My College Media Convention slideshows

For those of you who are attending my sessions at today’s ACP/CMA National College Media Convention in Austin, Texas: Here are links to the slideshows used in today’s sessions:


9 a.m.: Graphics for Word People

12:30 p.m.: Alternative Story Forms

3:30 p.m.: Scrounging for Fun and Profit

Thanks for attending!

Why I went to Fargo in February… and why I loved it

In the years since I left the cold, cold north — we moved out of Iowa back in 2003 — I’ve managed to throw out most of my warm clothes. No sweaters. No hats or heavy jackets. My snow boots dry-rotted years ago.

For the past 12 years, I’ve enjoyed living in relatively balmy Virginia Beach, Orange County and, now, South Texas. And, to give me some credit, I agreed to this teaching + consulting trip to Fargo, N.D., last fall, when I was toasty warm in Southern California. I just assumed I’d be able to deal with whatever mother nature threw at me.

So it was with a bit of alarm that I watched the extended forecast roll in the week before I left.


That showed a full week below freezing and lows, four out of six nights, below zero. What it doesn’t show is the wind chill. And it’s very windy in Fargo, this time of year. This screen snapshot from my phone the day I departed showed a wind chill factor of minus 40.


Minus 40. Wow.

In fact, it was closer to minus 30 when I arrived last Sunday night. Obviously, I survived.


I took my thickest coat — which really isn’t all that thick — my one pair of gloves and the wonderful scarf that was a gift from my friends in South Africa. I left my usual Hawaiian-themed shirts at home and took the warmest clothes I could find in my closet. I have a limited number of long-sleeved shirts. I took all but two with me.

The hospitality I received from my new friends at the Forum of Fargo/Moorehead was just wonderful. Editor Matt Von Pinnon met me at the airport with two things: A sign, made by his daughter…


…and a knit stocking cap. Which I didn’t actually use all week long. But Matt was afraid I’d hurt my ears walking around in the cold.

I arrived at my hotel — the Radisson, in downtown Fargo — just early enough to glimpse the area in the fading sunlight.


It looked cold outside and it was. My hotel was, in fact, the tallest building in town. This is what it looked like, later in the week.


I was on the sixth floor and I was never really uncomfortable at any time… as long as I was inside. The folks there know that, when you walk in, you’ll be awfully chilly. So they have this fire-burning heater set in the wall by the front door.


I’d walk downstairs to find folks crowded around that thing, trying to thaw out their fingers.

Bright and early Monday, I had breakfast in the in-house restaurant on the second floor of the Radisson, from which I had a clear view of the Forum Communications building.


That shows how far I had to walk in the frigid air every morning: Exactly one block. It took me maybe a minute.

Every day at 9 a.m. or so, I’d walk in the front door…


…receive a friendly greeting from both the receptionist and from this bronze kid hawking newspapers…


…and ride up the elevator to the newsroom, where they hold the morning news huddle every day at 9:15.


Interestingly, they begin every morning huddle with a trivia quiz by Jack Zaleski, the editorial page editor sitting here to the right of Matt.


Jack would read off five questions. Folks would write down their guesses on the back of their daily budgets and then compare their answers to Jack’s answers after the meeting.

I managed to hit five out of five on Tuesday. Which kind of made up for my dismal performances on the other days.

On Monday, we hooked up my laptop to the brand-new oversized newsroom flatscreen — They used my visit as an excuse to upgrade, I was told — and I gave an updated version of my Graphics for Word People talk and a presentation on basic charting.


One of the things that delighted me about this trip was how quickly and how enthusiastically the staff of the Forum picked up on the lessons I bought them. We spent some time Monday looking at spectacular pages built by papers around the world, blowing most of the stories off page one — when the news merited it, of course.

That very afternoon, we discussed how to present the story about a hotly contested runoff election. Was a boxing metaphor appropriate? Yes it was. So I fished out of my hard drive a few Chris Morris illustrations from a while back and showed them to the Forum‘s super-terrific artist, Troy Becker.

Troy put his own spin on the idea and turned Tuesday’s front page into an entire boxing poster.


Holy cow. It happened so fast that it really caught me off guard. That suggested these folks were really, really hungry for inspiration.

We also spent a lot of time talking about alternative approaches and things like quick-and-easy “big numbers” graphics. The Forum‘s design director, Jason Miller


decided this was the way to go for Wednesday’s paper. And darned if he didn’t knock it out of the park.


He even sampled the red color out of the photo, to help the centerpiece hold together.

Later in the week, we talked about skyboxes. Most newspapers build boring, ordinary skyboxes that aren’t very effective at catching anyone’s eye. Which, of course, defeats the purpose of a skybox in the first place. We talked about how skyboxes need to be selected more wisely, cropped better, constructed more effectively and written in a more snappy manner.

And occasionally, maybe — just maybe — a skybox might interact with the paper’s nameplate. We looked at a lot of examples of cool, eyecatching skyboxes. Everyone seemed to appreciate the session.

So, for Thursday’s paper, Troy illustrated the front of the daily features section…


…and they decided they wanted to put this in the skybox. Troy’s artwork converted nicely for a fun piece of art. But that day, the staff went a step further when Troy suggested this catchy headline:


So by midweek, I was completely knocked out by what the Forum staff was doing with the topics were were covering each day.

On Wednesday, however, we changed everything up. Forum Communications owns dozens of other papers around the region, including maybe 12 or 15 dailies. The ownership had asked all the other dailies if they wanted to attend a few sessions. I’m told they expected maybe a handful of additional people to show up. Instead, we had 45 or 50 responses.

This was too many people to see my presentations on the new widescreen and it was too many people to stuff into the largest conference room in the building. So for the first time in my life, I got to play Broadway.


In order to get there from the hotel, I had to walk a block in the opposite direction from the newspaper, turn left and then walk another block. The meeting place was then directly across the street.

We met in a little building that held a coffee shop, an art studio and a marketing firm. In the back of the building was a cute little venue called Studio 222. The operator, Spider Johnk rents it out for speeches, concerts and whatnot.


In fact, I had to giggle when I saw myself listed on their calendar.


Every Friday night, Spider’s Studio 222 hosts a live jazz show. So the place had a basement jazz club kind of feel to it, including vintage advertising-type art.


Naturally, I had to introduce myself to the gorgeous lady on the wall.


Find Studio 222’s web site here and its Facebook page here.

Folks from all over the chain came to see my presentations. On a few occasions, folks from the Forum staff came over too, packing the place pretty tightly.


Over the course of Wednesday and Thursday, I gave eight presentations there at Studio 222. I spoke on the aforementioned Skybox design and proactivity for visual journalists. I spoke on breaking news visuals and showed sketches from the old days when I covered plane crashes and shooting sprees.


I spoke on alternative story forms and techniques for scrounging when centerpiece art is scarce. And, of course, I gave my old Art of Being Brilliant motivational talk. I hadn’t done that one in a while.


And I showed folks some material I’ve not shown in a long, long time. I was especially delighted with this picture — one of the best ever taken of me teaching.


One staffer tweeted this really awesome quote — one so awesome I don’t even remember saying it.


Turns out, I was talking about the complicated blends in the water in that battleship graphic from 1995. The folks at Adobe told me the water was clearly drawn in photoshop and then placed as an eps image. But no, it was all vector blends. I don’t think they believed me until we sent them a copy of the graphic on a syquest disc.

The folks in Fargo me me feel like such a rock star. I just hope I made last week’s shows worth their time.

And, on occasion, I learned something new myself. I knew it was possible to create artwork on an iPad, but I hadn’t seen anyone actually do it until Friday, when Troy Becker showed me his cartoon work.


Troy creates two cartoons a week for the Forum‘s sports section. He uses his iPad, a stylus and an application called Sketches.


The pro edition of Sketches costs $4.99. Plus, you could pay an additional $1.99 for “more tools.” And then $1.99 for a layers version. And then $1.99 for a version enabled for use with a stylus.

So the outlay would could be as much as eleven bucks, depending on how you need to configure your app. But you get so much function for this. Note the various pen tools on the left side of Troy’s screen.


This photo looks pretty rough, but the actual artwork on Troy’s Retina screen was perfect.


Troy then uses the various pens and whatnot to trace directly over his pencil sketch. A wide variety of textures and effects are literally at his fingertips.


Once the drawing is done, he fills in the image with, y’know, 50 shades of grey. Or maybe just three or four shades of grey.


He moves the result over to his computer, where he adds the text…


…which, I might add, is made from his own handwriting.

Very cool.

So as I was wrapping up and saying my goodbyes Friday afternoon, I found this little gem on Twitter.


Not only did they decide to put Leonard Nimoy in the Skybox for Saturday’s paper, they had Spock’s Vulcan salute take the place of the “u” in Forum. I couldn’t get over how well this fulfilled the challenges I laid out for them in Wednesday’s session on skyboxes.

Jason told me that he designed the thing but then turned it over to designer Alicia Strnad — a comics and sci-fi fan — to write the actual text.


Alicia came up with that particular quote from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

I was so thrilled. What a great week it had been. In addition, Jason built a huge page-one bar chart for Saturday’s page one and another one for Sunday’s metro front.

I got up mighty early Saturday and took the shuttle to the airport long before dawn. The sun came up as we were sitting on the tarmac, waiting for our plane to be de-iced.


The window was too fogged to see it clearly. But Saturday’s dawn was certainly colorful enough.

I flew to O’Hare and then to Austin, retrieved my car and then drove the two hours home to Victoria. Where I was delighted to discover that a) My cats were just fine, b) My daughter didn’t host a party in my absence, and c) My own paper, the Victoria Advocate, looked pretty good during my absence.

So it was a wonderful week in Fargo. Just fantastic.

A quarter-century ago, my side career as an instructor began

Twenty-five years ago today, I departed for my first big visual journalism teaching assignment: A one-week gig at the Echo in Sunderland, England.

Somewhere in storage, I have two scrapbooks full of pictures and memories of that trip. I sure wish I had access to that now. I don’t, though, so I have no real visuals at all for this story — other than this one, of me teaching.


Wow. I wore a tie then.

Wow. I wore sweaters then.

Wow. I had hair then.

How did it happen that a young guy like me got such a sweet gig? It was a total fluke.

In September 1989, three representatives of the Echo came to the U.S. to pick up a marketing award their paper had won. While they were here, they took the opportunity to visit a number of newspapers to see how newsrooms were using those newfangled Macintosh computers. They had bought one for their own paper, but hardly anyone was using it. Just to build borders for ads, I was told.

At some point, the three of them ended up in the Charlotte area to take in a NASCAR race. They stayed at the lake house owned by Wayne Patrick, publisher of the Herald of Rock Hill, S.C. Wayne asked them how their journey was going and they complained that they really hadn’t been able to spend much time with actual Macintosh users at the big papers they had visited.

Wayne told them: Well, hey, we have a guy at our paper who’s pretty good on an Apple computer. His name is even “Apple.” Come by the paper Friday and you can spend as much time as you like watching him work.

So that’s how I got blindsided on a very busy Friday-before-Labor-Day-weekend with these three English newspaper guys who wanted to shadow me.

Sigh. Whatever, y’know?

I started plowing through my stack of holiday assignments, explaining each step of the way what I was doing. The three gentlemen took careful notes and asked really good questions. After a while, several things became clear:

  1. The artists back in England really weren’t using the kinds of software they needed to do the kind of work the management expected. In addition to MacDraw, they’d need Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop and Aldus Freehand.
  2. The little Macintosh in their department wasn’t nearly robust enough to get the job done. They’d need a bigger Mac with more memory and a much, much bigger screen. Plus, a scanner.
  3. And they really needed someone to demonstrate not just what but how to use a Mac in their daily duties.

They asked me: How would you like to come to England and teach our people how to use an Apple Mac?

I just laughed. Yeah, right. I had spoken to a couple of college and high school classes, but I had never taught before in my life. These guys couldn’t possibly be serious.

The English folks departed and I forgot all about them. Until a few weeks later, when they contacted Wayne to set up my trip.

Egads! I didn’t even have a passport! I had to take a day off and drive to Anderson to pick up a copy of my birth certificate.  Then, my mom — a postmaster — expedited my passport application through the office of her pal, Sen. Strom Thurmond.

Just a few weeks before I was scheduled to depart, Hurricane Hugo ripped through the area. I was immersed in aftermath graphics: How a hurricane destroys a house, parts of our county that still didn’t have power.


I was awfully worried about jet lag. I had been told it would take me days to recover from my trip. After studying the issue for a while, I decided to shift my hours before I departed. Each day I got up a half-hour earlier and tried to go to sleep a half-hour earlier. I did this for about two weeks. By the time it came for me to leave, I had matched my own schedule to the time zone I’d be visiting.

This worked out well — so well, in fact, that I did the same thing for every trip I took to Africa from 2009 to 2012. Time-shifting is a pain in the ass. But take it from me: It works.

Finally, the day came to depart. I had flown only twice in my life: To Tampa and back to attend an infographics session earlier that year at the Poynter Institute. Now, I was to fly direct from Charlotte to London’s Gatwick airport. And I was terrified.

I didn’t sleep much on that flight, so I was pretty wired when I got there. The Echo‘s advertising director met me at the airport. We had train tickets to take us to the northern part of England later that evening, so we checked my bags into a locker at the train station and we took a double-decker bus tour of London.

After lunch, my host told me we had just a few hours before departure. Just enough time to do maybe one thing. What would I like to see? I chose Westminster Abbey.


So we took a guided tour of Westminster Abbey, which I enjoyed very much.

I didn’t sleep on the train as much as I passed out from exhaustion. We pulled into our station in Durham quite late. My host delivered me to my hotel: Lumley Castle, a 700-year-old castle near Chester-le-Street that had been converted into a hotel.


They had me booked into one of the VIP rooms in the original part of the building. The ceilings were low and the winding stone staircases were impossibly narrow. What an adventure!

