Tonight: The debut of ‘Gotham’ on Fox. Today: Ryan Huddle’s ‘Gotham’ posters.

My old pal Ryan Huddle — a features designer for the Boston Globe — has been a busy guy lately.

Yeah, he and his wife — humor columnist and author Aprill Brandon — have a young son, Riker, who keeps them occupied. I mean, in addition to that. Ryan received some love from the Fox TV network lately for posters he designed for the new Gotham TV show that debuts tonight on their lineup.


Gotham will tell stories set in fictional Gotham City — better known as the home of Bruce Wayne, aka the Batman. The idea is to show the events that lead up to Batman and his compulsion to rid that dirty city of crime.

The show will debut tonight — at 8 p.m., here in the LA area. As they say: Check your local listings. The reviews have been outstanding.

Ryan tells us his poster was for a fan contest that was announced back during the San Diego Comicon. Back in July, the Hollywood Reporter reported:

The network is asking fans to create their own Gotham poster and/or trailer with the grand-prize winners earning a trip to the New York City premiere party of the Batman prequel series…

The poster contest tasks fans to design a one-sheet utilizing specific assets, such as graphics, fonts, images and title cards provided by Fox.

Ryan told me last week:

Please don’t tell anyone yet — because they have not announced it yet — is that I won the Gotham Fan poster contest. Aprill and I are going to New York to attend the premire in Times Square and Fox is going to print the poster and the cast is going to sign it.

So I will have an awesome new poster for Riker’s Room.

Now that the dynamic three are back from the real Gotham City, Ryan tells us how the whole thing came about. Aprill was the one who spotted the contest and urged Ryan to enter. Especially given Ryan’s previous work — he’s done tons of movie-oriented pages for the Victoria (Texas) Advocate and, now, the Boston Globe.




Ryan tells us:

Fox provided the images and title Gotham to use. There were 3 things were we judged on: creativity, originality and use of provided art. You could not use anything Batman in the posters.

Ryan created seven posters in all, including the one I showed you above. He says…

…all of them are pretty straightforward on the art. The one with the handprint is the only one on which I really used any massive Photoshop work on Ben McKenzie (police officer James Gordon) and Jada Pinkett Smith (a new character, crime boss Fish Mooney) in the print.


The first poster I did was the one with the art deco border.


I think this was my favorite one I just like that style.

Then I decided to play it safe and do two that look more TV show poster like. Those are pretty straightforward.

I showed you one of these earlier. Here’s the other.


For the horizontal one, I tried to place and blue and red glow on the sides of the logo.

The day of the deadline (Aug. 20),  I was in the cafeteria at work getting coffee and thought of one with characters shattering. So when I got home at 7 p.m., I started to break the one with Ben apart first, but it was taking a really long time to do it. I knew I would never get done by the midnight deadline.


Luckily, I had the elements that I used before for a piece I did for Warm Bodies...


…so I was able to use some of those pieces to make the shattering effect and move some things around and make some more cuts in it. I already had all the people and alley backgrounds cut out from the posters I did earlier.

I was able to color correct, size and layer the images on top of the characters. I used luminosity and some curves to make the main background come through and to tone down the color of the people.


I got done with about 20 minutes to spare and was able to send them off just in time.


Ryan sent all the artwork off on Aug. 20. The winners were supposed to be notified Aug. 27, but, Ryan says…

Fox called me up on Sunday the 7th and told me they enjoyed my poster and that I was the winner. They asked if I would be available to come to New York City.

They flew all three of us out to New York and then they had a car waiting for us. That was cool, because we walked down to baggage claim and a guy was there with my name on a sign. That was cool.

They put us up in the Bryant Park Hotel which is probably the closest I will ever get to rich people.

Wikimedia Commons

The Bryant Park Hotel is in midtown Manhattan, just a couple of blocks from Times Square. It’s in the old American Radiator Building, built in 1924 and designed by noted architects John Howells and Raymond Hood, the same guys who designed — media business alert! — Rockefeller Center and Chicago’s Tribune Tower.

So, how was it? Ryan says, simply:

New York was Awesome.


Mostly we hung out just walking around. We went to Central Park and walked around for hours.


I got to hang out with Martin and Carrie Gee. They were kind enough to watch Riker for us during the event.


He was all smiles when we got back.

This is where Aprill picks up the story in an epic blog post last week. She writes that the premiere…

…was going to be fancy. Not fancy-fancy, but fancy enough that Ryan had to borrow a suit and I spent hours scouring my closet, trying on different things and asking him things like “would it be inappropriate to wear a dress to the premiere that has a curse word on it?

Aprill tells us:

As for the episode, I loved it. They showed the whole thing. I’m definitely a fan so far. Ryan thought it was pretty good too.

The pilot episode was written by executive producer Bruno Heller, who’s known for the suspense thriller TV show the Mentalist. It was directed by Danny Cannon, who is famous for his work on Nikita and the various CSI shows.

Doctor Who fans might take note: Sean Pertwee, the son of Doctor No. 3 Jon Pertwee, plays Alfred Pennyworth, young master Bruce Wayne’s butler.


David Hinckley of the New York Daily News writes that Gotham

…has the look of a stylish winner.

The pilot of the hot-buzz series… plays like a 45-minute movie, with stunning visuals that never feel like a shrunken TV version of the Batman films against which it will inevitably be measured.

The screening was held in the great hall of New York Public Library.


Fox publicity photo

Variety‘s Brian Steinberg reported the next day:

There is no Batman in Fox’s Gotham, just a young version of his alter ego, Bruce Wayne, who, just as in the four-color origin story, sees his mother and father gunned down in a mugging gone terribly wrong. James Gordon, played by Ben McKenzie, vows to bring the perpetrators to justice, but in doing so, the young detective threatens to upend the corruption that is at the heart of the dark city.

Once guests got a taste for the show, all they had to do was follow the umbrellas laid out like bread crumbs from Hansel and Gretel…

Fox publicity photo

…to a massive aerie high up in the Library, where a room was transformed to look like a Gotham City speakeasy.

