From designer to design editor to sportswriter to… photographer for a young adult book cover?

Matt Erickson really gets around. He’s assistant editor of, which covers mixed martial arts fighting. That site is also part of the USA Today sports group.

You might remember him as a truly awesome sports designer for the Munster, Ind., Times of Northwest Indiana. The visuals project for which he’s best remembered, perhaps, was when he built alternate covers for the paper’s 2004 high school football section…

so that all the area schools could be on the cover that year.

All 29 of the area schools.

It was an amazing effort that earned him two silver medals and judges’ special recognition in the annual SND contest. If you’ve got a 26th edition of Best of Newspaper Design handy, check it out on page 43.

On the side, though, Matt has a hobby: High Dynamic Range — or HDR — photography. Matt explains that HDR…

…allows for a much higher range of luminance between the dark and light areas of a photo. This is done, typically, by combining three or more exposures of the same shot — one overexposed, one underexposed, one neutral. The resulting images are a closer representation of what your eyes would have seen — though perhaps not always all at once.

The technique has been around for more than 150 years, believe it or not, though [now] it’s a little bit easier to do the post-processing in a digital darkroom than it was in the 1850s.

The result is something that looks a lot like a painting. Except it’s not, of course. It’s a photo.

Matt says:

That shot is three exposures layered on top of each other — 1/640, 1/160, 1/40: One underexposed, one neutral, one overexposed. Because of the technique itself — three exposures merged into one image — it obviously isn’t “photojournalism.” Rather, it’s just an artistic photographic technique.

Matt has been experimenting around with this stuff for years.

Matt even sells prints of his work. Find his site here.

Today, however, I want to draw your attention to this HDR picture of a high school football field that Matt shot a while back:


Matt writes via his Facebook page that this is…

…an HDR photo I shot before covering a game in 2010. I was stringing for The Times as a writer and wasn’t there to shoot photos; I shot it on my own, killing time waiting for kickoff.

A major book publisher spotted that picture and bought it from Matt for use on a book cover. He writes:

It’s called Until Friday Night, and it’s the first in what, I guess, will be a series of Young Adult books in the Field Party line.


The Simon & Schuster cover designer added the foreground image of the kids in the truck and the fence and bushes and Photoshopped out the logo on the field, and then went and put words all over my beautiful clouds and sunset.

The book will be released Aug. 25. It lists for $17.99, but Amazon is preselling the hardcover for $13.85.

A 1997 graduate of Eastern Illinois University, Matt immediately joined the the Times and worked there for 13 years as a designer and, eventually, director of presentation and visuals. He spent time as a regional director for the Society for News Design and coordinated the SND annual contest in 2005. Matt left the Times in 2010 to strike out on his own as a freelance sportswriter specializing in MMA. He spent a year or so working with and joined in 2012.

Hanging out his freelance shingle: Master visual journalist Scott Brown

Many papers out there would love to run fabulously researched and finely illustrated infographics, but only get so many of them from wire services like AP and MCT.

Here’s where my pal Scott Brown can help out.


Scott was longtime graphic artist at the Orange County Register who took one of the paper’s infamous buyouts last summer. He’s freelanced for many years — his clients have included United Airlines, Oral-B, and Taco Bell. But now he’s interested in helping papers around the country meet their graphics needs.

Scott tells me:

I hope to cater to 50,000-200,000 circulation papers who have eliminated their art departments, but still want the occasional large graphic.

More importantly, if editors know I am available, they may hire me to do special project graphics, etc. If they have that five part series but no art department, I hope they call me.

Scott and I worked together at the Register for a little less than a year and a half. During that time, he built at least nine Focus pages for me.





I should add that in addition to drawing them, Scott also researched and wrote these graphics.

Of course, Scott had been around a lot longer than I had. Scott spent three years as a graphics reporter for King Features syndicate and then seven years with the Los Angeles Times before moving to the Register in 1998.

The body work he did over the years for the Register was just amazing. This was one of my favorites. It hung on the wall in the lobby of the newsroom:


The Victoria Advocate was fortunate enough to have one of his first freelance offerings this past Sunday: This celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Coast Guard.

Click for a larger look:


This worked out well for us: Victoria is very near the coast and we have a mid-sized Coast Guard station in the Advocate‘s readership area. I wrote a brief piece for the front of our Sunday Your Life section, illustrated it with a few gorgeous file photos and then refered to Scott’s piece on the back page.

The man definitely has my endorsement. In fact, if you scroll down the home page of his web site, you’ll see that endorsement:


Scott’s next project: The 70th anniversary of the bombing of Dresden — which, by the way, is Friday, Feb. 13. He gave me a preview of the piece and it’s terrific. Here’s just a taste:


Scott says:

The topic speaks to the issue of civilian casualties from U.S. air strikes during war time — the same 70 years ago as it is today.

Other projects he’s planning over the next few weeks:

  • March 8: The 50th anniversary of the start of the ground war in Vietnam
  • March 19: The 70th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Iwo Jima
  • March 27: The 100th anniversary of the arrest of Typhoid Mary

About that last one, Scott tells us:

Typhoid Mary died in quarantine — it seemed topical because of ebola. The graphic will touch on the history of quarantine, how public health rules were born.

Sounds like a great read. And no one can do this quite like Scott.

If you’re in need of quality content and visuals, please contact Scott Brown. Find his web site here.

Guest blog post: Justin Gilbert and his visual recipe column

Our guest blogger today is Justin Gilbert: A journalist, a designer and a cook.

Naturally, he’s found a way to string all three of these skills together in what I’ve called a visual food column — essentially, an “alternative story form” featuring recipes.

We’ll show you a few samples of this in a moment.


A 1997 graduate of Ball State University, Justin spent nearly four years as a graphics reporter for the Associated Press and then six years as the same for Newsday in Melville, N.Y. He moved to Bloomberg in 2006 and left in 2010 to move back to Indiana and begin his food column.

I’m giving Justin some space in the blog today to a) Tell you about his work, and, yes, b) To make a sales pitch…

A little over three years ago I voluntarily left my job in the news business after 14 successful years as a graphics editor and news designer. I wanted to pursue a career in food because I had become a gourmet cook in my spare time and was ready for a new adventure.

I started catering and doing private chef work. Not willing to let go of journalism completely, I created a weekly food column for the small paper in my hometown of Churubusco, Indiana (15 miles north of Fort Wayne).

The column features an original recipe of my own, presented in a photo-driven information graphic with a brief introduction.


For years before as I had learned to cook, I read numerous cook books and magazines and thought that my skills as a graphics editor/artist and news designer could take food presentation to a new level of detail.