Every morning, a waiter would bring a wonderful, hot English-style breakfast to my room. They’d also drop off a newspaper. I asked for an Echo plus a different newspaper each day so I could sample them all.

On my second Saturday night, the man at the desk asked: “You’ll be wanting a Sunday Sport, then?”

A whole paper devoted to sports? Are you kidding me? Sure, I want a Sunday Sport!

Imagine the look on my face Sunday morning when I opened my door, picked up the Sunday Sport and discovered that the Sunday Sport is actually a pornography newspaper. It’s all topless women and stories about sex.


The deal was that I taught for five days during the week. In the evenings, they took me out to do something interesting. On the weekends, they took me sightseeing. In addition to Westminster Abbey, I got to tour the gorgeous cathedral in Durham…


…the beautiful city of Newcastle (as in: “Coals to Newcastle”) and they took me out to see Hadrian’s Wall.


One night, we went down to the docks so I could have fish n’ chips in their natural environment: We sprinkled salt and vinegar on them and ate them from newspapers rolled up into cones.

Another night, the publisher and the editor took me to a nationally-televised championship boxing match starring the local hero, Billy Hardy.

Bantamweight champion Billy Hardy.

We had ringside seats — so close that as the boxers got punched, their sweat flew off of them and splattered us. Ew.

We sat though a number of preliminary bouts but when the time came for the headline of the night, an official climbed into the ring, picked up the microphone and asked for everyone to quickly leave the building. Without panic, everyone got up from their seats and filed out of the exits.

The publisher went over and checked with the official: It was a bomb threat from the IRA. We, too, walked out of the nearest fire exit and milled around for a good 15 or 20 minutes. When the all-clear was given, everyone queued up into straight lines and marched back to their seats. The emergency doors shut, the lights came back up, the TV cameras came on again and they literally picked up where they had left off.

I was stunned. Does this happen a lot? Isn’t this big news?

Yes, it happens from time to time, I was told. But no, we never report it and we never explain to the TV audience. That’s just what the IRA wants: Publicity.

Finally, the big match began. Billy Hardy punched the lights out on his opponent about 40 seconds or so into the first round. My hosts, who had hoped for a hard-fought, exciting marathon match were disappointed.

I was delighted: I hate boxing!

We had a Sunday dinner one day in an English pub. I had roast beef, as I recall. The English seem very self-conscious about their food. I loved it.

The classes went well, too. The paper rented a half-dozen or so top-of-the-line Macs with 20-inch color monitors and all the RAM and software that I used back home. The computer dealer who rented the equipment to them gave them a special deal if they could come in and videotape this “Mr. Apple” who was coming to teach.

Sure, they were told. Come on in.

So I showed up at work on the first day to find a line of dignitaries from the local computer dealer eager to shake my hand and welcome me to their area. You should have seen the looks on their faces when they discovered I was just a 27-year-old kid who drew locator maps and bar charts for a tiny paper in South Carolina!

They filmed for a few minutes, quietly packed up their cameras and lights and sadly slipped out. I never saw them again.

I worked with five or six artists. There really wasn’t a such thing as a news artist there — the artists all handled advertising, marketing and news assignments. They knew coming in that I had primarily a news background and that I’d be teaching from a news point of view.

This must have been Wednesday. I was showing them
the power of illustrating in Freeland. On the screen
is a drawing I had done for the Herald for a story
on comedy clubs.

Each day, we started out by booting up a software package. They’d watch as I ran through the basics of how to use the application and I’d zip out a piece or two for them. In the afternoons, they each would then try to work on sample projects. Occasionally, one or two of them would try to do a live project that would actually see print later.

We used MacDraw II, Illustrator, Photoshop and Freehand. By the end of the week, they knew the basics of each application, what each could be used for and they knew enough so they could begin groping around to discover things on their own. I showed them how to scan and trace sketches or maps. We didn’t cover too much journalism, though, like I do in my classes these days. We just talked software.

Finally, the week came to a close. I was given a second week of sightseeing. Early Monday morning, I was put on a plane to fly back to Gatwick where I’d enjoy a brief layover before my plane departed for Charlotte.

Naturally, I didn’t try to time-shift my schedule back the other way to go home. So when I arrived back in Rock Hill, I was pretty well burned out. It took me the better part of a week to sleep it all off. Luckily, my colleagues at the Herald were awfully understanding.

It wasn’t until I got back that I realized it had never rained on me in England. Sharon had gone to the Burlington Coat Factory Outlet to buy me a new London Fog-brand trenchcoat for my trip, but I had never gotten it wet.

The trip had gone well and the classes had gone well. But I was acutely aware that I wasn’t a trained speaker, nor did I feel I was particularly good at it. I made the odd classroom visit from time to time, but I didn’t perform another formal teaching assignment until 11 years later, when I was asked to speak at a Society for News Design Quickcourse in Rockford, Ill., in April 2000.

That one went well — really really well, in fact. On the basis of that gig, Bill Dunn asked me to speak at the big SND annual workshop that fall in Minneapolis. I don’t know how many people attended my session there, but there were 200 seats in my room — I know because I counted them before hand — and I ended up with a standing-room-only crowd.

After that, my dance card got really busy. I did lots of workshops, big and small: Several SND Quickcourses. SND annual workshops in Orlando and St. Louis. The Iowa High School Press Association. Series of assignments for the Pennsylvania Press Association and the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association.

I finally scored another overseas assignment when I taught in the Philippines in 2007 along with Tonia Cowan, Peter Ong and Kris Visselman.

Teaching in Manila for IFRA, 2007.

I made my first trip to South Africa in 2009 for a two-week workshop. That gig was extended to a third week and then that client asked me to come back for two more months. In 2010, they hired me to consult for them for five months.

Teaching in Abuja, Nigeria, 2012.

I also took on two-week teaching assignments in Kenya and Nigeria. I was asked a number of times to teach in Egypt, but we could never work out the details.

Twenty-three years after my week in Lumley Castle, I spent
two weeks in the Hotel Stanley in downtown Nairobi, Kenya.
On the wall of the old Exchange bar I found this old drawing
of Lumley. Go figure.

I rarely teach these days. I’m happy to when I’m asked, but hardly anyone asks. I presume this is because most newspapers have slashed their training budgets.

Speaking at the Villages Daily Sun in Florida in June 2014.

Still, I was happy and honored to work as a teacher and consultant as long as I was needed and as long as clients found me useful.

I’ll always fondly remember that first assignment.

Words to live by from Gannett’s Tim Frank

OK, folks: Today is arts-and-crafts day.

I have a little project for you. You’ll need:

  1. A printer (preferably a color printer)
  2. Some paper for that printer (of course) and…
  3. A roll of tape.

All set? Great.

Step one: Click on this blue box. Click on it again to make it as big as possible.


Step two: Print it out on your color printer. You might need to save the JPG file to your hard drive. If so, that’s OK.

(Or, better yet, just download a PDF version here.)

Step three: Use the roll of tape to post a copy of this in your cubicle. And in your newsroom. And in the rest rooms. And, if you’re feeling adventurous, outside your boss’s office.

And wherever else you feel it should be posted. Because this is the kind of thing we all need to be using for inspiration these days. The fact that we don’t do this, in fact, is one of the reasons our industry is in the mess it’s in.

This quote comes from a brief Q&A posted this morning at the Society for News Design web site. Tim Frank — longtime visuals leader, director of the Gannett Design Studio in Asbury Park and founder of NewsPageDesigner — will be a speaker at next month’s SND workshop in Louisville, Ky.


Q: What topic will you be speaking on at SND LOU?

A: Your best ideas only count if you can get them produced. I’ll be talking about how to sell your ideas. If you’re not scaring your boss, you aren’t trying hard enough.

If you couldn’t think of a reason for attending SND this year — well, there you go. You gotta hear Tim’s presentation. Period.

Extra brownie points to the enterprising young person who gives out buttons at the workshop next month with that quote on it.

Read more about SND/LOU — to be held Nov. 7-9 — here.

Use your day off this weekend to register for SND/Louisville

Are you planning to go to this year’s SND annual workshop, Nov. 7-9 in Louisville, Ky.?

Are you hoping to go to this year’s SND annual workshop, Nov. 7-9 in Louisville, Ky.?


Here’s a heads up for you: The price increases on Tuesday. So now is a great, great time to register.

  • The price is $345 if you’re an SND membrer and $445 if you’re not. It’s only $220 if you’re a student or professor. Go here to register.
  • Rooms are still available for $125 a night — pretty cheap, compared to prices at some of the other workshops over the past decade or so. Reserve a room here.
  • The list of speakers is very impressive: Steve Duenes, graphics director of the New York Times. Michael Whitley, assistant managing editor of the Los Angeles Times. Joey Marburger, mobile design director of the Washington Post. Tim Frank, director of the Gannett Design Studio at Asbury Park and founder of NewsPageDesigner. Alberto Cairo, professor at the University of Miami and author of the Functional Art. Folks from the Boston Globe will talk about coverage of the marathon bombings. Folks from the Onion will talk about… well, whatever.

And that’s just a start. the folks at SNDLOU are saying they have even more amazing announcements coming up this week.

Sounds like this year’s workshop is a must-see. If any of this interests you at all, you might want to sign up now and save a few bucks.

Find the SNDLOU web site here. Find the workshop’s Twitter feed here.

The Twitter hashtag for this year’s workshop: #sndlou

A report on Saturday’s O.C. Register ‘Graphics Garage’ workshop

Saturday was a big day for me here in Southern California. Not only did my wife and daughter leave for home after a six-week summer visit, but also my newspaper — the Orange County Register — hosted a full-day “Graphics Garage” workshop for the community.

This was basically like one of the old Society for News Design quickcourses, but aimed at the community, as opposed to just visual journalists. The idea is that there are individuals and small companies out there that might need help with things like print and web design, photoshop, illustration, ad design and visual thinking. So the Register pulled together some of its best visuals folks and had them teach sessions throughout the day.

The event was organized by the Register‘s senior graphics guru Jeff Goertzen and, yes, run in partnership with the Society for News Design.

My own assignment was to give a morning slideshow lecture on basic charting and to serve as the event’s publicist by tweeting pictures. As a result, I have a bunch of pictures to share with you.

Our venue for the day was Hoiles Auditorium, on the first floor of the Orange County Register building here in Santa Ana, Calif.


Hoiles has a capacity of maybe 100 people. Meaning you could fit about 53 of them into the Royal Albert Hall in London.


Now you know how many Hoiles it takes to fill the Albert Hall.

By 8 a.m., folks were beginning to show up.


Nearly 40 people preregistered. We had a few walk-ins, but not many.


We had stacks of papers, of course, to give out to anyone who wanted one. What we discovered was that many of the attendees are subscribers, so they had already seen the Saturday paper.


We also had munchies, bottled water and coffee available for our guests. This cool banner Jeff designed greeted everyone.


As we waited for folks to arrive, Jeff clowned around with cartoonist, illustrator and graphics guy Kurt Snibbe.


Kurt worked at the Register for several years before leaving for a staff position at ESPN. However, he was then a victim of a large staff layoff a couple of months ago. Kurt’s been working with us ever since on a contract basis. Find his Twitter feed here.

He’s built two Focus pages for me over the past few weeks and has yet another one coming up this Wednesday. So obviously, Kurt’s my new best friend.

I was delighted to find Shraddha Swaroop working the front desk.


We used to work together at the Virginian-Pilot. She left to work for the Los Angeles Times, Variety and a few other places here in Southern California. She’s currently a freelance print and digital designer and social media coach and is based in Huntington Beach. Find her Twitter feed here.

Folks milled around, waiting for the presentations to begin. Staffers mingled. We love to meet readers. Especially ones who love to meet us.


Yes, we had wifi service throughout the building.


Finally, 9 o’clock rolled around. It was time to get started. We had maybe 50 people in total, including staffers.


Our editor, Ken Brusic, made opening remarks to welcome folks to our paper and to explain a little about the paper’s new focus on readers and visuals.


Ken has overseen the hiring of about 180 journalists over the past year, including Jeff and myself. Talk about our best friend!

Next, Jeff explained about some of the last-minute schedule changes and how the day was going to work.


We had one speaker cancel because of other commitments and we trimmed two presentations out of the schedule, including one I was to make on basics of social media. I agreed with Jeff that it was probably a good call. More about that later, though.

Our first speaker of the day was senior team leader David Medzerian, who spoke on basic design philosophy.


In addition to handling design duties in our newsroom — among his duties are the other Focus pages, the ones I don’t do — he also takes care of coordinating technology needs. Plus, he teaches on the side at Southern Cal.


As expected, David’s design primer held everyone’s attention.


Speaker No. 2 was Catherine Long, who who oversees the creative teams for print and digital sales at the Register.


She talked about the different advertising needs among various media, including newspapers, magazine, television and online. A lot of this was probably basic advertising stuff, but I haven’t taken an advertising class since the early 1980s, so it was all new to me. In particular, I enjoyed this slide:


I’ve always wondered if there were numbers out there quantifying what I see my daughter do every day. Apparently, there are.

The audience was engrossed. This man was taking lots of notes on his tablet.


After Catherine’s talk, we took a 15-minute break. I was up next. Here, I’m chatting with one of our guests while, behind my back, my screensaver has kicked in with a changing montage of album art from my iTunes collection.


I suspect my screensaver might be more interesting than my presentations.

My talk was a very basic primer on charting: How to decide what kind of chart to use and some of the most common mistakes people make when using charts.


I did manage to wring a bit of humor out of my topic — especially charts gone wrong. I don’t want to embarrass any of my blog readers out there, but mention USA Today or Fox News to anyone who was there Saturday and watch them laugh.


This, too, was good advice, I think.


As much as I loathe bubble charts done poorly, I did manage to include a few samples of bubble charts done well.

