For your consideration…

You may have seen the amazing front cover of the next issue of New York magazine. This was retweeted nearly 8,000 times Sunday night and — as far as I can tell — completely crashed the magazines servers.

Shown are 35 women who say they were sexually assaulted by comedian/actor Bill Cosby.


The cover story was six months in the making, New York magazine tweeted Sunday night. Reportedly, New York was able to get 46 women to go on the record about their assaults by Cosby. Thirty-five of them were willing to pose for these cover shots.

The group, at present, ranges in age from early 20s to 80 and includes supermodels Beverly Johnson and Janice Dickinson alongside waitresses and Playboy bunnies and journalists and a host of women who formerly worked in show business. Many of the women say they know of others still out there who’ve chosen to remain silent.

The result is one of the most powerful magazine covers I’ve seen in a long, long time.

Not sure when New York will get its sever issues under control. When it does, you should be able to read more here.

Fitchburg, Mass., Sentinel & Enterprise turns over A1 to an art project

The Sentinel & Enterprise — a 15,031-circulation daily in Fitchburg, Mass. — is running an interesting experiment on page one this month.

The normal front page pushes inside to page three while the front is taken over by a community art project, spearheaded by a German-born artist, illustrated by more than two dozen artists around the world and supported by a team of six interns from Fitchburg State University.

What’s more: This little project displaces the front page for 26 days.

The project launched more than a week ago: Monday, July 13. Here was the front page of the Sentinel & Enterprise that morning:


That’s right. The theme for Day One was the letter A. Note how the three stories — actually, two stories and a poem — each have headlines that begin with the letter A.

The theme for Day Two? The letter B.


Now, who out there can guess what the theme was for Day Three?


That’s right: The project will depict one letter of the alphabet per day.

The project was commissioned by the Fitchburg Art Museum with an “Our Town” grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.


You’ll notice the museum looks a lot like the artwork for Day One typographical illustration. I’d have to believe that was intentional.

Born in Germany but now based in New Orleans, project leader Anna Schuleit Haber


…has been working for months with her team of interns on “the Alphabet.”


A profile the paper ran earlier this month described Schuleit Haber as…

…a visual artist whose work lies at the intersection of painting, drawing, installation art, architecture and community. Her works have ranged from museum installations made with paint, to large-scale projects in forests, on uninhabited islands, and in psychiatric institutions using extensive sound systems, live sod, thousands of flowers, mirrors, antique telephones, bodies of water and neuroscience technologies.

She studied painting at the Rhode Island School of Design, creative writing at Dartmouth, and was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard. She was named a MacArthur Fellow for work that has “conceptual clarity, compassion, and beauty.”

Current projects revolve around seriality and memory, and include a body of 104 paintings based on Thomas Bernhard’s short fiction, as well as large-scale drawing commissions for architecture.

Ready for another couple of pages? Here was Thursday’s Day Four…


…and this was Friday’s Day Five:


The list of contributors is suitably eclectic for a project of this nature:

A – Felix Salut
Specialty: Multimedia artist
Based: Amsterdam

B – Andreas Schenk
Specialty: Calligraphy
Based: Switzerland


C – Dan Keleher
Specialty: Letterpress
Based: Hadley, Mass., near Amherst

D – Matthew Carter
Specialty: Typography
Based: Cambridge, Mass.

A story about the contributors says Carter is…

… the creator of web fonts Georgia, Verdana, Tahoma and Bell Centennial. He has designed type for publications such as Time, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Boston Globe and Newsweek, and has won numerous awards for his contributions to typography and design, including an honorary doctorate from the Art Institute of Boston.

E – Shoko Mugikura and Tim Ahrens
Specialty: Typography
Based: Munich

F – Nina Stoessinger
Specialty: Designer
Based: Netherlands


Assisting Schuleit Haber on this effort are six interns from the local college. From yet another story published earlier this month by the Sentinel & Enterprise:


Townsend resident Justin Keohane is the graphic design intern, and is helping Schuleit Haber lay out each of the 26 front pages.


Jarad Nelson of Leominster is handling public relations, and will work on the project website, draft press releases and make phone calls.


Fitchburg native Ariana Garcia, Orange resident Shannon Gugarty, who grew up in Fitchburg, and Pepperell resident Johnathan Jena are writing short pieces on Fitchburg and Leominster for the front pages. Each piece will be somewhere between 100 and 600 words, and will focus on history and local culture, looking into things like the history of street names or old buildings in the city.


Jonathan Berglind of Leominster and Anthony Earabino, who recently moved to Fitchburg, will film all aspects of the project, from meetings between Schuleit Haber and community members, to interviews for the written pieces, to the other interns at work.

“Anything that happens while Anna is in Fitchburg,” Earabino said.

“We’re going to put footage up on the website as we go,” Berglind added, “and then hopefully end up with a 10- or 15-minute documentary.”

My favorite of the nine pages published so far was the letter G, which ran Monday:

G – Cyrus Highsmith
Specialty: Typography and illustration
Based: Providence, R.I.


The paper reported:

His “G,” Highsmith said, came about when he was sketching and doodling.

“I was fooling around, imagining it printed big,” he said. “I wanted to do something fun, something to catch people’s eye.”


He initially sketched his design with paper and pencil, then filled in the letter with ripped paper to make a sort of collage. The coloring and precise lines he did on the computer, he said.