It took about 10 weeks to hit my stride with the column and ever since my passion for creating easy to follow information graphics of my original recipes has been as strong as my passion for cooking great food. I started a food blog in Jan. 2011 and later began working with a reception hall to learn more about catering and cooking for large groups. Also during this time, I learned much about light and lenses as well as how to style food for photographs.


I publish an average of 12 original visual recipes a month online, a weekly visual food column and do private chef work whenever possible (last weekend I catered a Mexican-themed party for 125).

What I would like to find now are a few editors, art directors or people in publishing world out there who think their readers might find my work useful.


For newspapers, I can provide a weekly visual food column that I call Recipes Made Simple: A guaranteed-delicious, original recipe of my own, presented in a way that can be used as a centerpiece on any feature news page. It’s designed to be dropped into a layout with only minor adjustments for a publication’s style.

The feature is roughly 50 picas wide by 7.5 inches, but that is flexible. The pricing varies according to paper size.



Please review my work at, and the samples I have provided for this post. If my column doesn’t suit your purposes. please forward this link to any friends in the business that might like Recipes Made Simple.

In addition to these sample columns, Justin also sends along what he calls “a sample eBook” —  six-page booklet showing how to pull together an entire meal of prime rib.


Justin says:

The prime rib is the featured weekly graphic and the rest is bonus content.

So imagine, if you will, running the prime rib column in print and then giving your readers a link where they can download that same piece, plus instructions for the mashed ‘taters, horseradish sauce and the rest of the trimmings, including the dessert.

This sample eBook is in PDF format. Click here to download it.

Right about now, you probably have two questions. The second question probably is: Why has Chuck turned his blog over to a friend for a sales pitch?

The answer is simple: I’m a huge fan of Justin’s work. When I first wrote about him, nearly two years ago, I wondered why the newspaper world wasn’t beating a path to his door. Justin really ought to be nationally syndicated or something. This is terrific work.

If he can’t be nationally syndicated, then the next-best thing would be self-syndicated. Hence this little helping hand.

The first question your asking though — hopefully — is: Wow! I love these samples! How do I contact Justin to buy his column?

Glad you asked! Email him at:

behindthebites [at]

And again: Find Justin’s Behind the Bites web site here.

Find his Twitter feed here.

How better to explain the business of comics than with a comic?

Cartoonist Paul Horn is at the world-famous Comic-Con in San Diego this week, peddling his line of Cool Jerk books and merchandise in the small press section of the enormous convention.

Of course, you’d know this already if you read Sunday’s U-T San Diego. The business section featured a full-page, first-person story about small comics operations and how they use Comic-Con to attract an audience.

The story, naturally, was told in comic format. Click for a larger look…


…or, if you prefer, find it here in an easy-to-read slideshow format.

Paul explains how the con operates and how the small press publishers treat it as a job — “one where you work for five days and have 51 weeks off in between,” he says.


Adding commentary is Paul’s wife: Designer and food blogger Darlene Horn.

Paul tells us:

I was contacted by U-T San Diego business editor Diana McCabe to produce a full-page comic detailing the business of exhibiting at Comic-Con. Since I can only talk from first-person experiences, I talked about Small Press. The piece was mostly autobio with very little goofiness/hyperbole. But I did manage to get some Cool Jerk flavor (and products) in there.


I also included the voices of a couple creative friends of mine who had to leave Small Press under similar circumstances but with different approaches.

Paul also throws in an amusing success story.


Paul is coming off a pretty severe injury to his drawing hand: He fractured his thumb in November, requiring surgery. He wore a cast for a full month and then went through physical therapy for two more.


He tells us:

My thumb is still not 100% and it gets really achey after cartooning (because of the demands of using a brush for inking). I discovered these limits while inking this package, which is about 5x more area to draw/ink than the typical Cool Jerk.

A 1991 graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno, Paul spent a year as an illustrator for the Daily Sparks Tribune of Sparks, Nev., before becoming assistant graphics editor of the Reno Gazette-Journal in 1990. He moved to the San Diego Union-Tribune in 1994 and worked there nearly 12 years before “retiring” in 2006 to concentrate on his free-lance graphics work and on his strip, Cool Jerk. Which I really enjoy.


A 1995 graduate of San Diego State University, Darlene spent nearly eight years as an editorial design assistant for the Union-Tribune. In 2005, she moved to the Los Angeles Daily News as a business section desk editor and designer. She moved again in 2006 to the Orange County Business Journal and leaped to the San Diego Business Journal a year later. The SDBJ laid off a number of staffers earlier this year, including Darlene.

Darlene is perhaps best known as the creator of the food blog My Burning Kitchen. She recently posted her annual piece on where to eat — and where not to eat — while in town for the convention. Find that post here.

The two of them collaborated on a really cool book they launched during last year’s Comic-Con:


Find that book for sale here.

Paul, of course, has published several collections of his Cool Jerk work and one of additional material.


He has a new one out just in time for this week’s con: Volume Four of Cool Jerk, entitled Thinkulus.


As soon as Comic-Con ends, Thinkulus will go on sale at Paul’s online store. So remind yourself to buy a copy of each of his and Darlene’s books — which range in price between five and twelve bucks apiece.

Or, if you like, buy ’em from Amazon. Paul’s stuff is available there now, too.

If you’re at Comic-Con this week, make sure you stop by Paul’s table. It’ll look something like his setup recently in Denver:


Paul tells us:

I’ll be in Small Press, K10 (back of the Exhibit Hall, near the bathrooms aka vomitorium/cosplay emergency repair station).

Um… right.

Full disclosure: I love Paul and Darlene. They came to see me in my second or third week here in Southern California. Darlene even cooked for me. And Paul personalized a drawing of my favorite Cool Jerk character. It hangs by my desk here at home.


Comic-Con runs through Sunday. Both Paul and Darlene are live tweeting as much as they can — Darlene a little more, probably, because she has one more good thumb than Paul has. Find Paul’s twitter feed here and Darlene’s Twitter feed here.

Desk chief, novelist Craig Lancaster to leave newspapers

Longtime visual journalist and four-time novelist Craig Lancaster is leaving the Billings Gazette, he announced Thursday via Facebook.


Craig writes:

The big piece of my post-newspaper career is that I’m joining the gang at Montana Quarterly, the best regional magazine you’ll ever see. The editor, Scott McMillion, told me that I could pick the title for the job I’ll be doing, one that heretofore has been called art director. That set the ol’ thinker to working overtime: I’ve considered, and discarded, “rock ‘n’ roll visuals editor,” “chief placer of words and pictures and whatnot” and “groovus maximus.” In the end, I’m sure I’ll settle on something traditional, like “design editor,” boring as that may be.