The fourth and last lecture session of the day was by Jeff Goertzen, a senior artist and consultant for the Register. He spoke on the art of illustration…


…giving a number of stories about some of his work over the years. In particular, he showed step-by-step versions of some of his recent surfing graphics for the Register.


Read more about one of those pieces here.

We broke for lunch, gave a few guided tours of our newsroom and then split our group up into three segments for our afternoon hands-on sessions. These lasted 90 minutes and covered a number of topics. This one was on responsive ad design.


As you can see, about a dozen folks attended that session.


I sat in on the first few minutes. I wish I could have seen the entire thing.


Meanwhile, up in our third floor news conference room Jeff was kicking off a session on photoshop skills,


He had a pretty good crowd as well, but I soon found out why: He had lured them there with pastries.


Well, hell. I wish I had thought of that.

Jeff, in fact, had so many folks that he had to pull in a second table. The two folks on the right here are from a competing newspaper owned by the L.A. Daily News group.


On the left is Lisa Loperfido, a recent graduate of George Fox University in Oregon. Find her web site here. I don’t know if we’re still hiring right now, but I’m going to pass her business card along to my boss today. The Register missed out on hiring her table mates here: From left to right, Betty Villalobos — who I met a few months ago at Cal State Long Beach — and Joey Berumen, formerly with the San Francisco Daily Journal. Both went to work for LANG in May.

Lurking in the back of the room during Jeff’s session was Kurt Snibbe and the O.C. Register‘s Fred Matamoros.


Behind them, you can see my Focus pages for this week posted on the window, including the one Kurt did for Wednesday (the Purple Heart). Because our guests included folks who work at competing newspapers, Kurt and Fred probably should have taken my pages down. I’ll raise the suggestion that we fire them both today.

Well, maybe not Kurt — because he’s built Focus pages for me. Fred, however, has not. That makes his ass expendable.

Seriously, though, find Fred’s web site here.

The one hands-one afternoon session I did not manage to shoot was Kari Hall‘s presentation on how to plan, execute and edit a photo shoot for a project. That was another of those sessions where if I walked in, I might not leave again. That topic fascinates me.

Instead, I went down to Sharon Henry‘s workshop on visual thinking, back in the Hoiles auditorium. She gave the same presentation, back-to-back, during the two afternoon time slots.


Sharon discussed some of the techniques and philosophies behind the wonderful work in her visual columns for the Register and then gave a number of assignments to her attendees.


Here, Sharon pauses for a moment with our boss, Register deputy editor Brenda Shaun, while her students sketch.


Once the sketches were done, Sharon pinned them to the wall and used them to illustrate the finer points of her craft.

Here, you can see my friend Shraddha. The guy standing behind her is Steve Becker, who probably traveled the furtherest to join us Saturday: He’s a staffer at the Villages Daily Sun, just north of Orlando, Fla.


This particular assignment: In five minutes or less, draw a quick diagram on how to make toast.


Many of us agreed this was probably the best one of the day.


Later, Sharon gave her class a longer, more elaborate assignment: Tell, visually, the story of a scar somewhere on your body. She reviewed, critiqued and praised results and then collected them into an ebook that she posted Sunday on her web site.

Sharon put on a great show. I’m guessing that nearly all of our attendees Saturday attended one of her two presentations.


Find her web site here and her Twitter feed here.

After the second afternoon session, Jeff called together all the attendees and instructors for one final hour of wrap-up and brainstorming. Here you can see Kurt and the Register‘s graphics editor, Cindy O’Dell, in the background.


The consensus was that the day went really well and that the attendees felt they had gotten more than their money’s worth. So we’ll definitely do this again and soon. Jeff — via his position with the Society for News Design — will recommend that other papers around the country try holding community workshops as well.

The problem is: How do you get the word out? We placed a series of house ads in the paper, I blogged about the workshop and then I tweeted links from time to time over the summer. But that reached only so many folks.

I can’t speak for our other staffers and I’ve not yet given any suggestions to Jeff or Brenda. But off the top of my head, here are 15 tips for papers considering holding a Graphics Garage session like ours…

  1. Let your interns and junior staffers in for free. But only if they agree to…
  2. Tweet and retweet like crazy about your workshop in the weeks and days before the event.
  3. Give away branded swag: T-shirts, key chains, hats, pens, buttons. Whatever you have. If you have something nice — like, perhaps, a shoulder bag — give it as a prize to the person who traveled the furtherest. Or who was the first to register. Or who tweets the most about the session. Or who manages to attract the most retweets about the session.
  4. Put a lot more emphasis on social media. It’s a hot topic right now. As I said earlier, I agreed with Jeff’s last-minute decision to kill my social media session. But then, during our wrap-up roundtable discussion, there were a lot of quesitons about how to use Facebook vs. the increasing clutter on that site and the value of LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest. These were all topics I had planned to cover. Insert facepalm here.
  5. But you can’t just talk about it in a session. You have to demonstrate it as well. Don’t just have one staffer walking around tweeting vignettes — invite attendees to tweet their own observations, favorite quotes, their own pictures. Start every session by reminding attendees of the event hashtag. Put it on the schedule you hand out at the door.
  6. Consider a separate session on blogging. Tips on how to write, how to aggregate, the importance of posting frequently/regularly, the benefits of having a blog if you’re a freelancer or consultant or small business owner, how to promote your blog via social media.
  7. Make sure you have wifi throughout your venue. Make sure the bandwidth is adequate. Put in some temporary hotspots, if you need them. Having wifi in every meeting room was one of the smartest things we did Saturday.
  8. Make sure your paper’s editor is on hand to welcome everyone. Watching Ken Brusic operate Saturday reminded me of why I love working for this guy. He loves people in general, he especially loves readers, he loves visuals and and he loves the staffers who create visuals for his paper. (And if your editor isn’t as cool as Ken, don’t sweat it. We’ll be hiring again soon, I bet. Send Brenda your clips now and put your house on the market.)
  9. Watching folks interact with Sharon Henry made me realize: Readers are eager to meet the paper’s biggest stars. In addition to the editor, invite your paper’s star reporter or columnist. If nothing else, set him up in the lobby to shake hands with folks. I kept wishing Ron Sylvester had been there. (And, knowing Ron, I suspect he will wish he had been there, too. I’d like to see a session called “A word person explains how to work with designers.” Now, that would be fun!)
  10. While folks of all ages are welcome and do indeed participate, it’s students who provide a lot of energy to events like this. Offer discounts to college and high school journalists, including yearbook staffers. Perhaps even offer sessions aimed specifically at student journalists. Ask your interns or recent college graduates to lead those sessions, perhaps.
  11. Never, ever hold one of these in the summer. It’s hard to get students to attend in the summer. We got lucky Saturday when a handful of college students and recent graduates, a couple of professors and at least two high schoolers showed up. You might not be so lucky.
  12. Be careful what you wish for. We originally hoped for 100 attendees. We had maybe half that. But there were times — as you saw in the pictures — when our crowd was a real crowd. I honestly don’t know where we would have fit another 50 people.
  13. While hands-on workshops are fabulous, our morning lecture sessions were very well-received, too. And the technical requirements for a basic slideshow lecture are minimal. Some folks will prefer a lecture, depending on the topic.
  14. Make sure your speakers are as awesome as ours were.
  15. Hope that your attendees are as awesome as ours were.

Now, for those of you who attended my session…

  1. Find me and “friend,” “like” or follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.
  2. Find my basic charting presentation — in PowerPoint format — here.
  3. I never even finished assembling my social media presentation, but here’s a similar presentation I gave last fall in Washington, D.C.
  4. Thanks for coming Saturday. Thanks for reading the Register. And thanks for all the love Saturday. What a great feeling.

In just three weeks: The OC Register’s ‘graphics garage’

Don’t forget: Three weeks from this Saturday, my newspaper — the Orange County Register — will host a one-day learning opportunity for the entire community: The “graphics garage.”


It’s much like an old Society for News Design quickcourse, but with an exception: It’s not limited to visual journalists. The entire community has been invited in to hear lectures and participate in hands-on sessions on a variety of design topics.

The cost is $75 per person. The speakers include:

  • Rob Curley on web design
  • Jeff Goertzen on illustration and on photoshop
  • Sharon Henry on visual thinking
  • David Medzerian on print design
  • Kari René Hall on the anatomy of a photo shoot
  • Reggie Estrella and Tom Halligan on ad design
  • Catherine Long and Tom Halligan on responsive ad design
  • Me on social networking and on charting

The day runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the offices of the Orange County Register in Santa Ana, Calif.


Go here to find a detailed schedule, description of the sessions, biographies of the instructors and a map of how to get here.

Go here to register.

The event hashtag will be #ocgarage

My newspaper is hosting a ‘Graphics Garage’ workshop on Aug. 3

This week, the Orange County Register announced an unusual one-day educational opportunity later this summer.

The event is a Graphics Garage Workshop. It’s much like an old Society for News Design quickcourse, but with an exception: It’s not limited to visual journalists. The entire community has been invited in to hear lectures and participate in hands-on sessions on a variety of design topics.

The ads began running in the paper this weekend. Click for a larger view.


And, yes: This is being held in conjunction with the Society.

The hashtag for the event is #ocgarage. So, if you don’t mind, please help me get the word out…



The Graphics Garage will be held Saturday, Aug. 3 at the offices of the Orange County Register. The cost is $75 per person. The day is limited to only 100 spots, so be sure you register early.

The Garage is the brainchild of OCR senior artist and graphics consultant Jeff Goertzen, a longtime SND member and internationally-known instructor and consultant. He held a very successful workshop on this same model back when he was still with the Denver Post. This is his first Graphics Garage here in Southern California.

We’ll kick off at 9 a.m. sharp — the schedule is pretty full, so there won’t be any time to dawdle. Several of the sessions will repeat, so you have a chance to catch some of our speakers more than once throughout the day.



8:30 – 9 a.m.: Registration

9 – 9:45 a.m.: Introduction

10 – 10:45 a.m.: Four lecture sessions: a) Print design, b) Social networking, c) Responsive ad design and d) Web design

PRINT DESIGN: “Breaking the mold, sort of”: A conversation on designing outside the box and regularly surprising your readers — while keeping your publication’s identity and adhering to the design style your audience expects. Bring your thoughts, ideas, challenges and concerns for a lively discussion of design — safely away from the pressures of deadline (and nagging bosses).


INSTRUCTOR: David Medzerian is an award-winning journalist, systems expert and educator. His design work at the Orange County Register and the Miami Herald has been recognized with numerous SND awards. He is a regular speaker nationally and internationally on new media integration and newsroom workflows, web analytics, and the state of journalism. He is a senior team leader at the Register and teaches multimedia journalism and investigative reporting at the University of Southern California.

SOCIAL NETWORKING: Social networking isn’t just for young people and it’s not just for sucking away your time. There are powerful things you can do with sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Each has its pluses and minuses. We’ll explain the basics and show you how you might use each one better.


INSTRUCTOR: Charles Apple is focus page editor of the Orange County Register. He previously served as graphics editor of the Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk, Va., and the Des Moines (Iowa) Register and as a news artist for the Chicago Tribune, the Raleigh, N.C., News & Observer and small papers in South Carolina and Georgia. Before joining the Register in March, Apple spent five years as a design consultant and instructor, teaching in the U.S., the Philippines, Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa. His blog ( is aimed at news designers, artists, photographers, copy editors and those who supervise them. Find him on Twitter at @charlesapple

RESPONSIVE AD DESIGN: Communicating with your customer across multi-platforms and devices is critical for advertising optimization and ROI. This session explores changing advertising mediums and how to use design best practices for print, web and mobile environments to execute your message across these critical consumer touch points.

INSTRUCTORS: Catherine Long is an advertising and marketing veteran for publishing and media organizations who oversees print and digital sales creative for the Orange County Register. Catherine’s team led the design transition of traditional newspaper print advertising across digital channels for the Orange County Register and the Freedom Network of 27 nationwide daily newspapers. Her team has created advertising campaigns for desktop, mobile and tablet that specialize in blending form, function and design to create advertising that celebrates the opportunities of each media platform. Before she joined the Orange County Register, Catherine worked at Advanstar Communications for eight years where she held the titles of Director of Online Marketing and Publisher of


Tom Halligan is the advertising art director for the magazine division of the Orange County Register. He manages a team of designers who produce artwork for OCR Family, OCR Metro, and Southland Golf magazines, as well as other creative Advertising and Marketing projects. Tom has worked in the Media industry for 15 years, most recently at Cox Media Group in Austin, Texas, where he built a Client Solutions team of designers, copywriters and videographers to work on customized marketing solutions that included digital, print, events, research, and social media.

WEB DESIGN: How to design a website that people will actually use. Possibly even enjoy. In building some of the most award-winning and critically acclaimed news sites in the world, Rob Curley has never lost sight of who the readers are and how they are consuming news content. Get a behind-the-scenes tour of how design played an integral role in the success of those local news sites.


INSTRUCTOR: Rob Curley is the deputy editor/local news at the Orange County Register. A Kansas native, Rob has worked previously in many influential positions for publications in Lawrence Kansas, Naples, Florida, the Las Vegas Sun and the Washington Post, both in print and web.

11 – 11:45 a.m.: Four lecture sessions: a) Illustration, b) Charts, c) A repeat of Responsive ad design and d) A repeat of Web design.

ILLUSTRATION: How to create illustrations for any topic. From medical illustrations to caricatures to 3D models, you’ll get all the tips and tricks used in all sorts of mediums and styles and how to know which works best.


INSTRUCTOR: Jeff Goertzen, your workshop host, is a senior artist/consultant with the Orange County Register and is director of Education and Training for Society for News Design. He has worked as graphics director for USA Today, the Denver Post, El Mundo in Madrid, Spain, and El Periodico in Barcelona, Thomson Graphics in Newcastle, England, and O Estado de Sao Paulo, Brazil. Over the last 20 years, Jeff has conducted workshops and in-house training for more than 100 news organizations worldwide. His work in graphics, illustration and design have won numerous international, state and local awards. You can see his work at

I most recently wrote about Jeff’s work here.

