R.I.P. Seth Hamblin of the Wall Street Journal

Seth Hamblin — deputy global head of visuals at the Wall Street Journal — passed away suddenly Sunday morning. He was 46.


The Journal‘s Jennifer Smith reports that Seth…

…collapsed while running a 5K race in Morristown, N.J., his wife, Tanya Prescott, said Monday. The race was a first for both of them, she said. He took off ahead, and collapsed near the finish line after having a heart attack, Ms. Prescott said.

A 1991 graduate of the California Institute of the Arts, Seth spent a year as a features writer for Cairo Today in Egypt and another year as an editor, reporter and designer for Aruba Today before moving to Microsoft Network News in Redmond, Wash. He joined the Washington Post in 1995 as a copy editor and contributing writer. He moved up to national graphics editor in 2000. He also earned a master’s degree from the University of Missouri in 2005.

In 2007, Seth moved to the Journal, where he served as news editor, managing an 18-person data visualization team. He spent a year teaching at Missouri as an adjunct and was then promoted to graphics chief, as which he managed 35 producers, developers, artists and visual reporters.  He was promoted to deputy global visual editor in 2013, supervising more than 100 web developers, visual reporters, designers and photo editors working across all platforms.

Seth also wrote a blog in which he offered research and presentations hints to visual journalists. There are some really great tips there. It’d make a really great book or something.

Find Seth’s Twitter feed here.

Journal managing editor Gerard Baker wrote in an announcement to his staff Monday:

Seth’s tireless optimism, boundless energy (even when encumbered with velcro shoes) and wide grin were an uplifting feature of our newsroom life. For me personally, one of the highlights of my day was to watch and listen as Seth, with evident and slightly mischievous delight, ran through the most promising visual opportunities for our digital and print offerings at the 9.30 morning news meeting.

His death leaves a great hole in our newsroom and an empty space in the hearts of all who had the pleasure to work with him.

Seth’s WSJ colleague Sarah Slobin tells us:

Seth was a break-a-the-mold kinda guy. He was a former D.J., a gardener, a photographer and a gun enthusiast. There are not many people who you can discuss planting cycles and the bullets with in the same sentence.

He was also a newsman, in the romantic good-story chasing kind of way. And he loved a good diagram and he loved good illustration.

Once when I came back to work from being sick — I had a sinus infection — Seth sent me the diagram he did at the Washington Post of the surgery he had to fix his own sinus problem. It was good and frightening in that TMI kind of way, which was Seth, all over.

I reported to Seth, part of a team of visual editors. His note to us Friday was typical Seth:

I had fun in London, but it will be good to see you all again on Monday. I am no longer walking with a cane and may have a tan from many garden strolls.

We’re still expecting him.

(The cane was unrelated to his passing, he pulled his back at the gym trying to keep up with his father.)

R.I.P. Minneapolis Tribune redesigner Frank Ariss

Frank Ariss died last week in a hospital in Eau Claire, Wis. He was 76.

Who was Frank Ariss? He was British-born graphic designer who taught at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in the 1960s. The Star Tribune‘s Kevin Duchschere reported this weekend that, in 1967, Ariss was hired by the Minneapolis Tribune

…to freshen up the newspaper’s traditional Gothic-style masthead. “Knock off the flicks,” was how he put it.

But for Ariss, that wasn’t nearly ambitious enough. He returned to newsroom executives with a modern, uncluttered design for the entire paper — transforming not only the gray and staid Tribune, but in the process changing forever the way that American newspapers look and function.



The most striking change was the masthead, which now placed “Tribune” in thick overlapping Helvetica letters, alongside a stylized logo that Ariss said represented a sheet of newsprint rolling off the press.

Ariss developed a grid to lay out the paper so that elements aligned vertically and horizontally. Not only did it yield a cleaner look, it made it easier for papers to move later to computer pagination.

The Tribune’s new look was unveiled in 1971. Gone were the old Roman and italic headlines, letters trimmed in serifs; in their place was lean Helvetica script. White space separated columns and paragraphs.


Granted, that page is from two years later. But you get the idea.

I am a little baffled about the reference to headlines with “letters trimmed in serifs.” The front page on the left, below, dates from shortly before the launch of the redesign.


I see no serif headline typography.

Those examples come from an article on the 1970s revolution in newspaper design, posted by a college professor. If you want to know more about Frank Ariss’ work in Minneapolis, this would be a terrific way to spend a few minutes. An excerpt:

The Tribune redesign was possible because of a mix of elements that no newspapers had enjoyed before and few have known since: editors who were willing to question those long-held newsroom myths, a company willing to pay the price, and a designer who was as meticulous in his methods as he was radical in his approach.

“To do a good project, a good designer needs a good client, and a good client needs a good designer,” Ariss said. “It always has been and it always will.

Find Frank’s obituary here.

R.I.P. Steve Anderson of the Detroit Free Press

Award-winning designer Steve Anderson of the Detroit Free Press passed away Thursday, the paper reports. He was 59.


The unbylined story posted last night by the Freep reports:

“He cared about every single word, every comma, every period that he placed on a 1A,” said Jason Karas, a designer and colleague. “Whether you know it or not, a little bit of Steve Anderson has been delivered to your front door.”

A 1977 graduate of the University of Colorado, Steve spent time at the Boulder Daily Camera and the Arizona Republic of Phoenix before moving to Detroit in 1989.

A few samples of his work:





According to the Free Press story, Steve…

…was both old-school and tech-savvy, historian and innovator under the handle @dfpsteve on Twitter.

“He was so proud of his Twitter account and loved sharing historic images and daily 1A’s with his followers,” said Amy Huschka, assistant editor/social media.

He’d plumb Free Press archives dating to 1831 for historic and curious posts. Anderson would sometimes time-lapse the creation of Free Press front pages, and share a sneak peek by posting them to Vine.

Someone put together a Storify featuring some of Steve’s favorite work. Find that here.

RIP Randy Brubaker of the Des Moines Register

Last week, I learned my former boss at the Des Moines Register, Randy Brubaker, had suffered a heart attack and had a stent inserted into a vein.


Figuring he’d be monitoring his work email account, I fired off a note offering him my best wishes. He replied:

Thanks, man!

I’m home already. Guess I’m just going to have to watch movies for a couple of days. Damn.

Hope you, Sharon and Elizabeth are doing well!

I shrugged it off and continued our mini-vacation drive up the coast. A couple of days later, Bru wished me a happy birthday, as usual. Someone told me he’d be back at work today — Monday, May 5 — so I figured the crisis had passed.

Wrong. Randy suffered a heart attack Saturday and died at home. He was only 55.

What’s more, this comes only four months after his wife, Jan, died after struggling for years with diabetes, heart disease and breast cancer.

When I joined the Register staff in March 1999 as graphics editor, I spent a lot of time working directly with our managing editor at the time, Mike Townsend. Mike was transforming the paper back into a lively, go-getter and he wanted snappy, in-your-face graphics in time for new printing presses that would go on line later that year.

But while we all worked to make Mike’s vision happen, I also reported to Brubaker. Bru had been in charge of the paper’s design and copy desk for years and was now back over sports. Sensing an opportunity, I pitched some of my more outrageous ideas for sports front centerpieces.

Bru loved them. The pages I did for him and his folks marked some of my earliest successes as a manager.

So many of the folks in Des Moines were supportive of the work we did there. But Bru was more than supportive. He was a cheerleader, a mentor and a nudger. He was one of those guys who could guide you in a certain direction without your realizing he had nudged you.

I liked that a lot. I tried to develop that same skill myself. I was never any good at it, but Bru’s example set the standard I aimed for.