Here was Tuesday’s page:

H – Laura Meseguer
Specialty: Typography, logos and book design
Based: Barcelona


And here is today’s page:

I – Therese Schuleit, sister of project leader Anna Schuleit Haber
Specialty: Visual and audio artist
Based: Beirut


If you’re like me, you have two burning questions at this point. Sentinel & Enterprise editor Charles St. Amand took a few minutes this week answer them for us:

Q. Do you have a conventional front page on the inside of each day’s paper? On page three, perhaps?

A. Page 3 has our “regular” front page. Page 2 contains any jumps from the Alphabet Page 1, a brief “About ‘The Alphabet'” explainer, a story about the designer and writers who contributed to the project that day, a profile of the artist leading the project, and photos taken by her interns, my staff and ​submissions from readers. We’re also going to include some reader feedback.

Oh, and “The Alphabet” takes Sundays off.


Q. Do you have a contingency plan for a day you have breaking news? Might the letter of the day get pushed off page one for some reason? What happens then?

​A. We can delay the project for a huge story that must get out front. We haven’t come close to that having to happen — yet. As I mentioned in a Page 1 column to readers the day before the letters began appearing, giving up the ​front page for 26 straight days would not have been possible without our digital-first mission. We don’t hold breaking news for print.

We’ll know when we have to put “The Alphabet” on hiatus. I hope we don’t have to.

There is much more about The Alphabet project on the paper’s web site. Caution, though: The Sentinel & Enterprise uses a metered paywall that allows you to see only five or six stories before you’re hit up to buy a subscription. So take a moment and choose which of these stories you’d like to see before you start clicking:

All of the photos illustrating this blog post were shot by the Sentinel & Enterprise staff and Schuleit Haber’s team of interns. Many thanks to Charles St. Amand for making this archive available to us.

Thanks to Dave Dombrowski for the tip.

Inside the OC Register’s coverage of the 60th anniversary of Disneyland

On this date 60 years ago, Disneyland opened in Anaheim, Calif.

My former colleagues at the Orange County Register celebrated the birthday with a gala 24-page special report… that turned out to be even more special than they had thought when they set out to observe the date.

The first 10,000 guests at Disneyland this morning received a copy of the special section, distributed by actors dressed in vintage newsboy costumes.

Photo by Joshua Sudock, Orange County Register

Much of the content of the section is also posted in a new, permanent Disney page at the Orange County Register web site. Editor Rob Curley says the Register is still adding to the content there — he says…

It’s a work in progress

…which sounds very Disneyesque indeed: Walt famously said that Disneyland would never be complete. Every year, Disney adds and changes and tweaks the park to the ever-changing expectations and needs of its guests.

The print section was designed by my old pal Chris Soprych. The cover — indeed, much of the section — contains dozens of vintage photos of Disneyland over the years, from the Disney archives, various photo databases and the Register‘s own collection.

Click on this page — or any page here today — for a much closer look:


Page two, below left, is a by-the-numbers page.


On page three, above right, staffer Keith Sharon retells the story of how an orange grove in Anaheim — of all places — was chosen as the site for the world’s first theme park.

On pages four and five, Joseph Pimentel writes about the first little boy and girl allowed into the park on opening day. Walt Disney himself gave them lifetime passes to Disneyland.


Pages six and seven tell the story of a number of people who helped shape the park in its early days.


My favorite is the story at upper left, on page six. Warren Asa — now age 89 — was one of the first Jungle Boat skippers. He explains how that ride developed the culture of departing from the script.

Also, note the continuing timeline that runs along the bottom of most of the pages.

Page eight holds a story about a local woman who was Disneyland’s 1 millionth visitor — just 52 days after the park opened.


Downpage is a story by photographer/videographer Mark Eades about all the names on the windows along Main Street. It’s essentially like an employee Hall of Fame.

Page nine is a full-page ad.

A graphic on page ten shows which rides and attractions were open on that first day. Large swaths of the park were quite empty. So far.


There’s a great interactive version of this map on the web site.

On page 11: Another full-page ad.

The center spread on pages 12 and 13 is a wonderful collection of vintage photos of the park. Everything from the mermaids who once “cavorted” in the waters of the submarine voyage to real-life mountaineers scaling the Matterhorn.


On pages 14 and 15 is one of the coolest stories in the entire section: It’s about the innovations that made Disneyland the great place it is. The hub-and-spoke layout, the “immersive experiences,” and the visual magnets — Walt called them “weenies,” meaning the visual design of the park was like dangling a hot dog just out of reach in front of a hungry animal.


Page 17 is a collection of famous people at Disneyland. John F. Kennedy, Muhammad Ali, Sophia Loren, Kobe Bryant…


Page 19 holds two columns. One is by a man who led Disney’s Imagineering team for 30 years.


The downpage column is a personal piece by staffer Keith Sharon on what the park meant to him and his family.

The story across the top of pages 20 and 21 covers the most recent tweaks at the park.


The final story in the section is about Renie Bardeau, who spent 39 years as the official photographer for Disneyland.


Pages 23 and 24 are full-page ads.


Wasn’t that terrific?

But wait! There’s more!

The Register also reprinted the 16-page special section it published the Friday, July 15 — before the park’s invitation-only preview opening, 60 years ago today. This was a special edition created for Disneyland employees — known as “cast members” — but made available to the general public only at the OC Register building in Santa Ana, according to a press release.

Yes, that’s Walt Disney himself there on the front, cuddling a pony.


Rob tells me staffers combed through microfiche collections to find the sharpest, clearest copies of the 1955 section to use for the reprint. A copy at the library in Santa Ana proved to be much better than the one in the Register‘s own collection.

However, someone then scored a vintage “mint” copy of the section itself, Rob tells us.

The pages we had been looking at for five or six months, were all black-and-white. But our jaws dropped when we saw the spot color.

Yes, color existed 60 years ago. Believe it or not.


What’s really amazing about these pages is how boring the editorial content is but the inventiveness of some of these ads. I love that choo-choo on page two, above left.

And check out Aunt Jemima at the bottom of page five.


