A graphic novel approach to recount a disaster from 100 years ago

100 years ago last Friday, the passenger ship SS Eastland rolled over while tied to a dock in the Chicago River.


The Eastland was to take Western Electric employees and their families to a company picnic across Lake Michigan. Already a topheavy vessel, the ship was loaded with 2,500 passengers shifting around on deck. The ship rolled over, drowning passengers mere feet away from the dock.

844 people were killed, including 22 entire families.

Rick Tuma and Ryan Marx of the Chicago Tribune teamed up to present the story in graphic novel style, done digitally with parallax scrolling — inaccurately but admittedly better known as Snowfall-style web design.


While the page itself scrolls downward with the story, Rick’s drawings themselves are static. And beautifully rendered.


Rick writes in the presentation’s credits page:

Many of the details of the Eastland disaster have been lost to time. Accounts and news reports in the immediate aftermath of the event — many by this newspaper — were conflicting and, at times, not accurate.

From storyboarding to the final illustrations, I have made every effort to be as faithful as possible to what has been verified or reasonably believed to be true. The scale of everything I’ve drawn is estimated, and the visual depictions of most characters are not based on real people on the boat.


The illustrations are pencil on smooth Strathmore 2-ply bristol. Pencils ranged from 3B through 6B, but the 4B did most of the work. I love using pencil because it drops extra steps from the process — a very good thing when you have tight news deadlines — and makes it easier to retain the energy of initial sketches. Carefully boosting the contrast in Phototshop gives the drawings a brush and ink appearance.


Rick writes that he chose to keep the color palette for the project low key. He took a cue from the Chicago River itself, using only two blue-greens, two yellow-greens and one grey brown.

He writes:

Choosing a limited palette gave me the freedom to maintain areas of clean white, something of which I am fond. Not every face needed color; buildings could be white and the sky light green.


Midway through the coloring stage, I started to believe the panels needed one more color to tie the illustrations together. Recalling initial brainstorming sessions where one proposal was to create a soft water-stained background, I knew what to do: ‘age’ the edges of the panels with yellow. Risking a somewhat cliche solution, we are very pleased with the results.


In addition, Rick was kind enough to answer a few questions for us:

Q. How long ago did you and Ryan begin working on this project?

A. Ryan and I began looking for a second narrative to develop soon after we published the Harsh Treatment graphic essay.

There were three major graphic components to the Tribune‘s enormous Harsh Treatment project:

1. In Her Words


2. …Unsafe Haven, and…


3. …Fight and Flight.


Click on any of the links to see the pieces.

Rick continues:

Harsh Treatment was a visual companion to hard hitting investigative reporting. With Eastland Disaster we were considering a enterprise project that might stand on its own.

Harsh Treatment wrapped up late November and Eastland Disaster was born early December 2014.

Q. How much time do you suppose you put into it?

A. Start to finish, seven months.

Anyone in news will realize that there’s no way we had the entire seven months to work exclusively on this new project! In fact, progress was so stop and start that Graphics editors Jonathon Berlin and Ryan Marx made the determination to dedicate June and July to exclusively working on Eastland.

Q. Did you write it first and then do the artwork (screenplay style)? Or did you develop the visuals and then write around them (Marvel comics style)?

A. Having learned a few things with the first narrative I broke the project into stages.

First stage was a no-brainer: research. As I gained greater knowledge of the event I began to move into the second stage: note-taking and doodling in a spiral bound 9″ x 12″ sketch book.

Stage three was my storyboard. Some false starts in the beginning, but I soon had a story.

Eastland graphic essay story boards

I’m pretty sure that the story formed during my story board penciling. I can’t find a serious outline in my sketch book. Each panel led into the next until everything was said.

Q. Was this assigned to you, or did you pitch the idea? (And if you pitched it — was it hard to sell?)

A. I guess I’ve mostly answered this in number one.

Gathering a consensus to move forward required a good hard look at value for the time required. We discovered that the disaster was approaching its first centennial and found out that Metro and photo were planning coverage, so that helped.

Regardless, the project was a risk. Even after we began the enterprise, there was still concern over its value.

Q. What advice can you give a young artist who wants to try this at their own newspaper?

A. These require intense amounts of work! I would encourage the artist to be absolutely certain that she or he has chosen a topic that their skills can handle.

