Birth announcement: The Los Angeles Register

In case you haven’t heard the news: The owners of my paper, the Orange County Register, launched a new paper this morning in Los Angeles.

My colleague, Register graphics editor Jeff Goertzen, stayed to the end last night. He tells us:

If newspapers are a dying industry, someone forgot to tell Eric Spitz and Aaron Kushner, co-owners of Freedom Publications, Inc. Because last night, they just launched their fourth newspaper in Southern California.

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And this one was huge…the Los Angeles Register, a four-section, 60-page daily that will take a spot in the kiosks right next to the Los Angeles Times.

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Last night’s launch was a nail biter. At midnight, the Dodgers went into extra innings and the presses at the Orange County Register building were on hold until we could get a final score to post in the paper.

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We were a small group of about 40 employees and invited guests, huddled around the control panel of the presses, checking our mobile devices for updates on the game.

At 12:15 the game ended and by 12:34 the presses began rolling out 30,000 copies of Los Angeles’ newest daily newspaper. ​

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Posing with fresh copies last night: OC Register editor Rob Curley, LA Register editor Ron Sylvester and co-owner Eric Spitz.

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One of the coolest things about today’s debut edition: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote a column for our metro front about the quintessential movie about Los Angeles.

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That, by the way, was my one little contribution to today’s effort: I cut the background out of the little photo of Kareem.

Plus, today is Kareem’s 67th birthday. How nice that our new paper shares a birthday with him.

Reaction today via Facebook and Twitter has been fabulous. My favorite: This one by John T. Garcia of the Ventura County Star:

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Ha! Thanks much, John!

Today’s Focus page — which was previously a feature in the OC Register but has been exported to the Long Beach Register, the Riverside Press-Enterprise and, now, the LA Register — was created by our ace graphic artist Scott Brown:

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The actual anniversary of that turret explosion is Saturday. But a) We don’t have a Focus page on Saturdays, and b) We wanted something with a local angle for today’s papers. And the battleship Iowa is now a floating museum in San Pedro, in Los Angeles County.

But tomorrow’s page will be one of mine. And it, too, will have a local angle.

  • Find the Los Angeles Register‘s web site here.
  • Find the Facebook page here.
  • Find the Twitter feed here.

A cover montage made of crowdsourced photos

A couple of weeks ago, James A. Molnar of the Toledo Free Press Star shared his annual Opening Day baseball covers.

Now, he shares his crowdsourced 419 Day cover. Click for a larger look:

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The local area code in Toledo is 419, James tells us, so April 19 has now become a local holiday of sorts. He writes:

Toledo City Council officially recognized the celebratory day two years ago “to showcase Toledo, Ohio, foster civic pride, and to create an epicenter for an annual citywide celebration…”

When I was informed the story was going to be our Star cover, I wanted to do an area photo grid. We reached out to our Instagram followers and asked them to use #TFP419 and we would select our favorites to put on the cover.

The response was overwhelming. We had more than 140 photos to choose from 48 hours later.

Here’s the print version of the story…

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…and here’s a closeup of the key to the contributions for the cover montage.

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Go here to find the online version of the story.

A 2009 graduate of Marquette in Milwaukee, Wis., James served as a reporter, designer and then visual content editor for the student paper there, the Marquette Tribune.

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He spent a couple of months as a designer and editor for the Daily of Chatauqua, N.Y. and then seven months as an apprentice optician at Eyeglass World in Toledo before catching on at the Free Press in 2010. He also covers movies for the Free Press. Find his personal blog here, his portfolio here and his Twitter feed here.

Birthdays for Wednesday, April 16

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

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Richard Boyd is creative art director for the magazine division at the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal. A 1988 graduate of Guilford Technical Community College, Richard went to work right away for the Journal and has been there 26 years, serving as an artist and designer, creative services supervisor, graphics editor, design team leader and senior editor for design. He moved over to the magazine side in 2010 when the Journal‘s corporate parent, MediaGeneral, moved to design hubs.