Here’s a funny Randy Brubaker story: Once, when the new printing presses were about to go online, Bru piled a number of us into his family van to drive us out for a tour of the new press facility.

At some point, though, some jackass pulled out in front of us. Bru didn’t come all that close to hitting him — it was the sort of thing that happens to you every day and you never think about it. But when he jammed the brakes, Bru reached out with his right arm, as if to keep me from flying out of the front seat. You know, like you would a kid.

I looked at him with raised eyebrow. He got this goofy grin on his face, shrugged and said: “Sorry.”

The whole vanload of us laughed the whole way back to the paper.

After a while, they reorganized the newsroom. I no longer reported to Bru. What I discovered was that it made no difference to him: He was still just as supportive and encouraging as ever. Bru knew more than I did how job duties come and go and work relationships fold over on themselves into a giant web. Maybe I’d work for him again one day. Maybe he’d work for me. It made no difference. Bru was Bru, and he knew how to deal with people in his quiet, super-competent way.

I recall when I was diagnosed with diabetes in early 2002. I was quite ill for a while, so it was terrifying to find out what it was that was affecting my energy levels.

Bru’s wife had suffered for years with diabetes. He took a huge interest in my treatment, my medications and the changes I was making to improve my health. A year later, when my A1C numbers were down to near-normal levels and a local TV station included me in a report about diabetes classes, Bru was the first to congratulate me.

Years after I left, Bru continued to lend me a steadying hand, especially when times were bad. This weekend, I went back over my email archives, reading dozens of kind notes I received from him over the years. And, occasionally, we’d conduct a bit of business: He made sure to buy my presidential-election-year freelance graphics. In fact, Bru made suggestions like…

One more thought from this old man: Should you put a Copyright 2012 Charles Apple on that page?

In 2012, he insisted I publish a solicitation about my election graphic in the blog. That post netted me more than a thousand dollars of additional sales.

Occasionally, Brubaker ask me for PDFs of something I had posted. I used quotes from him in an article I once wrote for Poynter. He told me a number of times I ought to come to Iowa, rent a conference room and hold a visual journalism seminar.

But the coolest things are the little notes he’d drop. Like this one from just before Christmas:

Hope you’re well.

Just a note to say I was thinking of you and your family last week as I tooled across I-80 doing holiday Christmas travel – listening to the 2001 and 2002 [holiday music mix] CDs you made. And (even though I was driving), I’d peek at the liner notes to see if I could figure out who the artist was.

The one that brought tears, however, was this one he sent me after I told him I had landed a job, finally, at the Orange County Register. Not a management job. But a job.

Bru dropped everything and wrote back:

Congrats (if I can say that without jinxing anything in the final process)!

Sounds like a gig you are well-suited for … and I assumed your next job was NOT going to be with the News & Observer! (Those Strom Thurmond errors were incredible.)

They also point to the best piece of advice I can give you as you think about launching out there – find a great copy editor who will have your back! We’ve both seen what happens when copy editors aren’t involved … yikes!

I also agree – but might modify slightly – one other statement you made. YOU can find someone to mentor, even if it’s not official or on paper somewhere. Whether that’s finding a young Katie Kunert who is still in college, or someone in their newsroom, you have the power and smarts to do that yourself! … And as you know, usually those are the experiences that are more rewarding that actually being someone’s supervisor.

Yep. Absolutely.

My friend Daniel Finney wrote an eloquent eulogy of Bru for Monday’s paper. In it, he cites folks for whom Bru went above and beyond the call of duty to help out — especially those who had illness or death in the family.

An excerpt:

Last year, the husband of Register Reader’s Watchdog columnist Lee Rood died of brain cancer. Brubaker — Rood’s boss — took gift cards to her, delivered food and arranged for her to work from home for more than three months as her husband’s health deteriorated.

“I felt like his arm was around me throughout the whole thing,” Rood said.

Here’s another:

Page designer Sue Curry, whose husband died of a brain tumor, remembered how Brubaker doted on her young son, Aidan, in the years after his father died.

“He taught Aidan to shoot a rubber band,” Curry said. “When I’d bring (Aidan) into the newsroom, Randy would call him into his office and give him a dollar coin.

And this one was posted on Facebook yesterday by my good friend, desigenr Nicole Bogdas:

When I moved here four years ago, my mom, who was going to donate a kidney to my father, was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was next in line to be a donor.

At the time, I did not yet qualify for short-term disability as I hadn’t been with the company a year (in fact it had been only two months). The managing editor pulled me aside to tell me not to worry—his wife had both breast cancer and kidney failure and he would make sure I could get the time off.

That generous man, Randy Brubaker, passed away last night, just several months after his wife. I will miss seeing him in the newsroom, where he was so much at home.

Farewell, Randy. And thanks for everything.

RIP former Lakeland Ledger illustrator Joseph Escourido

Former Lakeland (Fla.) Ledger artist Joseph Escourido passed away Satuday, the paper reports. He was 89.


Joseph studied art at the Pratt Institute in New York City and worked as a commercial artist and a book illustrator and drew two syndicated comic strips. One was a Bicentennial-themed strip called Colonial Capers. Find a quick sample here.

He moved to the Ledger in 1977, specializing in cartoon illustration and design of food fronts. He won 22 awards for his work, the paper reports, before retiring in 1991.

The Ledger‘s Bill Rufty writes:

After retiring, he received an award but wouldn’t pose for a picture for a Ledger photograph until the pho­tographer first took a picture of him in Groucho Marx glasses.

Find the story here.

RIP longtime visuals editor Bill Dunn

Bill Dunn, longtime visual editor and, for the last 12 years, editor of the Grand Island Independent in Nebraska, passed away Saturday after a battle with esophageal cancer, his paper reported this weekend.

Bill was 62.


The Independent‘s Sara Schulz writes:

“Bill devoted his heart and soul to his community and to his work at The Independent,” said Don Smith, publisher of the newspaper. “He loved The Grand Island Independent and even though he worked for some of the most prominent large newspapers in the nation, he often said his true calling in life was to be the editor of his hometown newspaper. Bill was one of those rare people who possessed great intelligence and wisdom, and yet had a wonderfully gifted creative genius and sharp sense of humor.”

A graduate of Kearney State College (now called the University of Nebraska-Kearney), Bill was graphics and visuals editor at the Orange County Register and associate graphics editor at the Los Angeles Times before spending eight years as assistant managing editor of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Bill served as site chair for the 2000 SND annual workshop in Minneapolis before moving back to his hometown the next year.

Bill at his drawing table last fall.

In addition to editing the paper, Bill also drew his own editorial cartoons. A few quick recent examples:

1311BillDunnSample01 1311BillDunnSample02 1311BillDunnSample03

Find his online archive here.

Bill’s cancer was diagnosed last year. It was originally thought to be operable, but then doctors found it had spread. He was put through what his wife, Barbara, said was an “aggressive” treatment of chemo. She wrote on Nov. 6:

The plan is chemo every three weeks and also chemo pills every day. He is going to go through hell but our plan is to kill the cancer and get on with life.

He’s not going back to the paper.

Sara reported that hours before he died, Bill had flown to visit a friend in St. Croix in the Virgin Islands. That’s where he died.

Arrangements have not yet been made.

Another excerpt from Sara’s story:

“He led by example, with his heart,” [said Karen Rathke, president of the local United Way]. “He was truly a great man. He served with great compassion and leadership.”

Dunn often talked about wanting to do more to help people, which she sees as a testament to his true nature.

“I will always treasure how Bill made you feel when you were around him,” she said. “He would make you laugh. All who knew him, loved him. All who worked with him, appreciated him. And all who spent time with him, laughed with him.”

A few of Bill’s friends have posted comments via social media.