Newspapers also didn’t do a great job of packaging in those days. Stories about Main Street are scattered among other stories over several pages. Ditto for the railroad that circles the park.


And smack in the middle of the section — on page eight — is a woman wearing lingerie. Pretty racy for 1955, I think.


But that ad was for an actual women’s underwear shop on Disneyland’s Main Street. The copy for that ad says:

The wonderful wizard of bras is at that Disneyland. Be sure to visit him at Ye Olde Hollywood-Maxwell Bra Shoppe beginning July 18th.

Also amusing: The rabbit in the ad at the bottom of page nine, above right. He says “Yeh, Doc.”

That would be the other guys: Warner Bros.

Here are pages 10 and 11…


…and 12 and 13. Note the ad, below left, for Chicken of the Sea tuna, served in the Pirate Ship restaurant in Fantasyland.


There’s yet another amusing ad on page 13:

At Disneyland, too, you know they’re cooking with gas.

The reason it’s amusing: A natural gas leak caused about half of the park to be shut down during during the gala press preview on July 17, 1955.

Pages 16 and 17 contain pictures and stories about how natural the new trees look in Adventureland.


And for those of you who think alternative story forms are a new thing: Check out the back page.


That’s a guide to the park: How to get there, when the park is open, how much it costs to park and to get in and what you can do once you get there.

Here’s how the Register promoted the special section on the top of today’s front page:


According to a press release from the Register:

A must-have collectible for Disney fans, the 1955 section will be available in limited quantities for Register subscribers and the general public.

Register seven-day subscribers may request a free copy of the 1955 collectible section at the Register’s headquarters at 625 N. Grand Ave. in Santa Ana by downloading a flyer through its Register Connect subscriber rewards site at

The public may also purchase the 1955 collectible section at the Register headquarters for $2. The public may also order up to five copies of the 1955 and 2015 sections together by mail by visiting Pricing by mail starts at $6.95, plus tax and shipping/handling.

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

An amazing display of data visualization in Sunday’s Washington Post

Did you see this piece of genius data visualization in Sunday’s Washington Post?

The conflict in Syria just passed its fourth anniversary. Over those four years, more than 220,000 people — nearly a quarter of a million — have been killed.

Richard Johnson of the Post took a doubletruck to illustrate just how many lives that is. Running across pages A10 and A11 is this enormous illustration of a Syrian flag, drawn in a form of stipple — it’s made of thousands of little dots.

Click this for a much larger view:


How many dots? 220,000 of them. Each dot represents a life lost in Syria.


Is that amazing, or what?

Richard didn’t just give readers a realistic illustration of a Syrian flag. Note how the red portion at the top turns into droplets of blood…


…while the black parts below depict Syrian citizens in freefall.


Here’s what the artwork looked like before it was converted it into dots:


Richard was kind enough to reply to my queries:

Q. [I was wondering] how you plotted the artwork. Is there software that did that for you?

A. Ha. I wish. Nope, all plotted by hand in Adobe Illustrator. Had it gone black and white, I would have scaled the dots to make the shades in black.


Q. Wow. That’s what I was afraid of! About how much time did you spend on that?

A. I had about six hours on Friday and three [Saturday] to get it ready after the concept was cleared.

Q. Awesome stuff, man. As usual.

I’d invite you to visit the online version of Richard’s piece, where a little magnifying glass allows you to zoom in on various sections of the artwork…


…and see the detail work for yourself.


Those of you who have sat through my slideshows on infographics — and especially my “graphics for word people” sessions — have heard me talk about infographics vs. data visualization.

Typically, infographics quantify and compare, using data to help you get a handle on information that may — or may not — have meaning for you or your family or your career or your government. Or maybe just on something you care about — a hobby or an interest.

Data visualization, on the other hand, typically doesn’t really compare data or actually quantify anything in a way that invites analysis. Typically, data visualization is there just to help you get your head around something. It’s more there to make you say Hmm. Or maybe Wow. Or even Holy shit!

Richard’s piece definitely does that.

But that’s not surprising. He’s done this sort of work a lot, over the years. On the left, below, Richard used simple data visualization to show the number of people who had been killed by handguns in just the first month after the Sandy Hook incident.


The piece on the right is equally stunning. This shows the equipment — and especially the ammo — carried by the man who shot up the movie theater in Colorado three years ago.

I wrote about the “31 Days later” piece at the bottom of this blog post. The other graphic ran while I was teaching in Kenya, so I missed it at the time. I use both of these in my slide shows, however. They’re both amazing.

See more of Richard’s infographics work here.

In addition, Richard has made a number of trips to Iraq and Afghanistan to produce battlefield sketchbook work.


Twenty of his sketches, in fact, now reside in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Here’s a Tedx talk from last year in which Richard speaks about his battlefield work:

Richard made his first war zone tour when he was still with the Detroit Free Press. The Freep collected his work into a book.


It normally lists for $19.95 but is on sale right now at the Freep for $12.95. Amazon, too, has discounted the book. Buy it from them for the nice, round number of $16.81.

Richard is really amazing. You saw earlier that he did this Syria doubletruck Friday and Saturday. But what did he do in his spare time Saturday and Sunday mornings?

This little piece…


sketched on-site, of course.


Wow. Again.

See more of his “urban sketches” here.


1989 graduate of Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee, Scotland, Richard was an artist at the Detroit Free Press. He was named graphics editor of the Globe and Mail of Toronto in 2005. He moved to the same position at the Toronto National Post in 2007 and then left newspapers for nearly two years as an Information Management Officer at the United Nations. He returned to the National Post in 2010 and then to the Washington Post in October 2013.

Find Richard’s web site here and his Twitter feed here.

Why build maps repeatedly when you can make a tool to build them for you?