Fox publicity photo

Batman probably would not have taken a drink here, but many of the attendees exhibited few qualms about doing so.

Naturally, Ryan and Aprill were invited.


Aprill writes in her blog:

As far as I can tell, the main goal of a movie or TV premiere party is to skulk around the room until you weasel your way close enough to one of the stars to ask them to take a photo with you.

Unfortunately, Ryan and I are those people who like to think we’re above having our photos taken with celebrities. That’s what we tell ourselves, at least. Yeah, we’re way too cool for that.

In reality, however, we are totally those people who want our photos taken with celebrities. We’re just too scared to ever actually ask.

That didn’t stop them from taking pictures, though. Aprill helpfully posted a few.



Make sure you visit Aprill’s blog to read about the highlight of the night: An encounter with San Diego native Camren Bicondova, who plays Selina Kyle — Catwoman — in the new show.

Fox publicity photo

Find the official Fox network web site for Gotham here. Find Gotham‘s Facebook fan site here and its Twitter feed here.

A graduate of Collins College in Phoenix, Ryan Huddle spent seven years as a designer and creative services coordinator for the Hutchinson (Kan.) News. He moved to the Brown Publishing Company in Troy, Ohio in 2003 but then, two years later, became creative director of the Victoria Advocate in Victoria, Texas. He moved to the Globe in 2011.


Aprill Brandon is a freelance writer and blogger. A 2004 graduate of Ohio’s Miami University, Aprill spent a year as education reporter for the Troy, Ohio, Daily News before joining the Victoria Advocate in 2006 as an arts and entertainment repairer and as a columnist.

After she and Ryan moved to Boston, Aprill began a column for the Weekly Dig. She also continues to write for the Advocate. An e-book collecting her columns — Why Does the Cheese Always Fall? –  was published last summer.


Find that here and the Kindle version here. Find her blog here and her Twitter feed here.

Find Ryan’s online portfolio here and his Twitter feed here.

More movie-themed work by Ryan of the Boston Globe:

Find Ryan’s online portfolio here and his Twitter feed here.

Last call for student design contest

The 15th annual design contest for student journalists — administrated by the Edmund C. Arnold student chapter of the Society for News Design at Michigan State University — is accepting entries.

But only until Wednesday. The web site says March 21, but the deadline has been extended, professor and faculty advisor Sheryl Pell tells me.


The 2011 winner of best newspaper features
page: Alyson Morris of Ohio University.
She’s now iPad editor for RedEye. Find her
portfolio site here
and her Twitter feed here.

Entries cost only $7.50 apiece. Winners get nice certificates. And, more importantly, you can put the award on your resume.

Read all about it here.

Go here to find lists of student contest winners going back more than a decade.

A fun fast-motion video look at a cartoon illustration in progress

My pal Robert Zavala — an editor and illustrator for the Victoria (Texas) Advocate — won a statewide award this week. But it wasn’t for his illustration work. It was for a fun illustration of his illustration work. Via a video.

I’ll let him tell the story. Robert writes:

I just won the Texas APME award for best video under two minutes in length for 2012.

The video was a screen capture of me working on an illustration sped up with music. Total time of editing was about an hour.

By far the easiest award anyone has ever won in journalism.

I’m not being modest when I say that winning this had to be a fluke. The judges probably had little competition to choose from and went with a novelty. Who knows? Some people who watched this and thought that I had actually drawn this in under two minutes.

The multimedia editor of the Victoria Advocate and a graduate of Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, Robert and his colleague Nick Rogers collaborate on a history-themed web comic that they publish daily on the Advocate‘s web site. Read all about that here.

In 2011, Robert wrote and illustrated an eight-part mystery noir graphic novel that was serialized in the Advocate‘s print edition.



A few more samples of Robert’s work:


Find more on Robert’s portfolio site.

Average daily circulation for the Victoria Advocate is 28,900.

Kudos for the NYT graphics department

The University of Missouri School of Journalism today announced the recipients of its 2012 Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism.

Among the honorees: The New York Times graphics department.

An online press release states the department consists…

…of 25 visual journalists who explain, illustrate and contextualize the news. The staff members of this diverse group specialize in design, architecture, cartography, 3D-modeling, statistics and journalism. Together, they have created some of the best interactive graphics and maps anywhere on the Web.

Notable examples include a 3D-video explaining how Yankee pitcher Mariano Rivera dominates hitters, before-and-after-satellite maps of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, an interactive budget puzzle and a customizable electoral map.

The department has won many national and international awards, including the 2009 National Design Award, given by Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, the National Design Museum in New York.

Sure enough, it’s a talented group. Kudos to Matthew EricsonSergio Peçanha, Archie Tse and all the rest, under the command of my old Chicago Tribune colleague, graphics director Steve Duenes (front row, left).

Yes, this is good news for the Times. And for graphic journalists in general.

Find the NYT graphics department Twitter feed here. Go here to find a list of NYT department members who use Twitter.

The other recipients:

  • Umar Cheema: investigative reporter for the Pakistani newspaper the News.
  • Jodi Cobb: international photographer and author.
  • Mona Eltahawy: columnist and international speaker on Arab and Muslim issues.
  • John Ferrugia: investigative journalist and news anchor at KMGH-TV in Denver.
  • Hu Shuli: editor-in-chief of Caixin Media and Caixin Magazine, and dean of the School of Communication and Design at Sun Yat-sen University.
  • Jeff Leen: assistant managing editor in charge of the Washington Post’s Investigative Unit.
  • Adam Moss: editor-in-chief of New York magazine.
  • Fred Papert: international advertising executive and New York City community developer.
  • Ken Paulson: president and chief executive officer of the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University and in Washington, D.C.

Find the release — and descriptions of all the other honorees — here.

NPPA’s Photojournalist of the Year: Ross Taylor of the Virginian-Pilot

The Virginian-Pilot‘s Ross Taylor was named Photojournalist of the Year  — for “large-market” papers — today by the National Press Photographer’s Association.