It’s a part-time gig with an outfit that’s full-time awesome, and a perfect fit with my plans. I’m a lucky dude.

I asked Craig for more details. He tells us he’s…

…still pinning down the last day [at the Gazette] — late July. After that, I’ll go to casual status. If they need a shift plugged and I don’t have anything else on the hook for that day, I’ll fill in.

As for the new job, it’s basically 8-10 weeks a year, producing the four annual issues of The Montana Quarterly. It’s my favorite magazine, one that has published some of my fiction and essay work. Really thrilled to be joining up.

The changes will allow Craig to spend more time on his novels. Plus…

I’ll be doing freelance manuscript editing, writing workshops and design. My ideal is about 50 percent of my time on writing, 50 percent on activities that generate a more consistent stream of income.

A product of the University of Texas at Arlington, Craig worked various copy-desk and design positions at the Dayton Daily News, the Anchorage Daily News, the Olympian of Olympia, Wash., and the San Antonio Express-News before joining the San Jose Mercury News in 2000 as sports editor. He moved to Billings in 2006 as leader of the news and sports copy desks.

1307CraigLancasterBookCover600Hours   1302SummerSonCover  1302QuantumPhysicsCover

He published his first novel — 600 Hours of Edward — in 2009 to great acclaim. His second novel — the Summer Son — came out in 2011 and his collection of short stories, Quantum Physics and the Art of Departure, was released that December.

His most recent work — Edward Adrift, a sequel to 600 Hourshit shelves back in April.


For more reading…

A fun Friday feature in today’s Orange County Register

Hey, I hate to brag about my new newspaper home, but…

OK, I lied already. In fact, I’d love to brag about us.

Today, the Orange County Register published a fun three-way collaboration on a story about a longtime resident, John Wayne. The actor. Yeah, he lived in Newport Beach — the same city featured on Arrested Development. Wayne died more than 30 years ago, but he sort of lives on in name and in deed in this area.

Today’s John Wayne triple-feature begins on page one of today’s Register with a fun, fun cartoon illustration of the Duke riding a jet airplane.


That was created by former OCR staffer Kurt Snibbe. Kurt left the Register a while back to work as the cartoonist and all-around visuals guy for ESPN’s Page Two. However, that gig ended recently when ESPN laid off a bunch of folks.


Kurt’s doing freelance work out of his home in Dana Point, just south of Newport Beach. It’s great to find his stuff on page one today. Find his ESPN work here and his Twitter feed here.

The second component of today’s feature is the guy responsible for this whole thing: Superstar reporter, writer and fun guy Ron Sylvester.


Ron, who came to us a few weeks ago from the Las Vegas Sun, has barely taken a 15-minute break since he arrived. The guy is truly all over the place, especially in our wonderful community sections. Unfortunately, all his stories are behind the OCR‘s paywall — hence, no links to the John Wayne story or any of his others.

UPDATE: Wrong again, Pilgrim. Find the story here with no paywall.

As an incentive to click and read further, here’s a taste of Ron’s lede:

As a young girl, Marisa Wayne remembered wondering why her father would support President Jimmy Carter, when the two had such opposing political views.

John Wayne, after all, was almost as famous a Republican as he was a movie star. He’d campaigned for Barry Goldwater and supported his friend Ronald Reagan from the California governor’s mansion to his bid for president in 1976. Yet when Carter was elected to the White House that same year, John Wayne went to his inauguration.

“I would say, ‘But he’s a Democrat,’ ” said Marisa, of Newport Beach, who was 13 when her father died 24 years ago. “I was very young and I thought you were either all or nothing.”

She remembered her father’s answer in that slow, determined drawl:

“He’s my president now. I’m an American and I support him. Maybe I disagree with his politics but the people elected him, and I respect him for that.”

Man, you don’t see that kind of attitude any more. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was practically disemboweled by the GOP for not ragging on the current president after superstorm Sandy last fall.

You can find Ron’s Twitter feed here.

One time Ron did take a 15-minute break was at lunch one day last week. He plopped down at my table and told me about the John Wayne story. I told him it sounded like a great Focus page. “Glad you said that,” he said.

Turned out, Ron had quite a bit of material that seemed more like infographic material than narrative. He knew he’d have only so much room for graphics with his story. So how can a reporter get a full page of additional space to run in conjunction with his story?

If he works at the Orange County Register, he can enlist the new Focus page editor to build a page to run the same day as his story. Which brings us to the third component of today’s package. Click this for a much larger, readable view:


Ron wrote the material for that page and I designed it on Monday. The photos were all in the Register‘s archives — with the exception of the beef jerky (there’s such a thing as John Wayne brand beef jerky!) and the picture of the John Wayne Cancer Institute building at upper left. Google Street View to the rescue.

So that was today’s project. Three talented folks (well, two talented folks, plus me). Three moving pieces. One fun story.

Average daily circulation for the Orange County Register is 280,812.

Designer Leslie Plesser leaving newspapers to become a freelance photographer

Another talented visual journalist leaves the business in order to go freelance.

Here’s the official announcement out of Minneapolis, by managing editors Duchesne Drew, Cory Powell and presentation editor Chris Carr:

Describing it as a “now or never” moment in life, Leslie Plesser has decided to pursue her freelance photography opportunities full-time. Her last day at the Star Tribune will be June 21.


Leslie came to us from the Miami Herald as a news designer in 2003. She regularly designed some of our best A1s and news pages before moving to features in 2006. That year she helped launch and has served as the publication’s art director since then – designing the section, coordinating and directing photo shoots and redesigning the publication in 2011.

She launched her freelance photography business, Shuttersmack, in 2009 and it obviously has grown into a successful business. Leslie also teaches design part-time at the U.

Leslie has been a creative force during her time with us, as anyone who picks up or tracks Society of News Design awards knows very well. We will certainly miss her and her creative ways, and we’ll all be cheering her on as she rocks her next challenge.

What I can add to that:

1) Leslie is a 1997 graduate of the University of Kansas.

2) Leslie spent two years as design editor of the Long Beach, Calif., Press-Telegram before moving to the Miami Herald in 2003.

3) Vita.min is the Strib‘s free weekly tab. A few samples of Leslie’s work:

1305VitaMnSampleWinter 1305VitaMnSampleKiss

1305VitaMnSamplerockthegarden   1305VitaMnSampleMadge   1305VitaMnSampleJoy 1305VitaMnSampleGreenDay   1305VitaMnSampleDrinks   1305VitaMnSampleBeer

Leslie began her side business, Shuttersmack, in 2009. Find her web site here and her photo blog here.