CHARTS: We all know what bar charts and pie charts are. But how do you know which one to use? It depends on your data, of course, and on the story you want that data to tell. We’ll look at the basic types of charts, how to use them properly and what to do — and, more importantly, what not to do — in building a chart.

INSTRUCTOR: Charles Apple (see above)

RESPONSIVE AD DESIGN: Repeat. See above.

INSTRUCTORS: Catherine Long and Tom Halligan (see above).

WEB DESIGN: Repeat. See above.

INSTRUCTOR: Rob Curley (see above).

NOON: Lunch. There are a number of fast-food places within easy driving distance of the Register. In addition, we’re hoping to bring in a couple of food trucks.

1 – 2:45 p.m.: Four hands-on sessions: a) Visual thinking, b) Photoshop, c) Ad design and d) Photography.

VISUAL THINKING: How to Win Friends & Influence People with Visual Story-Telling. From start-ups to scrapbooks, visuals are used to effectively deliver a message. This hands-on workshop will help re-wire your brain to start thinking more visually, and teach you how to develop visual stories for fun and profit.


INSTRUCTOR: Sharon Henry is a visual columnist with Orange County Register. Her work has been recognized by Malofiej, SND, Print magazine, Communication Arts, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE). In 2007, she was brought on as creative director at Xplane, a design consultancy in St. Louis that combines visual thinking and design to develop solutions that clarify complexity, engage people and inspire action.

I most recently wrote about Sharon’s work here.

PHOTOSHOP: Whether you’re an illustrator, photographer or just have an inkling to learn Photoshop, this is a workshop you won’t want to miss. You’ll learn some cool tips that will make your work easier to manage and give you great results. We’ll work with masks, layers, pen tools, brushes and textures, just to name a few. All participants must bring their own laptop with Adobe Photoshop CS3 or later.

INSTRUCTOR: Jeff Goertzen (see above).

AD DESIGN: This course provides an introduction to the principles of designing for multiple advertising platforms. The session will also explore the technical execution and considerations of a single ad concept in different media environments, including hands on practicum of transitioning a print ad to web. Participants must bring a laptop with Adobe creative suite.

INSTRUCTORS: Reggie Estrella has been a professional in graphic design and interactive media for over a decade, with a unique focus on both design and development. He currently leads a team of designers for the Orange County Register that specialize in advertising and marketing campaigns across all-media including print, web, video, tablets, and mobile devices.

Tom Halligan (see above).

PHOTOGRAPHY: Anatomy of a Photo Shoot: From Concept to Page Design. A successful design starts long before text and photos land on a blank page. It begins with an idea and a team of creative minds all going off to produce those important elements. And through communication, planning, interviews, photography, writing and editing, we finally get words and pictures to the designer for the big pay-off. The trick, from the photography perspective, is to give the designer the best possible visuals to work with — and presto — a beautiful page.This workshop will take you step by step through the concept, planning and execution of a photo project for the ultimate photo presentation. You’ll learn how to: Communicate; Plan a photo shoot; Select the proper photographer; Edit photos; Work with designers. Attendees: Please bring 3 takes, a maximum of 10 photos each.


INSTRUCTOR: Kari René Hall, a staff photographer for the Los Angeles Times for 18 years, has been a photo editor at the Orange County Register since 2004 specializing in feature, magazine and special project photography. An Ochberg Fellow with the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, Hall is the author and photographer of Beyond the Killing Fields (Aperture Books, Foreword by The Dalai Lama) and Hope at Heartbreak Motel, an epic interactive multimedia. Find her web site here.

3 – 4:45 p.m.: All four afternoon sessions will repeat.



We’ll be meeting in the offices of the Orange County Register on Grand Avenue in Santa Ana, Calif., just seven exits down Interstate 5 — or, as they call it here, “the five” — from Disneyland.


There’s plenty of free parking for you, so don’t sweat that. And if you’re a pedestrian, let me add: We’re only a block or so away from the Santa Ana Metrolink train stop. So we have you covered that way, too.

Here’s how to get here:

View Orange County Register in a larger map



Like I said, it’s only $75 per person. And you don’t have to be a journalist — or even a designer — to participate. You will need the things cited in the individual hands-on session descriptions, above.

But registration is easy. Just go here and follow the instructions.

And again, the hashtag to follow is #ocgarage

See you there!

Black Friday sale on SND workshop registration

The Society for News Design continues its annual Black Friday sale on registration fees for this year’s workshop, to be held next Nov. 7-9 in Louisville, Ky.

Here’s what they’re offering…

1) $100 off the registration price, meaning the price — for now — is $295 for members and $200 for students and educators.

2) The first 50 people to register will be entered into a drawing to win an iPad mini. As executive director Stephen Komives writes:

This could save you a long wait in the mammoth Apple Store line, and the mockery of Samsung Galaxy commercial writers.

3) First-time attendees will be entered into a drawing to win a free night’s hotel stay in Louisville during the workshop.

Read more about SND’s Black Friday sale here. Find the SND/Louisville web site here. Find the SND Louisville Twitter feed here.

I taught two sessions Friday to the United Methodist Communicators

Friday, I drove up to Arlington, Va. — just across the Potomac from Washington, D.C. — to make two presentations to the United Methodist Association of Communicators. Essentially, these are the folks who work on newsletters, magazines and other church-run publications.

In many cases, folks who are asked to design pages actually have no design training. So I’m asked, from time to time, to teach design basics to such groups.

Almost always, they’re surprised to hear we have the same issue in the newspaper business. Many, many pages out there in newspaper land are designed by copy editors who might have but minimal design background. So this isn’t an issue most of us haven’t faced nearly every single day of our professional lives.

Naturally, I’m delighted to be of service. I’ve been working pretty late at times, however, and I needed to get off to an early, early start in order to get through all the traffic on time. So my daughter, Elizabeth, rode up with me with three tasks assigned to her:

  1. Take a few pictures while I’m teaching.
  2. Keep me from accidentally cursing. After all, I’m not used to speaking in front of a church group. And…
  3. Keep me from falling asleep while I’m driving the four hours each way between Virginia Beach and D.C.

The venue, not surprisingly, was gorgeous: We were in the Hyatt Regency Crystal City, not far from the Ronald Reagan Airport.

And what’s more: The place was packed. There were several other groups criss-crossing ours Friday, including a gigantic convention of salespeople. I later found out that my old friend Nimish Amin — former designer at the Charlotte Observer — was there on Friday.

Among the several topics I wanted to touch on: Mobile. But then I noticed that there was already one in the lobby.

My first presentation was on print newsletter design. I was asked to make this a basic course, so that’s what I aimed for. I had given a similar presentation to the National Association of Postmasters just up the street from here two-and-a-half years ago. My presentation Friday was an updated and lengthened version of that show.

I had about a dozen and a half folks in my morning class…

…including this gentleman, Ken Garfield.

Ken spent several years at the Charlotte Observer. Meanwhile, I worked as a sports stringer for the Observer during my college years and then I worked at a competing paper — the Rock Hill Herald — from 1988 to 1993. I’m not quite sure how, but for some reason, I never managed to meet him in all those years.

Ken is now director of communications of a large church in Charlotte and a prolific writer of articles for various publications. He elected to sit in on my morning session, despite the fact that there isn’t much I can teach a veteran journalist like him in a beginner’s class like this.

I covered the basics of typography — mostly, I tried to urge folks not to get crazy with the list of fonts in their palette. I covered the basics of photo use. I covered things like going for a dominant image and for reducing clutter. And I talked about ways that editors can get free or cheap art and photos.

Towards the end of the class, I did get fancy and showed fun, gimmicky things you can do to create buzz, like the paper football figures some papers have been running lately. I also urged them to create primers for their readers. That way, they break out of being just a newsletter with items of interest to fellow churchgoers and they become a really cool publication with stories that generate enormous interest and feedback.

And, yes, it can be done on a shoestring budget. It’s not about how many resources you have. It’s about how clever you are.

There’s only so much value in looking at my Powerpoint presentation without my running commentary. But if you’d like to see my morning slideshow, download it here.

After a quick break for lunch, we moved to a room downstairs for our afternoon session on why and how church newsletters should and can make better use of social media.

I ran through some of the more common social media — Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest — listing what I see as the pluses and minuses of each. The most popular of that list — Facebook — is now just a bit crazy because of Facebook‘s new policies regarding how it delivers news via your newsfeed.

Let’s say you’ve signed up for the Facebook “fan” page for my blog. In fact, 531 Facebook users have done just that. Of those 531, 362 are also Facebook friends with me.

So when I sent out a message via my blog’s fan page, I expect 531 folks to see that in their newsfeeds. Unless they’ve tweaked their settings to not see messages from my blog page. Which, of course, they can do.

But here is a screencap of my blog’s fan page from last week.

If you look closely, you’ll see something Facebook has added just recently: It now tells me how many folks have actually seen each item I’ve posted.

So, wait a minute. 531 Facebook users have signed up to get my posts in their newsfeed. But only 24 saw my post about last Sunday’s playoff pages? Only 16 of them saw my post about Amy Webb?

That’s right.

That defeats the purpose of even having fan pages! Why would Facebook do such a thing?

Because rather than deliver my messages — to the people who signed up for them for free — Facebook would rather charge me money to do that. And they have a cute little fee structure all set up.

Yep: In order to put my Facebook post out there in front of 2,000 to 5,000 people, Facebook wants to charge me $10. If I’m willing to shell out $15, Facebook says as many as 7,000 users might see it.


In addition, note the buttons at the top, labeled “audience.” When I make my purchase, I can specify whether I want my message to be seen by all the folks who have “liked” my page. Of if I’d like to blast my message to all those folks plus all their friends.

How does that make you feel? I know how it makes me feel: Angry. I’ve been counting on Facebook to help me get the message out whenever I post a new item in my blog. Not only is Facebook no longer reliable for this, but also they’re getting greedy about it.

In my case, this is a minor annoyance. But if I were a pastor or a church activity committee, I’d be horrified. It’s no longer enough to have a “fan” page set up for my church or youth program or whatever. I now have to convince folks to visit often, in order to see whatever it is we’ve posted. Because they won’t necessarily see it in their newsfeeds.

If I’m going to do that, I might as well have a blog. In a blog, my church would have total control over the content. I could then post whenever I wanted. And I could still have a “fan” page on Facebook and simply post a link whenever I put up a new blog post.

And that was just Facebook. I also addressed the good and bad sides of Twitter. After watching the masterful way my friends tweeted the Society for News Design conference last weekend in Cleveland, I asked my audience Friday: What happens if we tweet our regular Sunday sermons like that?

I asked two pastors about using Twitter.

Carolyn Moore of Mosiac United Methodist Church in Augusta, Ga. — and, I might add, my dad’s pastor — tells me:

On more than one occasion, I’ve asked folks to tweet one line they hear during the message. Sometimes, I’ll tell them, “That line is worth tweeting.”

We don’t have a ton of tweeters in our congregation… but those who do usually respond. They will more likely Facebook it than tweet it, though.

Here is Mosiac’s Facebook page.

I also asked Gage Church, my old boss at the Des Moines Register and currently pastor of the Congregational United Church of Christ in Ogden, Utah. Gage replies:

We have not effectively used Twitter, although we are working at it. Many churches DO have folks tweeting during the service, both to get the message out as well as to ask direct questions of the pastor as he is delivering the sermon/message.

My church uses Facebook a lot, but other than tweeting alerts when something new is added to our website, we are not yet effectively using Twitter.

This started a whole line of discussion. Among the feedback I received from the folks attending my session:

I took a few minutes to search for it, but I couldn’t find the Twitter feed for Impact Church. Their web page is fascinating, however.

And I also touched just a bit on blogging. I’ve spent a lot of time over the past nine years as a blogger, so obviously, I think highly of that medium.

I did manage to point folks toward my tips for beginning bloggers, but I didn’t really cover search engine optimization — mostly, because I doubt SEO is very important to individual church congregations. However, if anyone out there wants to read my SEO screed — along with my SEO horror story — here it is.

Also my old colleague Steve Buttry wrote an interesting piece last week comparing and contrasting blogging to writing a column. That’s a bit advanced for the crowd I addressed Friday, I think. But it’s a great item to read if you’re getting deeper into blogging.

Find my social media slideshow here.

Eventually, of course, I came to the end of my time with the folks of UMAC. I hope I was able to teach a few lessons. I definitely made a few new friends.

And, you’ll be glad to note, that Elizabeth managed to keep me awake all the way home. The trick turned out to be early-era Beatles, wide-open on the stereo. And the sun roof open.

Mental note: One of these days I need to blog about the bass playing of Paul McCartney

SND Cleveland: About that amazing presentation by Amy Webb…

It sure was interesting following along with this year’s Society for News Design conference via Twitter today. Seems like each speaker had wonderful points to make and wonderful insights to share on the ever-changing field of news presentation.

What really sent everyone into overdrive this afternoon, however, was the closing keynote address by Amy Webb, founder of the Webbmedia Group, a digital strategy and training consultancy based in Baltimore.

Oh, PLEASE tell me this presentation wasn’t as

sparsely attended as this picture suggests.

Photo by Satoshi Toyoshima.

No one had to tweet Amy talking points. She tweeted her own speech as she went along.

Tory Hargro of USA Today explained:

I had never heard of this. I use Powerpoint, myself. Bu, wow. This is impressive.

Here’s the text from the page Tory cited:

This simple piece provides the capacity for speaker or presenter to to participate in the backchannel of a talk or conference session by integrating live ‘tweets’ into an Apple Keynote presentation. Simply add text inside the tags [twitter] and [/twitter] in the presenter notes section of a slide and when that slide comes up in the presentation the script will grab that text and send it to Twitter on your behalf.