Ross always does amazing stuff. But among the best work I saw this year was this result of two weeks in Afghanistan, following the staff of a NATO hospital.

Click for a much larger view of that 19-year-old soldier who lost a leg when he stepped on a land mine. And note the detail:

Yeah, those are the medals he earned. Including a Purple Heart.

Here are a couple of other photos from that same series. This one shows two buddies as they waited for treatment.

And here’s a heartbreaking one of an 18-month-old Afghan boy who arrived with severe burns.

He didn’t make it.

These pictures made up part of a five-part series the Virginian-Pilot ran last July. Because of the horrific natures of some of the photos, the Pilot took the unusual step of running a disclaimer on page one by editor Denis Finley.

Denis, himself, is a former photographer and photo editor.

Here’s how that first picture, above, was used on page one the day it ran:

Powerful stuff.

In addition, I might add that the story by Corinne Reilly was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize this year. It did win an Ernie Pyle award.

Find all the stories and pictures from A Chance in Hell archived here. Go here to find the blog post I wrote about the series at the time.

Not all of Ross’ winning entry was part of this series. There was a bunch of other sunning work included as well. Find the entire entry here. See all of the NPPA’s 2012 Best of Photojournalism winners here.

Ross is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He spent time at the Hartford Courant before joining the Pilot in 2010. He’s also chairman of the NPPA’s mentoring program.

Find his personal web site here.

A couple of wonderful days teaching in Tulsa

As I mentioned yesterday, I got up insanely early Thursday — my 50th birthday — and flew to Tulsa, Oklahoma for an appearance at the annual Great Plains Journalism awards and workshop.

I couldn’t complain about the lack of sleep. I was treated to this delightful cloud formation as we descended into Houston.

My old Virginian-Pilot colleague Kevin Armstrong — who’s now a journalism professor at Oral Roberts University — met me at the airport. I hadn’t had time to eat a proper breakfast, so I was suffering from a severe carb deficit. His instructions: Get some food in me. Fast.

So he drove me to the Tulsa suburb of Broken Arrow and a famed barbecue place there called Oklahoma Joe’s.

I ordered Joe’s signature dish, the pulled pork barbecue sandwich. And yes: It was fabulous. Just fabulous.

Kevin knew Thursday was my birthday, so he came to me with trinket in hand: A light-up button celebrating the event.

The folks at Joe’s noticed and decided to gift me a complimentary dessert: Some kind of delicious cobbler.

Boom. Carb deficit erased, in one quick swoop. My day couldn’t have been more perfect. And it was only lunchtime.

Next, Kevin drove me to my hotel — the Mayo, a grand old place built in downtown Tulsa in the early 1920s and then completely renovated and modernized about ten years ago.

Originally, the hotel had 600 rooms and was the tallest building in town. Neither is the case any more, of course. The hotel has just over 100 rooms but there are a number of luxury apartments on the upper floors for permanent residents.

They put me on the 8th floor. When I walked into my room, I thought there must have been some kind of mistake. This room was huge.

You probably can’t tell it in this picture, but even the flatscreen TV was enormous.

There’s a separate kitchen and entry area.

I’m not sure this was officially a “suite.” But it was, by far, the largest hotel room I’ve ever stayed in. Just amazing.

On the wall are vintage photos of a bygone era. This picture of vintage WWII bomber nose art hangs on my room wall.

Somebody here really loves aviation history. Out in the 8th floor hallway in front of the elevators is an old shot of Charles Lindbergh.

It’s not labeled, dated or explained in any way. I suspect most guests think it’s just some old random photo, hung there for effect. And hell, it may be. Seems to me, though, that there was some thought given to the pictures here. If I’m ever this way again, I’ll have to ask someone about it.

I had a few hours to take a nap. Naturally, I used my time instead to knock out a few blog entries. Several items had come in while I was in transit.

We walked over to the Tulsa World newspaper office, maybe a block-and-a-half away.

I chatted with a few folks and then spoke for an hour about page-one design, creative risk-taking and alternative story forms. In fact, I liked the show I created for the World so much that I decided to dump what I was going to do at the workshop and give the same presentation.

I took my camera with me, but I failed to remember to ask anyone to take pictures for me. So you’ll have to take my word for it: The show went well. We had maybe 30 editors, designers and reporters there.

Afterwards, the editor of the WorldJoe Worley — and his staff surprised me with a birthday cake.

The thing was huge. After a moment or two of indecision, I decided to share it with the staff.

So we ate cake. At this point, I was probably way over in sugar and carbs for the day. But whatever. I was happy and feeling pretty decent.

We ended the day with a small reception at the local press club — yes, Tulsa still has an old-time press club. Not only is it a great organization for networking and career development, they have their own bar clubhouse. Man, am I disappointed I didn’t shoot any pictures there last night. We had a great time, chatting, eating pizza and sampling local beer.

I planned to write about my day for the blog. But I was so tired Thursday night when I got back to my room, I crashed pretty early.

I got up Friday morning, went down to the gorgeous art deco-styled restaurant in the hotel’s lobby for breakfast.

Just look at the artwork on the backs of these chairs.

Quite an atmosphere-setter, isn’t it?

Despite this gorgeous setting, the hotel restaurant was completely empty both days I ate down there. I can’t imagine where everyone was.

I ate a great Midwestern-style breakfast…

…and then headed upstairs to the 16th floor, where the day’s events began at 9 a.m. in the hotel’s grand Crystal Ballroom. The place was set up with an awards luncheon on the near end but then seating for slideshow lectures on the far end.

The windows were covered — to keep the place dark enough so you could see the slides. But outside, beautiful downtown Tulsa beckoned. I regret very much that I just don’t have time to get out and see the city.

Just look at that architecture. Wow. Who knew that Tulsa was so pretty?

The first speaker of the day was Lane DeGregory, features writer for the Tampa Bay Times.