Palm Beach Daily News goes sideways with an A1 infographic

Alex Chihak writes:

I’m an editor at one of Cox’s hubs, and we design and edit The Palm Beach Post, Austin American-Statesman and the Palm Beach Daily News, or Shiny Sheet.

The Shiny Sheet is a seasonal paper. It’s daily during the season (September to May) and twice a week in the offseason. The season’s when the super wealthy people go back to their summer homes in New York, Connecticut and other states where it gets cold in the winter.

I proofread the covers every night and thought you’d really like this cover.


The big news this season was the Flagler Memorial Bridge, which is the northernmost bridge from the island to the “real world.” It’s being replaced and is causing headaches because they have to drive a mile south to another bridge.

And, yep: They went sideways with it. Here it is again, in an orientation that might strain your neck a little less. Click for a much larger, readable view.


Alex tells us:

Danielle Provencher usually designs the Shiny Sheet, but she said this cover (sans the flag, top boxes and index) was outsourced and is a graphic.

The reporting is credited to staffers David Rogers and Aleese Kopf. The pictures were made by the Daily News Staff.

The graphic is credited to Karbel Multimedia — which, sure enough, consists of infographics superstars Belinda Ivey, Karsten Ivey and Hiram Henriquez. All three are veterans of the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel. Find Karbel’s web site here.

Find the interactive version of this graphic here.

Average daily circulation for the Palm Beach Daily News is 5,087.

Why I’ve been following the Tribune bankruptcy case so closely

Today, the Chicago Tribune Company emerged from bankruptcy, four long years after it was driven there by the inept (at best; evil at worst) actions of then-owner Sam Zell and his minions.

I’ve had a unique front-row seat throughout the entire debacle. Let me explain…

Four years ago, I sold one of my election graphics to a Tribune-owned newspaper. I hate to pick on my actual clients, so I’ll skip the name of the paper itself. It wouldn’t take a lot of sleuthing to figure it out, however.

A few weeks later, I sold that same paper one of my college football preview graphics. Each time, of course, I sent the folks there an invoice after the graphic ran.

Over the following weeks, checks from my clients rolled in. Naturally, I kept careful track of each one. Eventually, my list had only two payments left unaccounted for: Both from this Tribune-owned paper. I sent the editor a polite note of reminder. He replied that he’d look into it.

Another few weeks went past. I began to wonder.

Sure enough, I finally got a big envelope in the mail. The Tribune Company had declared bankruptcy. That, I knew. What I didn’t know, though, was that my two little freelance claims had placed me onto the newspaper’s list of creditors.

Normally, you see, creditors in a multibillion-dollar case like this will consist of banks, capital management firms and the like. Perhaps a few suppliers, like newsprint manufacturers. But typically, a company like Tribune will still pay its employees and its freelancers (and utility bills and so on). Without these payments, Tribune’s newspapers would no longer be able to put newspapers on the streets. And with no news, there would be no hope at all of emerging from bankruptcy.

For some reason, though, my name was put on the list of creditors. So instead of a modest little check — for two full-page infographics that had run in November and December 2008 — I began receiving documents from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

So I wrote the editor of the paper and complained. Putting me on the list of creditors was not appropriate, I told him. He really should just pay me instead.

The editor replied by chewing me out. I was very disappointed by that. A while later, then that same editor lost his new job in a bit of a scandal, I had a hard time feeling bad for him. I had witnessed his unprofessionalism first-hand.

Somehow, though, cooler heads prevailed somewhere down the line. I finally got paid the next June — six months after the paper had run my graphics. Interestingly, though, I continued to receive official Tribune bankruptcy documents. Little ones in standard envelopes. Big ones in huge manila envelopes that probably cost the court a fortune to send. A couple were the size of the old Sears catalog.

And I still get them. This one arrived just a couple of weeks ago.


I’ve received dozens of these mailings over the past four years. Had I known this would have gone on so long, I would have saved them all. Usually, I just take Sam Zell’s name in vain, toss the papers away and then laugh at the folly of it all.

It’s not just the official bankruptcy paperwork, though: From time to time, I get mailings from companies that buy bad debt. They’ll pay me pennies on the dollar for whatever it is that Tribune owes me. I still get these offers, three-and-a-half years after Tribune finally paid me.

All this for a sum that was less than half-a-thousand dollars.

So I’m glad to see the Tribune Company and its papers — The Los Angeles Times, the Orlando Sentinel, the South Florida Sun Sentinel, the Newport News Daily Press, the Baltimore Sun, the Hartford Courant and the Allentown Morning Call, as well as the mothership Chicago Tribune, WGN America superstation, WGN radio and nearly two dozen TV stations — emerge from under this black cloud.

Smart money is saying today that the print outlets will be sold off. Here’s hoping the new owners prove to be better stewards than the last ones were.

And here’s hoping that by ending the stream of legal documents to my house, the federal government will be able to balance the budget.

Have you ever wondered…

…what a South African Christmas card looks like?

Wonder no more.

That’s a giraffe, wearing a Christmas tree as a hat. Note the little bluebird holding a string or garland. It almost looks like a fancy earring.

The card is by Tracy Paul of Stuff from Africa — a Cape Town-based greeting card company founded by a woman laid-off from Ogilvy & Mather.

Mental Note: Next time I’m in South Africa, buy stuff from Stuff from Africa.

And thanks, Arlene Prinsloo! A very merry (summer) Christmas to you, as well!

Why copy editors need Christmas cards that say ‘why Christmas needs a copy editor’ on them

Just in time for the holidays, Sara Hickman-Himes — former copy editor and A1 designer for the Rochester, N.Y., Democrat and Chronicle — writes of her newest venture via her greeting card company, Papersaurus Creative:

We branched out into holiday cards this year.

I always love reading your so-and-so needs a copy editor blog entries. That combined with the idiotic massive layoffs of journalists and copy editors (you and myself included) inspired me to create the attached Christmas card.

Sure enough, Sara’s card wonderfully captures the whole “why they need a copy editor” thing. Here’s the front of the card…

And here’s the inside:

Is that perfect, or what?

Sara asked my permission to use this meme for her cards. I told her that publishing newspaper errors has been around a lot longer than my blog — so I can hardly claim ownership of it — but still, she insisted on giving me credit on her Etsy page.

So she gets brownie points for being one of the classiest people on the internet.

This card was inspired by the hilarious (and occasionally scary) feature “_____ needs a copy editor” on visual journalist Charles Apple‘s blog. Apple — with the help of his loyal followers — points out errors from the funny to the egregious around the world that underline the importance of copy editors at news outlets of all sorts.