Here are the details:

The software works with Keynote (on a Mac) but not with Powerpoint. It’s written in Applescript so it’s easy to customize — it’s compiled as a ‘stay open’ application but you can open it in Script Editor to modify as you wish. Out of the box it will ask you if you want to add any #hashtags or @mentions to all the tweets (e.g. for a conference #hashtag), and will watch your presenter notes for tweettweet this[/tweet] while in presentation mode only.

The catch, if you want to call it that: You have to be logged into Twitter via your keychain. This might be an issue for folks who use third-party Twitter substitutes. But one that’s easily solved.

And that was just the presentation of Amy’s presentation. The content of her presentation was pretty amazing as well.

(The following tweets, in fact, went out during her presentation on her own Twitter feed. I’m not necessarily showing them here in the correct order, however.)

Amy started out with statements aimed at getting the attention of the SND crowd.

And, of course, she’s spot-on. And boy, I’ll bet this sound byte ruffled a few feathers today.

She dove into the basic format of news web pages. Which are archaic at best. Unusable at worst.

Folks in the audience began to shift nervously in their seats.

The foot/mouth reference is to a plea Billy Kulpa of Lee Enterprises had just made for more folks to come into the session.

In fact, Amy picked on a number of news outlets, including CNN and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. The latter reference was particularly interesting: She pulled up crime data from the paper’s web site and then from the city of Milwaukee Police Department web site. The MPD kicked the paper’s ass.

Ouch. But point made. In spectacular fashion.

Here’s another sound byte that nearly made me stand up — here at home in Virginia Beach — and applaud.

I use newspaper web site search engines all the time. I’m amazed at how poorly they work. As a test once, I ran a search for the lead story on the home page. The search engine couldn’t find it.

Amy didn’t just speak in general terms. She gave specifics.

Just amazing stuff. I really wish I could have been there for this. This sounds like just the kind of session we all need to give us a swift kick in the ass.

Amy also inserted little nuggets that seem to run counter to what some of us preach about “content-driven design.”

Naturally, I’d argue that the design of a web site — just like the design of a printed page — must support or accentuate that content. If it doesn’t, then it’s bad design.

And Amy’s correct here. What we’re doing with most of our news sites is taking content from one platform — print — and pouring it into a second platform — online — where the fit isn’t necessarily a good one.

Go back to the egg. Disrupt the packaging. Rather than let the content drive the design, perhaps we should change the way we deal with the content. The way we write it, the way we edit it, the way we put it out there for our readers.

Kind of like Mario Garcia‘s old WED philosophy — writing, editing and design — but updated.

Not updated…. constantly evolving.

Yeah. I’m liking this presentation. And then there was this shocker:

Stunning stuff. I’m hungry for more. And really, really ill I couldn’t be there this week.

In addition, Amy has a book coming out in January, in time for Valentine’s Day. She tweets:

Here’s the blurb from Amazon. Which sounds fascinating:

After yet another online dating disaster, Amy Webb was about to cancel her JDate membership when an epiphany struck: It wasn’t that her standards were too high, as women are often told, but that she wasn’t evaluating the right data in suitors’ profiles. That night Webb, an award-winning journalist and digital-strategy expert, made a detailed, exhaustive list of what she did and didn’t want in a mate. The result: seventy-two requirements ranging from the expected (smart, funny) to the super-specific (likes selected musicals: Chess, Les Misérables. Not Cats. Must not like Cats!).

Next she turned to her own profile. In order to craft the most compelling online presentation, she needed to assess the competition—so she signed on to JDate again, this time as a man. Using the same gift for data strategy that made her company the top in its field, she found the key words that were digital man magnets, analyzed photos, and studied the timing of women’s messages, then adjusted her (female) profile to make the most of that intel.

Then began the deluge—dozens of men wanted to meet her, men who actually met her requirements. Among them: her future husband, now the father of her child.

Forty million people date online each year. Most don’t find true love. Thanks to Data, a Love Story, their odds just got a whole lot better.

The book hits shelves on Jan. 31. Preorder a hard copy from Amazon for $15.18. Find the book’s web site here and its Twitter feed here.

Find Amy’s Webbmedia web site here and her Twitter feed here.

For more on Amy…

Previous blog posts about SND Cleveland:

And a couple more sites to keep handy:

Good morning: Your guide to Day Two at SND Cleveland

From what we’re seeing on Twitter, you guys got very little sleep last night. All that partying and drinking and carrying on.

You should be ashamed of yourselves. For making me so incredibly jealous that I’m not there.

The quote of the evening, from Melissa Angle of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:



Looks like today will be quite a bit warmer than Friday. But there’s also still a fairly large chance or rain.

From the Weather Underground:

If it’s raining this morning, you can always take a shuttle bus to One Cleveland Place. David Kordalski told us last week:

There will be trolleys running back and forth [between the venue and the hotel] one hour before and after the workshop.



Back on Tuesday, Plain Dealer designer Emmet Smith tweeted:

And, sure enough, Phoenix received great reviews Friday. They’ll be open at 7 a.m. again today. So stop by for a cuppa.

Find Phoenix’ web site here and its Twitter feed here.

Photo by Amy King

However, Phoenix is not open Sunday. So be advised.

If you’re staying in the Hyatt Regency, there’s a shop there that supposedly serves Starbucks as well as bagels and baked goods. The place is called the 1890 Coffee Bar and it’s on the street level at Superior Avenue. It opens at 6:30 a.m.

In addition, free coffee — sponsored today by CCI Europe — will be served in the meeting venue itself this morning.



Coffee, sponsored by CCI. Hmm. Does that mean the machine will suddenly and mysteriously go down for hours this morning and then the rest of the day’s sessions will miss their deadlines?

Just wondering…



My old boss, Denis Finley — the editor of the Virginian-Pilot. He’s speaking this morning at 10:30 in the St. Clair room.

Denis is unusual in that he started out as a pastry chef. I kid you not.

A 1975 honors graduate from Temple University in Philadelphia, Denis decided to study photojournalism, so he enrolled in the j-school at the University in Missouri.

He earned his master’s degree in 1987 and joined the Pilot that year as a photographer. Over the years, he worked his way up to photo editor, features editor and news editor before becoming deputy managing editor for presentation in 1999. He was the Pilot’s managing editor when he brought me in to run his graphics operation in 2003. He was promoted to editor in 2005.

Denis believes in taking chances. Denis believes in creating an environment in which creative people can experiment. Denis believes that, when things go wrong, you don’t necessarily yell at people. Because things will go wrong from time to time. That’s part of taking chances. If something can’t go wrong, then it wasn’t really a chance, then, was it?




If you’ve ever wondered how it happens that the Pilot does all the cool things it does, then don’t miss Denis’ session.

Because he’s moved so far up the ladder out of visuals, Denis doesn’t get a chance to mingle with SND folks any more. So please attend his session. Take his picture. Treat him like the rock star that he truly is.

But consider this: As a native of Philadelphia, Denis is an avid Eagles fan. Which, I suppose, proves that nobody’s perfect.

Find his Twitter feed here.



In case you missed it, there was a wedding in the hotel last night. Gordon Murray of U-T San Diego tweeted:

And an hour or so later, Frank Mina of the San Francisco Chronicle tweeted:

And then, a couple of hours after that, Gordon tweeted again:

That happened to me earlier this year when I was speaking in Tulsa. There’s only one thing you can do, really: Crash the reception for free drinks. And then line up to kiss the bride.

Hmm. I’ll add that to my list for next year’s pre-workshop tips.



As sessions begin today and the hustle and bustle ramps up to lightspeed, please take a moment to remember the annual silent auction, which benefits the Society’s Foundation.

Photo by Satoshi Toyoshima

It’s this wing of SND that pays to bring in some of the talented youngsters you’ve seen running around.

Steve Dorsey took a spin around the auction tables Friday, which are located in the Chester room. Among some of the interesting items there: A Cleveland Indians jersey signed by South Korean phenom pitcher Shin-Soo Choo


…and a poster signed by the creators of Good Fucking Design Advice. Who, of course, were presenters on Friday. Note that the item there on the table is an IOU. The actual poster will be shipped to the winner.

Not everything on auction is an autographed item. This here is a genuine copy of the first issue of Rolling Stone magazine. From November of 1967.

Photos by Steve Dorsey

Back when Rolling Stone was less of a magazine and more of a tabloid newspaper. And with John Lennon on the cover. Wow. Talk about a collector’s item.

The auction ends today at 1:30 p.m. today. So get in there and bid on something.

Again, that’s in the Chester room. It’s right next to the Marshall Matt Dillon room.



It’s hard to believe, I know. But there are organizations out there looking to hire.

In addition to the recruiting booths set up there in Cleveland…

Photo by Satoshi Toyoshima

…and in addition to the papers I mentioned Friday, we’ve seen tweets from Frank Mina of the San Francisco Chronicle

Tory Hargro and Chuck Rose of USA Today

Jason Chiu of the Toronto Globe and Mail

…and my old boss Denis Finley of the Virginian-Pilot.

They’re there in Cleveland Saturday. Chase ’em down and put a resume in their hands.



In order to help twitter users narrow down what they’re quoting — and to make those tweets easier to follow — the folks there at #sndcle came up with specific hashtags for you to use in various sessions.

The specialty tags for today’s sessions…

9 a.m. Keynote: Best of Show

Jim Brady, Digital First Media



10:30 a.m. Breakout sessions

Zach Wise, Northwestern University

“The State of Storytelling in the Age of Interactivity”



Martin Jönsson and Jessika Olofsson, Svenska Dagbladet, Stockholm, Sweeden

“Behind the Scenes: The First Best of Show Award in 10 years”

Erie Room


Denis Finley, the Virginian-Pilot

“Point Your Compass North”

St. Clair Room


Tracy Collins, Gannett Design Studio, Phoenix

“The Mayans Have it Wrong: This Thing Ain’t Over Yet”

9th/12th Street Room


1 p.m. Breakout sessions

Jason Kernevich and Dustin Summers, the Heads of State illustration

“The Heads of State”



Nathan Estep and Jonathon Berlin, Chicago Tribune

“Centralized Design: An SND Special Report”

Erie Room


Steve Cavendish, Nashville City Paper

“Laid Off: How Getting the Boot Forced Me into the Best Job I’ve Ever Had (and How Being a Visual Journalist Made Me Ready for It)”

St. Clair Room


Lauren Dreier and Paley Dreier, Font Bureau and Webtype

“Publish Once, Brand Everywhere: 
Developing Tools for Responsive Design”

9th/12th Street Room


2 p.m. Keynote: President’s Awards

Amy Webb, Webbmedia Group



Previous blog posts about SND Cleveland:

And a couple more sites to keep handy:

If you liked Mario Garcia’s presentation, you’re gonna love this

Mario Garcia — by far the most famous news design consultant on the planet — just finished his presentation on iPad design at the Society for News Design workshop in Cleveland.

I’m sure he mentioned it, but he has a new book out on iPad design: The iPad Design Lab.

Here’s a trailer for the book:

You can buy it from iTunes, of course ($9.99). Or you can get the Kindle version from Amazon (currently $7.19).

I don’t have it myself just yet. But then again, I don’t have an iPad, either. That’ll have to wait until I’m working more regularly.

Originally from Cuba, Mario Garcia worked as a child actor before he moved to Florida after the Castro revolution. Mario obtained a PhD from the University of Miami in 1976 and moved to Syracuse University the year after, where he took over as head of the school of graphic artist from Ed Arnold. He moved to the University of South Florida in 1985 and was affiliated with the Poynter Institute. Through his firm, Garcia Media, he has redesigned more than 450 newspapers over the past 30 years. He’s also published a number of non-electronic books. His most recent, Pure Design, was published in 2002.

Find Mario’s blog here and his Twitter feed here.

Previous blog posts about SND Cleveland:

And a couple more sites to keep handy:

Afternoon notes from SND Cleveland

A few stray notes from the Society for News Design conference today and Saturday in Cleveland…



Not only are the tweets flying fast and furious today — search for #sndcle — but also, your hosts have set the student bloggers up with an easy-to-use Tumblr via which to report goings-on there this week.

You can find that here.

Perhaps the coolest thing I saw come across the interwebs: This picture of UNC’s Terence Oliver, giving his morning breakout presentation. Dressed as Superman.

Photo by Michael Tribble, Cleveland Plain Dealer

Not bad. Perhaps all speakers should dress up. I’d love to see pictures from an all-zombie SND workshop.

And while some folks are taking notes and some folks are tweeting, a few others are creating memories in their own special way. Like Allie Ghaman of the Washington Post, who zipped out this quick sketch of herself plus CNN’s Kyle Ellis during a session this afternoon.

Very cute. Next time I have a freelance budget, a need for whimsical spot illustrations and no time at all in my schedule, I know who I’m calling.



Advance Publications’ Scott Goldman, quoting famed consultant Mario Garcia‘s iPad presentation this afternoon:

Here, here.

A close second for quote of the day is this one — also from Mario’s session — tweeted by Luis Rendon of the Victoria Advocate:

But mostly because it’d be so fun to take it out of context.



The food trucks that swooped in to serve hungry SND workshop attendees worked out pretty well, by all accounts.

Photo by Stephanie Meredith of the Ball State Daily News

Equally satisfied were folks who walked over to Happy Dogs. This, for example, is the Plain Dealer‘s Chris Morris.

Photo by Denise Reagan, Folio Weekly, Jacksonville, Fla.

The Happy Dog is not exactly within walking distance of One Cleveland Center. But if you have wheels, those gigantic egg-topped hot dogs sure look interesting.

Hopefully, lunch Saturday — a non-working day there in the central business district of Cleveland — will go just as smoothly.