She talked about wonderful work she’s done over the years and ways to seek out and tell stories that no one else tells. She won a Pulitzer for features writing in 2009.

I settled in to blog a little and to soak up Lane’s presentation. But then I discovered we had college students who were hoping for critiques of their portfolios. So I set up a table out in the lobby and spent my morning making a lot of new student journalist friends.

However, I scrambled so much to get this done that I didn’t even think about taking pictures. This makes for a pretty dry blog entry. So I can only apologize.

At 11 a.m., we moved to the other end of the room for a chicken banquet and a keynote address, again by Lane.

She gave a brief but inspiring pep talk about the need to keep the quality of our work up, even as budgets are trimmed and newshole is tightened.

This gave our day just the right tone as we went into the awards part of the program. Naturally, a lot of folks showed up for the ceremony. We must have had about 100 people in there.

The work was fabulous, of course. And I’m just staying that because I was a judge. And the presentations were set up to go very quickly. Very snappy. Very cool.

One of the big winners — not surprisingly — was the Omaha World-Herald. You can see winning pages here on the left of this spread in the awards book.

On the right are finalist pages. Those, too, were brilliantly designed. But you know how that works. Only one can win, right?

But the folks in the room who read my blog and who’ve heard me speak before laughed when the MC read this comment on the news page design winner.

Even in an unattributed judges’ comment, you can tell it’s me. Heh.

Omaha also won big for the World-Herald‘s big college football section.

Immediately after the awards luncheon, we held a panel discussion with winners in several categories. We started that session with an interview with the guy who masterminded the design of that thing, Tim Parks.

In addition, my new friends at the Tulsa World cleaned up. Here, chief photographer Tom Gilbert staggers under the weight of all the award plaques he had to take back to the office.

Because part of the message I was delivering here this week was use your pictures bigger, I was a little shocked when I saw this in the ceremony.

Wow, what a magnificent photo. What a great use of a magnificent photo. How come I’ve not seen this front page? How come I didn’t put it in my slideshow?

Turns out, the snowstorm was so enormous that the World didn’t publish a print edition for two days. The page you see there was a web-only edition. I can only guess that’s why I didn’t spot it in the Newseum collection that day.

In addition to the awards book, full-sized reproductions of many of the winning pages and photos were mounted in the lobby.

One photo — which did not win but placed as a finalist — was this amazing shot by Corey Perrine of the Omaha World-Herald — of the Michigan vs. Iowa game.

The action in the foreground is wonderful enough. But look at Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz on the left: He’s spitting.

After the “how we did it” panel discussion, another guest here today — Louise Kiernan of Northwestern University who won a Pulitzer with the Chicago Tribune back in 2001 — hosted a panel discussion with (left to right) Mike Reilly, executive editor of the World-Herald, Joe Hight, managing editor of the Oklahoma City Oklahoman and Mike Strain, news editor of the Tulsa World on just how, exactly, we might do “more with less.”

It was a great discussion which started out with an admission that these guys hate the phrase. We’re in the truth business, and idea that we actually can do “more with less” simply isn’t honest, one of the editors said. Thanks for admitting that.

I was a little disappointed that these two great panel discussions had only a couple of dozen people in attendance. The crowd thinned out pretty quickly after the luncheon. As the day went on, folks tricked out — in order to get back to put out the weekend papers, I’d imagine.

Next was my presentation. Kevin was asked to introduce me. And — this was the first time I’ve ever seen anyone do this — he explained my blog to the audience by holding up an iPad and showing them the blog.

Given the fact that I turned 50 the day before, I wonder if Kevin might have been better off holding up a sheet of Rubylith or Zip-a-Tone film instead.

Like I said, I wound up giving the same talk I had the afternoon before at the Tulsa World.

I offered up three tips to improving your visuals right away: 1) make better use of your photography, 2) take more chances and do wacky stuff to surprise and delight your readers from time to time, and 3) make much better use of alternative story forms.

The audience seemed very appreciative. But by then, we were down to maybe 15 to 20 people left.

The grand finale of the day was Barbara Davidson, a photographer for the Los Angeles Times and a two-time Pulitzer prize winner.

Barbara won in 2006 — along with seven colleagues — for her coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina along the Gulf Coast. She won again last year for a series called Caught in the Crossfire, about the “civilian” victims of gang wars in L.A.

Wonderful work, of course. And it was great hearing her talk about how she met her subjects and how she developed the story over time. Go check it out here.

Well, you can see why I never got any blogging done Friday. I was simply too busy either working for these folks or listening to the other speakers. As I wrote the other day, there were four speakers here and three of them have Pulitzers. These folks told amazing stories.

After that, we went upstairs to the penthouse floor bar for a reception. And then a number of us walked down the street to a Mexican restaurant, where they had a real, live wrestling ring in the middle of the place.

And do you know what? I was so busy talking and socializing, it didn’t even occur to me — once again — to whip out my iPhone and take a picture of it. Some blogger I am!

I got back to my room, it was nearly 11 p.m. After my busy day Thursday and then all the activity Friday, I must admit: I was exhausted. Again, I tried to get this piece written so I could get it posted for you. And again, I gave up and crashed.

So today, my intent was to get up bright and early, eat breakfast again and try to take a few pictures of downtown before I had to take the hotel shuttle to the airport. But when my alarm went off, my body just laughed at it. It wasn’t until a little later that it dawned on me why I felt so poorly this morning: I’ve been here for two days now, and I’ve completely forgotten to take any of my diabetes medicine.

Oops. If it weren’t for the few beers I’ve had each evening, I’d probably be really sick. Beer tends to lower my blood-sugar level, in fact. For some reason. Despite the carbohydrate content. As it is, I’m feeling mighty poorly today. But I’m sure I’ll be fine.

I did manage to scrape together 15 minutes or so for a quick stroll downtown.

As I understand it, Tulsa was sort of the oil capital of the world in the 1920s. So the place boomed. And then was hit hard by the depression and, so some extent, never quite recovered until just recently.