Ray Grumney, graphics director of the Star Tribune, writes:

Saddened by the news, Bill touched so many up and coming visual journalists, including me. He will be missed by us all.

Stephen Cvengros, vice president of the Syracuse Media Group, writes:

So sad to hear, fellow editor & long-time friend Bill Dunn has passed from this life. It was an honor & privilege to have shared & laughed with him. A true talent & great journalist. Peace, my friend.

Steve Yelvington, vice president of audience of the Savannah Morning News, writes:

Bill loved Grand Island. I visited him there and he showed me where his first paper route was. Roots.

Denise Reagan, director of communications at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Jacksonville, Fla., writes:

I feel so lucky and grateful to have known Bill Dunn. He hired me at the Star Tribune, rescuing me from the picket line in Detroit and introducing me to the vibrant and creative Twin Cities where I would do some of the best work of my career and make some of the best friends I’ve ever had. He trusted me with investigative pieces and section redesigns. He showed me every day why he was known as one of the godfathers of the Society for News Design and encouraged my participation in SND, making me a better designer and journalist and providing a network of friends and colleagues I cherish every day. And he was just a really nice person. I wish I hadn’t let so much time go by since talking with him. I will miss you, Bill.

I credit Bill as one of the forces that helped guide my career over the past decade-and-a-half or so. I had done only a few minor speaking engagements in my career when I was asked to speak as a last-minute fill-in at a quickcourse in Rockford, Ill., in early 2001. To my surprise, the session went much better than I had expected.

Not long after I returned home to Des Moines, Bill called and invited me to speak at the big annual workshop that fall in Minneapolis.

I was stunned, to say the least. And most definitely not worthy of such an invitation. But Bill insisted I come speak. He also insisted I not sweat it. “Just give the same presentation you gave in Rockford,” Bill told me. “Don’t change a thing.”

Well, in fact, I rewrote the entire presentation. More than once, in fact. But somehow, I didn’t screw it up too badly. Although I went to Minneapolis feeling like such an outsider, Bill saw to it that I was invited to just the right dinner parties and that I was introduced to just the right people at the various receptions.

I often tell young people that I’m only trying to pass long kindness that was shown to me over the years. It’s people like Bill to whom I’m referring.

R.I.P. Tampa Bay Times deputy photo director Bruce Moyer

Bruce Moyer — deputy photo director for the Tampa Bay Times of St. Petersburg, Fla. — passed away last Monday after a fight with cancer. He was 52.

Mug shot of Bruce Moyer.    3/25/05  Michael McAndrews/The Hartford Courant

A 1982 graduate of the Southeast Center for Photographic Studies in Daytona Beach, Bruce spent several years as a shooter for the Naples Daily News and the Sun of Bremerton, Wash. He moved into picture editing at the Hartford Courant in 1998.

Bruce was named National Press Photographers Association Picture Editor of the Year for three consecutive years from 2002 through 2004. He won that same award again last year. In addition, his standing bio for the annual Kalish Workshop states:

He was part of a team of picture editors and photographers at the Courant that won the Angus McDougall Overall Excellence in Editing Award in the Pictures of the Year International Competition for three consecutive years, something no other paper has done.

Bruce’s obituary states:

He taught his craft to various students and professionals. More than anything, Bruce loved being behind the camera. He continuously worked on personal projects and shot sporting events across the country but he drew the line at shooting weddings.

Bruce moved to the Times in 2006. Bruce’s wife, Suzette, is the Times’ art director.

Bruce’s colleague at the Times, Andrew Meacham, wrote in a weekend story:

About 11 months ago, Mr. Moyer began to feel tired. He also had trouble remembering recent events. Chemotherapy appeared to stop the lymphoma, but by late November the disease was again advancing, marked by an inoperable brain tumor.

Suzette Moyer decided to discontinue treatment. It was a tough call; one supported by their son, Dakota, 19; and daughter, Callen, 17.

“That’s not how he wanted to live,” his wife said.

In addition, a story posted last week by the NPPA reported:

Moyer’s journey through cancer was detailed in a feature story by his friend Heather Graulich in the September issue of News Photographer magazine.

A memorial service will be held today at 1 p.m. EST at the Poynter Institute in St. Pete. A reception will follow.

The NPPA site says:

Ken Irby at the Poynter Center said the family has requested that donations in memory of Moyer be made to the National Press Photographers Foundation. Contact NPPF president C. Thomas Hardin at…

hardin [at] aye.net

…for more information.

A sampling of Nelson Mandela front pages

I was most anxious to see how South African papers played the death of Nelson Mandela on today’s front pages.

You guys will recall, I’m sure, that I spent quite a bit of time in South Africa teaching design and infographics. Between August 2009 and last summer, I spent a total of nine months there, over six separate trips. Among the many things I did for my clients there: I helped them plan and build Mandala pages and elements to use on pages when the sad day finally would come.

Which it did, yesterday.

Circulation: 17,151

You get a sense of how late the news broke Thursday night when you see the Friday front of the Witness.


Naturally, the “rumors” turned out to be true. This time, Mandela did pass away. The Witness came back later Friday with a special edition featuring a wonderful collage cover illustration.


This is what I hoped to see on the front page of today’s papers — things that had never been done before on page one.

I’m not sure we saw that. Don’t get me wrong, we saw some great pages today. But nothing really jawdropping.

Circulation: 63,016

The papers I worked with in South Africa — the Media24 chain — produced wonderfully reverent front pages today. This is the largest weekday paper owned by Media24, in Johannesburg.


The paper wisely killed its front-page ad and all the skyboxes — they call them “pluggers” there — and used a lot of mourning black. The result is elegant and quiet. Reverent.

Cape Town
Circulation: 57,696

Media24’s Cape Town paper turned its lead art black-and-white to help emphasize the moment.


Normally, die Burger runs its nameplate in blue. The fact that you don’t see any blue up there today is significant.

I saw an earlier version of this page that included an ad at the bottom.


Memo to whoever was responsible: Killing that ad was the right thing to do. Most definitely.

Cape Town
Circulation: 32,428

Several South African papers today simply turned their page black and ran the best Mandala portrait they could find.


Circulation: 28,396

This one — it appears to be what we Americans would call “an extra” — seems to suffer from an awkward crop.


Circulation: 80,303

A number of papers tried to crop in tight on Mandela’s face.


I’m not real sure how effective that one was.

Circulation: 17,988

This one is a bit better, I think.


Volksblad is a tiny paper, so they probably didn’t have much jump space inside. It’s a shame they couldn’t push the story inside and run a larger picture. It’s even more of a shame they couldn’t kill that ugly ad.

South African TV today canceled all its commercials. I don’t think it’s feasible for newspapers to do that, but I do think it’s appropriate to push an ad off the front on a day like today. It should be written into any contract for a front-page ad.

Circulation: 50,236

The Times of Johannesburg also went with a tight crop and a black background.


Circulation: 41,116

I love the feel of this one — it’s more of a magazine feel than the other pages, above.


I think the little red Mandela silhouette at the top of the page is overkill, however.

Circulation: 49,731

And while I like the black-and-white treatment on the front of today’s Citizen


I’m not quite sure why we needed to see a second photo of Mandela in the bottom right. All that does is to diminish the lead art.

Circulation: 95,068

That same picture used in the little circle by the Citizen was lead art on today’s Sowetan.


In case you’re wondering, “Tata” is “father” in Mandela’s native tongue, Xhosa.


My friends in the graphics department of the Media24 papers have been hard at work for years, now, preparing for the ten days of planned official mourning between yesterday and the day they’ll bury Mandela. Among the pieces I saw created during one of my trips there: This wonderful collection of notable Mandela quotes.

madiba quotes page copy

That was designed by my friend Rudi Louw.