Billy Kulpa — who left the newspaper business a while back and then re-entered but neglected to tell anyone he re-entered a few weeks ago as deputy design director of Lee Enterprises’ editing and design hub in Munster, Ind. — tweets about yet another suggestion for tonight’s free evening:

Billy is referring to the Horseshoe Casino, about two blocks west of the hotel near that old building that looks like a rocket ship. Find the Horseshoe’s web site here.

There are a number of special deals in play over there. You can win a 2012 Aston Martin or club level football tickets. Although, the way the Browns are playing, I’m not so sure that last one is a prize.

Billy adds:

Consider it done, my friend. Just don’t drunk call me late tonight. I’m not sending you cab fare home via PayPal.



…About going out tonight for dinner along East 4th Street.

One of the places recommended there was Lola, which is operated by Iron Chef Michael Symon.

Photographer Amy Fine tells us:

My husband and I ate at Lola last week. You will not be disappointed.

But then adds:

Bring your savings account.

So be advised.

Previous blog posts about SND Cleveland:

And a couple more sites to keep handy:

Good morning to all the folks attending SND/Cleveland

Looks like y’all had a great time last night at the opening reception at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Photo by David Kordalski

Today, the annual Society for Design Workshop kicks off in earnest.

Here are a few tips to start out your day…



As you’ve noticed, it’s a bit colder there in Cleveland than had been forecast earlier this week. Make sure you take a jacket.

Keep an eye on the Cleveland weather via the Weather Underground.



It’s only a three-and-a-half block walk. A piece of cake.

View From the hotel to the venue in a larger map

In case it’s bit too chilly for you, however, David Kordalski tells us:

There will be trolleys running back and forth one hour before and after the workshop.



So don’t bother going arriving at One Cleveland Center much earlier than that.

Photo by Satoshi Toyoshima

The days’ first session — a keynote speech by Marisa Gallagher, executive creative director of CNN Digital — will begin at 9 a.m. in the large auditorium.

Gallagher will be done by 10:20. At 10:30 a.m., the day’s first breakout sessions begin.



You have a number of options. Here are three of them…

1. If you’re staying in the Hyatt Regency, there’s a shop there that supposedly serves Starbucks as well as bagels and baked goods. The place is called the 1890 Coffee Bar, it opens at 6:30 a.m. and it’s on the street level at Superior Avenue. Best I can figure, that’s not too far from where you’ll exit the hotel this morning.

2. Plain Dealer designer Emmet Smith tweeted back on Tuesday:

Find Phoenix’ web site here and its Twitter feed here.

3. In addition, free coffee — sponsored by type foundry Hoefler & Frere-Jones — will be served in the meeting venue itself this morning.



Infographics guru Albero Cairo of the University of Miami tweeted late last night:

He had been scheduled to speak this afternoon at 4:35 p.m. in the St. Claire Room.



Staying plugged in didn’t seem like much of a problem for most attendees of Thursday’s two pre-workshop sessions. The wifi there in One Cleveland Center is free. Folks were tweeting like crazy.

The hashtag to use, again: #sndcle



Speaking of tweeting…

In order to help your tweeps narrow down quotes from their favorite speakers, the folks there at #sndcle have come up with specific hashtags for you to use in various sessions.

Here are today’s specialty tags:

9 a.m. Keynote: World’s Best-Designed

Marisa Gallagher, CNN Digital



10:30 a.m. Breakout sessions

Brian Buirge and Jason Bacher

Some Good Fucking Design Advice”



Paul Bolls, University of Missouri

“Concepts That Will Help Ensure Your Work is Understood and Remembered”

Erie Room


Terence Oliver, University of North Carolina

“Motion Graphics: The New Weapons of Visual Journalism”

St. Clair Room


Deborah Withey, Cheese + Pickles Studio

“Finding Your Creative Path”

9th/12th Street Room


11:35 a.m. Breakout sessions

Lucie Lacava, Lacava Design

“Find Inspiration in Print and Beyond”



Vanessa Wyse, Toronto Grid

“Wait. Is it Possible to Create Something New? In Print? In 2012?”

Erie Room


Svenåke Boström, Boström Design & Development

“What Would a Printed Paper Look Like if Teenagers Made the Editorial Decisions?”

St. Clair Room


2 p.m. Keynote: Student Designer of the Year

Michael Griffith, Bottle Rocket Apps



3:30 p.m. Breakout sessions

Chris Courtney, Chicago Tribune

“The Path to Code”



Karl Gude, Michigan State University

“Free is Gude!”

Erie Room


Julie Elman, Ohio University

“Step. Away. From. The. Mouse. Put. Down. That. Smartphone.”

9th/12th Street Room


Panel discussion: “Why the Competitions Matter: Observations, Lessons and Trends from SND 33”, with Michael Whitley (L.A. Times), Rob Schneider (Dallas Morning News), Steve Cavendish (Nashville City Paper) and Katherine Myrick (Washington Post), moderated by Josh Crutchmer (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

St. Clair Room


4:35 p.m. Breakout sessions

Mario Garcia, Garcia Media

“iPad Design Lab: Storytelling in the Age of the Tablet”



Vince Chiaramonte, Buffalo News

“From Mad Men to the Newsroom”

Erie Room


5:40 p.m. Breakout sessions

Michael Whitley, Los Angeles Times

“Not an eBook or Tablet App Expert? Neither Are We.”



Suzette Moyer, Tampa Bay Times

“How to … Be a Great Visual Journalist/Boss/Artist/Person/Doodler/Thinker/Etc.”

Erie Room


Greg Manifold, Sarah Sampsel and Karen Yourish, Washington Post

Covering the Campaign: United We Stand”

St. Clair Room


Dave Wilson, ESPN

“An Idiot’s Guide to Keeping Your Career Alive”

9th/12th Street Room

In fact, Dave doesn’t appear to have been assigned a hashtag. Hmm. Let’s assume that’s an oversight and that the hashtag is, in fact, #clewilson



You have a number of options.

1. On the far side of the skyscraper you’re in — One Cleveland Center — is the Galleria…

…which contains a food court. There, you’ll find a number of fast-food joints:

  • Asian Kitchen
  • Great Steak and Potato Co.
  • Mirna’s Cuisine Pizza
  • Mixed Greens Salad Bar
  • Quizno’s
  • Sakkio Japan
  • Stone Oven Bakery & Cafe
  • Taco Amigo
  • Pickles

2. If you’re looking for something just a bit more upscale, David Kordalski tells us:

We have arranged for some discounts at area restaurants to anyone who shows their SND badge, including Cafe Sausalito in the Galleria.

If you decide to forage, make sure you take your SND badge with you. Area restaurants that display this sticker on the door or window…

… are offering discounts for customers who have their SND credentials on them. Read more about this deal here.

3. Also, David tells us there will be “a large number” of food trucks nearby, just for SND folks. Keep on the lookout for them.

Whatever you do, don’t dally. The afternoon keynote address begins at 2 p.m. You won’t want to miss that.



Among folks who tweeted Thursday to request meetings and resume drops were Greg Manifold of the Washington Post

John Duchneskie of the Philadelphia Inquirer

John Silver of the Chicago Sun-Times

…and the Boston Globe, which is on the hunt to fill an infographics slot…

…as well as two student internships.

I’m happy to dish out more plugs, if it’ll help put someone into a job. Send me your request.



You’ll be done for the day by 6:30 p.m. There are no official receptions or parties scheduled. So you’ll be on your own.

East 4th Street — right behind the hotel — is looking mighty inviting. In fact, here’s a picture of East 4th, tweeted yesterday from his hotel room by University of North Carolina student journalist Kevin Uhrmacher:

The other day, David Kordalski told us this area is…

…home to some of the Midwest’s finest restaurants. Don’t take our word for it, though… Bon Appetit named one of East 4th’s best, the Greenhouse Tavern, a Top Ten Best New Restaurant in 2009, and Iron Chef Michael Symon‘s marquee restaurant, Lola, is right down the street.

Ryan Sparrow, a professor at Ball State University, tweeted last night:

I suspect he was referring to Flannery’s Pub at 323 East Prospect. Which is basically a block down that cool 4th Street corridor and then around the corner to the right.

Or, maybe, he wasn’t referring to Flannery’s. Steve Dorsey tweeted a reply in the wee hours of this morning:

So 4th street. Flannery’s or wings at the Greenhouse. Or something else, even. You have plenty of choices.

Previous blog posts about SND Cleveland:

And a couple more sites to keep handy:

Next month: An SND news design conference in Beirut, Lebanon

The annual Society for News Design workshop officially kicked off this morning in Cleveland, Ohio, with two “pre-sessions”: One aimed at college students and the other aimed at teaching the basics of iPad design.

In exactly 28 days, however, another very important SND session will begin: The society’s first-ever Middle East news design conference in Beirut, Lebanon.

The two-day conference will be hosted Nov. 8 and 9 by Lebanon’s leading daily newspaper, An-Nahar. The focus, SND says, will be on design and redesign, infographics and electronic platforms — especially the tablet. Among the speakers: The Guardian‘s Alastair Dant, Adonis Durado of the Times of Oman and famed design consultant Mario Garcia.

Another of the speakers — SND president Jonathon Berlin — is quoted in the conference’s official press release as saying:

SND is truly honored to team with An Nahar on the first news design conference in the Middle East in Beirut this fall. Talking with designers, and teaching about designing the news has been part of SND for nearly 35 years and we’ve played host to this discussion all around the world, from China to Chile. This has been a very important discussion for media companies of all shapes and sizes as technologies, the economy and the newsroom have changed.

View Beirut, Lebanon in a larger map

A look at some of the speakers:

A 1998 graduate of the University of London, Alastair Dant worked as a systems developer or managers for a number of companies — everything from biomedical firms to a popular flash game publisher. He joined the Guardian in 2009 as lead interactive technologist. Find links to some of his work here, his personal web site here and his Twitter feed here. Alastair will be the keynote speaker in Beirut.

A 2001 graduate of the University of San Carlos in the Philippines, Adonis Durado worked as a designer, art director, and creative director for a number of magazines and advertising agencies before serving as the consultant for a major redesign of the Cebu Daily News in 2004 and 2005. From there, he became design editor of a free weekly tabloid published by the Gulf News of Abu Dhabi and then news presentation director of Emirates Business 24-7. He spent two years as group creative director of Instore and Indesign magazines in Bangkok, Thailand, before moving to the Times of Oman — and its sister publication, Al Shabiba — in 2010. I’ve written many times about the work Adonis and his team does, most notably here, here and here. Find his Twitter feed here.

A 1998 graduate of the University of Illinois, Jonathon Berlin began his career at the Times of Munster, Indiana. He became assistant design director of the Rocky Mountain News of Denver in 2001 and then joined the San Jose Mercury News in 2005 as a senior editor for design and graphics. He moved to the Chicago Tribune in 2007 as design director and then into his current position and design and graphics editor in 2009. In addition to being SND president this year, he was longtime editor of SND’s Design magazine. Find his blog here and his Twitter feed here.

Originally from Cuba, Mario Garcia worked as a child actor before he moved to Florida after the Castro revolution. Mario obtained a PhD from the University of Miami in 1976 and moved to Syracuse University the year after, where he took over as head of the school of graphic artist from Ed Arnold. He moved to the University of South Florida in 1985 and was affiliated with the Poynter Institute. Through his firm, Garcia Media, he has redesigned more than 450 newspapers over the past 30 years. He’s also published a number of books. His most recent print book, Pure Design, was published in 2002. Just last month, he published a book on designing for the iPad. Naturally, it’s available only on iBooks 2. Find his blog here and his Twitter feed here.

Among the other speakers:

  • Osama Aljawish, Al Shabiba and Times of Oman
  • Mohammed Almezel, managing editor, Gulf News
  • Tarek Atrissi, Tarek Atrissi Design, the Netherlands
  • Luis Chumpitaz, Dubai Media Incorporate, UAE
  • Alastair Dant, lead interactive technologist, the Guardian
  • Ziad Kassis, art director, An Nahar Newspaper
  • Douglas Okasaki, senior designer, Gulf News, and SND’s regional director for Middle East and Africa
  • Rana Abou Rjeily, independent designer

The event will be held in both English and Arabic, SND says.

The host paper — An-Nahar — circulates about 30,000 copies daily. The paper’s headquarters are located on Martyr’s Square, near the waterfront (zoom waaaay in on that map above, if you’re curious).

An-Nahar was redesigned recently by Mario’s consultancy. This was Wednesday’s front page:

If you have questions, contact Douglas Okasaki — SND’s regional director for that part of the world — here:

dokasaki [at]

Clever networking: These folks ‘get it’

Did you see that thing I wrote the other day, urging — everyone, really, but especially young visual journalists — to get business cards made up for this week’s Society for News Design workshop in Cleveland?

This guy was already set. Not only does he have business cards, but they’re funny business cards. I doubt anyone he meets will forget him.

The guy behind these: Tony Lee, a grad student at St. Bonaventure in New York and a correspondent for USA Today College. Not surprisingly, Tony is especially into marketing. Find his web site here and his Twitter feed here.

And, y’know: Call him, maybe.

And then — on the opposite end of the spectrum — we find these business cards:

Genius. Just genius. Obviously, those are from Amy King of the Gannett Design Studio in Phoenix. She was the design brain behind that cool paper cutout-looking headline the Republic ran on page one a couple of Sundays ago. Find her blog here and her portfolio here.

Both of these folks “get it.” Most definitely.

I found both of these sets of business cards simply by scrolling through the Storify David Kordalski set up yesterday to collect posts and tweets about SND Cleveland. Which started this morning with sessions for college students and for designing on the iPad.

Find that Storify here.

And again: The hashtag to follow is: #sndcle

Your last-minute guide to this week’s SND workshop in Cleveland

This week, the annual Society for News Design workshop cranks up in Cleveland.

In a time in which our industry has precious little to celebrate, this will be an opportunity for visual journalists to brush up on the latest news design trends, to network and to enjoy a little down-time with their pals and to let off some steam.