Check out Apple’s blog here. And check out the “needs a copy editor” posts here.

As a displaced journalist myself, I continue to shake my head at the layoffs ridding newsrooms of copy editors across the country. Because copy editors are at the front lines, catching errors — both factual and grammatical — and catching unintended innuendos, this card celebrates them! With hilarious made-up headlines ranging from misspellings like “Kids’ letters to Satan” to unfortunate innuendos like “Blow your own balls”, this card points to the importance of copy editors all year long.

These 5×7-inch cards sell for $3.50 each or five for $12. Find them here.

Sara has a number of interesting greeting cards and prints in her Etsy store. So please spend a few minutes to roam around and see if there’s something there that strikes your fancy.



My favorite is this one, available as a print and as a T-shirt.

Wonderful stuff.

A 2002 graduate of Kent State University, Sara spent two years as a copy editor and designer for the Marion (Ohio) Star before moving to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle in 2004.

There, she designed A1 as well as the weekly entertainment section. In 2008, she was named art director of the Gannett News Service’s Insider magazine.

She went freelance last year. Find her web site here and her Twitter feed here.

Following up behind my big Election Night preview graphic

So, how did the project go over?

It did pretty well, from what I’m hearing. Especially “back home” where I grew up: Two papers — one of either side of McCormick County, S.C. — ran my big election preview graphic today.

My brother Artie — in Martinez, Ga. — tells me:

Just thought I’d let you know that everyone I showed your graphic to at work were very interested… that’s saying something.

The only things us railroaders are interested is when is lunch and when are we going home. Great job!!!

That was in the Augusta Chronicle. Where, I’m sad to report, we found an error this morning. In my final update last night, I clicked and changed the color of one wrong box.

You can see it by Artie’s thumb there: That blue “Obama” box for Ohio under the Washington Post should, in fact, be under Larry Sabato. The Post originally had Ohio called for Obama but then moved it back to “tossup” late last week.

That was the only paper — of the 36 that used my graphic — in which I made that error. Sigh

On the east side of my hometown, the Greenwood Index-Journal — circulation 12,118 — ran my graphic today, sponsored by Papa John’s pizza. Here’s a very low resolution look at it:

I really had to scrunch the page vertically to make room for that ad. I did a similar thing for Casper, Wyo., but I’ve not yet seen how that one came out.

In addition, the Index-Journal ran a brief story about me today on page 2A, to explain that the big diagram on page 7A was, in fact, created by a guy with local origins.

I wonder how my sister feels about being in the paper today. Mom promised she’d tip Caroline off last night.

And my old Star Trek action figure-collecting buddy Chris Rei in Santa Clarita, Calif, sent me a picture of the nice skybox treatment the folks at the Los Angeles Daily News used to plug my graphic today.

Wow. Not bad at all.

In addition, my little piece received page-one love today by the Shelby, N.C., Star

…the Gastonia, N.C., Gaston Gazette

…and the aforementioned Augusta Chronicle.

Click on any of these for a larger view.

And while they didn’t use my graphic itself for the promo — it’s just a grid, after all, and not the most spectacular visual — the fine folks at the Herald of Everett, Wash., made a major deal of plugging my graphic atop page one today.

I feel like such a superstar today, guys. Knock it off.

OK, OK. Don’t knock it off. In fact, keep it up all you like…

Two papers — that I know of — posted PDF versions of my graphic. The Roanoke (Va.) Times posted the Sunday version and the Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Pa., posted today’s version. If you’re looking for readable versions of the project, feel free to pull one in from either of them.

Previous posts about this project…

Oct. 31: How to beef up your Election Day coverage

Nov. 2: More about my big Election preview graphic

Nov. 5: The final version of my election graphic runs tomorrow in 23 newspapers

The pages from the Greenwood Index-Journal are from that paper. The rest are from the Newseum. Of course.

The final version of my Election Day preview graphic runs tomorrow in 23 newspapers

This morning, I got up bright and early — well, what passes for “bright and early” around here — and made the final updates to the Tuesday edition of my Election Day preview graphic.

There were a number of changes over weekend. The Washington Post, USA Today, Fox News and RealClearPolitics adjusted their projections Sunday afternoon. And, as promised, the University of Virginia’s Larry Sabato made a call this morning for every state.

As you can see, Sabato now says Virginia will go red tomorrow.

The graphic walks readers through what to expect as the returns begin rolling in Tuesday night. I’ve aggregated projections from eight sources, plus tacked on a primer on how the Electoral College works. Readers have a space — you can see it in the picture — where they can fill in the winner of each state as it’s called.

As I wrote earlier, I developed this graphic for the 2000 election and have updated it for each election cycle since.

Thirteen papers in five states ran the graphic Sunday. Twenty-three papers are running it tomorrow. Here’s the list of where you can find it:

  • Augusta, Ga. – Augusta Chronicle
  • Casper, Wyo. – Star-Tribune
  • Conway, Ark. – Log Cabin Democrat
  • Cleveland, Ohio – Plain Dealer
  • Everett Wash. – Herald
  • Fond du Lac, Wis. – Reporter
  • Gastonia, N.C. – Gaston Gazette
  • Greenwood, S.C. – Index-Journal
  • Harrisburg, Pa. – Patriot-News
  • Long Beach, Calif. – Press-Telegram
  • Los Angeles, Calif. – Daily News
  • Middletown, Conn. – Middletown Press
  • Nashville, Tenn. – Tennessean
  • New Haven, Conn. – Register
  • Ontario, Calif. – Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
  • Pasadena, Calif. – Pasadena Star-News
  • San Bernadino, Calif. – San Bernadino Sun
  • San Gabriel, Calif. – San Gabriel Valley Tribune
  • Shelby, N.C. – Shelby Star
  • Torrance, Calif. – Daily Breeze
  • Torrington, Conn. – Register-Citizen
  • Wausau, Wis. – Wausau Daily Herald
  • Whittier, Calif. – Whittier Daily News

The two-day total readers for this graphic: 1,999,451.

As delighted as I am getting all those eyeballs Tuesday, there are two papers on that list I’m particularly happy with: the Index-Journal of Greenwood, S.C. and the Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle. Those two papers cover the area where I grew up: McCormick, S.C. My sister lives in Greenwood. My mom lives with her husband in Parksville, S.C., just a few miles from Augusta. My brother and his family live in Martinez, a suburb of Augusta. My dad lives in Thomson, just a few miles west of Augusta.

So my family and old friends “back home” will be able to buy a newspaper Tuesday and see my work. I’ve been in the business for nearly 30 years. This is the first time that’s ever been the case.