Therefore, the city is a great mix of modern buildings and gorgeous old art-deco architecture that  reminds me very much of Chicago. Because, I presume, it was all built around the same time.

But hey, I grew up in South Carolina and lived for five years in Iowa. I know how this works. Tulsa, right? This place is supposed to be a bit of a punchline. Instead, this is a gorgeous, gorgeous town.

Who knew?

It’s been a fabulous three days here. Great (new, in my case) friends, great journalism and great presentations. And a pretty little city. It just doesn’t get any better than this.

ACES honors the year’s ace headline writers

While I’m here in Virginia Beach slaving away over a hot stove blog, my ACES colleagues are in New Orleans this week, attempting to create an acute beer shortage meeting and discussing the finer points of journalism.

Naturally, I wish I could join them. Perhaps next year.

In the meantime, though, ACES today announced the winners of its annual headline writing contest. I have to say: As often as my own pun-laden headlines have been criticized and shot down over the years, there are a lot of puns and much wit among this year’s winners.

Don’t get me wrong: These are much better than anything I’ve ever dreamed of writing. And they’re all worthy of note.

This is not a complete listing of winners. These are just a few of the headlines that caught my eye. Keep in mind that each winning entry consisted of several headlines.

First place winner for staff in the 240,000-circulation-and-over category was the Dallas Morning News. It’s easy to see why, with genius work like this…

…and this.

In second place in staff for the largest papers: The Los Angeles Times.

In addition, the Times David Bowman — as a science fiction geek, I gotta love that name — won first place in the individual category for the largest papers. Two examples of David’s work:

David’s LAT colleague, Laura Dominick, earned second place.

The desk of the New York Times earned third place in the largest newspaper category. Winning third place in the individual competition was Andy Webster of the Times who came up with this gem:

First place for staff at the 160,000-to-240,000-circulation category went to the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J.

Second place in the 80,000-160,000-circulation staff category went to the Omaha World-Herald.

The World-Herald‘s Nick Piastowski won second place in the individual competition for his paper’s circulation size.

The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle won first place in the under-80K newspaper staff category.

There were a number of non-newspaper categories as well. First place for staff of an online publication went to the Today show/MSNBC.

As much as I loved all those, however, I think my favorite batch in the entire show was submitted by Peter Donahue of the Providence (R.I.) Journal, who earned first place for individuals from papers with circulation 80K-160K.

Peter’s samples ranged from the sly…

…to the obvious…

…to the punny…

…to the fall-down-laughing-at-the-sheer-genius-of-it.

Wonderful work by all, of course.

Check out the official ACES announcement of all the winners — including judges’ comments — here. At the bottom of that post, you’ll find a link to a PDF file containing clips of all the winners. Download that and study it well.

Go here to keep up with with all the news about this year’s ACES conference in New Orleans.

Join us in Tulsa, Okla., for the Great Plains Journalism Awards luncheon and workshop

The folks of the Tulsa Press Club are in the final stages of planning this year’s Great Plains Journalism Awards luncheon and workshop to be held April 27 in downtown Tulsa, Okla.

I was a judge this year. In addition, I’ve been invited to speak at the day-long workshop. Other speakers include…

Lane DeGregory, a features writer for the Tampa Bay Times. Her bio from the Great Plains folks:

DeGregory wrote for the Virginian-Pilot for 10 years, before moving to Florida in 2000 to write for the St. Petersburg Times. She won a Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in 2009 for her story about a feral child, “The Girl In The Window.”

Louise Kiernan, former reporter and editor at the Chicago Tribune and now a professor at Northwestern University. Her bio:

Kiernan spent 10 years as special projects reporter at the newspaper. She won a 2001 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting as lead writer of a four-part series on problems with air travel.

And the keynote speaker for the luncheon, Barbara Davidson, a photographer for the Los Angeles Times. The Great Plains bio of her says she…

…won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography with seven fellow staff members for their work depicting the pain and chaos in New Orleans and Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. She won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for feature photography for “Victims of Gang Violence,” her stunning series of images charting the terrible odyssey of the innocent victims caught in the crossfire.

Hmm. I’ll be the only guest there without a Pulitzer Prize. Yikes! Better bring my “A” game, huh? Added personal degree of difficulty: The workshop will be held one day after my 50th birthday.

The event kicks off Friday April 27 at 9 a.m. The day’s workshops plus the awards luncheon costs only $50. Just the luncheon itself is $40. Students can stay all day for $40.

The venue will be the Mayo Hotel in downtown Tulsa

View The Mayo Hotel in a larger map

…just a block or so away from the Tulsa World.

By the time I get there, I’m sure I’ll have a few “hold the Mayo” jokes ready to go.

And, of course, the winners of this year’s annual Great Plains Awards will be honored during lunch. Finalists include 30 publications spread across eight Midwestern states.

Find the list of finalists — and details on how to register — here.

Help SND pick out the cover of its next annual award book, round two

Last week, the Society for News Design asked us to help it choose which of 46 proposed covers for year’s collected volume of award-winning visual journalism would become finalists.

Now, the society is back again. From those 46 wonderful covers, only eight remain.

And here they are:





There’s some very inventive thinking here.

Rush over to the Society’s web site today and vote on which of these eight covers you prefer for the 33rd edition of the Best of News Design.

There’s only one vote per visitor this time, so make your vote count.

Voting closes at 5 p.m. Wednesday, EDT.

Help SND pick out the cover of its next annual award book

The Society for News Design is neck-deep into editing and assembling this year’s collection of award-winning visual journalism.

Problem is: The society asked members to illustrate possible covers for that book. And they got waaay too many fabulous cover ideas from which to choose.

How about these?


Mmm. Nice and clean.

Or how about these?


Ooooh. Classy!

Or how about these?


Gnaah! Too many great choices!

Oh, you have no idea. Those are just my favorites. The fine folks of the Society have 46 possible covers to show you.