What we have for you today: A preview in three parts…

1. We’ll look at how SNDCLE is going to be different from previous workshops.

2. We’ll give you the essentials of what you need to know while you’re there. And…

3. For those of you who have never been to an SND workshop before, I’ll share my tips for getting the most of out of your time there.

And away we go…



…especially for those of you who

have been to an SND workshop before

SND secretary/treasurer David Kordalski took some time from preparing for you to tell us…

There are a number of things that will be different at SNDCLE. Very different, indeed. Because that’s how we roll in the birthplace of rock.

First, we are not holding the workshop in a hotel. We’re holding it in a conference center, with an auditorium and several breakout rooms. It’s called Sammy’s, and it’s in a building called One Cleveland Center, which is about 3-4 blocks from the Hyatt.

Photo by Eustacio Humphrey/The Plain Dealer

It’s an easy walk on a crisp October day, but just in case it ain’t so crisp, there will be trolleys running back and forth one hour before and after the workshop.

Secondly, there will not be one big awards ceremony. Instead, the awards will be spread out at the beginning of each keynote, in order to get singular focus onto that particular award. Here’s the schedule:

  • Golds: At the opening reception at The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum [Thursday, 7-11 p.m.]
  • World’s Best-Designed: Friday, 9 a.m., immediately preceding the keynote by CNN’s Marisa Gallagher
  • Student Designer of the Year: Friday, 2 p.m., immediately preceding the keynote by Bottle Rocket App’s Michael Griffith
  • Best in Show: Saturday, 9 a.m., immediately preceding the keynote by Digital First’s Jim Brady
  • President’s Awards: Saturday, 2 p.m., immediately preceding the keynote by WebbMedia Group’s Amy Webb
  • Lifetime Achievement: Part of the closing cocktail party at Hilarities Comedy Club [Saturday, 4-9 p.m.]

What? Closing cocktail party? Does that mean no traditional banquet?

Yes, happily so, because frankly, we hate eating bland, hotel banquet food while stuck at a ten-top table that’s too big to talk across, and we figure you do, too. Instead, we think it’ll be much more productive (and fun) to hold our last session in an environment conducive to mingling with new friends and catching up with old colleagues.

So you’ll find no stuffy suits, rubber chicken dinners or cramps caused by three hours of sitting. We’ll close SNDCLE with a few drinks, a lot of laughs, a great program, some good friends and a send-off worthy of a weekend spent recharging your creative batteries.




Your essential guide to this week’s workshop

We’ll do this in Q&A format…

Q. My boss just decided I could go. Is it too late to register?

A. It’s never too late: If you can get there, you can attend.

SND executive director Steve Komives and his crew of volunteers will be happy to register you at the door, if necessary.

The only thing you’ve lost is your early-bird discount. The fee is now $495 for both members and non-members and $320 for students and faculty.

What the folks in Cleveland can not help you with is getting a hotel room. The official SND hotel — the Hyatt Regency in the Arcade — was booked up weeks ago. What’s more: There’s a NFL game in town this weekend. Or, rather, what passes for NFL in Cleveland.

However, Mr. Kordalski and the folks at the Plain Dealer have made a helpful list of alternatives you might call.

Hey, you never know. There may be cancellations. If you’re game, give ’em a shot.

Q. How about if I can find a roommate who already has a room? I could split the cost with them.

A. Great idea! The best way to do this might be to tweet with the #sndcle hashtag and state what you’re looking for.

A panel discussion on editing and

design hubs at last years’ SND/STL.

Q. Will there be there stuff going on early again this year? For students and whatnot?

A. There’s stuff going on early on Thursday again this year for everyone. And whatnot.

David points out there will be two “bonus sessions” on Thursday:

1) Student workshop, all day Thursday, free for registered students. Workshop starts at 10 a.m.; portfolio critiques start at 3 p.m.

2) The path to iPad with InDesign, all day Thursday with Jeff Goertzen and Chris Morris. It’s an additional fee [$75 for SND members; $100 for non-members] but it’s worth every penny. Register here.

Q. How can I get from the airport to the hotel without it costing me an arm and a leg?

A. Sadly, there is be no free shuttle. David Kordalski tells us:

The best way is to take the nation’s first light rail connection to an airport, the RTA Rapid’s Red Line, to the Tower City/Public Square station.

It runs every 10 minutes in peak times, every 20 in slower periods.

The Hyatt Regency is an easy 2-block walk through Tower City.

View Cleveland transit map in a larger map

Here’s the weekday schedule.

The price is certainly right: Only a buck-fifty each way.

Or, you can just take a taxi. The hotel says that will set you back about $25.

If you do that, you might consider sharing a ride. Make up a big sign that says: SND: Share a taxi to the hotel?

Read more about your airport-to-the-hotel options here.

Back to that train, however. David tells us the RTA Rapid is…

…also a great way to get from the hotel over to the historic West Side Market (and all the microbreweries nearby).

During weekdays, flag down the free, green trolleys in order to get around downtown.

The free RTA downtown trolley.

Q. So the workshop won’t be in our hotel. How far away will it be?

A. Only about three-and-a-half blocks away. Piece of cake. Especially since it won’t be snowing or raining.

View From the hotel to the venue in a larger map

Q. That reminds me: What will the weather be like this week?

A. Not too bad. Better than it’s been here in Virginia Beach this week.

Highs in the mid-to-high 50s. Lows in the low 40s. Partly cloudy and no rain at all except, perhaps, on Wednesday and Sunday.

So yeah: Dress warmly. Bring a sweater or jacket.

It won’t get quite this cold. So fear not.

Photo by Sammy’s, at One Cleveland Center.

Q. Will there be wifi in the meeting hall? How much will that cost us?

A. David tells us:

There will be wifi in the meeting hall, and it will be free to attendees. Every speaker will have a specific hash tag as well as the general #sndcle, so use that wifi to keep up with and add to a robust Twitter feed.

Also, anyone who booked a room at the Hyatt Regency via the special SND rate gets free internet in the hotel, David says.

Q. Where should I eat while I’m there? What should I do in my spare time?

A. My suggestion: Find a fun-looking crowd and tag along.

Seriously, though, folks will be all over. David offers up his own recommendations:

East 4th Street: Right behind the Hyatt, it’s home to some of the Midwest’s finest restaurants. Don’t take our word for it, though… Bon Appetit named one of East 4th’s best, the Greenhouse Tavern, a Top Ten Best New Restaurant in 2009, and Iron Chef Michael Symon‘s marquee restaurant, Lola, is right down the street.

East 4th Street even has its own Twitter feed.

Warehouse District: A nice walk or trolly ride on the other side of Public Square, this long-established district is home to great bars and affordable eateries.

The Market District: Take the Rapid over to an area chock-full of local breweries and casual fun.

Tremont: Better take a cab, because this historic and funky neighborhood of restaurants and galleries was established near the Cuyahoga, which is a Native American word for crooked. It’s difficult to navigate, but well worth the trip! You name it, Tremont’s got it, from authentic Polish to haute cuisine and everything in between.

Gordon Square Arts District: Cab or rental car, but again, an adventure well worth exploring. The world’s most ambitious hot dogs at the Happy Dog or the Sunday regae brunch at the Parkview Nite Club are only two of a host of reasons to make the trip.

University Circle: Home of the world-renowned Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland Botanical Garden, Severance Hall (home of the Cleveland Orchestra), the Museum of Natural History (check out Balto!) and more … take the Health Line down Euclid Avenue.

Want to know more about Cleveland? Our friends at Positively Cleveland have compiled plenty of info for SNDCLE attendees here.

Q. Can I see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame while I’m in town?

A. In fact, that’s where the reception will be held Thursday night. According to the official SNDCLE web site, your badge will get you…

…a special all-access pass to see exhibits including memorabilia from acts that shaped rock ‘n’ roll, including the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis, Elmore James, RUN-D.M.C. and more.

Yes, that’s the place, there on the left.

Designed by world-renowned architect I.M. Pei, the Rock Hall opened its doors in 1995 on the shores of Lake Erie. The museum is devoted to performers, creators, promoters, and others associated with the growth and popularity of rock and roll music.

Read more about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum here.

Q. For those of us on a budget: Will there be cheap eats anywhere around?

A. That’s the question I have whenever I attend SND. I’m the guy who skips the $30 breakfast buffet and strikes out in search of a McDonald’s.

Well, there is no McDonald’s within walking distance of the hotel or the workshop venue. In fact, I’m not finding much in my usual searches for fast-food in that area.

Inside the Hyatt Regency at the Arcade.

There is a food court, however, there in the arcade part of the hotel. You’ll find a deli, a  gyro joint, a grilled sub place a Mexican grill, an Asian restaurant and a bakery.

The downside: This fast-food court closes at 6 p.m. Find more information here.

In addition, a number of joints in the vicinity of the hotel and venue will be displaying this sticker in their window.

When you see it, go in and eat. You’ll get a discount if you’re wearing your SND badge.

Read more about this deal here.

And for you broke college students out there who are attending the student session on Thursday: You’re in luck. Not only is the session free, a free lunch is included.

(That whole thing is sponsored by Digital First Media, so make sure to thank keynote speaker Jim Brady when you see him.)

Q. Please tell me there’s a Starbucks nearby.

A. The good news: There is a Starbucks near the hotel. The bad news: It’s not exactly on your way to the workshop venue itself, One Cleveland Center. In fact, it’s on the opposite side of the hotel.

Walk out the south, or Euclid Ave. side of the hotel and turn right. As best I can tell, it’s maybe two blocks away at 200 Public Square. It’ll be open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

However, Plain Dealer designer Emmet Smith tweets today:

Find Phoenix’ web site here and its Twitter feed here.

In addition, there will be free coffee served in the meeting venue Friday morning (sponsored by Hoefler & Frere-Jones) and Saturday morning (sponsored by CCI Europe).

Plus, there is a coffee bar there in the hotel, open from 6:30 a.m. to midnight. Read more about it here.

And now, especially for you college students and other fabulous noobies…



especially if you’ve never been before.


The presentations will be terrific. Have you seen the all-star list of speakers? Wow

But frankly, they’re of secondary importance. The most important reason to go to Cleveland — your Number One task while you’re there — will be to meet people. To network.

Believe it or not, there will be folks in Cleveland who are hiring. Or who may be hiring soon. Or who may be hiring soon but don’t know it yet.

There will be folks in Cleveland who have the power to hire interns. If you’re looking for an internship for summer 2013, then now is the time to start looking. Not during spring break.

Your task will be to make a fabulous impression on these folks; one that will cause them to not only remember you and your work, but also to make them think of you when they discover they have a position to fill. Your task will be to put either your portfolio or your card — containing info on how they can find your online portfolio — into their hands.

You’ll be tasked with doing this in a way that doesn’t piss them off or annoy them or the other attendees.

And just because all that isn’t difficult enough, you’ll have to do it without knowing just which editors will be doing the hiring this year!

Sounds like an impossible job? It’s not. It’s simple networking 101. And you can do it. It’s a piece of cake, really. As long as you love meeting new people.

(If you loathe meeting and talking to people, then do us all a favor and change your major, willya? I mean, after all: This is the communication industry.)

So meet as many people as you can. Shake as many hands as you can. Make a fabulous first impression.

Q. Are you saying the sessions aren’t important?

A. No, I’m not saying that at all. You’ll learn a lot at those sessions. I’m just saying SND workshops are about more than just the sessions.

  • Don’t obsess over the sessions. You’ll occasionally run into a situation in which you have to choose between two — or three — sessions you really, really want to see. Fact is, very few sessions at an annual workshop suck outright. So if you have even a passing interest in the subject, you’ll get something out of the session. Believe me.

The Washington Post’s Laura Stanton speaks at SND/STL.

  • Split up. If you’re attending as part of a group, send various folks to sessions in the same time slot. You can swap notes later.
  • In the past, some sessions have offered handouts and some have not. The past few years, SND has made a real push to make sure any handouts or presentations are downloadable — shortly after the session — as Powerpoint or PDF documents.

Q. Which sessions are the hot ones to attend this year?

A. Oh, please don’t ask me that.

Q. Seriously. Which ones should I go to?

A. Seriously? Go to all of them. The lineup this year is so incredibly… incredibly… well, incredibly incredible that I couldn’t possibly choose between some of them.

For example: Normally, I’d advise you to never miss a speaking appearance by Karl Gude. Karl is more than a noted professor (at Michigan State, in fact) and he’s more than an graphics guru. He’s a bona-fide force of nature.

Karl Gude at SND/STL. With a cramp in his hand, I think.

But if you pencil in Karl’s fabulous Free is Gude session — Friday at 3:30 in the Erie Room — you’ll miss:

  • Julie Elman of Ohio University and formerly of the Virginian-Pilot — I often refer to her as the greatest front-page designer this planet has ever seen — who’ll be speaking about how and from where to seek inspiration. She’ll be in the 12th Street room.
  • Chris Courtney of the Chicago Tribune, who’s speaking on making the leap into coding. Which you’ll need to do if you want to get into mobile or tablet apps (and, y’know, who doesn’t?). Chris will be speaking in the auditorium of One Cleveland Center.
  • And a panel discussion in the St. Clair room on what we learned from this year’s SND competition. On the panel will be: Michael Whitley of the Los Angeles Times, Rob Schneider of the Dallas Morning News, Steve Cavendish of the Nashville City Paper and Katherine Myrick of the Washington Post.

I mean, come on. If I were there this year, I’d find myself at 3:30 p.m. Friday, sitting in the corridor and whimpering with indecision.

Q. But wait a minute. I thought you said not to obsess about the sessions.

A. Do as I say and not as I do.

Anyway: Wow. What a lineup.

Find the schedules here:

In addition, there is supposed to be a schedule app. Keep on the lookout for it. We had one of those last year in St. Louis. Man, that was a lot easier than keeping up with the official printed bulletin.