Find the Graphics24 online archive here.


A number of papers in the U.K. did a fabulous job displaying the story today. My favorite was this wraparound cover by the Times of London.


British newspaper consultant Peter Sands rounded up a number of U.K. front pages today. Check ’em out here. Also, see the Guardian‘s collection here.

U.S. papers have also been rounded up by the Poynter Institute and by the Society for News Design. There’s quite a bit of great work out there, so please go take a look.

My former colleagues at the Virginian-Pilot produced what may be my favorite front page of the day.


And just across the river in Newport News, the Daily Press did a fabulous job as well, combining a tight crop, black and a lot of reflective-feeling quiet space.


I was very proud of the front page my colleagues here at the Orange County Register put together today.


That’s certainly one of the iconic moments we’ll always remember about Mandela: Feb. 11, 1990, the day he was released after 27 years as a political prisoner in his own country. The photo is by David C. Turnley.

And I had my own little piece of the story today: Back in March and April, when I was just cranking up production on my daily Focus page, I built an advance page featuring a timeline of Mandela’s life.


The main timeline runs down the right side. In the center, I pulled out four big chunks of Mandela’s life and focused on those. Highlighted is is 27 years as a political prisoner.

I didn’t have a decent (copyright-free) photo that  illustrate that phase of his life, so — to hell with it, y’know? — I just used my own.


We wanted that page to run as part of our Mandela coverage at the front of our A section today. I sacrificed color in order to make that happen.

However, the page did run in color in today’s Riverside, Calif., Press-Enterprise — a paper our owners here bought recently. I’ve not seen it yet, but they put a small plugger out front today.


And, of course, I’m delighted to be in the Riverside paper today. As well as my own.

Best wishes to all my friends in that part of the world who are working hard to cover the story while in mourning themselves. Today, we all are South African. Best wishes to the Great Man. And best wishes to us all.

South African media writers Gill Moodie and Herman Manson rounded up a number of South African papers today, too.

The images in this post are from the Newseum, PressDisplay, Facebook, Twitter… and even a few came in via email. Thanks to all who contributed.

Birthdays for Tuesday, Oct. 8

Here’s wishing the happiest of birthdays to five terrific visual journalists…

Scott Burgess is Detroit editor for Motor Trend magazine. A 1993 graduate of UCLA, Scott worked for Chrysler and then served as Middle East bureau chief and European editor for Stars and Stripes. He moved to the Detroit News as an auto critic in 2005. After a high-profile dust-up with his editors in 2011 — during which he quit after his editors changed one of his reviews in order to please an advertiser but returned to his job a few days later — he left the News for good in 2012. He spent a year as senior editor for AOL Autos in Birmingham, Mich., and then went to work for Motor Trend back in January. Find his Twitter feed here. Scott turns 46 today.


Anne Geggis is city reporter for the Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. A 1989 graduate of Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vt., Anne spent 10-and-a-half years with the Burlington, Vt., Free Press. She moved to the Daytona Beach News-Journal in 1999 and then slid over to the Gainesville Sun in 2011. She joined the Sun Sentinel in 2012. Find her Twitter feed here.

Kathleen Grones is an editorial assistant at the Victoria (Texas) Advocate. A 1986 graduate of Texas A&M, she spent several years working at the Faith Academy in Victoria before joining the Advocate. Find her Twitter feed here.

Nancy Reese retired last year as training and technology editor for the editing and presentation department of the Chicago Tribune. A 1978 graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago, Nancy spent five years as a copy editor at the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill., before moving to the Tribune in 1980. She now does consulting and research work.

Luke Trautwein is a senior designer for the Brewers Association in Boulder, Colo., designing New Brewer magazine. Previously, he was a designer for for the Charlotte Observer. Find his portfolio here and his Twitter feed here.

Anne, Luke, Kathleen, Scott and Nancy share a birthday with actors Matthew Paige “Matt” Damon, Susan Alexandra “Sigourney” Weaver, Cornelius Crane “Chevy” Chase, Darrell Hammond, Stephanie Zimbalist, Emily Mallory Procter, Paul Hogan, John Feggo Jr. (better known as Kirk Alyn); Nicholas Scott “Nick” Cannon and Angus Turner Jones (the kid from Two and a Half Men); musicians John William “Johnny” Ramone (of the Ramones), Robert Earl “Kool” Bell (of Kool and the Gang) and Peter Gene Hernandez (better known as Bruno Mars); sports greats Matthew Nicholas Biondi (swimming), Frederick Sydney “Fred” Stolle (tennis), William Clyde “Bill” Elliott (auto racing) and Travis Alan Pastrana (motorcycle racing); writers Franklin Patrick Herbert Jr. and Robert Lawrence “R.L.” Stine; comic book creator Harvey Lawrence Pekar; aviator Edward Vernon Rickenbacker; Argentinian leader Juan Domingo Perón; civil rights leader Jesse Louis Jackson Jr.; politician Dennis John Kucinich; Netflix co-founder Wilmot Reed Hastings Jr. and gossip columnist Rona Barrett.

In addition, today is National Pierogi Day and National Face Your Fears Day. Seriously.

Best wishes, all! Have a fabulous birthday!

R.I.P. sports designer and photographer Todd Allred

Todd Allred, a former designer for USA Today‘s Sports Weekly and USA Today itself — passed away last week after a battle with cancer. He was only 46.


A native of Eureka Calif., Todd graduated from Cal State-Fresno in 1988. He served an internship with the Miller News Service, working out of the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. He spent the 1990s working for a number of papers in California, including the Los Banos Enterprise, the Merced Sun Star, the Fresno Bee and the Stockton Record.

In 2001, Todd moved to the D.C. area to serve as design editor for Baseball Weekly, the weekly tabloid sports edition published by USA Today. A year later, that publication expanded to include NFL coverage and changed its name to Sports Weekly. In 2006, Todd moved over to the sports desk of USA Today itself. He spent six years with the mothership paper until his illness forced him to move in with his parents in Arizona.

Todd spent much of his spare time focusing on his photography work.




He sold a number of pictures to various magazines and, the last year or so of his life, wrote a blog about photography, sports journalism and whatever else struck his fancy.

His last post was in April of this year.

Find his web site here.  Find Todd’s obituary here.

Todd’s family will host a celebration of his life in Clovis, Calif., on Oct. 26. More information about that is forthcoming via Todd’s father’s web site.

If you have any memories to share about Todd or his work, please feel free to add them as comments below. Or send them to me and I can add them to this post.

R.I.P. longtime Rock Hill Herald sports editor Buddy McCarter

Buddy McCarter — longtime sports editor of the Evening Herald of Rock Hill, S.C. — died Monday. The obituary in Wednesday’s paper says he suffered a stroke last week. He was 73.


I spent a year as a sports stringer for the Evening Herald, during my senior year at Winthrop College and long before the Evening Herald changed to morning publication and dropped the “Evening” from its nameplate. Buddy and his assistant editor, Earl Gault, were very gracious and patient mentors. I both enjoyed and learned a lot working with them.

But before I signed on with Buddy’s team, I spent two years competing with him as a stringer for the York Observer — then, a three-times-a-week zoned edition of the Charlotte Observer. As the Observer‘s only high school sports correspondent in York County, I was usually sent to the biggest and best game of the week south of the state line. More often than not, I’d find myself sitting in the press box, elbow-to-elbow with Buddy McCarter.

He already knew me from my work in Winthrop’s sports information department. And I knew him, too, of course: Sports editor of the local daily and — even in the early 1980s — already a legend in the area for having founded Rock Hill’s annual high school football jamboree. He had even played a little pro baseball in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.

But it was working one Friday night football game in particular, early in my stringing career, when I learned something interesting about Buddy.