In my case, for example, I love to draw people. My excitement cools a bit when I have to draw machines and buildings. Someone else might struggle to make their people drawings look confident but totally score a win drawing machines and/or buildings. Choose a topic that plays to your strengths.

If you are going to make thirty, forty, or one hundreds illustrated panels you’d better attempt something you love.

Determine what this is going to look like. This can be choices like realistic drawings vs. loose styles. Black and white panels or color-added? How will it be published? Print or only online?

Ours began as online only, but we were asked to make a version for print. That required a ‘Reader’s Digest’ style, condensed version, removing half the panels.


In addition to retelling the basic story of what happened that day, Rick also spent some of his time focusing in on one family: The Aanstads. Here, mom has a premonition that something bad could happen onboard the ship.


As disaster strikes and the ship rolls over, Mom, Dad and their two little girls cling for life to a railing.


And there they stay until help comes.


Rick and Ryan also mention the oldest living survivor of the wreck…


…and go into detail about how, over the course of days, bodies were recovered from the Eastland and taken to a makeshift morgue.


Yes, that really happened. What’s more: The site of that morgue is now Harpo Studios: Oprah Winfrey’s TV production facility.


Rick wrote on the credits page:

I could not have anticipated how deeply this story has affected me. Sadness and sorrow frequently ambushed me during research and even as I was drawing. I rarely walk past the corner of Wacker Drive and Clark Street without being haunted by the tragedy and courage of the Eastland passengers.

Find the Tribune‘s retelling of the Eastland disaster here.

A graduate of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Rick Tuma has worked for the Tribune since 1983.


A couple of years ago, Rick walked us through how he created wonderful business-page portraits on deadline.

Rick also runs a free-lance studio on the side. Find his web site here and his Twitter feed here.


A 2002 graduate of Lawrence University, Ryan Marx spent two-and-a-half years as presentation editor of the News-Enterprise of Elizabethtown, Ky., and then five-and-a-half years at the Times of Northwest Indiana in Munster — first as display editor and then as graphics editor.

He moved to the Tribune in 2010 as business graphics coordinator and was named assistant graphics editor in 2013.

Average daily circulation of the Chicago Tribune is 414,590.

USA Today design manager Tory Hargro to join Facebook

And I don’t mean as a user. I mean as an employee.

USA Today design manager Tory Hargro announced a couple weeks ago:


As a student at Alcorn State University, Tory co-founded a digital design boutique, Nextverge Digital Media, that served state and nonprofit clients. He also served as director of development for WPRL, the NPR affiliate there in Lorman, Miss.


After graduating in 2007, Tory served a visual journalism fellowship with the Poynter Institute and then, that fall, went to work at the Orlando Sentinel as a multimedia designer. A year later, he leaped to a similar position at USA Today. He was promoted to manager of new product development and design in 2010 and then to design manager in 2012.

Tory worked his last day at USA Today this past Friday, May 26. He starts his new job at Facebook next Monday, June 8.

Tory tells us:

Can’t say much about what I’ll be doing except that I’ll be working on “creative labs” products.

Find Tory’s Twitter feed here.

Behind that cool illustration afront Sunday’s KC Star

Charles Gooch, A1 designer for the Kansas City Star, took time Sunday to tell us about his paper’s big presentation on domestic terrorism.

He tells us:

I really liked the way that the whole package came together.

The story itself was a nearly year-long enterprise project by Judy Thomas that started after a tragic shooting spree at the Johnson County Jewish Community Center by white supremacist F. Glenn Miller in 2014.

Sunday was day one of the series (it will conclude next Sunday) and dealt mainly with how, 20 years after the Oklahoma City bombings, federal authorities have failed to prevent recent attacks from domestic extremists and how the threat from those sort of attacks is growing.

The cover itself came out of a series of sketches by the great Hector Casanova, who singled in on the concept of terror groups “metastasizing” inside of the U.S. like cancer cells would inside of a person.


The concept of his watercolor illo of blue and red cells making up an American flag growing and fighting paired well with the project title “Ignoring the terror within.”

As for the page itself, Mike Fannin (our editor) and Greg Branson (AME of presentation and innovation) had been planning on going big with this from the beginning. (After all, the story and its sidebars fill five full inside pages.)