Many of us graphics types keep a number of templates that we constantly pick up and modify from day to day, from story to story, from graphics assignment to graphics assignment.

And then there are those geniuses who go a step beyond and create software to do those repetitive tasks for them.


Enter Patrick Garvin of the Boston Globe. He’s created his own open-source online tool that will turn Excel data into those chloropleth maps that we use so often.

He calls the tool Mr. Map Generator and it’s very, very cool. Especially since he’s giving it to us for free.

Here’s how Patrick describes the tool:

The user copies the contents of a spreadsheet, pastes that into a field, clicks a few buttons and then has code for a responsive, color-coded map that can be used on any browser on any platform. It can also be modified to be used in a vector file.

The reaction via social media Tuesday was strong and swift:


Patrick tells us:

I created Mr. Map Generator this past summer. I had just finished updating my gay marriage timeline


…and felt this void now that the timeline didn’t require daily heavy lifting. I wanted an evergreen project that I could work on in my slow times at work.

In the year or so since I had originally launched my gay marriage map/timeline, I found myself using the SVG of the U.S. map a lot. I had repurposed it for a web map about state by state insurance numbers and then gotten the idea to save that file as a PDF so I could use it for the print version.

From the summer of 2013 through the summer of 2014, I found myself repurposing the U.S. SVG a few times so that I could make color-coded maps. It saved time to reuse an old file, but I wondered if I couldn’t find an even easier and more efficient way.

Around the time that I had wrapped up version 2.0 of the gay marriage timeline, Chiqui Esteban and Gabriel Florit were both making web graphic generators for our department to use. These were in-house tools that helped graphic artists and web producers make web graphics that played nicely with Methode, our CMS.

Méthode, for those of you not familiar with it, is the Globe‘s front-end system — also used by the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, the Times of London and the Washington Post.


My friends at Media24 in South Africa use it, too — except they call it by the name of its corporate parent, Eidos.

Patrick continues:

As I was looking for projects and was already considering ways to streamline my process of making color-coded maps, I followed Chiqui’s and Gabriel’s leads and began on a tool myself.

I was very much influenced by Shan Carter‘s Mr. Data Converter website.


It has such a simple-and-easy-to-use interface. I wanted something as simple that would be of ease for web producers and graphic artists that might not feel comfortable yet with JavaScript.


As of now, Mr. Map Generator has more steps than Mr. Data Converter, but I tried to keep that same feel. It might seem daunting to novices, but I wanted the steps to have screen grabs that explained things. I’ve found that in the explainers I’ve sent to staff members on other projects, screen grabs make a huge difference.

Therefore, you’ll want to bookmark this post — the one in which Patrick walks you through how to use Mr. Map Generator.


He shows you how and where to enter your data and then what to do with it.


In the end, you can generate files to post to your web site or PDF vector files that you can then open in Adobe Illustrator…


…for incorporation into your print graphics. Easy peasy.

Currently, Patrick has templates for U.S., Massachusetts and Boston area maps — with more to come, he says.

The Massachusetts maps really paid off. Color coding 351 shapes by hand in Illustrator is a nightmare and can introduce errors. That anxiety is significantly reduced when the process is automated.

Color coded maps are common for graphics departments, and I think that simplifying the process has saved us time to focus on more complex projects.

Here are the links to save:

A 2004 graduate of the University of Missouri, Patrick spent a year-and-a-half at the Myrtle Beach, S.C., Sun News before joining the Times-Union of Jacksonville, Fla., in 2006. He moved to Boston in 2010.

In addition, Patrick does stand-up comedy on the side.


Find Patrick’s blog here, his portfolio here and his Twitter feed here.

The University of North Carolina seeks your style guides

Old or new. Basic or detailed. Printed or electronic. Domestic or foreign.

It doesn’t matter — the j-school library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is building a collection of style guides. And they want yours.

I asked the director of the Park Library, Stephanie Willen Brown, to write me up a brief pitch to post here. She replies:

The Park Library at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at UNC has a growing collection of newspaper stylebooks.


The collection primarily includes titles from various newspapers in the United States, such as the the AJC (Atlanta Journal & Constitution) Style : Style and Reference Guide Covering News, Sports, Business and Features Issues (1998);  The Kansas City Star Stylebook (1987); The Los Angeles Times Stylebook (1979 & 1995) … and so many more. See our collection here.

We have local stylebooks: The News & Observer, 2001-2005; the Daily Tar Heel (1932 and 2001); plus the Stylebook of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication (1983-present).


We have books for usage when covering different groups, such as the CNS (Catholic News Service) Stylebook on Religion; the GLAAD Media Reference Guide; and the Manual de Estilo from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

We have stylebook from various wire services — of course we have the Associated Press stylebook for many years (our first edition is from 1953), as well as A Handbook of Reuters Journalism : A Guide To Standards, Style, Operations (2008); various editions of  The Bloomberg Way : A Guide for Reporters and Editors; and the United Press Radio News Style Book (1943).

Most of our stylebooks are from the United States, but we have one from Canada (The Gazette Style c.1995) and two from the UK (Stylebook of the Manchester Guardian Style, c. 1928 and BBC News Style Guide, c. 2014).

However, we don’t have any guides to the use of graphics, fonts, or illustrations in a newspaper, magazine, or website. Our books focus almost exclusively on the use of text, grammar, and punctuation. This week, the design & graphic editors at the Daily Tar Heel asked for some graphic style guides, thus illuminating a glaring hole in our collection.

At my colleague Andy Bechtel‘s request, I solicited the assistance of Charles Apple … hence this blog post.

If you have a graphic style guide / stylebook / set of notes that you’d like saved for posterity, please send them my way!