I rushed down to the field after the game to interview the local coach. I walked up to him, congratulated him on his team’s performance and then fired off a question.

The coach — who realized I was competing with everyone’s buddy Buddy — glanced nervously over to Buddy. Buddy smiled tightly and gave a very slight nod. The coach turned to me and answered my question.

You see, no high school coach in the area was willing to cross Buddy McCarter. And Buddy — who, I’m quite sure was not happy to have competition — was not the kind of guy who’d stand for anyone freezing out his competitors.

Even smack in the middle of a blazing-hot newspaper war. Even when it would have been so easy to do. Even when the green kid would not have had a clue what happened or why.

The high school kids and coaches came first for Buddy. Being gracious to the competition came second. Anything else — no matter how tempting — was out of the question.

Two years later, I left the York Observer and joined Buddy’s team at the Evening Herald. Buddy’s boss had offered to buy two editorial cartoons a week from me. That didn’t really offset the loss of sports assignments from my Observer gig, so I actually lost a little money with the switch. But it was a real pleasure to work with Buddy and Earl for at least one season.

I graduated Winthrop in 1984. Four-and-a-half years later, I returned to the Herald as its one-man news graphics department. Buddy no longer worked there. But the kindness and professionalism he showed me has stayed with me for three decades.

R.I.P. ‘absolutely insane and graceful’ news and features photographer Steven R. Nickerson

Pulitzer-winning photojournalist Steven R. Nickerson passed away Saturday after a long, difficult battle with a rare disorder called scleroderma.


Steven was only 55. He had been unable to work for the past eight years.

Scleroderma is an autoimmune disorder that causes a painful hardening of the body’s connective tissue. Steven began having symptoms as early as 2002 but kept his pain to himself until 2004. A year later, he was forced to give up his job shooting for the Rocky Mountain News.

However, his insurance then refused to pay for further treatment, despite the efforts of former colleague Mitch Albom. So friends and colleagues pitched in to sell prints to help cover his treatment. (Find photos of that event here.)

In 2006, Steven wrote in News Photographer, the official magazine of the National Press Photographers Association:

This disease may well kill me but it is finding a tougher foe than even I understood I could be.

The medications gave me six months of constant hard-pounding diarrhea, my stomach and esophagus and digestive system muscles failed. I lost 65 pounds and have had a constant battle with nausea, and an inability to eat since my jaws are so tight they sometimes feel like they are wired shut. I am on 14 medications with approximately 25 pills a day. I take physical therapy, acupuncture, and psychiatry often during every week, ever since the diagnosis, while seeking assistance from specialists in pulmonary, gastroenterology, neurology, urology, rheumatology and oncology. I tire easily and move stiffly. I cannot tie my shoes or scratch my back or wash my own feet.

A native of Toledo, Ohio, Steven worked for what is now the the News-Sun of Springfield, Ohio, and the Courier-Journal of Louisville, Ky., before joining the Detroit Free Press. He moved to the Rocky Mountain News in 1997.

Ally Marotti of the Denver Post wrote Tuesday in Steven’s official obit:

When the staff of the Rocky Mountain News gathered for their group photo – dressed in their best – after winning a Pulitzer Prize, photographer Steven R. Nickerson showed up in a purple udder hat holding a bowling ball. “He just did it because he was his own person,” said Dennis Schroeder, who was a photographer with Nickerson for about seven years at the Rocky, and a close friend for half a decade more. “He was so much himself that when he was around other people it allowed them to be themselves, and people really liked that.”


Steven made this picture of blood-soaked shoes and

socks laying outside of a Denver-area hospital the day

of Columbine. A collection of staff work from the Rocky

won a Pulitzer that year.

Steven won lots of awards over the years. In addition to the two Pulitzers the Rocky won with Steven on staff, he also won a Hasselblad Magic Eye Award and took home a World Press Award in 1996 for a fashion shoot. His former Free Press colleague, Marcia Prouse — now the A1 and Sunday editor for the Orange County Register — told me some great stories about his work in Detroit. She posted on Facebook:

Who can forget the amazing fashion shoot he did with the deer driving and the model strapped to the top of the truck? Nobody who met him wasn’t the better for it. he lives on in all of us.

…I remember the advertisers were going berserk. but, as usual, the photos were creative, fun and amazing and it settled down.

Dennis Schroeder — mentioned earlier in the Post piece — tells this story later in that obit:

He would take a model and like, tie them to the ground with string and rope and have Barbie dolls hanging on them and a horse jumping in the background. Conventional editors would look at it and go, “You can’t even see the clothes.” He took a lot of grief from it.

I can’t find the famous deer hunting picture. But here’s the horse-jumping one.


Find a small gallery of Steven’s work here.

Donald R. Winslow of News Photographer writes:

News of Steve’s death just reached me here in Rome, and I am so sad. It depresses me greatly to think about never getting another really crazy eMail from him. Or the phone call that makes me question sanity – both mine and his. Or his funny photographs. Or the inspiration that comes from watching him suffer so long, usually quiet in his hardship and with a sense of humor beyond imagination.

…When I think of Steve I think of two (actually, three) words: Absolutely Insane, and Graceful.

Later in that same tribute, Donald writes:

Sometimes [Steve] signed prints with his motto:

If You Learn To Shoot With Your Heart

You’ll Move People’s Souls.

Steven’s wife, Karen, and their friends will celebrate Steve’s life this Saturday, June 15, from 6 to 9 p.m. MDT, at the Anchor Center for Blind Children in Denver.

In addition, donations in his memory can be made to the Anchor Center or to Johns Hopkins Scleroderma Center in Baltimore, Md.

Chicago papers pay tribute to the late, great Roger Ebert

As you know, movie critic Roger Ebert — movie critic for the Chicago Sun-Times since 1966 — passed away Thursday. He was 70.

Here’s how the Sun-Times played the story on page one today:


Ebert, just the way many of us remember him. Very cool.

Chicago-based news design consultant Ron Reason tells us, however:

Forget the front pages today – the best of the Ebert bunch is a back page for a change (and an interesting lesson in switch of headlines from print to web):


Ron tells us the Sun-Times, in fact, wrapped a 12-page Ebert section around today’s paper. This editorial — behind the paper’s paywall, unfortunately — ran on the back page with the intriguing headline you see here.

Ron writes in his blog today:

The subtext to the editorial, for anyone familiar with the history of the Sun-Times, is the perseverance of professional pride that exists even today, after decades of horrific mismanagement, financial disaster, changes in ownership, brutal staff reductions. (It was during the particularly wacky and challenging ownership period of the late ’90s that I met Ebert, only briefly, while fiddling with a redesign for the Sun-Times.) His work and his presence always reflected a belief that working for a news organization that serves its community, and doing it well, matters.

“And we who were lucky to work with him, we who felt such intense pride in being Chicago Sun-Times journalists simply because Roger was one of us, we were all better for his example and friendship.” 

Another lesson he drove home to the end: keeping up with the times, with technology and the culture of communication, is also important – blogging, Tweeting, festivals, no matter the medium. If you have something to say, get it out there, stir the pot. And in recent years more than ever, did Ebert sure have something to say. His Twitter feed, and the comments on his blog posts from his thousands of followers, were among the liveliest to be found anywhere.

As you might imagine, the Sun-Times posted a ton of material on Ebert. Much of it appears to be behind the paywall. Highlights:

Average daily circulation for the Sun-Times is 422,335.

The Tribune went with a handout photo from the studio that distributed Ebert and Gene Siskel‘s TV show for many years. Therefore, this, too, seems like a very familiar picture of Ebert.


Read Rick Kogan‘s wonderful page-one piece here.

Average daily circulation for the Tribune is 414,590.