Several of the ideas overlap — several of them are variations on an idea. Past president Steve Dorsey writes that the request for cover submissions…

…had a much bigger response than anticipated. We felt it was important to let everyone vote on all the entries, so there was no weeding out or thinning down of the entrants.

Still, you’ll find at least three dozen individual directions in which these talented — and, so far, anonymous — visual journalists might take this year’s cover.

The Society is asking for your help. Go there, check out the gallery and vote. You’re limited to one vote per day, so feel free to go back the next day and vote for your favorite again. Or to vote against yourself and select a different cover.

Voting will end at 5 p.m. EDT Thursday. The top five will move on to a final round of voting.

University of Missouri’s student SND chapter taking contest entries

The Society for News Design chapter at the University of Missouri is taking entries for this year’s annual student design contest.

All work published between March 16 of last year and March 15 of this year — hey, that was yesterday! — is eligible, whether it was done for a student publication or for an internship. As long as it was done by a student at a two-year or four-year institution.

A few samples of winners from last year:

Left: First place, overall design of a newspaper – Daily News, Ball State University

Right: First place, front-page broadsheet – Josh Barone, the Missourian, University of Missouri


Left: Second place, design of a special section – Larry Buchanan and staff, Daily Student, Indiana University

Right: First place, features design and information graphics – Sara Squire, University of Michigan 


Entries are due April 9th. The first entry is free.

Missouri’s Sarah Morris tells us:

We’ve added a couple of categories this year, including infographics portfolio of the year and multimedia/digital designer of the year. Winners of the multimedia/digital designer of the year and print designer of the year receive $750 toward attending the SND annual workshop in Cleveland, courtesy of the SND Foundation.

Find the rules and categories here. See last year’s winners here.

‘Don’t listen to folks who say newspapers can’t do photo stories these days’

Craig Walker of the Denver Post has been named Photographer of the Year in the annual Pictures of the Year International competition at the University of Missouri.

The Post reported on Sunday:

In honoring Walker’s portfolio, the judges noted a strong balance of powerful aesthetic with solid journalistic content that reflects news events and social issues. Walker’s portfolio presented a stunning project on a Iraq war veteran who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder

That project — just one of several in Craig’s winning portfolio — was called Welcome Home: The Scott Ostrom Story. That series also won first place in the issue-reporting picture story category.

Craig followed this former Marine — honorably discharged just five years ago — through debilitating panic attacks…

…fights with his girlfriend…

…fits of violent frustration…

…and even witnessed the aftermath of a suicide attempt.

In this picture, Ostrom weeps after being rejected for an apartment because of his erratic behavior.

A heartbreaking story. Wonderful pictures. And most definitely worthy of the award.

See the entire winning portfolio here.

A 1986 graduate of the Rhode Island School of Photography, Craig spent nine years as a photographer and picture editor for the Berkshire Eagle of Massachusetts before moving to the Post in 1998. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 2010 for a project in which he followed a local man from high school to a soldier in Iraq.

The Post‘s managing editor for Presentation and design, Damon Cain, wrote via Facebook today:

The really cool thing about Craig Walker’s POYi Photog of the Year portfolio is that it was all local material. There is a lesson in this. Walker is a professional who makes the most of every assignment — no matter the assignment.

The Welcome Home story, Damon writes, was

…conceived of and executed as an online multimedia piece only.

Another photo project we did awhile back — it, too, conceived and executed for online only — also met with success (2010 Hillman Award for Photojournalism). And, it, too, focused on local, local, local subjects.

As much as I would have loved to have run this in its full glory in print (we ended up with a doubletruck that ran “the best of” from photo essays on each of seven different families), our argument could not overcome the economics of the day. But we knew we had online avenues, so we sought to make the best of the situation.

My point? Guess I’m just encouraging you not to listen to folks who say newspapers can’t do photo stories these days.

SND judges honor first Best of Show winner in ten years

The last time the Society for News Design’s annual competition resulted in a Best of Show winner was 2002: The New York Times won the honor for its coverage of the events and aftermath of 9/11.

Meet this year’s Best of Show: Svenska Dagbladet — Stockholm, Sweeden’s third-largest daily.

The story that produced this amazing edition was that tragic, two-pronged attack in Norway on a government building (with a car bomb) and a summer camp (one man armed with guns). The toll that day: 77 dead and 252 injured, 66 critically.

SND president Jonathon Berlin writes on the society’s web site:

The 16 pages from the Stockholm, Sweden, paper combine stunning photography, engrossing information graphics, sharp typography, brilliant pacing and page architecture in a piece of journalism that answers every question a reader might have about the attack in which 77 people were killed in Oslo and a nearby island.

“This is what we hope for people to do,” said Steve Cavendish (The City Paper in Nashville), one of the judges. “As journalists you’d be hard-pressed to find anything done better on deadline.”

The credits on the entry are:

  • Anna W. Thurfjell, head of design
  • Tor Johnson, picture editor
  • Jessika Olofsson, picture editor
  • Helena Frank, page designer
  • Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters, photographer

Here are three double-page spreads from the Sunday, July 24 edition of Svenska Dagbladet.

This one features a shot of the island where the summer camp shootings happened. Note the sheet-covered bodies.

This one shows the aftermath in Oslo. A timeline is stripped across the bottom of the spread.

And this one includes a graphic showing how the island attack was carried out. The gunman dressed in a homemade police uniform, strolled right into the campground and fired away.

I should add allegedly, because the man arrested on the island and charged with both the car bombing and the shootings is scheduled to stand trial this Spring.

Here’s the official statement from the judges who voted a gold medal to this entry:

This is one of the best pieces of breaking news coverage we’ve ever seen. It could be held up as a template for how to handle a breaking news story. When covering an event of this magnitude the tendency is to turn on the fire hose, but this publication gave the story structure and used several different devices from straight news, to explanatory journalism to pure emotion. There is rhythm throughout the pages with the use of traditional and alternative story forms. They even showed how other publications covered the story. The package is comprehensive without feeling heavy; the reader is guided easily through each page. The coverage is so authoritative; it shows complete ownership of the story.