The reaction to Sunday’s early edition of my graphic has been wonderful. And through the weekend, the Tuesday papers continued to proofread my updates. My old friend Meg Heaton of the Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Pa., tweeted Sunday:

My thanks go out to all the papers that gave this project a home.

More about my big Election Day preview graphic

Some of the papers that are using my big election preview graphic have begun promoting it via social media. This went out yesterday from the folks in Oshkosh, Wisconsin

Northwestern staffer Jessie Opoien let loose with this gracious note:

And Carol Tarrant, editor of the Roanoke (Va.) Times tweeted this morning:

Oh, wow. That’s terrific. When I’m ready to hire a full-time publicist, I know who I’m calling first.

My graphic is all finished, proofread — by copy desks all over the country — corrected, tweaked, updated and final versions are going out today.

Thirteen newspapers around the country are running it Sunday. If you live in or near one of these communities, run — don’t walk — to your local convenience store or streetside hawker Sunday morning to buy extras for your mom, your dad, your kids and — most importantly — your kids’ classroom:

  • Appleton, Wis. – Post-Crescent
  • Cincinnati, Ohio – Cincinnati Enquirer
  • Davenport, Iowa – Quad-City Times
  • Des Moines, Iowa – Des Moines Register
  • Green Bay, Wis. – Green Bay Press-Gazette
  • Manitowoc, Wis. – Herald Times Reporter
  • Marshfield, Wis. – News-Herald
  • Newark, N.J. – Star-Ledger
  • Oshkosh, Wis. – Northwestern
  • Roanoke, Va. – Roanoke Times
  • Sheboygan, Wis. – Sheboygan Press
  • Stevens Point, Wis. – Stevens Point Journal
  • Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. – Daily Tribune

For anyone counting, that’s 793,038 potential readers. If you count “average daily circulation.” Keep in mind, though, that typically, Sunday circulation is higher than average daily. So there’s no telling how many actual eyeballs will fall on this graphic.

When you add the 22 papers who will be running a freshly-updated version of this graphic on Election Day itself, the overall tally comes to just under two million readers.

And of the 13 papers running the graphic Sunday, 12 are located in swing states. That’s what I was really aiming for this time around: Seeing how close the polls are this year, I tried hard to get this graphic in front of as many swing-state readers as I could. To my disappointment, I could find no buyers at all in Nevada, Colorado, New Hampshire or Florida. I was able to land only two clients in North Carolina and just one  in Virginia.


Previous versions of this graphic from 2000, 2004 and 2008.

But in Ohio, Wisconsin and Iowa: Readers there will be served well, thanks to open-minded editors and a wise allocation of newshole.

I’m still open to last-minute buyers, however, for my Tuesday edition. If the internet is a grocery store, think of my Election Day graphic as being near the checkout counter between the gum and the gossip rags.

My graphic might be short on gossip. But there is a lot for readers to chew on.

Read more about this project here.

UPDATE – 7 p.m.

An earlier version of this post mentioned the Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle. I just got off the phone with the Chronicle. They’re running it Tuesday instead.

UPDATE – 4 p.m. Saturday

Just heard from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, which has also decided to run theirs Tuesday instead of Sunday. So I’ve removed them from my Sunday list, above, and adjusted the numbers accordingly.

How to beef up your election coverage

I dislike using my blog as a springboard for my own freelance business. But a very wise editor — a former supervisor, in fact — urged me to post this today.

So, here goes…

I’ve spent much of the past week or two working on a little project that I do every four years: A full-page graphic that previews Election Day.

The concept is this: Give readers everything they need to watch the numbers roll in on Election Night.

Most papers who use my graphic run it on Election Day itself. A few run it the Sunday before. We ask readers to tear the page out and keep it handy.

The graphic lists all the states in the order of when the polls close. A giant grid shows who should win each state, according to major news agencies and political commentators. There’s a spot for the reader to fill in the winner herself. Which is about as interactive as you can get in print.

Naturally, the important “swing states” are all pulled out and noted.

Oh, and notice the map. Each state is drawn proportional to the number of electoral votes it has. Which makes for a more accurate and informative choropleth map. (But as a navigational aid, not so much.)

(Oh, and whatever you do: Do not rip off that map for use in your own paper. That was in 2008. Since then, Congressional seats have been reapportioned following the 2010 Census. So the numbers of electoral votes — and, therefore, the shapes of these states — have changed.)

Down the right side of the graphic is a primer explaining how the Electoral College works. Most people don’t know the details of the Electoral College. After all, we deal with it only every four years. And it really comes into play every 100 years or so — like in 2000, when Al Gore earned more votes than George W. Bush but didn’t obtain the 270 Electoral votes he needed to sew up the election.

It’s a graphic just about anyone could put together… if one takes the time. Only someone who’s either disciplined enough to do the tedious research and grid-building (my description) or goofy enough and with too much time on their hands (my wife’s description) would build this graphic.

In fact, it’s a pleasure to actually put into the use the minor in political science I earned in college.

I first built this graphic in 2000: The aforementioned Gore vs. Bush year. I thought it was a great way to reverse-engineer all those cool interactive Election map trackers I see around the web. After that race got hung up on Florida’s electoral votes, though, I suddenly looked very smart for building this for the Des Moines Register on Election Day (left).


In 2004, I was at the Virginian-Pilot. So I rebuilt the graphic for that year.

In 2006, the talk was about whether or not the Democrats would be able to recapture a majority in Congress. So I built a “midterm” election version of the graphic. Additional degree of difficulty: I didn’t have a color position that year. Which makes it hard to do a color-coded chart.

By 2008, however, I was out of the daily newspaper business and in the independent contractor/consulting business. So I spammed sent polite emails to every editor I could think of and told them my graphic was available for purchase.

The result: I was in fourteen papers that year, including the Baltimore Sun (the example you saw at the top of this post), the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Detroit Free Press, the Des Moines Register, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Cleveland Plain Dealer (the example below) and eight more.

I made two mortgage payments on my house off that one graphic. The wisecrack I made at the time: If I could get the government to hold a presidential election three or four times a year, I’d have it made.

No such luck. And now, it is indeed four years later.

The reason I didn’t blog yesterday — and why posts might be a bit scarce for the next few days — is because I’m hard at work on this year’s version. I spread out my research over the past two weeks, nearly filling up a couple of legal pads…

… leaving sticky notes all over the awards that hang over my desk…

…and papering any surface of my home office not already covered with collectible action figures.

I spent most of Tuesday in production of 12 versions of the graphic, to be used over 24 newspapers around the country, with three more (at the time) to come. Each graphic was built to the page sizes and font specifications of the papers.