The Tribune‘s Spanish-language Hoy, however, chose a more recent photo of Ebert after the reconstructive surgery he had on his jaw.


I like the pose and the headline. But this isn’t the way most of us really want to remember Ebert.

Hoy distributes about 60,000 copies daily.

The Tribune‘s RedEye selected a picture of a much younger Roger Ebert. Which fit its headline perfectly.


Average daily distribution of RedEye is 250,000.

From out in the ‘burbs, here’s the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights.


Average daily circulation for the Daily Herald is 99,670.

And finally, Ebert himself was from Urbana, Ill., and attended the University of Illinois. The student paper there dug up a picture of Ebert from his old school days.


Read the paper’s tribute to Ebert here.

Jim Romenesko posted an enormous list of links to Roger Ebert stories. Thursday, Jim posted a story about Ebert’s quiet efforts to aid alcoholic journalists.

The student paper was posted today via Twitter. The rest of the pages here are from the Newseum. Of course.

R.I.P. Paul Pohlman of the Poynter Institute

Below is a photo of a Poynter leadership training class in the fall of 2000.

Yes, that’s me, third from right on the back row, with a) hair on my head, still, and b) attired in light blue. I wasn’t yet into Hawaiian shirts.

Please allow me to draw your attention to the distinguished gentleman on the left of that back row: Longtime Poynter faculty member Paul Pohlman.

That weeklong class — and its follow-up session the next spring, also a week long — changed my life.

For starters, I realized that you can’t work in a leadership position and be a total loose cannon. You’re not really going to be able to “look for teachable moments.” Instead, it’s potentially a teachable moment — for some impressionable staffer around you — every time you open your mouth.

You can’t just call yourself a manager and fill out schedules and time cards. You have to eat, breathe and live leadership. You have to be an example — in your work ethic, in your standards and especially with your ethical beliefs and your actions — every waking moment.

And you’re not just there to make the trains run on time. A real leader looks out for career and personal growth of his or her people.

There’s a manager. And then there’s a leader. So which did I intend to be?


I can’t say I’ve always made wise choices. But I can say that what choices I’ve made — throughout my managerial career and then into my years of consulting work around the world — have been guided by the principles to which I was exposed during those two weeks.

Whatever success I’ve had since then, I owe to my wonderful career mentors, of course. But I also owe the fabulous instructors in those Poynter sessions, led by Edward Miller (back row, far right), former Allentown Morning Call editor and publisher and one of the founders of the Society for News Design. Also teaching us: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s Cindy Gorley — who later married Edward and became management consultant Cindy Miller — the creative and gracious Monica Moses and the endless fountain of managerial knowledge and positive vibes, Jill Geisler.

And, of course, Paul Pohlman. Paul was a wonderful instructor, a friend to journalists everywhere and a warm human being. When I ran into him in the hallways of the Poynter facilities during a quick trip down there last winter, I was delighted to see him again. Paul was scurrying around with file folders in hand, lost in thought.

It was as if I had stepped into a big, warm, fuzzy time warp.

Paul passed away this week at age 70. Find Julie Moos‘ report — and a video featuring Paul — here. Poynter’s Mallary Tenore put together a Storify including reactions to the news of Paul’s death.

R.I.P. former Birmingham News photographer Jeff Roberts

Photographer Jeff Roberts — best-known, perhaps, for this stunning page-one picture of a woman comforting her grandchildren after tornadoes in Concord, Ala., last year…

…passed away Tuesday after a months-long fight with cancer. He was 51.

His former colleague John Archibald writes about him:

Roberts — Jeff — no longer worked at the News. He was part of the group laid off in the paper’s transition to digital. He became ill shortly after learning the news.

But last year was an amazing one for Jeff. His tornado coverage and photo of Faye Hyde and her grandchildren, huddled on an old mattress amid the devastation of Concord, landed in newspapers from London to New York, in Time magazine and on the cover of a book.

It won him praise among his peers and photojournalism honors. It was his brightest moment as a photographer.

Jeff’s longtime boss — Walt Stricklin, who was also laid off as director of photography from the News — writes today on Facebook:

Jeff Roberts died this morning and the world lost a kind and gentle soul. As a photojournalist Jeff was always a friend first. When he was caught in the April tornados and survived, his first instinct was to get help for the community. He called 911, checked to see that the people nearby were okay and only then started shooting pictures. His image of the grandmother on her knees hugging her grand children is one of the most iconic tornado images I have ever seen. God rest your soul Jeff, you will be missed.

That photo won first place in spot news in last year’s Southern Newspaper Publishers Association Photo of the Year contest.

In addition, the Associated Press Media Editors named it AP Member Showcase Photo of the Year.

In this video — shot a week or so after the storms — he explained how he shot his hometown that day.

Jeff leaves behind his mother and father, a sister and a niece. According to his official obituary:

Visitation will be held at Patterson – Forrest Grove Funeral Home on Saturday, November 17th at 10:00am followed by a memorial service at 11:00 am.

Read John Archibald’s story about Jeff here.

R.I.P. longtime Wisconsin-based sports copy editor Brent Engh

Brent Engh of the Janesville Gazette passed away suddenly on Saturday, reportedly from a heart attack. He was 49.

Brent spent several years on the sports copy desk of the Capital Times of Madison, Wis. Gazette editor Scott Angus tells us:

He hadn’t been feeling well and called in sick for his shift Saturday night. We’re still waiting for obituary information or other details.

Brent had worked for us for about 3 1/2 years. He had taken a buyout from the Capital Times, and we had a need because one of our sports employees was battling cancer. Brent worked part time for a few months and then came on full time about three years ago. He mostly did page design and copy editing in sports.

Brent lived in Oregon near Madison and was a quiet guy, so none of us got to know him too well over the years. He has a wife and two college-aged children.

UPDATE – 3:30 p.m. ET

Brent’s friend from La Crosse writes to clarify:

Brent has three children. Two are college aged.

Back to Scott’s comments…

I believe Gunderson Funeral Home in Oregon is handling arrangements, but — as I said — we haven’t seen anything yet. I’ll pass on obit info when it’s available.

He was a good guy and an excellent worker, but he was one of the quietest people I’ve ever met. He just did his job, and he did it well.

Longtime Times colleague Rob Schultz — who’s now with the Wisconsin State Journal — wrote Sunday via Facebook:

Brent was the most unflappable man I ever met. A quiet, polite, truly nice man and a strong copy editor who made me a better writer, I admired his temperament. Please say a prayer for Brent and his family.

Jane Burns — who worked with me in Des Moines and then with Brent at the Times — adds:

Brent was a sweet man whose presence on this Earth will be missed. The most mellow, even-keeled sports copy editor in the history of the world.

And his son, Cole, tweeted Sunday:

I’ve invited more comments on Brent, so I’ll add to this post as the day goes on. If you have memories or thoughts or pictures to share, please send them to me…

chuckapple [at] cox.net

…or, just add them to the comments below.

My condolences to all.

UPDATE – Tuesday, 11:45 a.m.

As promised, here’s the official obituary…

OREGON-Brent A. Engh, age 49, passed away suddenly on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012, at St. Mary’s Hospital. He was born on Aug. 2, 1963, in Viroqua, the son of Arthur and Barbara Engh. Brent graduated from LaCrosse Central High School and UW-LaCrosse. He married the former Kelly Weise on Sept. 20, 1986. Brent worked for the Capital Times, Janesville Gazette, and LaCrosse Tribune. He was an avid reader who enjoyed fishing up north at the family cabin, golf, poker, playing cards, and attending his children’s sporting events. Most of all, he enjoyed time spent with his family and friends. Brent is survived by his parents; wife, Kelly; daughters, Katie and Sara; son, Cole; sister, Kristi and Sven Medinger; eight nieces and nephews; parents-in-law, Gerald and Maureen Weise; sister-in-law, Wendy and Randy Lerum; and brothers-in-law, Tony Weise, Wade and Christine Weise, and Mike Weise. He was preceded in death by his grandparents. A Celebration of Brent’s Life will be held at GUNDERSON OREGON FUNERAL HOME, 1150 Park Street, Oregon, from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. Memorials may be directed to the family. The family wishes to extend a special thank you to St. Mary’s Emergency Room staff and cardiology staff for the special care they gave Brent.