In fact, I have a couple I can send her — styleguides I’ll never use again and that would make great additions to the Park Library’s collection. This is the big one:


That’s the style guide from the May 2007 redesign of the Virginian-Pilot. The redesign was huge. And so is the style guide.

I also have a Chicago Tribune style guide from the 1990s kicking around here somewhere. Or, at least, I did back in California. I can’t seem to lay hands on it now. I’ve had so many style guides slip through my fingers over the years.

But keeping these things for research purposes strikes me as a worthy endeavor. If you can help, please contact Stephanie. Here’s her address…

Stephanie Willen Brown
Director, Park Library
School of Journalism and Mass Communication
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3365

…and here’s her email address:

swbrown [at]

Find Stephanie’s Twitter feed here.

Miranda Mulligan is National Geographic’s new digital creative director

Among the many job moves I’ve fallen behind in posting: Miranda Mulligan — executive director of the Knight News Innovation Lab at Northwestern University in Chicago has been named digital creative director for National Geographic.


From a press release from National Geographic:

Mulligan will be responsible for leading National Geographic’s digital design team and helping to redefine the Society’s multiplatform storytelling., the Society’s award-winning website, attracts about 24 million global visitors a month. It combines National Geographic’s video, photography and maps with in-depth news, information and interactive features about animals, nature, destinations, cultures and National Geographic products and events.

“I’m delighted that Miranda will be joining National Geographic,” said [Keith W. Jenkins, general manager of National Geographic Digital]. “She has a wealth of experience as a designer, journalist and digital strategist, and she will play an integral role in providing creative direction for our Digital team.”

She started her new job Jan. 29.

A 2002 graduate of the University of Miami, Miranda interned for Ocean Drive magazine and the Philadelphia Inquirer and taught a graphics class at Ball State University and earned her masters degree from that institution in 2006. She then interned at the Sun-Sentinel of Ft. Lauderdale before starting work at the Virginian-Pilot that fall.

Where she handled multimedia and print assignments. And did fabulously well, despite having me for a boss for two years.

She taught a class at Virginian Wesleyan University in 2008. The Pilot promoted her to multimedia presentation editor in 2009. She moved to Boston in 2010.

The celebrated launch of the “responsive” — which Miranda oversaw in 2012 — was a tremendous success. Many online news observers declared it the news web site of the future. Miranda talks about it here.

In July 2012, she became executive director of the Knight News Innovation Lab. Under her direction, the Lab’s Publishers’ Toolbox set of widgets and whatnot was recognized by the Online News Association with the Gannett Foundation Award for Technical Innovation in the Service of Digital Journalism.

Also, Miranda co-founded #SNDMakes, a new prototyping workshop under the wing of the Society for News Design. The Society gave the initiative a President’s Award last year.

For more reading…

A tribute to Joe Cocker by the Times of Oman

You probably know that legendary singer Joe Cocker died Tuesday.

What you might not have seen: A Joe Cocker tribute page that ran Wednesday in the Times of Oman.

Design director Adonis Durado tells us:

I designed the Joe Cocker obit.

I knew from the very beginning that my headline will be taken from Cocker’s iconic songs. I was mulling over between Up Where We Belong or You Are So Beautiful. I thought that if I used the former, I am going to redact “we” and write “you” on top of it — “Up Where You Belong”.


But when I read in Wikipedia that the lyrics of You Are So Beautiful is actually a love song about God, I decided to work my concept around it. In my initial sketch I had Joe Cocker’s head replaced one of the letters in the title.


Then I pulled a little conceit to myself — an obstruction — not to use any mugshot of the legendary singer. So I ended up with the final design where I highlighted his five memorable songs.

Click this for a much larger look:


Adonis illustrated 45 rpm singles to use as devices to replace the O’s in his big text and with which to pull out factoids. Here are closer looks at them:






A 2001 graduate of the University of San Carlos in the Philippines, Adonis Durado worked as a designer, art director, and creative director for a number of magazines and advertising agencies before serving as the consultant for a major redesign of the Cebu Daily News in 2004 and 2005.

From there, he became design editor of a free weekly tabloid published by the Gulf News of Dubai and then news presentation director of Emirates Business 24-7. He spent two years as group creative director of Instore and Indesign magazines in Bangkok, Thailand, before moving to the Times of Oman — and its sister publication, Al Shabiba — in 2010.

Find Adonis’ Twitter feed here.

Previous posts featuring work by Adonis and his staff at the Times of Oman

  • Feb. 10, 2011: What the hell is the Times of Oman?
  • Sept. 2, 2011: Times of Oman observes Ramadan with a page a day… for 28 days
  • July 31, 2012: ‘The world would never forgive us if we don’t do this particular graphic’
  • Aug. 2, 2012: Yet another genius Olympics visualization by the Times of Oman
  • Aug. 15, 2012: Yet another bit of Olympics graphic genius from the Times of Oman
  • May 30, 2014: Now this is truly an alternative story form

Food for thought regarding the future of journalism

Either you die a hero or you live long enough to become the villain.

Should we journalists embrace or even encourage the wave of “citizen journalists” that seem poised to make our jobs obsolete?

Here’s some interesting food for thought by Matthew D. LaPlante, a former journalist for the Salt Lake Tribune and now a professor at Utah State University.

This is worth the 14 minutes and six seconds it’ll take to watch it.

Find LaPlante’s web site here and his Twitter feed here.

Thanks to Ashley Tarr for the tip.

A look at the Washington Post’s ‘N-word’ presentation

In case you missed it: The Washington Post‘s page-one centerpiece Monday was on a certain racial slur you’ve all heard.

Click this for a larger view.


Design director Greg Manifold tells us:

Emmet Smith worked with illustrator Craig Ward on the A1 piece. We had a pair of pair of concepts from Craig – as well as a strong in-house version – but all agreed on the one that appeared on A-1.