I sent out the first round of proofing copies overnight last night. I’ve earmarked most of the rest of this week for making changes, corrections and updates. Some of the nationally-known pundits whom I’m aggregating for the graphic will be updating their predictions later this week, so I’ll stay on top of that.

Also, I expect another round of tweaks this weekend, after the last poll results are announced on Sunday. As a result, the papers that run this on Election Day itself will have a page updated through Monday morning.

I’m not sure if my clients want me to reveal their plans just yet. Which is why I’m not naming names and dates. However, one thing that’s really cool this time around: Folks back home where I grew up — including my family — will be able to buy their local papers — the Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle and the Greenwood (S.C.) Index-Journal and see my work. That’s never happened before.

So here’s why I write. And why my old friend Randy Brubaker of the Des Moines Register — who was so supportive when I drew my very first version of this graphic, 12 years ago — insisted I post this here in the blog: I’m nearly done with most of my heavy production crunch. And it’s only Wednesday night.

A short time ago, I was on the phone with a group of papers on the West Coast. Boom: A package deal for eight more papers.

I’m up to 35 now. And a few more are considering using the graphic. I’m able to accommodate them easily.

So if you’re at a paper with readers who are closely watching the presidential race and you can clear off a color position, consider buying this graphic. Especially if you’re in a swing state.

I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

The catch: I won’t sell to any paper whose coverage area overlaps one of my existing clients.

Contact me here:

chuckapple [at]

…And now you know why I went into editorial instead of marketing!

University of Oregon students ripped off by Yahoo News

Back in the old days, a news organization had to send a staffer out to shoot a news event or pay a freelancer for his or her pictures.

But that’s old school. New media has a much more efficient way of dealing with long-distance stories: Just steal content from the nearest student news source. In this case, the digital-first, mostly-online student newspaper at the University of Oregon, the Daily Emerald.

That’s what it appears Yahoo News did this week on a video story about the rising cost of higher education.

According to Daily Emerald publisher Ryan Frank, the Yahoo piece profiled…

…former UO student Kaitlyn Lange and her decision about whether to take on debt for law school. The video featured three photos taken by our student photojournalists. The photos appeared to be screen shots from our website.

If the Emerald or the student was credited, I couldn’t find it.

In fact, note how Yahoo kept the captions across the bottom of each picture. The credits are included in those captions.

I’d agree, however, that this doesn’t seem sufficient. And, before you ask: There are no credits at all at the end of the video, other than the one for the production company that made the video.

Ryan continues:

I emailed Yahoo’s media inquiries folks late Tuesday asking them to either remove the photos or pay the license fee. I haven’t heard back.

The Yahoo! issue is just one example. But the central question seems to be: What is the state of photo license rights in the social media age?

Find Ryan Frank’s article about the ripoff here.

Here’s the entire Yahoo video story.

But finding an answer Ryan’s question? Good luck with that. This sort of thing comes up time and time again. Just recently, for example…

From Jim Romenesko, last November:

Jason Alpert, the 20-year-old editor UC Davis’s California Aggie, tells me that 30 or more news organizations have contacted the paper for permission to use its protest photos. “We let them use them as long as they cite California Aggie and the photographer,” he says. “We don’t ask for money.” But many media giants — including Forbes, Fox News, and ABC’s Good Morning America — have used images without crediting the college paper. “It’s frustrating,” says Alpert. “It’s poor journalism.”

From Poynter’s MediaWire, this past April:

Andy Duann’s famous photo of a bear falling out of a tree blew up his college newspaper’s website Thursday. Reached by telephone on Friday afternoon, Duann started to tell me how he got the great shot.

And then he mentioned he was waiting at the University of Colorado Boulder’s law school building, because he wants to take legal action against the paper.

“They did not pay me even a penny,” he said.

Let me point out: That one was a student who was ripped off by his student newspaper.

And then there was this admittedly non-student episode from back in May, as blogged by Boing Boing:

In this video, blogger Duane Lester confronts the editor of a newspaper which plagiarized something he wrote. The best part is when the editor tries to physically intimidate him, a moment so inexplicable and hilarious I created a YouTube Infinite Loop of it for you.

Lester went on to write about how to get paid when your work has been stolen. Find that here.

The excitement of getting published for the first time

My old hometown friend Allyson Switzer is so excited today. Today, she became a published photographer.

She took this picture earlier this summer of a ferris wheel along the boardwalk in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Nearby is a famous old gift shop — the name of which some of us snickered at when we were kids.

Ally composed the picture well, converted the shot to a sepia-like tone and submitted it to a photo contest sponsored by a local alt-weekly.

The picture won. So the tabloid — Surge — ran the picture on its cover today…

…and interviewed Ally for a fabulous Q&A. An excerpt:

Q. When and where did you take the winning photo, and what gave you the idea?

A. It was taken at the end of July. I was with my sister and brother-in-law, and none of us had been to see the Skywheel. This was actually the first time I had been out there since the new boardwalk was put in place. We were just walking – my sister had her camera, too – and we were pausing every so often and taking some shots. I just saw the old Gay Dolphin sign, something that’s been there all my life, and the difference between that old sign and all the new things out there just struck me. The Skywheel was right behind it and it was a great shot.

Q. What kind of camera do you use, and do you shoot digital or film?

A. I have a Canon Rebel T2i digital SLR. I just got that camera a year ago in May. I had a regular Olympus digital point-and-shoot for a while, but this is the first SLR I’ve had.

Q. Many amateur photographers rely solely on a point-and-shoot their whole lives and are hesitant about making the leap to SLR, but you’ve done it very successfully. What would you tell them is the key difference between the two?

A. The biggest difference for me was that the point-and-shoot had a delay – you’d shoot a picture and then have to wait a couple seconds to take the next shot. With SLR, you can take several photos in succession by leaving the shutter down. And of course the SLR is more sophisticated, with better optics and zoom, and the resolution – 16 megapixels – is much much better. You can do a lot more with the camera.

The best part of the article, though? That was when they gave Ally’s age: 37. Which is a pretty neat trick, considering she and I went to both high school and college together. And I turned 50 earlier this year.

I’m going to give her such a hard time about that over the next few days…

Allyson graduated three years behind me from both Long Cane Academy in McCormick, S.C., and from Winthrop College in Rock Hill, S.C. She started shooting pictures semi-professionally last year and has discovered she’s quite good at it.

A few samples of her work:





She also does portraits of, y’know, people.

I’ve been one of her biggest cheerleaders as she explores her talent. In fact, a picture she took at a football game two weeks ago — Clemson vs. Ball State — is currently serving as my Facebook timeline cover picture.