Memorials: Memorials may be directed to the family.

Service: A Celebration of Brent’s Life will be held at GUNDERSON OREGON FUNERAL HOME, 1150 Park Street, Oregon, from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012.

Thanks to Scott Angus for passing that along…

R.I.P. Indy Star copy desk chief Roxanne Morgan

Editor Jeff Taylor and managing editor Kevin Poortinga of the Indianapolis Star sent this message out this morning to the staff there:


It’s with sadness that we say we’ve lost a longtime member of our newsroom family.

Roxanne Morgan, our copy desk chief and journalist at The Star for 31 years, passed away last night while on vacation in Nevada with her husband, Steve.

We have few details at the moment, but she began feeling ill suddenly and died after her husband took her to the hospital.

Members of Roxanne’s team frequently say she was the best boss they ever had, and it’s easy to see why, as she led by example with her superior skill, patience and calmness, even under the most intense conditions. It was common for Roxanne to put her staff’s interests above her own, in both work and personal life.  Above all, we will remember her as a compassionate, loving human being.

This is a difficult time for everyone. If anyone needs time away from work, please let us know.  Counseling is available through our employee assistance program and we can provide information as needed.

We will share details about funeral or memorial services as soon as possible.

For now, we’ll all keep Roxanne’s husband and family in our thoughts and prayers.

Jeff and Kevin

Thoughts and memories of Roxanne have been rolling in this afternoon…

Stephen Beard

Senior news artist, Indianapolis Star

In the time I worked with Rox, she was indefatigable in her copy editing work and a genuinely nice person. This is a very hard loss for us.

And if she were editing this message, I’m certain “indefatigable” would be replaced with the more sensible “tireless.”

Ryan Hildebrandt

Creative director of Gannett’s Louisville Design Studio

Former news design director at the Star

She was the calm in the storm – always on top of everything no matter what was happening. It’s impossible for me to count how many times she saved a page I was working on – not just from typos (which I undoubtedly inputted quite a few), but also by suggesting better visual threads.

Jeff Taylor said in the staff announcement ” It was common for Roxanne to put her staff’s interests above her own, in both work and personal life.”

His statement couldn’t be more accurate. Not only was she fantastic at what she did, but she had so much care and love for her staff and everyone she worked with. In an era of cutbacks and unprecedented change and uncertainty, Roxanne did everything in her power to protect the people who worked for her from feeling the effects – even if it meant more work and inconvenience for herself.

My heart goes out to her husband, her family, and her family at the Star.

Dennis Ryerson

Stepped down in June as editor of the Star

Nobody cared more about her work, and her colleagues on the desk, than did Roxanne.  She was smart, steady in the crunch, caring, and extraordinarily hard working.  She was the very example of a focus on quality.

Though I no longer work with her, I can tell you that she will be greatly missed by everybody who was fortunate to have been able to work with her.

Patti Tims

Copy editor, Virginian-Pilot

First, condolences to Roxanne’s family. I worked with Rox in the late 1990s. In addition to being talented and hardworking, she was kind.

Oh, and she loved a good time and, if memory serves, Aerosmith.

Pete Scott, a copy desk colleague of Roxanne until 2004, wrote an endorsement for her via LinkedIn, four years ago.

Roxanne Morgan is an incredibly talented editor, writer and supervisor. Her vocabulary, attention to detail, grammatical mastery and ability to apply creative twists to dry content are unmatched. As a supervisor, she leads by example with relentless work ethic, and she shows compassion and encouragement often missing in highly charged newsrooms. You will not find a better editor or supervisor. This is not social-networking hyperbole — this is the truth.

I’ve sent out requests for more. If you have thoughts — or any photos — to share, please send them along. I’ll post them here.

R.I.P. illustrator, art director, teacher Jeannie Grand

Visual journalism suffered another loss this weekend. Jeannie Grand — former columnist, illustrator and art director for the Daily Breeze in Torrance, Calif. — has passed away after a long illness.

From Jeannie’s Facebook page.

Randy Stano — former president of the Society for News Design and currently a professor at the University of Miami — tells us Jeannie was a regular participant and attendee at visual journalism sessions at Poynter and SND in the 1980s and 90s.

Once she left the Breeze, Randy says, Jeannie freelanced and taught at Brooks College in Long Beach:

Jeannie has continued to live in Manhattan Beach. She had a wonderful home a few blocks off the Beach and Strand. I really enjoyed my visits to see her because of our deep friendship. We would sit on her front courtyard and enjoy the ocean breezes while watching the flowers grow. She had a wonderful window on the second floor with a sitting bench. I really enjoyed sitting in to look down the street at the ocean and sunsets.

My visits to Jeannie’s home was always a treat and a place to clear my head and to do some thinking. She had a wonderful personality and was always trying to come up with the latest or most creative color schemes or type use. We would spend hours talking design and not business, which was great.

Famed news design consultant Mario Garcia tells us:

We are all so sorry.

I met Jeannie over 20 years ago when I went to redesign The Morning Breeze, of Torrance, California, where she was the art director. It was love at first sight.

Her humor, spirit and talent were incredible.

Her father had been a dean of architecture at University of Florida, which is where she got those artistic genes: in addition to publication design, Jeannie was an artist and illustrator, and creator of such characters as Uncle Fishhead, a recurring personage that she would amuse all of us with at different times of the year, including the famous and legendary Uncle Fishhead Christmas Cards.

We’ll get back to the curious Uncle Fishhead in a few minutes. Back to Mario’s note:

Jeannie had lived in California a long time, but she was definitely a Florida girl, true and true, and, in fact, I understand that her ashes will be spread over Saint Augustine, Florida.

Mario and Randy put me in touch with Jeannie’s niece, Alexandra Smith, who took the time Sunday to put a little perspective for us onto the life, family, career and talent of her wonderful aunt.

Alex writes:

Thank you for your interest in and friendship with my aunt. She was incredibly special to my mother (her sister) and me, and even though we had been anticipating this for some months now, it is never easy to take.

Since it just happened [Saturday], we have not [yet] attended to an obituary or what we are going to do, vis-à-vis services. When that happens, I will let you know.

Jeannie was born on October 7, 1944 in Upland, Calif., to Winifred Metcalfe and John Louis Rochon Grand, more familiarly known as Tom. Tom was a teacher at the University of Florida, Gainesville. He taught architecture. Wini was a longtime teacher and ended her career at Gainesville High School. Her mother was also a teacher and the Metcalfe School, which still exists in Gainesville today, was named for Jeannie’s grandmother.

One of Wini’s favorite sayings about Jeannie was that when she grew up she was going to have three children named “Mama Look!”  “Me First,” and “Maybe it’s broken.”


Jeannie was a great raconteur and a lot of fun from the time she was a child. She also had a penchant for doing devilish things, but in the best way, of course. My mother loves the story of Jeannie coming home from school and picking up an egg and saying to them all, “Do you know if you squeeze an egg just like this it won’t break?” Wini told her to stop, but Jeannie was held by her conviction of what she had learned in science class. My mother remembers to this day Jeannie picking up the egg, squeezing it, and it breaking all over the floor.