That second concept from Craig may be this one he posted on his web site:


Craig is a prolific freelancer. In addition to the Post, he’s worked for Nike, MTV, Calvin Klein, Macy’s, Sony/BMG, the NFL, the Economist, the Guardian, Wired, GQ, Maxim and the New York Times Magazine. Find his portfolio here.

Greg was particularly complimentary of the video-driven online version of the story. According to the intro:

After the National Football League made the controversial decision to ban [the N-word] on the field this year, a team of Washington Post journalists explored the history of the word, its evolution and its place in American vernacular today.

When you first open the story, you see a brief video prelude of the subjects of the story preparing to hold their conversations.


You’re then presented with four commonly heard viewpoints on the slur in question.


You’re asked to pick three of the four. The site then pieces together segments of video to give you a somewhat customized experience.


It’s a lot like those “choose your adventure” children’s books. Except with real, live meaningful content.


Interesting stuff. Find it here.

That front page is from the Newseum. Of course.

Tag — the Victoria, Texas, Advocate is ‘it’ today

So, how do you illustrate a story on graffiti artists?

Here’s how the Advocate of Victoria, Texas — one of the smartest small papers in the country —  does it:


Advocate editor Chris Cobler tells us:

We had some fun with the front page today – thought you’d enjoy it. Kimiko Fieg put together the page.

It’s perfectly fine to play with your nameplate every now and then.


Contrary to what you may have been told by old-schoolers, there ain’t no rule against it.

The graffiti event itself in downtown Victoria is interesting. Read more about it here.

Average daily circulation for the Victoria Advocate is 26,531.

The three best 9/11 anniversary front pages ever

Today is what I call an “odd-year” anniversary — rather than the 5th or 10th or 20th, this is the 13th — of the horrific terrorist attacks of 9/11.

A handful of papers did large front-page displays today. The best I saw was this one by the Villages Daily Sun of Florida:


That page was designed by senior designer Adam Rogers. The image is from the Newseum. Of course.

If you’d like to see more, Poynter’s Kristen Hare compiled a roundup of 9/11 anniversary pages. Find those here.

Three years ago, many of the nation’s newspapers went all-out observing the tenth anniversary of 9/11. I thought I’d observe the day by showing you two of those plus an earlier anniversary page.

Cleveland Plain Dealer

Andrea created what I called “the most stunning 9/11 image” of the day on the tenth anniversary of 9/11 with this illustration for a special section cover.


Andrea told me that day:

The editors at the paper told me a while ago that I would be doing this cover. So I had been carrying it around in my head. I knew it was going to be practically impossible for one image to say enough.

Finally, I decided to just make an image that expressed how I felt and hope others could relate. I tried hard to make something that didn’t exclude others in the world, even though it is an American tragedy.

The editors had me write some words to accompany the art. The whole experience was just a terrific opportunity.

Here are those words, that also ran in the section:

I made many drawings for this, but in the end, I was left with no flags, no planes, no buildings. Just the human toll.

This image is at once a plea, a scream, an admonition. It is loss of innocence. But it is also conviction. Conviction that we will reach past this and any other tragedy.

San Jose Mercury News

This one, too, published on the tenth anniversary.

Initially, I was a bit confused by this cover: Words? What th’…

But then I downloaded the PDF and took a closer look. Boom — the next 20 minutes instantly disappeared. This page really sucked me in. But I had to actually read it to “get” it.

So please click on this and check out the readable version:


This wrapped around the Merc — in fact, it wrapped around all three of the Bay Area News Group papers that day.

Design director Tiffany Pease told me:

The story is really amazing.

Our reporter, Julia Prodis Sulek, was given access to voicemails left for Flight 93 passenger Mark Bingham as the events of 9/11 were unfolding. The cover is the transcript of those voicemails, which were provided by Bingham’s mom (the hands at the top).

The page was designed by Tiffany, deputy design director Alex Fong — whose birthday happens to be on 9/11— and picture editor Jami Smith.

The entire story is still posted on the Merc‘s web site. Find that here.


Unlike those first two pages, this one ran on the fifth anniversary of 9/11.


That won a gold award from the Society for News Design.

I wrote about this page at the time, but that blog post is long gone. Instead, let’s take a look at what Sam wrote on his portfolio web site about this page…

While trying to come up with an idea for the front page of The Virginian-Pilot on the fifth anniversary of 9/11, I sketched out four vertical lines with a diagonal line crossing through them, showing “5″ – and it dawned on me that there was something there, something important, but I didn’t know what. I remember that as I looked at the sketch, I actually heard a voice, rising up from my subconscious, screaming at me from within, “It’s the Twin Towers! And a plane!”

I was mortified. I felt that “thud” in my heart, as if all the horror of that day was happening again, for the first time.

If possible, I wanted other people to feel that way when they looked at this front page.

It continues to amaze me that Denis Finley, the editor of The V-P, and Deb Withey, then Director of Presentation, got behind this very subjective graphic image and cleared everything else off the front. They put a lot of faith in the readers to make that leap. Underneath the image, in small type are the words, “The World Trade Center | 2,749 killed.”

It was controversial, to be sure, and I’ll never know what percentage of readers saw the double image. But I hope a majority did…

I was graphics editor at the Pilot when this page ran. I had nothing at all to do with this page. But I can vouch for what Sam said: The first time I saw a proof of it, I felt the air suck out of my body — as if I had been punched in the stomach. The page just seemed so… perfect.

There was a bit of discussion on how to render the five lines. Sam tried several. In the end, it was decided the spontaneity of Sam’s original sketch worked best. So that’s what they went with.

The second thing that stunned me about this page: There’s no nameplate. Just a tiny folio line across the top. This was the first time I had ever seen anyone do this.