Once Hector’s illustration started coming together, we realized that we’d need the entire width of our page (and most of the depth) to do it justice. The scope and feel of the page (and inside as well) is definitely a departure from our norm. We felt it was a story that commanded the attention of the readers and deserved a visual approach that could push that idea forward.

Here are the inside jump pages 16 and 17. Click for a larger, readable view:


Here are pages 18 and 19:


Page 20 shows the 52 people killed by domestic terrorism in the U.S. since 9/11.


As the intro copy notes, this does not include victims of the Boston bombings or the shootings at Fort Hood. The FBI does not consider “copycat” incidents such as these to be true terrorism.

Charles adds:

In addition to the print component, there’s also a very nice digital build that was put together by our programmer Jay Pilgreen.


A 1998 graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute, Hector Casanova spent six years as an artist for the Star. He left in 2005 to work as a comics artist, an art gallery director and an instructor at his alma mater.

He returned to the Star in 2008 but continued to handle freelance assignments for clients such as Sprint, Andrews & McNeel, Scholastic Books, MTV and Coca-Cola.

Hector has drawn two graphic novels: The Lurkers (in 2006 with writer Steve Niles) and Screamland (in 2008 with writer Harold Sipe).

A few samples of his work from my collection:





Find Hector’s portfolio site here and his Facebook fan page here. Find an extensive Q&A with him here.

Average daily circulation for the Kansas City Star is 200,365.

Erica Smith named digital news editor of the Virginian-Pilot

Longtime Midwest-based print and digital journalist Erica Smith is moving to the Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk, Va.


She tells us:

The digital news editor (that’s me!) is going to help push the Pilot from being an excellent newspaper to being an excellent media company. That means we’re going to be trying some new things online.

She starts April 27, she says.

A 1999 graduate of Northwest Missouri State University, Erica spent three years as a designer for the Times of Munster, Ind., before moving to the News Tribune of Tacoma, Wash., for a year. She returned to Munster as design editor in 2004 and moved to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch as a news designer in 2006. She slid over to the interactive side in 2008 as a multimedia producer and then was named social media editor in 2010.

She left newspapers in 2012 to become “curator in chief” for Infuz, a digital marketing agency in St. Louis. She moved to Real Time STL in 2013 and then to her current position last summer as an online producer for St. Louis Public Radio.

Erica has run a number of other sites, too. Among them:

  • Paper Cuts, which tracks the number and locations of newspaper layoffs across the U.S.
  • The Story of Man, where she collects headlines that say “man did this” or “man does that.” Funny stuff.
  • Live & Kern, a general interest blog. “Wisdom and whimsy in generous doses,” she calls it.

Find her personal web site here and her Twitter feed here.

Behind the Washington Post’s fun NCAA emoji page

The Bracket Monday page that seemed to create the most buzz yesterday — and deservedly so — was this one masterminded by Dan Worthington of the Washington Post.


Click that for a much larger look.

Dan wrote Monday via Facebook that he…

…spent an unhealthy amount of time with emoji in my life after Brian Gross said [back in January] “what about emoji?” for our NCAA special section.

Found an amazing illustrator in Julia Heffernan who has a special talent for creating emoji. Cover design and art direction was me. Headline by David Larimer.

Those little emoji icons are cute as can be. Spend some time with them and you’ll find some you love.

One of my favorites is the Alabama-Birmingham Dragon…


…although I might argue the Iowa State Cy looks an awful lot like the Louisville Cardinal.


You gotta love that UC Irvine Anteater, though. Zot!

The Duke University Dookie sure looks as if he’s up to something, doesn’t he?


Also, the Oregon Duck made me smile…


…as did the all-feline Villanova vs. Lafayette matchup…


…and the canines vs. felines N.C. State vs. LSU bracket.


Wonderful illustrations, made even better by the Post‘s eagerness to give them away so fans could add them to their text messages, social media feeds and whatnot.



And if you scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page, you’ll find the “bubble” teams that had emojis drawn up but then didn’t find their way into the tournament.


Hey, why let perfectly good emojis go to waste, right?

Find the entire set here.