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William P. Davis is director of research and innovation for the Bangor (Maine) Daily News. A 2011 graduate of the University of Maine in Orono, Will has worked as editor-in-chief of the university’s student newspaper, the Maine Campus, a copy editor for the Kennebec Journal and as an IT technician. He began work for the Daily News in 2010 as online editor and moved up this past year. He’s also written WordPress patches, plugins and his own URL shortener. Find Will’s personal web site here, his writing clips here, his page design portfolio here and his Twitter feed here.

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Naresh Khinchi is creative head of Gujarat of the Dainik Bhaskar group in Ahmedabad, India. Find his portfolio here and his design blog here. Naresh turns 34 today.

William, Naresh and Richard share a birthday with actors Jonathan Niven “Jon” Cryer, Martin Fitzgerald Lawrence, Ellen Rona Barkin, Liliana Berry Davis Mumy, Peter Billingsley, William Richard “Billy” West, Terence Alan Patrick Seán “Spike” Milligan, Edith Elizabeth Enke (better known as Edie Adams), Peter Alexander Baron von Ustinow (better known as Peter Ustinov) and Charles Spencer “Charlie” Chaplin; musicians Selena Quintanilla-Pérez (who normally went by only her first name), Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien (better known as Dusty Springfield), Stanley Robert “Bobby” Vinton Jr., Herbert Jay Soloman (better known as Herbie Mann) and Enrico Nicola “Henry” Mancini; sports greats Ferdinand Lewis “Lew” Alcindor Jr. (who later changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), Luol Deng (both basketball), Catherine Leigh “Cat” Osterman (softball), Bruce Douglas Bochy (baseball manager), Richard “Night Train” Lane, Jonathan Polynice Vilma (both football) and William Stephen “Bill” Bellichick (football coach); Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger (better known as Pope Benedict XVI) and inventor Wilbur Wright.

In addition, today is National Bookmobile Day, National Health Care Decisions Day, National Stress Awareness Day and Save the Elephant Day. Seriously.

Best wishes, folks! Have an terrific birthday!

Virginian-Pilot pays tribute to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel

Folks in Hampton Roads are mighty proud of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel that bridges the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay from Virginia Beach to the Eastern Shore of Virginia. They call it things like “the Eighth Wonder of the World,” which seems like so much hyperbole.

Until you drive across it. I did that while in the area on vacation once in 1991 and just fell in love with the CBBT — and the entire region. That’s one reason we leaped at the chance to move to Virginia Beach 11 years ago.

These pictures are from the last crossing I made, back in 2009. Most of the project is actually a causeway, suspended just a few feet above the water. At two points, though, you land on a tiny manmade island and then drive through the island…

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…and under one of three major shipping channels…

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…to emerge through another manmade island and back into the causeway.

This is looking across one of those channels, with the roadway below those rocks and linking up with the island in the distance.

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That was a particularly quiet morning. It’s not unusual to see giant container ships or even aircraft carriers scurrying though those waters.

The bridge-tunnel turns 50 today (Tuesday, April 15). To commemorate this, the Virginian-Pilot ran a huge story Sunday recounting the construction of this massive project.

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

The print version of the story — written by the Pilot‘s Dave Forster — was illustrated with vintage file photos of enormous devices built especially for the project.

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The sections of tunnel — or “tube” — were actually built in Texas and then shipped to the area via barge. The picture at the bottom of that page shows what it was like after the sections were assembled but before ventilation apparati and the roadbed were installed.

Here’s a double-page spread.

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In particular, I love the timeline across the top featuring a profile of the bridge.

I also like this picture of the Village People.

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Oh, wait. Those were construction workers. My bad.

Also my bad: Failing to ask who designed this. As soon as I find out, I’ll add it here. It was the amazing Sam Hundley.

As nice as all that is, the highlight of Sunday’s presentation was, perhaps, this full-page graphic drawn by my old colleague Bob Voros. Again, click this for a much larger look:

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As he does from time to time, Bob documented his process and was kind enough to share it with us.

He writes:

When I got this assignment, my first thought was to find examples of graphics that others have done on bridges, tunnels and similar type of construction projects. So I started to search at the NewsPageDesigners website for infographics that were tagged with bridge, tunnel, construction, etc. and downloaded any that I thought would be useful to get an idea from. Then I did a Google image search to see if there was anything else that might pop up that would be helpful.