What a page by Sam. What boldness by Denis and Deb.

What a result.


The ninth anniversary…

The tenth anniversary…

The eleventh anniversary…


  • Go here to see the Newseum‘s collection of pages from the day after 9/11
  • Go here to see the Newseum‘s collection of tenth anniversary pages from Sept. 11, 2011.

Two more cool pages from the Toledo Free Press

James Molnar tells us about his most recent project for the Toledo Free Press Star:

I love collecting vintage postcards (or at least postcards with vintages designs) when I’m  visiting a different city. I was inspired to come up with something like that for our annual guide to “101 ways to spend 101 days in Northwest Ohio.”

072014 A01-32.indd

I’m really happy with the results. It was a great lesson in Illustrator and Photoshop.

We also requested photos and ideas from our Instagram followers (with the hashtag #TFP101).

072014 A4-5 Opinion-STAR Cover.indd

This key to the pictures ran on page seven.

072014 A6-7, 8-9 OneHundredOne.indd

James writes:

This is similar to what we for 419 day back in April. We went with a photo grid on the inside cover and sprinkled their photos throughout the guide.

072014 A6-7, 8-9 OneHundredOne.indd

072014 A6-7, 8-9 OneHundredOne.indd

If you’re ever in the area, the 101 list has some great ideas for exploring our region. Our project editor Jordan Finney, an intern from Hillsdale College, did a fantastic job compiling the list.

Find our complete digital version here.

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


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

Find James’ personal blog here, his portfolio here and his Twitter feed here.

What if your city actually built all the developments that are proposed?

Adam C. McHugh, national and special projects manager at the GateHouse design hub in Austin, Texas, writes…

…to share with you a unique approach the Rockford (Ill.) Register Star did for its Sunday edition.

I worked with their editors on what we called the “What If” Edition, which recapped almost 20 projects that have failed to come to fruition in the town over the past 20 years.

Rockford is a hardscrabble town that I lived and worked in for more than six years, and it often carries with it a reputation for being depressing and bleak. And, at times, it could be. The economic meltdown hit it particularly hard and unemployment is high. But the people are tough, down to earth and nice. And the Register Star always will hold a special place in my heart because it’s filled with creative people who don’t just say, “let’s think outside of the box,” they actually do it.

We had editorial cartoonist Bruce Quast re-imagine Rockford if some of these projects came through.


He even re-imagined the paper’s masthead.


I pitched that we tear up their normal A1 framework to really blow this out. They agreed and Bruce did a great job.


I handled the A1 and double truck layouts from Austin.


A graduate of Eastern Illinois University, Adam spent one year as a copy editor and designer for the Chicago Sun-Times and four years as assistant delivery desk editor of the Register-Star of Rockford, Ill., before moving to GateHouse News Service headquarters in Downers Grove, Ill., in 2012. He moved to Austin in May.

Average daily circulation for the Register Star is 65,224.

The coolest thing you’ll see today…

…is this video of a fireworks show as seen from smack in the middle of it all, shot via a drone.

The guy who masterminded this — Jos Stiglingh — writes:

Flying through a firework show with a DJI Phantom 2 and filming it with a GoPro Hero 3 silver. The quad [in other words, the four-engine drone itself] was not damaged.

Jos reportedly shot this over West Palm Beach and posted it about a month ago. It’s received three-quarters of a million views since then.

Gregory Mitchell, who writes a legal column for Forbes magazine, warns anyone else to not try this. It’s not just unsafe, he writes, but also there could be penalties:

Most major fireworks demonstrations will have a Coast Guard established safety zone.  The punishment for violating a safety zone is a whopping $40,000 fine and for willful violations it is a Class D felony, punishable by at least 5, but no more than 10 years in prison!

Still: It’s a cool video.

Going sideways on page one

The Newseum‘s Paul Sparrow asks today via Twitter:


Here’s the page to which he refers:


The story in today’s Herald-Tribune of Sarasota is about a long-awaited, 880,000-square-foot shopping mall going up in the area. Folks there are getting excited because it’s looking nearly done. But it won’t open for another four months.

The choice to go sideways with the presentation was a bold choice — and, I think, a good one — because that’s what the story was about: The visual of that mall, just sitting there, taunting eager shoppers. But not quite ready yet for business.


Notice how the headline plays off of the story beautifully. And the headline and story are turned sideways to match the picture because: How else would you play it?


Herald-Tribune graphics editor Jennifer Borresen tells us:

We have a great photo editor, Mike Lang, who shot the new mall that is going in here. It’s going to be a high-end mall/destination place.

He stitched the photos together. I think they realized early on yesterday that it would not have as much impact horizontal on the page.

Nicely done.

The downside of that package: There’s precious little above the fold to suggest to readers what that story is about. You could argue that space might be better used for a headline or picture that might help sell the paper out of a rack or convenience store.

But I’d argue this story is a talker. Playing it in an unusual way just enhances the viral nature of the story. I wouldn’t suggest doing this every day. But once in a while, when the content just begs for a horizontal treatment? Sure.

And, to answer Paul’s question — As a matter of fact, I have seen it before. But only because I’ve been collecting unusual pages like this for so long.

Folks turn features pages and infographics sideways all the time. Here’s a features front from the Virginian-Pilot in January 2013, for example.


I try not to do it too often, but if the content works better horizontally, I’ll turn my Focus pages in the Orange County Register sideways. My page for this coming Monday will be sideways, in fact.

And several papers have gone sideways with their sports fronts. There’s even a designer at Gannett’s Des Moines studio who’s done this so often — with spectacular results every time — that I started calling him “Mister Sideways.”

That would be Jeremy Gustafson. I’ve known him since he was a college student.