Naturally, the presentation had its naysayers. Indiana fans, in particular, seemed displeased with the emoji that represented their team — as you see here, reported by the Indianapolis Star.


That’s supposed to be a basketball fan with her face painted for a game. Indiana fans complained about the rendering. Never mind no one seems able to explain just what is a “Hoosier” in the first place.

When I think of Indiana basketball, I think of chairs being flung onto the court. But that’s why the Post didn’t hire me to draw the emojis.

The wonderfully talented artist who did draw the icons — as Dan mentioned — is New York-based illustrator Julia Heffernan. Here’s a self-portrait, drawn in emoji style.


Julia specializes in emoji art. Here are a few examples of her work.


Naturally, she does other types of illustration as well:




Julia seemed delighted to get a byline on the front of Monday’s sports front.


Find her web site here, her blog here and her Twitter feed here.

A graduate of Western Illinois University, Dan Worthington spent a year-and-a-half as assistant sports editor of the Daily Review Atlas of Monmouth, Ill. before moving to the Beaufort (S.C.) Gazette and the (Hilton Head) Island Packet in 2008.


He moved to a sports design position with the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., in 2009 and was promoted to assistant sports editor a year later. He moved to the Post in 2013.

A few samples of his work:



1403DanWorthingtonNuSample01   1403DanWorthingtonNuSample04



Find Dan’s web site here, his YouTube channel here and his Twitter feed here.

A collection of newspaper tributes to Leonard Nimoy

Unless you’ve been living under a rock this weekend, then you’ve probably heard that Leonard Nimoy — the actor who played the iconic science fiction character of Mr. Spock on Star Trek — died. He was 83.

Nimoy was originally from Boston and it reportedly took him years to ditch his Bahhstahhn accent. Astronaut Terry Virts tweeted this little tribute from the International Space Station — high above Boston on Saturday.


That, of course, is the Vulcan hand salute, typically used when one wishes another to “live long and prosper.”

I spent this past week in Fargo, N.D., where I taught staffers of the Forum newspaper company. Among the topics we talked about were ways to have fun with skyboxes and when to alter the paper’s nameplate. After my week was over and I returned to my hotel Friday night, I nearly fell out of my chair when I spotted this little gem on Twitter.


Sure enough, that was the Forum’s nameplate Saturday. Outstanding.

Several papers paid homage to Nimoy Saturday or today. Most looked rather like this one, on teh front of Saturday’s Lexington, Ky., Herald-Leader.


The Associated Press moved that portrait of Nimoy, shot just a few years ago before his health began to fall off. Note the secondary photo of Nimoy, shot during an appearance at Eastern Kentucky University in 1978, around the time the first Star Trek movie was being made.

Also, note the downpage interview with Walter Koening, who played Star Trek‘s Ensign Chekov,

My favorite front page of the day was this one by the Hartford Courant.


That is essentially a centerpiece promo to a story inside. But it was clearly assembled by someone who had a lot of love for Nimoy and for Star Trek.

The Staten Island Advance led Saturday’s front page with a collection of ten “pithy sayings” from Nimoy’s character.


Here’s a closer look:


The folks in Pensacola, Fla., received the benefit of some great timing: There was a comic book/scifi convention in town this weekend. Sending someone to poll the folks there about the loss of Nimoy was a no-brainer.


My friends at the Villages Daily Sun in Florida went out and asked locals about Nimoy and Spock.


It’s great if you have a science fiction crowd in town. But this proves you didn’t really need one. Nearly everyone loved Star Trek and Mr. Spock.

The two major New York City tabloids were regional twins yesterday. The Daily News used that AP portrait with a rather obvious “Beam me up” headline….


…while the New York Post wrote a similar headline but stuck with a vintage 50-year-old photo from the original TV series.


My former colleagues at the Orange County Register in Santa Ana, Calif., pushed back whatever they had planned for Sunday’s Focus page and spent their Friday putting together this nice page on the career of Leonard Nimoy.


Jeff Goertzen and Kurt Snibbe get brownie points for pulling out a picture of Nimoy singing. Ugh!


Kurt drew this little bit down the right side of the page showing three seemingly mystical aspects — or abilities — of the Spock character.


The Los Angeles Times Saturday led page one with a fairly recent portrait of Nimoy — shot through a window, for some reason — and a very nice obit.


I didn’t quite understand the little graphic at the bottom of the package, though. Here’s that same little graphic, from the web site.


This turned out to be a little refer to a fun online listing of all of Nimoy’s onscreen appearances as Spock, created by Javier Zarracina. There’s a little icon of Spock for every episode in which he appeared.


Mouse over each to find out what episode it was and when it was broadcast.

As you continue to scroll down, you see variations in Spock’s wardrobe for the odd episode here and there — like, for instance, the dungarees and stocking cap he wore when he and Kirk visited Earth in the 1930s in the episode City on the Edge of Forever (upper right). Or his fighting stance in Amok Time (second row, second from left). Or the “evil” alternate-universe Spock from Mirror, Mirror (second row, far right).


The little figures are animated, which is guaranteed to make you smile. Especially the Amok Time figure.

As you scroll to the early 1970s, you find icons for the animated Star Trek series from that era…


…and then the Star Trek movie series, which debuted my last year in high school.


Here, you see the final original Star Trek movie in which Spock appeared, his two appearances on Star Trek: The Next Generation and then his surprise appearance in the Star Trek reboot movie in 2009. Note the 18-year time gap.


I didn’t quite understand the little figure in 2012 until I read up on it: That year, Nimoy voiced a vintage Spock action figure in an episode of Big Bang Theory.

Fun, fun stuff. Go here to see it for yourself.

And then there’s this fine tribute to Nimoy by the Washington Post — which I would have never seen had it not been for my monitoring Twitter during my travel layover Saturday at O’Hare.

First, there’s this great headline atop the job of Nimoy’s obit in Saturday’s paper.


But the truly outstanding part was this fabulous illustration on the front of Saturday’s Style section.


That was created by London-based freelance illustrator Noma Bar.

Noma writes, on his web site:

I am after maximum communication with minimum elements.


Right. Well, he certainly pulled it off with this Spock piece.


Find Noma’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.

Nationalgeographic.com, 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” BostonGlobe.com — 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 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.

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.

A look at Fort Lauderdale’s story about a NASCAR racing medical student

Rachel Schallom of the South Florida Sun Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale writes…

I wanted to let you know about a project we published [Sunday]…

Driven is the story of a 24-year-old man from South Florida who graduated from Harvard and is now in medical school at the University of Miami. In January, he decided to take a year off of medical school to chase his dream of being a NASCAR driver.


Local columnist Michael Mayo and photographer and videographer Mike Stocker told his story beautifully.

The story started with this expanded centerpiece tease on page one.


Click this — or any other page here — for a larger look.

Rachel continues:

We requested six additional pages in the A section. Design director David Schutz thought ahead and knew it would be unlikely we would get consecutive color pages so he proposed we do the print pages as a black and white package. To be honest, I was hesitant, but it turned out really nicely.

The package picks up on pages 14 and 15…


…pages 16 and 17…


…and concludes on pages 18 and 19.


Of his seven starts since last August, five have resulted in top-ten finishes. This includes a win in Irwindale, Calif. — just east of Pasadena — in March.


Rachel tells us:

Online, we complemented the story with a 30-minute documentary by videographer Mike Stocker and video editor Sarah Dussault.


I handled the web design and development. We wanted to capture the motion and excitement of NASCAR. This is the first time we’ve implemented HTML5 video.


Find the online version here.

Average daily circulation for the Sun Sentinel is 147,860.

The Boston Globe’s Chiqui Esteban on everything from mouseovers to responsive design

Over the holiday weekend, Jonathon Berlin of the Chicago Tribune and the Society for News Design posted a nice Q&A with Chiqui Esteban, graphics director of the Boston Globe, about the interactive work the Globe has been doing lately.

An excerpt:

Alexa McMahon, our BostonGlobe.com Arts producer told me the new issue of the “Most Stylish Bostonians,” a yearly special section, was coming together and she was wondering if we could do something for the site to present the featured people. I started thinking about what we could do, since there is not much information common to all and the only important thing was how they dressed and who they were.

Talking with Alexa she told me that the photo shoot was yet do be done, so if I needed something from it, I could ask for it. So that’s when I had the idea. We asked our great photographer Dina Rudick to take at least two photographs of each of the “awarded” Bostonians.
One posing and the other doing something crazy like jumping, raising a hand.


The photos she got were just what we needed and much of the good of this graphic comes from that amazing work. After that, the execution was easy.

Q. Talk a little about how you think about that type of interactive project in a responsive sense. I was wondering what would happen and I chuckled when I narrowed the browser and the people nudged over. Elegant solution!




A. Working responsive means that many times we work with groups of blocks that stack in different ways depending on the width. In this case that was even easier, because each person was a different block that could work individually, so we can stack them and break them wherever we considered it was necessary.

Find the entire Q&A here.

A 2002 graduate of the Universidad de Navarra, Chiqui worked at el Mundo, la Voz de Galicia, Diario de Cádiz and Publico.


In 2009, he founded de Nuevas Narrativas for LaInformacion in Madrid, Spain, which he went on to direct for three years. He moved to the Globe in 2012 and was promoted to his current position in November.

Chiqui also blogs about news graphics. Find his web site here and his Twitter feed here.

A great way of showing the depth of the oceans

Surely you’ve seen it by now: The fabulous online scrolling graphic by the Washington Post illustrating the depth of the sea where they think that Malaysian Flight MH370 went down.

The graphic — by the Post‘s Richard Johnson and Ben Chartoff — starts out by comparing the sizes of Flight MH370 — a standard Boeing 777-200 and the ship that’s towing a device searching for “pings” from the black box.


Using that same scale, the graphic then scrolls down, past the deepest point where sea creatures can be found and past the inverted depth of the world’s tallest buildings…


…past the depth reached by the pinger location device…


…and so on.


You get the idea. The depth of the sea floor in this case is just shy of three miles. Much deeper than the Titanic wreckage.

We’ve all seen these tall, scrolling graphics. Many of them are awfully gimmicky — essentially, clickbait to keep you scrolling in order to see more ads.

Not this one. The virtually unlimited depth offered by the web environment plays well with the subject matter. And it works just as well on your phone. Go check it out.

Full disclosure: I saw this Wednesday, loved it and tweeted it. But so many blog readers pointed it out to me over the course of the day that I decided I really should have written about it here. So here I am, a day later.

Side note No. 2: This WaPo piece reminds me a lot of a similar piece I praised three-and-a-half years ago by Karl Tate, formerly of the Associated Press and now with Space.com. Karl’s graphic explained in detail the depth of the sky: The different layers of our atmosphere and how the air gets thinner as you go up. Or thicker as you go down.


Find that piece here.

Inside Huffington’s guide to late night TV talk shows

Our old pal Martin Gee of Huffington magazine’s iPad operation tipped us off about a very fun piece Huffington published last week.

Martin writes:

Just want to send you this infographic our wonderful Troy Dunham did for this week’s issue. It’s chaotic (but in a good, Family Circus “Billy roams the neighborhood” kind of way) of all the late night talk shows and hosts.


The iPad version apparently has kind of an “Easter egg” tossed in: Among other things, you can click to highlight just the late night shows that lasted a season or less.


Wow. Pat Sajak. Rick Dees. Those were indeed wretched shows. I might have added Chevy Chase to that list. Did you ever make the mistake of seeing that one? He’s funny in movies but his talk show was downright painful to watch.

On the other hand, I recall David Letterman‘s original daytime TV show. It won a couple of Emmys but was considered a ratings failure. NBC simply picked up the shambles of that show, shook off the “stay-at-home-mom” bits — like the cooking segments — and plopped it back down on the schedule after Johnny Carson‘s Tonight show. The result was pure gold.

I’m really wishing I had thought of this. What a fun way to remember these shows.

Troy —  Huffington‘s infographic art director — was kind enough to answer a few questions for us…

Q. May I presume this is in HTML 5, rather than Flash?

A. It is neither HTML or Flash. Huffington magazine is a custom-built mobile app that is InDesign-based.

Q. Who compiled the information for this thing? Did you write it as well as design it?

A. Huffington‘s head of user experience and design, Josh Klenert, and I did all of initial the research. Thank god for Wikipedia! After we had a good map going, we sent it to our internal Comedy and Celebrity editors to proof.


Q. Folks in the newspaper business often claim we just don’t have the time to do stuff like this. Once the info has been compiled and written and it’s time to start pushing pixels around, what kind of time does a project like this take?

A. We are a weekly magazine… so I would say that we began research and sketches on a Friday, and the whole thing was completed the following Thursday. So roughly, a week start to finish.

Q. Did you get any feedback on this? It was positive, I hope.

A. The nice thing about posting work to our website is that you can immediately see the reaction that it gets. It currently has over 400 Facebook “Likes” and a dozen or so tweets and comments.

Find a much-higher-resolution, static version of this graphic here.

The iPad version of Huffington magazine is free. Download it here.

Washington Post’s Yuri Victor to join Ezra Klein’s new Project X

Yuri Victor, director of user experience at the Washington Post, is leaving newspapers to work on new media guru + policy wonk Ezra Klein‘s new project.


Yuri tweets this morning:


Vox Media owns such news outlets as the Verge, Eater, Racked and SB Nation.

I had no idea what Project X is, but that’s because I’m a little behind in reading the trade sites. When I asked him, Yuri helpfully sent me a link to this New York magazine article.

Wonkblog creator Ezra Klein left the WaPo a few weeks ago to start a new venture. Project X is what they’re calling it now. Klein has been hiring folks to work with him, including a number of ex-Post folks. Find a public Twitter feed here about it.

A 2005 graduate of Purdue University, Yuri served as editor-in-chief of the school’s student newspaper, the Exponent. He spent three years as an online editor for the Times of Munster, Ind., before becoming Product Design and Development Manager for Gannett corporate in McLean, Va. He moved to San Diego in 2010 to become the Union-Tribune‘s product design and development manager. He moved again to the Post in 2011.

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

Indianapolis Star hopes to #ShareTheLove with internet critics

Here’s the coolest idea I’ve seen this week…

The folks at the Indianapolis Star have taken a cue from Jimmy Kimmel‘s “Mean Tweets” segments and had staffers read some of the mean-spirited — and, sometimes, just foul-mouthed — feedback they get from readers.

Among the staffers included are investigative reporter Marisa Kwiatkowski


…columnist Matthew Tully, who got his journalism credentials from a box of Cracker Jack…


…columnist Erica D. Smith


…editorial cartoonist Gary Varvel


…and former designer Cori Faklaris, who was named the Star‘s network editor a year or so ago.


Funny stuff.

The Star is attempting to turn kindness on the interwebs into a mini-meme this week. according to an unbylined story accompanying the video:

Think no one reads the mean, personal comments some people write on www.indystar.com? Believe it or not, real people are on the other side of the screen. Yet we know these kind of comments come with the territory of working at IndyStar.

Do they need to come with the territory for readers who only want to engage in meaningful, civil conversation online?

The story goes on to make this pitch:

What would the Internet be like if everyone behaved online as they do in real life? If the bravery to be a digital jerk disappeared and we treated others as we’d treat strangers in real life? (Yes, we know there are real-life jerks, too).

So we’re going to stop asking “what if” — and do something about it.


And we’re asking you to join us. Please help us #ShareTheLove online during the week of Feb. 9 through Feb. 15.

So, what’s the reaction been like? The Star‘s engagement and utility content manager Amy Bartner tells us:

Overall, it’s been great.

Our engagement and digital team spends a lot of time and energy interacting with the online community, so we knew there’d be some inevitable negativity. But that also means we know how valuable the positive comments are, as well. The campaign made it to BuzzFeed, USA Today and several local media folks in the city have helped share the message, as well.

There’s a collective feeling of, yeah, something has to happen to create a more civil environment. I wasn’t expecting so many people to feel the way we do about that — which just tells me that it’s time to for a culture change.

Go here to read the Indy Star’s story about the campaign.

And if you’ve never seen Jimmy Kimmel’s “Mean Tweets” segments, say goodbye to the next half-hour or so. Because you must see these:

Boston Herald’s Evelyn Lau moves to Abu Dhabi

From the other side of the planet, Evelyn Lau — for the past two-and-a-half years, a web editor for the Boston Herald — tells us she’s now…

…a features web editor for The National, an English language newspaper in Abu Dhabi!


A 2010 graduate of the University of Iowa, Evelyn worked as a sports talk show host for the campus radio station and assistant sports editor for the student newspaper. She served an internship with Athlete Interactive, where she created content to go on personal web sites of professional athletes.