Here are some examples of what I found:

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All are wonderful graphics. Even the ones that I couldn’t read because they weren’t in English.

My next step was to watch these two DVDs on the construction of the Chesapeake Bay-Bridge Tunnel:

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The DVD on the left is very dated — it was originally produced as the project was being built in the early 1960s. It has the grainy footage and monotone narration that took at least three cups of coffee to get through.

But the DVD on the right was much more helpful. It’s one of the History Channel’s “Modern Marvels” series, back when the History Channel had shows about history.

The first time I viewed this was just to see what was on it: I realized I was going to get a lot of information for the graphic from it. I watched it a second time more carefully, paying attention to what images I might need to capture — which I did on the third viewing.

Then, I watched it one last time to take specific notes:

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Now, I usually start making some rough sketches at this point but I didn’t get the DVDs until later on in the process. I did have a brief meeting with reporter Dave Forster, his editor Carl Fincke and our presentation team leader, Paul Nelson, before this where Dave generally laid out how the CBBT was constructed 50 years ago. He made the point that there were three machines that were key to the construction process – The Big D, The Two-Headed Monster and The Slab Setter. I needed to show all of them, a map of the CBBT and how the tunnels and islands that the bridges that make up the project were constructed.

So really, I only did one sketch:

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I decided the first thing I should put together was the satellite aerial photo map that would go on the right side of the graphic. I used aerial images from Bing, pasting screen shots together in Photoshop.

Here’s what that looked like:

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The image is bigger than I needed, because there was talk of showing where the other two bridge-tunnels in the region are located in relation to the CBBT. That idea was dropped, but not until after I layered all of this Photoshop. Oh, well…

The next step was to start drawing some of the objects to be used in the graphic. I downloaded a PDF from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel  District website – – that had a page on major components and structures. I used this and other diagrams and images I had captured off the DVDs to draw all the elements I would need to be in the graphic:

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Here’s what the graphic looked like early on before some of the elements were drawn…

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…and here it is later on in the process:

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As you can see, I moved the waterline down a bit and placed the circle diagrams that focused on the construction of the piles and roadway above it.

While working on this, I realized that the pilings are basically the backbone of the CBBT. The project would have failed if the first step of constructing nearly 15 miles of low-level trestle roadway could not be achieved.

Basically, all that was left at this point was fine-tuning all the illustrations and writing the copy to fit and then to get everything copy-edited.

Here, again, is the final version:

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Bob continues:

Some of the big numbers were changed: I had initially totaled up costs and other figures for the original CBBT construction in the early 1960s and that of the parallel crossing construction done in the late 1990s. It was decided to focus on the original construction totals only for the big numbers with the parallel crossing figures noted below them.

The online version of the story features not only Dave’s story, but also pictures by L. Todd Spencer and a video by the Pilot‘s Brian J. Clark. Find all that here.

(Oh, and here’s a tip for those of you who are burned out on nasty comments on stories: When you’re done reading that and watching the lovely videos, keep scrolling to the end. There are several wonderful comments from readers who had family connections to the construction and administration staff of the CBBT project.)

A native of Syracuse, N.Y., Bob Voros is a 1989 graduate of the State University of New York at Oswego. He spent five years at the Syracuse Post-Standard and two more at the San Antonio Light before joining the Pilot in 1993.

Bob gets frequent mention in my slideshows and here in the blog, because a) I’ve worked with him closely and b) because I appreciate how thorough he is with his work. You won’t find a better visual journalist anywhere, period.

A few other posts in which I’ve showcased his work:

  • January 2011: Step-by-step through a complex megagraphic with Bob Voros
  • January 2012: Virginian-Pilot plays horrific story, heartbreaking picture, above today’s nameplate
  • March 2012: The 150th anniversary of the Battle of the Ironclads
  • April 2012: How the Virginian-Pilot covered Friday’s Navy jet crash
  • April 2012: An extraordinary diagram to help explain an extraordinary event
  • August 2012: Bob Voros on why AP graphics needs a copy editor
  • August 2012: The Virginian-Pilot’s annual Fantasy Football preview guide
  • September 2013: Friday’s UFO reports explained, five days in advance

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

Average daily circulation for the Virginian-Pilot is 142,476.