Those are just a few examples. Search my blog archive for “sideways” and you’ll pull up something like 40 or 50 posts.

But on page one? Going sideways on a front page is not something I’d recommend for the faint hearted.

  1. One of the primary duties of page one is to sell the paper. And when you go sideways, you don’t necessarily get an attractive (literally attracting potential customers) image above the fold. So you might be kissing off a few single-copy sales.
  2. The content has to be served perfectly by using the horizontal dimension. If not, then going sideways isn’t serving the content or the reader. It’s just a gimmick.
  3. Is the sideways content the only element on your front page? It’s a lot easier to go sideways on any page — especially the front page — if you’re not asking the reader to switch back-and-forth between sideways and vertical on the same page.

One of the first sideways front pages I had ever noticed was this one in the Reporter of Fond du Lac, Wis., in March 2010.


The story was a huge wall mural in a local school. The photographer stitched several shots together to make a very wide picture of the whole thing.

Four months later, Fond du Lac’s larger sister paper in Green Bay used a similar treatment for a story on businesses around the NFL stadium there.


In March 2011, Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer stripped a panoramic shot of tornado damage down the side of page one.


The St. Louis Post-Dispatch went sideways with front-page wraps several times during the 2011 World Series.



Here’s one I didn’t like: The Idaho Press-Tribune ran this impressive picture sideways on page one in October 2011 of Boise State’s famous blue-turfed football stadium stuffed with fans.


But the whole thing was really a big reefer to an online presentation. In particular, the skyboxes down the side of the page seemed weird. It would have been better to put those atop the nameplate, I think.

A month later, the student paper at Iowa State University published a web-only edition after a huge overtime win over No. 2-ranked Oklahoma State. The first three pages were sideways poster pages.

The paper doesn’t normally publish on Saturday, so they went with a web-only edition.

In May of last year, the Palm Beach Daily News ran a huge sideways graphic on page one.


In September, Asbury Park went sideways when that city’s famous boardwalk went up in smoke.


And two papers produced sideways poster front pages for Christmas Day this past year. One was the Colorado Springs Gazette


…and the other was my paper, the Orange County Register.


So don’t be afraid to go sideways.

If you need to. But only if you need to.

Most of the pages in this post were from the Newseum. Of course.

Fun college baseball page alert

Sean McKeown-Young — Wisconsin team leader for the Gannett Design Studio in Des Moines — sends along a fun page that ran Friday in the Daily Advertiser of Lafayette, La.

The occasion: the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns were starting competition that night in NCAA baseball postseason play.

The Cajuns were known this year for refusing to shave or trim their beards as long as they kept winning. As the intro copy says: They went on to win 53 out of 60 games and end the regular season ranked No. 1.

Sean tells us:

Kristin Askelson, the content director at The Advertiser and Jeremy Gustafson, the sports team leader here, had the idea to do sort of a big interactive beard mask page. Jeremy asked me if I thought I could pull it off.

It does sound like something up my alley.

Kristin provided the words and I got to work on putting together the illustration. I wanted something that was sort of flat feeling. I like to throw in a few weird additions. In this case, the pattern in the back is comprised of scissors.


I noticed this morning that it’s sort of a self-portrait.

It also took care of something from my designer bucket list – get a massive mask into a newspaper. Years ago, Detroit did a page of Hockey Voodoo dolls that really stuck with me. I’ve been looking for the chance to riff on that almost a decade.

A little Google action helped me find an example of the voodoo dolls the Free Press published in 2002.


Not long after, the Freep also published a set of Detroit Tigers masks.


But back to the beards: A number of readers accepted the Daily Advertiser‘s challenge to send them selfies wearing the beard from Friday’s newspaper.



A graduate of the University of Cincinnati, Sean served as presentation editor for the Green Bay Press-Gazette and then spent several years at the Toledo Blade. He moved to Gannett’s Louisville studio in 2011 as assistant team leader for features and then moved to the Des Moines studio in 2012.

A fun, cartoon-illustrated World Cup poster

‘Tis the season, evidently, for enormous World Cup projects looking for publishers to buy them for their readers.

We saw one the other day from the Times of Oman. Today, we have a special treat from South America…

Stuart Sawyer — whose wife, a web developer and graphic designer from Colombia who worked on this project — tells us:

Walter Davenport, caricaturist and illustrator from Argentina, responded to an international call by Marca Poster, a Colombian company, to participate in a competition to select an artist capable of realizing the idea of an artistic poster concerning the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

This idea, a graphic piece that puts together the top players from the 32 qualified countries, also was intended to integrate various cultural elements from Brazil, as well as highlight the racial diversity and natural wealth of the country.

After more of six months of work, this collectible World Cup 2014 poster is now ready.


Full of life and color, every element of the work exhibits incredible detail, and is a meticulous study of every character that forms part the poster.  The poster’s caricatures are both accurate and funny, which the public can certainly identify with.

That particular piece is available with every team in this summer’s World Cup — all 32 of them — featured in on the hot-air balloon.



In addition, there is a variant showing just the players…


…and one that shows the schedule for play among the eight groups. If you’re not familiar with World Cup play — and who, here in the U.S., is? — then, this could prove very handy.


Note the little spaces to fill in the scores.

Stuart tells us:

This collectible poster is a work full of dedication, passion, and independent initiative that  is worth sharing with the world.

The publisher of this project, Marca Poster of Bogatá, is looking for distribution avenues.

The art can run as editorial copy or sponsored content. The company suggests you could use it as a “who’s who” contest. The first reader who correctly identifies all 53 players could win a prize, for example.

The company promises it can customize the art and the text — specifically, the language the text appears in — to suit your production requirements.

The World Cup begins play on Thursday, June 12, so if you think your readers — or your advertisers — might be interested, contact them soon: