at the Scrantonian-Tribune before joining the Scranton Times in 1987. He spent time as a reporter and editor in news and sports and then was named assistant managing editor of the Times and Tribune in 2000. In 2004, he became managing editor of the Citizens’ Voice and then added responsibilities for the Hazleton paper in 2007. He took on his current duties in 2012. Find Larry’s Twitter feed here.


Betsy Simnacher is a community liaison for Homeward Bound in Dallas, Texas. A 1973 graduate of Texas Tech, Betsy worked as a copy editor for the Dallas Morning News and then the Austin American-Statesman before becoming systems manager of the Morning News in 1976. She then spent 25 years as a free-lance writer and editor, as well as teaching journalism at Richland and North Lake community colleges. She rejoined the Morning News in 2007 as a content coordinator and stayed there until 2011. She spent time as a copy editor for Success magazine of Lake Dallas and for Pinnacle Technical Resources. Find her web site here and her Twitter feed here.


Anne Saker is a health and medicine reporter for the Cincinnati (Ohio) Enquirer. A 1981 graduate of Ohio University, Anne spent seven years as a reporter for United Press International and then another five writing for the Gannett News Service before moving to the Raleigh, N.C., News & Observer in 1994. She moved to the Portland Oregonian in 2004 where she covered business news. In 2012, she took a leave of absence to go home to Ohio. She spent a year as a floral clerk in a Kroger grocery store and blogged about it from time to time. She freelanced a while for the New York Times and WCPO before joining the Enquirer last fall. Find Anne’s Twitter feed here.


Hanlie Stadler is a digital business editor for Sake Nuus, the business news unit of Media24, a huge media company in South Africa. She’s based in Cape Town. A 1994 graduate of Stellenbosch University in the Western Cape, she went on to earn a second degree at Wits University in Johannesburg. After ten years as a content editor at Rapport — the Afrikaans-language national Sunday paper — Hanlie moved to Sake in 2011. Find her Twitter feed here. Hanlie turns 44 today.


Amy Wilson is storytelling coach for the Cincinnati Enquirer. She spent several years reporting for papers in New York, Florida and Michigan before landing at the Herald-Leader of Lexington, Ky. She spent some time at the Orange County Register before moving to Cincinnati last winter. Find her Twitter feed here.

Larry, Hanlie, Anne, Diane, Amy and Betsy share a birthday with actors William Gary Busey, Sharon Elizabeth Lawrence, Melora Diane Hardin and Louis Burton Lindley Jr. (better known as Slim Pickens); actor-turned-congressman Frederick Lawrence “Fred” Grandy; comedian-turned-actor Richard Philip Lewis; musicians Nicole Prescovia Elikolani Valiente Scherzinger (of the Pussycat Dolls), Colin James Hay (of Men at Work), Matthew Frederick Robert Good, Bret Peter Tarrant McKenzie (of Flight of the Conchords) and Eva Narcissus Boyd (better known as Little Eva); Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner; sports greats George Hincapié Garcés (cycling), Harmon Clayton Killebrew, Pedro Guerrero (both baseball), Joe Marcus Johnson (basketball), Martin Lee Truex Jr. and Jeffrey Brian “Jeff” Burton (both auto racing) and movie special effects master Raymond Frederick “Ray” Harryhausen.

In addition, today is Please Take my Children to Work Day. Seriously.

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

Birthdays for Sunday, June 28

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


Martin Gee is senior art director for Time magazine in New York City. Martin studied illustration at San Jose State University and interned at the San Jose Mercury News and the Miami Herald before joining the Orange County Register in 1998. In 2000, Martin left newspapers to work as a designer for the House of Blues. He leaped back into news design with Chicago’s RedEye in 2005 and then slipped over to the mothership Chicago Tribune before moving back to the Mercury News in 2006. In 2008, he became art director of the monthly Oregon Business magazine. In 2010, he moved to the Boston Globe as features design supervisor. He joined Huffington, the Huffington Post‘s iPad project in 2012 as a senior designer. He moved to Time last summer. His wife, Carrie Hoover Gee, is also a senior art director for Time. Find Martin’s web site here and his Facebook fan page here. Find his Twitter feed here.


Pratheesh G. Nair is a journalist for Malayala Manorama Daily in Palakkad, India. A graduate of the University of Kerala in Trivandrum, Pratheesh spent a year as a journalist trainee for Kerala Kaumundi before joining his current paper in 2010. Find his Twitter feed here. Pratheesh turns 29 today.

Pratheesh and Martin share a birthday with actors John Paul Cusack, Robert Stanley “Rob” Dyrdek, Kathryn Felicia Day, Jack Stephen “Steve” Burton, Kathleen Doyle “Kathy” Bates, Bruce Davison, Noriyuki “Pat” Morita, Türkan Şoray, Alice Maud Krige, Sara “Lalla” Ward, Gilda Susan Radner and John Biener (better known as John Byner); musicians Kellie Dawn Pickler and Richard Charles Rodgers; writer-producer-actor Melvin Kaminsky (better known as Mel Brooks); sports greats Alphonso Erwin Downing, Donald Edward Baylor, Mark Eugene Grace (all three baseball), Robert Matthew “Bobby” Hurley (basketball), John Albert Elway, Charles Louis “Chuck” Howley (both football) and Robert Glenn “Junior” Johnson, Jr. (auto racing owner); PalPal, SpaceX and Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk; diplomat Hans Martin Blix; politician Leon Edward Panetta; religious leader John Wesley and Henry VIII, King of England.

In addition, today is Log Cabin Day, Descendants Day, America’s Kids Day and International Body Piercing Day. Seriously.

Have a great birthday, you two! Best wishes!

The day’s nine best gay marriage front pages

Here’s a look at what I feel are the nine best front pages today dealing with Friday’s landmark Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage.

Newark, N.J.
Circulation: 278,940

If you haven’t seen this page already, then you’re probably not spending enough time on social media.

This is the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., which elected to lead today’s front page with a charmingly simple illustration of a rainbow heart and the closing lines of Friday’s majority opinion, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy.


That was designed by the Star-Ledger‘s sports designer, Kiersten Schmidt – who is soon leaving the business, she says, to go to grad school at the University of North Carolina.

Kiersten wrote last night on her Facebook timeline:

In my last few months as a newspaper designer, I’ve been fortunate to design pages for some pretty cool events — the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years, the 29th player in MLB history to reach 3,000 hits (who also happens to be one of my favorite players) — but this one was far and away the best.

As I move onto North Carolina and a (ever-so-slight) career change, this is the page that will stay with me.

To be honest, a lot of days it feels like what I do doesn’t really matter. Not today. Today I decided to stray away from what you’re “supposed” to do when big news breaks because I felt that today’s news deserved something a bit more.

I hope when the people of New Jersey pick up their papers on Saturday, they feel the happiness in their heart that I felt when I designed this page. I hope they think of this page and Kennedy’s words when they remember the day we all became a little more equal.

Love wins. And good design matters.

Nicely done.

Find Kiersten’s web site and portfolio here.

Cleveland, Ohio
Circulation: 246,571

The Cleveland Plain Dealer also led today with just the text of Justice Kennedy’s


The text against the stark black background is very sharp indeed.

This was designed by Josh Crutchmer, I’m told. Which explains why it looks so awesome.

Norfolk, Va.
Circulation: 142,476

From a stark black background to a stark white background: The Virginian-Pilot today also used that same excerpt.


Notice how designer Wes Watson used the same trick Josh did in Cleveland: He emphasized that last emphatic sentence.

Wesley tells us:

As I understand it, Paul [Nelson, design team leader] and new editor Steve Gunn had the idea at the same time to use the excerpt as the front.

So Paul had me work it up quickly to see how it would play out. I knew I didn’t want to knockout text; I wanted it as light and fresh as possible. We tried a couple of versions where we had another story and refers, and then just refers. My feeling was if we’re going to dedicate this much space — because we’re saying this is important — having anything else out there takes away from that message. And everyone seemed to agree.

So we removed everything else we could all the way down to the barcode. Simple and clean.

Mountain Home, Ark.
Circulation: 9,156

I realize this is probably stock art…


But, hey: I’d argue it’s the perfect piece of stock art, used in the perfect way on the perfect day.

UPDATE: I’m told this was designed by Valeria Rodriguez of the Gannett Design Studio in Des Moines.

San Francisco, Calif.
Circulation: 229,176

In San Francisco — ground-zero for the fight for same-sex marriage — the Chronicle published this fabulous front page today.


That is Jewelle Gomez and Diane Sabin, who were plaintiffs in a 2004 lawsuit involving gay marriage, at a City Hall news conference. Staffer Tim Hussin caught them in silhouette, against what appears to be a gay pride flag.

Omaha, Neb.
Circulation: 135,223

A number of papers went out to find local folks rushing to be the first married under the new world order.

In Omaha, Jenna Stanley and Kelly Brokaw had planned to get married in Iowa this weekend. But the ruling Friday morning caused them to move up their schedule and to stay at home.


The picture is by staffer Ryan Soderlin.

Note how clean that page is. When you have a gorgeous picture like that and it tells your story well, you know the drill: Play it big and get the hell out of its way.

UPDATE: I’m told this page was designed by Tim Parks.

Clarksville, Tenn.
Circulation: 14,596

That’s exactly what the folks did at the Leaf-Chronicle of Clarksville, Tenn.

Meet Travis Arms and Michael Vanzant, now husband and husband. Staffer Autumn Allison photographed them getting married by the Montgomery County Commissioner himself.


Nice headline, too.

Victoria, Texas
Circulation: 26,531

My former colleagues at the Victoria Advocate — deep in conservative South Texas — also ran their lead art big today and got the hell out of its way.


That’s Nicole Dimetman and Cleo DeLeon at Central Presbyterian Church in Austin Friday evening, photographed by staffer Jaime R. Carrero. The local significance: DeLeon is a descendent of Victoria’s founding family.

The wonderful Jessica Rodrigo had superb access to Ms. DeLeon for several months and wrote a great piece for today’s paper. Read it here.

That terrific page: Run it big. Get the hell out of its way. Right? That’s Kimiko Fieg, who’s semi-retiring this month after a decade or so as the Advocate‘s presentation editor.

Also, for what it’s worth, I left the Advocate with an exhaustive — but, sadly, incomplete — timeline history starting with the birth of the modern Gay Rights movement in New York City in 1969 and running through… well, my last day on Wednesday. My former colleagues updated the timeline and ran it in today’s paper.


In addition, my pal Jordan Rubio converted my work into an interactive version. Find that here.

Springfield, Mo.
Circulation: 35,531

But the award for luckiest shot of the day — which made for perfect lead art, if somewhat accidental — is this picture by Valerie Mosley of the Springfield, Mo., News-Leader of a rainbow after a Friday afternoon rain.


Does that sum up the story perfectly, or what?

UPDATE: This page, I’m told, was designed by Eric Fields and Sean McKeown-Young.

I put out a few messages this morning, seeking names of designers and so on. If you have any information to share — especially a few sentences on how the page came together — please send it to me. I’ll add it here as quickly as I can.

These front pages are all from the Newseum. Of course.