Jeannie attended the University of Florida, Gainesville and became both a Tri-Delt and an SAE little sister. We just found her report cards and while she failed PE (more because of faulty attendance) and didn’t excel at biology, she got A’s in art and English, particularly in children’s literature. In fact, Jeannie’s love for children’s literature remained throughout her life.  She has an extensive collection of children’s books, her favorites including anything that was illustrated by Barry Moser, Animalia, Scott Gustafson‘s works, and Chris Allsburg‘s The Z was Zapped. She had always wanted to do that herself, I think, but assumed that it was too difficult a market to enter.

She also became a rabid Gator fan at U of F.  She loved [Steve] Spurrier, hated [Ron] Zook, and was a fan of [Urban] Meyer until he had a nervous breakdown and left for Ohio.

After college, Jeannie worked as a teacher on a houseboat in Coral Gables. One of my favorite stories of this time was when she talked about this other teacher who was very, um, endowed in her chest. They were talking about things that each of them could do that were unusual and the other teacher, said, “Watch this!” She then proceeded to twirl her boobs each in the opposite direction of one another like a circus act.

My aunt was amazed. But that isn’t the best part. Minutes later, after the woman had finished her parlor trick and my aunt had expressed her…admiration?… a little boy named Malcolm walked over to them sitting on the bench, took his index finger and poked deep into the woman’s breast, his eyes widening. Jeannie says she just lost it, fell off the bench laughing, and suspects that Malcolm became a Breast Man from that day forward.

Alexandra tells us: “This was Jeannie’s favorite

photo of herself. The bullets around her belt had

real gunpowder in them.”

During this time she also dated a man named Roger, who was very handsome. They went to a party to a house of a woman who had a crush on Roger and wanted to steal him away from Jeannie. When she gave the two of them a tour, she told them that she had llamas. Jeannie, who has always loved animals, wanted to see them. So the woman showed them her llamas and then said that she particularly loved to ride them.

Jeannie’s eyes opened wide and she said, “You can ride llamas? I want to ride one!”

So the woman said, “Oh, I will give you Winkie. He’s the nice one.”

She put Jeannie barebacked on Winkie and slapped the llama full force.

It turned out that Winkie was not the nice one and that when you ride llamas you need a saddle and reins like when you ride a horse. Winkie took off running in a wild frenzy, and catapulted Jeannie off in front of her before trotting over Jeannie and running over her.

When I had chicken pox at the age of eight, Jeannie took care of me, because my mother had never had them.  I assumed I was dying I was so sick, but when Jeannie told me this story, it was one of the most fabulous moments and I told her she saved my life.

After working on the houseboat, Jeannie got a job at the Miami News. She lived in Miami until I was about six years old, so that would have been January 1979, when my mother got a divorce and Jeannie moved out to California to be near us. I hadn’t really known her until then. She stayed with us for a short time before finding an apartment, and while she was great at many things, cleaning was not one of them.

She got a job with the Daily Breeze writing…

A couple of Jeannie’s articles from that period. Click either for a readable view:


…until she was eventually moved into graphic design where she served as graphics editor.  She participated in the redesign of the whole newspaper and ultimately created the Rave! section. Her design still stands today.

I know this was one of the happiest times of her life. She met many people — John Bogert, Charlie Britton, Robert Cassilas, Brad Graverson, Tim Scoggins, Randy Stano, Mario Garcia, the list goes on—who would become lifelong friends.

A sampling of Jeannie’s work from the Daily Breeze:



During this time she also got to participate in stories that brought her into contact with luminary personalities such as Edith Head. Her Twin Peaks page earned Jeannie a fan letter from then ABC-president, now Disney-CEO, Bob Iger.

By far her favorite, however, was this “Care and Feeding of Dragons” page:

As the newspaper industry started to collapse, Jeannie took the buyout when the Breeze reduced its workforce. She then taught Graphic Design at Brooks College in Long Beach until its own demise.

Always a Jimmy Buffet fan, she was quite taken with his song I’m growing older but not up. This should have been her anthem. Jeannie had the heart and wonder of a child and loved toys and all things reminiscent of childhood. In the 1980’s, at a birthday party for my godmother’s mother, Jeanette Harp, Jeannie became the founder and charter member of the Not-Ready-To-Grow-Up Club.  Initiation rites were held by the presentation to the new member of a fairy wand.

Jeannie and Jeanette Harp

One day her friend and neighbor Maryanne overheard a little boy say really loudly, “Mama says we can’t call him Uncle Fishhead anymore!” Jeannie absolutely loved this story, and thus the character of Uncle Fishhead was born. She created many incarnations of him in her Christmas cards over the years.


My personal favorite was the one that she did when she had her hip replaced and she envisioned Uncle Fishhead with his own hip replacement, but in his case it was done with a tinker-toy.

Jeannie had a website with a sampling of her many works including more Uncle Fishheads, which you can see here.

In April of this year, Jeannie was admitted to Little Company of Mary hospital in Torrance, CA, for heart bypass surgery. She had a septuple bypass during which she suffered from complications. Although she survived these, in the aftermath she developed an antibiotic-resistant infection called Klebsiella pneumoniae. Although she fought very long and hard for four months, ultimately the infection was too much for her.

What really struck both my mother and I during this time was the outpouring of affection and help on the part of all of her many friends from all over the globe.

We intend to host a celebration of her life here in Manhattan Beach at some point in the next few weeks, and then we will fly her ashes to St. Augustine where she and her sister used to play as children and hold a service for the Florida contingent while we send her off to sea.

Thanks so much to Alexandra for sharing her memories of her aunt.

Do you have memories of Jeannie Grand you’d like to share. Please feel free to comment or to send your thoughts to me via email.

Former Maine newspaper designer found dead

Adrianne Robert — a former page designer for the Lewiston, Maine, Sun Journal — was found dead in her home in Florida Saturday, newspaper reports say.

Adrianne’s roommate found her around 3:30 a.m. yesterday, reports Dan Sullivan of the Tampa Bay Times.

The nature of the young woman’s death remained unclear Saturday and sheriff’s officials released few details. Crime scene tape blocked a sidewalk leading to Robert’s apartment Saturday afternoon as technicians processed the scene. Authorities also taped off a car port designated for her car.

Detectives were working to piece together a timeline of the events before Robert’s death, officials said. No other information was immediately released.

Robert had lived in Florida since 2007 when she moved from her native Maine, her family said.

The Sun Journal‘s Scott Taylor reports:

She got her start as a graphic designer at the Sun Journal, working as a page designer from May 2004 through March 2007.

“She had everything we needed for the job, and she was really good at it,” said Peter Phelan, managing editor/nights at the Sun Journal, who hired Robert. “Everyone liked her, liked having her around the office. She was very lively and volunteered to help anybody out.”

Nick Masuda — who spent a year as the Sun Journal‘s managing editor for visuals and sports — wrote via Facebook last night:

In absolute shock right now. I supervised Adrianne at the Sun Journal and she was one of the sweetest people I have ever known. Wow.

Adrianne spent nearly three years at the Sun Journal, some of that while studying at the University of Maine. A couple of samples of her work there:


She moved to Florida five years ago to become art director of VS Publishing. She subsequently worked as a marketing analyst and designer for Monas Granola, an e-commerce marketing manager and designer for Hilton’s St. Pete Carillon Park hotel and director of marketing and catering for the Holiday Inn at Clearwater airport. She earned her bachelor’s degree in marketing and hospitality management last year from the University of South Florida.

Lately, Adrianne was working as creative marketing manager for H.I. Development, a marketer for local resorts and as art director for the Uptown Tampa District Council. She did freelance work on the side via her the company she co-founder, Splatter Concepts.

Find Adrianne’s web site here.