See more pages from Svenska Dagbladet here, at the SND web site. You can also download high-resolution PDF files.

Scandinavian papers did very well in the SND competition this year, winning a total of 52 awards. Two Scandinavian papers placed in the top ten papers receiving awards.

Note the Times of Oman in third place with 49 awards. Last year, that same paper placed second with 36 SND awards. The Times‘ design director, Adonis Durado, ended up illustrating the cover of the SND awards book, speaking at the society’s annual workshop in St. Louis and served as a judge this year.

  • I posted a number of Norwegian and U.K. papers the day after the attacks in and around Oslo last summer. Find those here.
  • This year’s judges and facilitators offered a few tips for preparing next year’s entries. Find those here.
  • There are plenty more threads and posts there about last weekend’s judging. Plus, there is the World’s Best judging coming up this weekend. Find the SND web site here.

An accusation of visual plagiarism from last year’s SND contest

The graphic in the center of this double-page spread from La Stampa of Torino, Italy — reviewing how trapped miners in Chile were rescued in October of 2010 — won an Award of Excellence last year for breaking news graphics in the annual Society for News Design competition.

You’ll find it at the bottom of page 205 of SND32, the contest book members received via mail last fall.

One little problem, though: A Brazilian newspaper — Estado de São Paulo — has alleged the graphic used a number of elements from two graphics it ran.


Now, virtually every graphic you saw of that near-disaster came from the Chilean government. Which means that nearly all the graphics had some degree of sameness to them. (I even drew one myself: I was hired to build a full-page graphic for Rapport, a big Sunday paper in South Africa. Read about that project here.)

But the detail in the underground cutaway, the placement of the Empire State Building, even the map and the vignette showing the rescue capsule in a curved portion of the shaft — yes, it’s clear that the La Stampa designers didn’t go back to the original source materials. It seems pretty clear that yes, some kind of appropriation of Estado‘s work happened here.

Infographcs guru Albert Cairo — now a professor at the University of Miami — writes today in his blog:

It is obvious that Estado got its information about the mine accident from Chilean sources and that, among those, they probably used La Tercera and El Mercurio. That qualifies as acceptable: you cite a newspaper from a different country, you get information from it, and then you design your own illustrations, diagrams, maps, and charts. That’s legitimate, as long as you mention who are you getting your data from, and that you let them know.

But a different story is to trace someone else’s illustrations and graphics or, even worse, reproduce the originals without getting proper permissions. This was the case, according to Estado: La Stampa simply copied a great deal of material. And it is likely that they also got the vector and bitmap drawings from the PDF version of the Brazilian newspaper, that can be downloaded from its website if you are a subscriber.

And you know what’s even more outrageous? La Stampa won a Society for News Design award for this.

La Stampa has filed a complaint with SND. But it’s unclear what the society could do about this, a year after the contest judging and months after the books were printed and mailed out.

This past weekend, I spent some time preaching about visual ethics in terms of manipulating news photos. Well, visual ethics can also include plagiarism. Images, information and drawings can be stolen and reused, just as text can be.

It’s this simple: Don’t plagiarize. Period.

Find Alberto’s article here. Find Alberto’s Twitter feed here.

The world needs more copy editors

The problem, of course, is the the world doesn’t always realize this. But you have to keep hope alive that it will.

The trick, of course, is to be prepared with copy-editing skills when opportunity knocks. In order to do that, why not study a year with an assist from a scholarship from the American Copy Editors Society?

The ACES Education Fund is preparing to award five scholarships for the 2011-12 academic year. The top award is for $2,500. Four other awards are for $1,000. Awards are open to those of you who will be college juniors, seniors or grad students next fall, and to graduating students who will take full-time copy editing jobs or internships.

Read more about it here. Download an application here.

A little contest horn tootin’ here…

Tuesday night, the folks I’ve been working with in South Africa cleaned up at the 10th annual Mondi Shanduka awards.

These are the nation’s highest newspaper industry awards, sponsored by Print Media South Africa, the Newspaper Association of South Africa and the namesake: Mondi Shanduka, a producer of newsprint. Winners were named last night at Turbine Hall in downtown Johannesburg.

The top winner in the graphical journalism category was a portfolio of work by Rudi Louw of Graphics24 in Johannesburg. In particular, the judges loved the year-in-review doubletruck presentation he built for the English-language Sunday paper City Press.

Rudi worked very hard on that piece last December. At some point, the size of the document outstripped his PC. He ended up having to build the graphic a) on his own Mac, and b) in InDesign. Which they don’t really use there at Media24.

About this graphic, the judges said:

His review of 2010 gave the reader an overview of an event-filled year in an attractive and well thought-through format that clearly displayed the advantage of graphical journalism in distilling a lot of data into easy-to-understand bites of information.

Also finishing as a finalist in the graphical journalism category was Morné Schaap of Graphics24’s Cape Town office. Morné entered a variety of lively pieces, many of which had more of a featurey bent.

The graphics that made up Morné’s entry:

In the layout and design category, first place was captured by Andries Gouws, the designer of the Afrikaans-language daily Beeld in Johannesburg.

Andries is very good about sending me PDFs of his pages, so you’ve seen quite a bit of his work over the past couple of years.

A few of the pages in Andries’ winning portfolio:

A finalist in that category was Debbie van der Merwe, who designs for a magazine-type section of the Sunday paper, Rapport.

Of 17 photography entries that were cited last night, 10 of them were from Media24 newspapers. The Photo24 office captured first place in features photography.

In what we U.S. folks would consider the sweepstakes categories, Media24 papers won in the over 50,000-circulation category and in the under-50,ooo category. Johannesburg’s Beeld captured the former, the 11th time in the last 15 years it has done so. Volksblad in Bloemfontein took home the latter — the first time it has won since 1994.

Second place in that under-50K category was the Mercury of Durban. That’s not a Media24 paper and, therefore, not one of the papers I’ve worked with. But I did write about them extensively last year (here and here) during the World Cup of soccer. Congratulations to editor Angela Quintal.