After graduation, she worked a while as a substitute teacher before starting work for the Herald in 2011.

She tells us:

I left the Herald on Friday the 1st, got to Abu Dhabi Friday the 8th and I started the 9th. It’s been very crazy but sometimes with things like this, it’s almost better to not have too much time to think.

She even had time to go out and do a little exploring Saturday…


…especially at, y’know, the mall.


Find Evelyn’s Twitter feed here.

Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight looking to hire data visualization specialists

Don’t look now, but Nate Silver and company over at FiveThirtyEight are looking to hire a visual journalists to work in their New York newsroom.


Actually, they’re looking for what they call visual journalists and computational journalists. Different positions, actually.

The former is someone who’ll work in graphics, interactive and whatnot. They need someone who can work with the usual web presentation tools.

The latter…

…will create interactive features, models, and systems that collect, process and present real-time data and predictions about sports, politics, economics, science and lifestyle topics.

We’re looking for candidates with extensive practice building web applications. Candidates should be full-stack programmers, with experience using:

  • modern programming languages including Python, Ruby and Javascript
  • web frameworks such as Rails, Django or node.js
  • relational and document-based data stores like MySQL, Postgres or MongoDB

Hell, I don’t even know what most of that means.

A lot of you do, however. So follow the link, read the want-ad and get your applications in soon.

Inside the Boston Globe’s illustrated profile of the Tsarnaev brothers

Sunday, the Boston Globe published an epic eight-page special section that examined the lives, troubles and downfall of Tamerlan and Dzhoklar Tsarnaev, the two young men who are accused of bombing the Boston Marathon last April.

The former, you might recall, was shot dead by police and then run over by his younger brother in a chase a few days after the bombing. The latter is in custody and awaiting trial.

The Globe spent five months investigating the brothers both in the Boston area and back in the Russian republic of Dagestan. The story was written by staffers Sally Jacobs, David Filipov and Patricia Wen.

The Globe started its two stories on the front, beneath a family portrait illustrated by freelancer Josie Jammet.


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

The presentation was designed by assistant managing editor Dan Zedek. This was the front of section V, where the jumps of the stories were presented.


Pages two and three reply mostly on pictures taken in Dagestan.


Pages four and five are led by more illustrations.


Notice the little silhouettes of the brothers, used in quote boxes here.

Page six, below left, wraps up the section on Tamerlan Tsarnaev.


Page seven, above right, is the first of two full pages on Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Here’s page eight, the back page of the section.


Dan urges us all to check out the online version, which was not put behind the paywall this time:

Very cool online version, too, design and development by Elaiana Natario and Gabriel Florit.


The story is a fabulous read, of course, so I recommend it strongly.

Remember the little silhouettes? For the online version, they become a navigation tool — a way of leaping between the two parallel stories of the two brothers. Note the tiny strip across the top here.


I have to admit, though, now that I’ve taken the time to read that online version, that I don’t quite understand the backlash against the online presentation — an backlash that was documented in a Storify Sunday and Monday by Mindy McAdams.

Here’s a brief excerpt:


I told Dan:

I saw the big storified debate on that presentation today and made a mental note to go check it out when I have time.

I’ve probably read a good dozen or so “Snowfall”-like online stories and only a couple have been distracting to me. Plus, I suspect they play better on an iPad than they do on a laptop.

So, what do you think? At what point, does the “Snowfall” approach distract from the story?

What kind of feedback are you getting?

Dan replied:

Mostly positive feedback so far.

I couldn’t agree more about the distraction problem. That’s the why the Twitter chatter was so puzzling: you’ll see that ours is way simpler than most. Nothing moves unless you tell it to move (words to live by!)

Take a look and tell me what you think. It’s a long story, but pretty incredible job of reporting here and in Dagestan, I think.

I agree: While the story does have an extended vertical scroll, there is no parallax scrolling, there are no moving images or embedded video or interactives.

This really isn’t a “Snowfall”-like presentation at all, as far as I can tell.


Seems like good, old-fashioned storytelling to me. So I’m baffled by the backlash. Did Ms. Moore read the same story that I read? What am I missing?

Find the story online here.