Birthdays for Tuesday, April 15

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

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Deborah Block is associate brand manager for Del Monte Foods in San Francisco, Calif. A 2003 graduate of Connecticut College, Deborah earned a master’s degree in journalism from Miami University in 2005 and spent a year as a designer for the Prague Post in the capital city of the Czech Republic. She also spent three years as a features designer for the St. Petersburg Times before heading back to school at Indiana University in Bloomington to work on an MBA in marketing and management. Which she earned after studying overseas at Università Bocconi in Milan, Italy. She started work with Del Monte in 2010. Deborah turns 31 today.

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Dan Callahan is a marketing and public relations expert and the founder of the American Mustache Institute of St. Louis, which raised money for Challenger Baseball, a league for disabled kids. A 1978 graduate of Marquette University, Dan spent a year freelancing for the Milwaukee Sentinel and then four years as a reporter for the Waukesha Freeman. He spent time at Delta Dental of Minnesota and National Car Rental, among other companies. For the last few months, he’s been at BeyondAlpha.

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Dierdre Fernandes is a reporter for the Boston Globe. A 1997 graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., Deirdre worked for the Kinston (N.C.) Free Press and the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal before joining the Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk, Va., in 2003. She moved to the Globe in 2012, where she covers the western suburbs. Find her Twitter feed here. Deirdre turns 39 today.

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Waldimar Pelser is editor of Rapport, a national Afrikaans-language Sunday paper in South Africa and published out of Johannesburg. A 2000 graduate of Stellenbosch University, Waldimar earned a master’s degree from that same institution. He then spent time as a reporter and then a bureau chief for die Burger, the Afrikaans-language daily in Cape Town before shipping out to the University of Oxford in England to earn a second master’s. In 2004, he became a reporter for Beeld of Johannesburg, covering elections all over the continent before being named chief of Media24′s Lagos bureau in 2007. In 2009, he was named news editor of Beeld. He was named editor of a short-lived weekly news magazine, NewsNow, in 2011. He moved to Rapport in 2012 as senior deputy editor and was promoted to his current position last summer. Find his Twitter feed here.

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Claire Regan is the associate managing editor of the Staten Island (N.Y.) Advance. A 1980 graduate of Staten Island’s Wagner College, Claire has been an assistant professor of journalism at Wagner since 1983. Last year, she edited a book: Hurricane Sandy: The Storm that Changed Staten Island.

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Jeremy Steele is executive director of the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association in Lansing. A 2003 graduate of Michigan State, Jeremy worked as a reporter for the Port Huron Times Herald, the Lansing/Jackson Business Review and the Lansing State Journal before leaving newspapers in 2009 to work media relations. He began teaching as an adjunct at his alma mater in 2008 and teaches there still. Find his Twitter feed here.

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John Warren is public relations manager for the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, Va., home of the turret of the famous Civil War-era vessel Monitor. A 1992 graduate of Averett University in Danville, Va., John spent two years as night metro editor and copy editor for the Roanoke Times before joining the Virginian-Pilot in 1999 as a reporter and, eventually, a columnist. He left three years ago to run a old-fashioned general store and picture framing shop — and, practically, a cultural center — in an historical old building in Gloucester, Va.  Find its Facebook fan page here. John turns 45 today.

Deborah, Jeremy, Waldimar, Dan, Deirdre, John and Claire share a birthday with actors Emma Charlotte Duerre Watson, Emma Thompson, Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Victoria Montgomery; musicians David “Dave” Edmunds, Keidran Jones (better known as Iyaz), Roy Linwood Clark and Bessie Smith; sports greats Tim Thomas (hockey), Kunishige Kamamoto (soccer), Daniel Way (skateboarding) and Michael Jerome Cooper (basketball); writer Henry James, columnist Ponce Kiah Michelle Cruse (better known as Heloise), politician Nikita Sergeyevich Khruschev and inventor+artist Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci.

In addition to the deadline to file an income tax return here in the U.S., today is National Library Day, Bicycle Day, Jackie Robinson Day, McDonald’s Day, Rubber Eraser Day and World Art Day. Seriously.

Best wishes, all! Have a truly great birthday!