I’m really proud of my friends, colleagues and clients there in South Africa. They worked hard and their work was recognized. You can’t beat that.

Find the entire list of winners here, posted by yet another good friend — Simone Puterman, managing editor of

Michigan State announces student design winners

The student chapter of the Society for News Design at Michigan State University has announced the winners of its annual student design contest.

Unlike some contests, entries in the MSU/SND contest could be work done for a college class, a student publication, an internship or at a full-time job. All entries were electronically submitted.

A few of the first-place winners…

Newspaper front page

Carlos Mella, University of Miami

Newspaper features page

Alyson Morris, Ohio University

Newspaper sports page

Sara Squire, University of Michigan

Special sections (tie)

Liliana Oyarzun and Kenneth Garcia, University of Miami…

…and Jen Minutillo, Ball State University


Daniel Cernero, Baylor University


Nick Yarbrough, University of North Carolina

Art and illustration

Megan Isaacs, Art Institute of Chicago

Magazine cover

Tristan Wyatt, Ohio University


Yinyin Liu, Virginia Commonwealth University

The student portfolio winner? Not announced yet.

Find the complete list of winners — and links to PDFs of their entries — at the MSU/SND student contest web site.

Go here to find lists of student contest winners going back more than a decade.

Former obit clerk now queen of S.C. news designers

I don’t normally cover winners of state news design awards. Frankly, there are so many state contests that it just doesn’t make sense.

I’m going to make an exception in this case, though, for reasons that will become obvious in just a moment.

Last week, the Herald-Journal of Spartanburg, S.C., won 43 awards at the annual South Carolina Press Association awards dinner. That included 11 first-place awards, plus the President’s Cup, awarded to the top award-getter in each circulation category.

It was the third consecutive President’s Cup for the Herald-Journal, average daily circulation 34,354. You can read all about this here.

Among the visuals awards the Herald-Journal won:


  • Gary Kyle – First place, illustration
  • Gary Kyle – Third place, illustration
  • John Byrum – First place, photo illustration
  • Robert Ariail – First place, editorial cartoon


  • Alex Hicks – First place, sports action photo
  • Gerry Pate – Third place, sports action photo
  • Tim Kimzey – Second place, sports feature photo
  • Alex Hicks – Third place, unpublished photo
  • John Byrum – Second place, pictorial
  • John Byrum – Second place, personality photo or portrait
  • Tim Kimzey – Third place, spot news photo.
  • Tom Priddy – Third place, photo gallery on a website.


  • Mike McCombs – First place, sports headline writing.
  • Mark Egan – Second place, sports headline writing.


  • Nick Foster – Third place, sports page design portfolio.
  • Todd Money – First place, feature page design portfolio
  • Todd Money – Second place, page one design portfolio.

And then there’s the reason I’m posting all this in the first place:

  • Shana Gray – First place, page one design portfolio

The Herald-Journal proudly noted:

Gray’s portfolio also was named Best of the Best, taking top honors in all daily circulation categories.

Shana and her first-place portfolio award, at

last week’s award ceremony in Columbia.

A few examples of her work:

Shana is a former colleague of my good friend Jim McBee, who’s now copy desk chief of the Casper, Wyo., Star Tribune. Jim tells me:

Shana’s come a long, long way from the obit clerk who used to sit across from me at the Fayetteville Observer.

Thirteen years ago, Shana began working as a news desk assistant for the Observer. She attended nearby UNC Pembroke from 2001 to 2003 but, Jim tells me:

If memory serves, the FO failed to give her a “real” job when she graduated.

As a result, Shana moved to a paper at which I once worked, the Herald of Rock Hill, S.C. She spent three years there as a copy editor and designer. In 2007, she moved to another paper where I once worked, the Banner-Herald of Athens, Ga., where she edited copy and designed features pages. She moved to the Herald-Journal in 2009.

Calling all college student news designers…

Cheryl Pell of Michigan State University writes this week to request a plug for the annual student contest sponsored by the student chapter of the Society for News Design at her school.

Cheryl writes:

Our MSUSND student affiliate is sponsoring its annual design contest.

For the first year since we started the contest, we have made this year’s completely online. Students can upload their entries and pay completely online. That’s the way we are doing the promotion of it as well.

The cost to enter is only $7.50 per page. And the deadline is 10 p.m. on March 25 — meaning you have two weeks to get your stuff in.

The stuff that typically wins this contest is really, really good. So the award you win will be something you can treasure. A quick glance at some of my favorite winners from last year:

Find all the details you could possibly need to know here. Find winners of previous MSUSND contests here.

Find the student chapter web site here.

Deadline extended for 2nd annual Newspaper Design contest

The deadline to enter the second annual Newspaper Design design competition has been extended, says Iam Sajeevkumar T.K., visual editor of Kaumudi of Kerala, India and founder of Newspaper Design.

Newspaper Design — a networking site aimed at India-based newspaper designers but open to everyone — is celebrating its second year of existence by holding a news design competition.

The rules are simple. And, best of all, there is no entry fee.

  1. The contest is open to everyone, in any country.
  2. There is no limit to the number of entries you may submit.
  3. Entries must have been published in 2010.
  4. Entries must be submitted in PDF format.
  5. Entries must be received by Feb. 15 Feb. 22.
  6. Categories are:
  • Best front page
  • Best features page
  • Best business page
  • Best arts/literature page
  • Best sports page
  • Best infographics
  • Best center spread
  • Best redesigned daily

That last category is the most complex one. An entry should consist of page one, section fronts and the editorial pages. Plus, of course, each of these pages should be entered in “before” and “after” form.

Send your entries here. Read more about this year’s contest here.

Look over last year’s winners here:

Last year, I headed up the panel of  five judges for the contest. I’m honored to do the same this year.

In addition, TK Sajeev held a second contest last year, specifically for World Cup pages. Find those results here.