Find her Facebook photography page — Images by Allyson — here. If you don’t mind, would you please pop over and “like” that page for me? Thanks much.

Find Ally’s Twitter feed here.

Tim Ball leaving the Washington Post to go freelance

One of the top sports designers working today — Tim Ball of the Washington Post — is leaving daily newspapers to go freelance.

Tim tells us this is…

…a move I’ve been considering for a while now, and the result of some very careful consideration, and one which has me thrilled at my prospects for the future.

I’m heading to Atlanta to start my own design studio (with, hopefully, some photography and editing work thrown in for good measure). It’s entirely a lifestyle move, and what I’m most excited about is the ability to work from virtually anywhere at any time for a wide variety of clients inside and outside of the media world.

I already have a few pretty large projects lined up, but I think (perhaps naively) that there are some rich opportunities out there to do work for the very kinds of newsrooms I’m leaving behind. With the centralization of much of our work in hubs and studios across the country, newsrooms have become much more nimble and working remotely is easier than ever.

I’m hoping that my broad experience will appeal to some newsrooms left short-staffed, for instance, during major news events. (That I have years of experience helping orchestrate coverage like that probably doesn’t hurt either.)

All that said, I’m not banking on the majority of my work coming from newspapers, and there are a wealth of opportunities elsewhere. But it would be nice to lend an occasional hand, doing actual design work or consulting on projects of a wider scope.

He’ll be at the Post through the end of February.

A product of the City College of San Francisco, Tim has won awards for his work in a number of newsrooms including the ANG papers and the Oakland Tribune (1998-99), the San Antonio Express-News (1999-2000), the Wisconsin State Journal (2003-04)…

…the Indianapolis Star (2004-05)…


…the San Jose Mercury News (2000-03 and 2005-07)…



…the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel (2008-09)…


…and the Huntsville (Ala.) Times (2009)…


…before joining the Washington Post in 2009.





Tim continues:

Leaving the Post is tough, and I don’t take for granted how lucky I am to have worked here. This newsroom is filled with brilliant minds in all corners, and the visuals staff is, I truly believe, second to none at any newspaper in the country. I’ve grown a lot as a designer and an art director here, and that’s really the reason I’m even able to take this step.

But it’s time for the next chapter in my life, and I can’t wait to get started. I hope some folks head over to and get in touch.

(PS – One of the most difficult things I’m having to get used to in the freelance world, quickly, is the need to sell myself and my skills. So I hope none of the above comes off as boasting. This is still new territory!)

Find Tim’s portfolio site here and his Twitter feed here.

Tim posted an item in his blog tonight about his plans. Find that here.

A sales pitch for citizen journalists

Have you heard of OneNews? It’s one of those “citizen journalist” operations that, some say, are the future of journalism.

Today, a blogging friend forwarded the sales pitch OneNews made to him. My friend writes:

As if there weren’t enough problems in journalism, apparently someone has decided to turn everyone with a smart phone into a reporter. Who knew being a journalist could be so easy?

The pitch reads, in part:

What if you could turn local smartphone users into instant content contributors for your website? Well, now you can!

OneNews, has built a robust, web-based platform that turns everyone with a smartphone into a contributor for [name of web site here]. OneNews allows you to instantly create location or interest-based “assignments,” asking contributors in the area to submit pictures, video, audio and text in real time.  This provides smaller organizations, with limited resources, a powerful mechanism for content collection.

But, wait! What about training? Ethics? How can a “smaller” news organization “with limited resources” use a plan like OneNews and not screw up badly?

Not to worry: OneNews has you covered. It has posted “Top Ten Don’ts” for its aspiring “freelance reporters”:

Each of the ten tips consists of two or three sentences and a stock photo icon.

And it’s really nine tips. Because one tip is more of a company policy thing:

9. You are working as an independent freelancer submitting content to OneNews. Don’t identify yourself as working at OneNews. Even if you accept one of our assignments, you are still an independent freelancer. You don’t work at OneNews. If you are contacted or questioned directly by a journalist regarding issues of concern to the OneNews, advise the journalist to contact our corporate headquarters for answers to their questions.

Journalism schools of the world, take note. This is your competition. Seriously.

Q. Wait a minute. Are you saying there’s no place for citizen journalism?

A. I’m not saying that at all. If fact, of the top of my head, I can think of two great pictures — taken by regular ol’ folks with their iPhones — that ended up on page one of various newspapers.  Both examples make a powerful case for citizen journalism.


Left: From January 2009. Right: From May 2011.

There’s a difference, however, between buying a picture from someone and hiring someone with no training and no experience to go out and report a story for you.

Depending, of course, on the topic. I got my start in newspapers by writing weekly roundups of sports at my high school. For the tiny weekly paper in town, the McCormick (S.C.) Messenger.

I don’t know. Perhaps I’d feel better about it if my former English teacher, Mrs. Alvarez, were around to help edit work by OneNews‘ recruits.

Q. But you posted a YouTube video the other day, making fun of news managers’ reaction to new technology.

A. Yes, I did. Because the world is changing. We need to properly equip our journalists with smartphones and whatever else they need to cover news for online — web first, y’know? — as well as print. They can’t fire off dispatches from the scene of breaking news without an iPhone or other “smart” device.

Now, video: I’m still not sold on that. That’s based on what I hear from editors around the country. (“Readers aren’t clicking on our videos.”) And what I’m seeing myself. (I hate sitting through 15 or 30 seconds of advertising to see a video that has, in the end, very little of merit.)

But again: There’s a difference between putting technology into the hands of quality, professional journalists — and then training them how to get your money’s worth out of that tech — and undercutting those journalists by asking the public to do the same work for a fraction of the cost.

I do not think the quality of such a report will be up to professional standards.

Q. You know what you are, then? You’re an elitist.

A. I’m concerned about the quality and accuracy of journalism. I worry about how the decline of quality and accuracy destroys our credibility.

If we have to give up our credibility to stay in business, then I don’t think we should be in business.

If believing that makes me an elitist, then what the hell. I’ll be an elitist.

Find the OneNews Top Ten Don’ts page here.

Twenty-five handwritten fonts. For free.

How about giving yourself some new fonts for Christmas?

No? Well, how about if they’re freeware fonts?

Rachel Schallom, a grad student at the University of Missouri, found a web site — Designm.Ag — offering 25 free handwritten fonts.

Designm.Ag‘s Steven Snell compiled the list but cautions:

As always when you are dealing with freebies, be sure to check the usage restrictions from the designer.

Here’s a sampling:

That’s just five of them. There are 20 more. Check ’em out here.

Rachel adds via Twitter:

Now you have no excuse to use Comic Sans. Ever.

Follow Rachel here.