UPDATE: 11:45 a.m.

I’m now told the SNDCLE schedule app is now up and running. Read more about it here. Download it directly here.


What? You don’t have business cards? You’ve never needed them before? You don’t think you need them now, in the internet age?


Hey, feel free to bring hard copies and CDs if you like. When you see Rick Epps or David Kordalski between sessions, it’s easy to slip them your packet when they can toss it into their briefcase or computer bag.

David Kordalski and Rick Epps at SND/

Denver. Photo by Satoshi Toyoshima.

But what happens when you run into Tracy Collins at the opening reception? You don’t have your CDs on you, so you can’t give him one. And he has no pockets big enough for your file folder anyway.

So bring business cards. And then give them out to everyone you meet. Everyone.

And then what?

After you meet someone, take a moment — as quickly as you can — to grab a pen and make a brief note or two on the back of their card. Anything that will help you remember them. “Gave me career advice.” “Mentioned a sports design internship.” “Said he liked my page one work and wants to see more PDFs.”

Why take the time to do this? Because if you do it right, you’ll get home to discover you have dozens of cards. And you’ll have no idea of which card went with which person. These quick notes may help you keep them straight.

Now, once you get home — that’s when the real work begins. Here’s what you’ll do:

  1. Put all the cards in a stack.
  2. Type all the info from the cards into the electronic contact book on your MacBook, iPhone, iPad or Blackberry.
  3. Look up everyone you met at Facebook or LinkedIn. Invite them to link up with you via those sites.
  4. Then, write everyone a personalized e-mail. Tell them how much you enjoyed meeting them. A personal detail or two — that’s what those notes are for — to help prevent these e-mails from reading like form letters.
  5. And then, the really tough part: Keep in touch. E-mail from time to time. Wish them a happy birthday or whatever. If you see they’ve posted something nice at NewsPageDesigner, congratulate them. Or, better yet, ask them how they pulled off this or that fabulous project.

This is basic networking.

If you want to fancy up your cards in a way so folks will remember you, go right ahead. Speaking for myself, I tend to remember the unusual business cards the most. But make sure you cover the basic info: Name. E-mail address. Phone number. And, preferably, a link where we can go to see your portfolio.

And, of course, make sure the info on your card is accurate and easy to read. Most news design professionals will forgive a boring card. But an ugly-ass, error-ridden card? Heh

Q. But business cards are old-school! No one I know uses business cards any more!

A. That’s because everyone you know is a young college student. Many of the folks out there in newspaper hiring land are in their 50s or 40s or 30s. They still use business cards. So make sure you have one to offer them. And make sure you get a copy of theirs.

Q. But it’s too damn late to have business cards made up! What do I do?

A. It’s never too late! Go to OfficeMax or FedEx/Kinko’s. They can design a card on the spot and print 500 of them in about 45 minutes. If you happen to have one of my old black-and-white VizEds business cards, that’s where it came from: Kinko’s. Total cost was under $30.

Q. It IS too late! I didn’t see this post until I was already in Cleveland!

A. There aren’t Kinko’s in Cleveland? Really?


You might bring copies of your resumé, either on disc or on dead trees, to distribute. Fine; no problem.

But the No. 1 problem I find on resumes: Typos. Poor grammar. Mistakes.

Now, some visual editors won’t mind this at all. Hell, some of the worst typists on this planet are graphic artists.

But if I were to bring you in for an interview, it’d never be by my call alone. I’d have to get my AME or my managing editor or my editor to sign off on you. And, being word people, they might not like seeing dumbass mistakes on your resumé. Because the kind of candidate who distributes a resumé with a mistake on it just might be the kind of new hire who won’t pay close attention to her business front design or her locator map or the interactive presentation she’s building for us.

So take the time to proofread any resumé or word material, be it hard or soft copy, that you distribute in Cleveland.

Q. But I suck at proofreading!

A. That’s OK; I do, too. As you can tell from this blog.

Here’s what you do: Find a copy editor or a teacher who’ll help out. Barter some design work if you have to. But make sure your resumé is immaculate.


While the presentations you’ll see in Cleveland are very cool, some of the most important work is being done in what Mark Friesen of the Oregonian used to call “backchannels.”

These are conversations being had in the hallways. Among the booths in the exhibitor’s hall. At a little sandwich shop down the street. At the bar, late at night.

Especially that last one. Believe me. You’ll be amazed at the amount of business in this business — or any business, really — that’s done over a beer.

Some sessions get pretty crowded. If there’s a session you

know you want to see, don’t dawdle in the corridor. Get a seat.

So don’t make the mistake of thinking that everything shuts down at 5:30 p.m. or whenever the sessions end. That’s just when things get rolling for many of the professionals you’ll see in Cleveland.

I’ve had some very interesting discussions at 1 or 2 in the morning. I recall reviewing a student portfolio at 3 a.m. in Boston, although that is a bit late for me. Especially at my age.

Late night at an SND workshop is basically the old-school version of social networking. Don’t waste the opportunity. There will be folks getting together all over the hotel — in suites, in rooms, in the lobby, in the bar. And down the street at nearby establishments. Find an interesting discussion and join in. If you find it boring, say goodnight and find another discussion.

And stick with it as late as you can. Sleeping is overrated, anyway. You can always sleep when you get home.

Q. How do I find a professional who’ll look at my portfolio at 3 a.m.?

A. Well, that’s the rub. I’m the only person stupid enough to try to do that, and I won’t be in Cleveland this year. Count on the professionals being quite a bit smarter than I am.


So you see Dan Zedek chatting with Tim Frank. You want to talk to both of them, so you run over, interrupt the hell out of them and you thrust your portfolio in front of them.

Remember the first impression thing we talked about? Well, congratulations; you just did it. Both Tim and Dan are now quite impressed with how much you suck.

Many of the professionals see their good friends from other papers only once or twice a year. They value greatly the chance to buy Steve Dorsey a beer. Or to let him buy them one.

So please let them have at least some time to meet and greet their pals.

OMG… So many big names in one place at SND/Denver…

My head might explode… Photo by Satoshi Toyoshima.

If you’re hoping to meet someone, hover in the vicinity and try to catch them when their conversation is wrapping up. If you’re hoping for a portfolio review, make sure you understand that these professionals have presentations they want to see, too.

Perhaps you’ll be told that a professional won’t have time to look at your stuff right now. Most will ask you to approach them later. Some will even try to set up an appointment with you.

But nearly all of them want to see your stuff. Recruiting is one of the reasons they’re going in the first place. Blowing you off wouldn’t make sense.

Another thing: If you bring your portfolio to Cleveland, make sure you pare it down to the bare minimum. Folks simply won’t have time to leaf through 20 or 25 pages of your work. Keep it to five or six pages, max. Of only your very best stuff.

And as you hand them your book, make sure you specify why you’re showing them your work. If you’re hoping for a job or an internship, say so. If you want feedback on your pages, say that, too.

The auditorium at One Erie Center, where

many of the larger sessions will be held.

The smaller, breakout sessions will be held in rooms

like this one: The Erie Room. Photos from Sammy’s,

at One Cleveland Center.

Also, keep in mind that if you ask a professional to critique your work, you might actually get a critique. If they find something in your pages they don’t like — and, believe me, they probably will — then make sure you take their suggestions with a smile. If you can’t take a critique, then for Chrissakes, don’t ask for one. (I learned this one the hard way, 21 years ago at an SND Quickcourse in Chapel Hill. Ask me about it sometime.)

If you see a little rudeness on the part of a professional, try to understand: Perhaps he’s under some stress at the moment. Perhaps he’s speaking in the next session and his Mac just died.

But if you find a professional being consistently rude, please let me know. I’ll be glad to have someone kick their ass. Or, better yet, I’ll ridicule them publicly, here in the blog.

If, on the other hand, you act rudely — well, believe me: You’ll only be hurting yourself.

Q. But it is OK to bring my portfolio, right?

A. Oh, absolutely. Bring it especially if you’re job hunting or if you’re hoping to ask industry professionals to critique your work.

(In fact, there’s a special portfolio review session set up just for college students at 3 p.m. Thursday.)

But keep in mind if you bring your portfolio every day, you’ll have to tote it around all day. I’ve seen a lot of students — at SND/Houston in ’05, at SND/Orlando in ’06, at SND/Boston in ’07, last year at SND/STL — struggling to carry big portfolio cases, laptop bags, purses and workshop swag bags.

Bring what you want. But consider the repercussions.


Yes, many will be imbibing. Some will imbibe quite a bit. Some will get downright sloppy drunk.

And that’s OK for professionals. They’re over the legal drinking age. But for you job-seekers and college-types, you might want to take care.

SND folks gather at a bar in Denver. Photo by Octavio Diaz.

I’m not going to discuss the legalities of alcohol and folks under the age of 21 — that’s between you and your Mommy and Daddy. I will, however, point out that if you get a little tipsy and then run into a hiring editor…

Well, it could get nasty. Just member that “first impression” thing I talked about earlier.

For example…

You’ve had way too much to drink, but then you spot Jeff Glick. You trot over, grab him by the shoulder, spin him around, pump his arm and loudly proclaim you’re his next intern.

Then you belch loudly. And you ralph all over his shoes.

Oh, yeah: He’ll remember you.

OK, that’s an extreme example. But I’ve seen things nearly that bad.

If you’re drinking, try not to drink too much. Save that for when you get home or back to school.


Some papers will bring cool swag to give away. Others will have huge bundles containing copies of their paper.

Some of the cool give-away freebies from

SND/Denver. Photo by Steve Dorsey.

And hey, you never know when you’ll spot that gotta-have-it item in the SND Foundation silent auction.

So when you pack your suitcase, make sure you leave a little extra room for whatever you bring home.

Q. I had thought about donating something to the silent auction, but I plumb forgot about it. Hasn’t the deadline passed?

A. The deadline was Oct. 4. However, whenever I go to SND, I usually take a half-dozen or so things with me for the auction. I suspect they won’t turn anything down. Look for Steve Komives on the registration desk. Tell him I sent you.

The silent auction table at SND/STL.

Q. What sort of things are they looking for?

A. Well, what sort of things might you buy? For a quick primer, read this. When you check in at the SND registration desk, tell ’em you have something for the auction.


Every year, I find myself compelled to defend SND against charges that the Society is too cliquish.

Well, bullshit on that.

Folks of the Society are very glad to meet you. Some of them will travel all the way to Cleveland just to meet you, in fact. I don’t find them cliquish at all.

The society’s 2010 president — Kris Viesselman,

left — and the 2011 president, Steve Dorsey.

Two of the least-cliquish people I know.

Photo by Satoshi Toyoshima.

Hey, I once felt the same way, too. What I discovered, though, is that if you go out there and make an effort to meet people and to shake their hands and exchange business cards and if you can make intelligent conversation with them, they”ll be delighted to include you in their circle of friends.

There may be a few exceptions. But only a few. Hell, if these folks will talk to a geek like me, they”ll talk to anyone.

So don’t be afraid to chat. And if you’re shy, well then, go ahead and play the wallflower game. Just don’t come crying to me later about cliques.

Q. So you’re telling me there is no cliquish behavior at all by professionals at SND?

A. That’s not quite what I’m saying. Remember earlier, when I mentioned this is the one chance a year some professionals have to meet and greet each other? If you don’t quite know who or what you’re looking at, some of this meet-and-greet can seem like a bunch of cliques.

And, sure ’nuff, the first thing you probably do on Thursday night will be to attend the opening reception. Where you’ll spot a lot of meet-and-greet.

But do what I told you. Go meet the folks you want to meet.

Q. I have this one person I really, really want to meet. But I’m too scared to walk up to them and introduce myself! What do I do?

A. Sigh… Do us all a favor and get out of the communications business. Please?

OK, that’s a bit harsh. Try this instead…

Find an industry professional to whom you do not feel intimidated speaking. Ask her if she knows the person you want to meet. If she does, then ask her — politely — if she’ll introduce you.

If that doesn’t work, then suck it up and do it yourself. Just remember to be polite.


You’re familiar with the idea of “pass it forward,” right? Consider this a variation.

You’ll be there in Cleveland with a few portfolio CDs, a big mess of business cards and an eager grin painted on your face, scanning the crowd for big-name visual editors to whom you can suck up.

The irony of it is: Many of those same visual editors are doing the same damn thing — they’re looking for even bigger-name AMEs and managing editors to whom they can suck up.

And the biggest names of all? In my experience, I’ve found that those top dogs don’t always consider themselves to be top dogs. So some of them, even, are looking for someone they can chat up.

From the opening reception at SND/STL last year: The

extraordinarily talented Ryan Huddle of the Boston Globe

sucks up to the extraordinarily talented Adonis Durado of

the Times of Oman. Who probably thinks he’s the one

sucking up. And, in fact, they’re both geniuses of visual

Journalism. Funny how this works.

So my message is this: Go ahead and spend time sucking up. That’s part of what networking is all about.

But make sure you spend some quality time with folks who are newer to the business than you are. Folks from smaller papers. College kids.

Or, if you’re still in college, underclassmen. Or folks from tiny colleges you’ve never heard of.

I’m a believer that if you spend time helping out smaller fish — what I call sucking down — then, at some point, the karma will even out and you’ll find yourself graced with good fortune.

Even if that doesn’t happen, you’ve made a friend for life. And who knows who that kid will grow into one day? I like to tell the story of a very young, very green college kid I met once at a Poynter seminar in 1994. Flash-forward fourteen years: That kid was deputy art director of the Washington Post.

So spend time helping out the folks below you in the pecking order. You’ll make friends, develop your leadership and mentoring skills and perhaps make a lifelong friend in the industry.

At the very least, you’ve done the right thing. And dammit, I’d like to think that still counts for something. Occasionally.

Q. Really? Even the professionals are there to suck up to other professionals?

A. Really. The sucking-up thing never really goes away. No matter how high you rise in the industry, there is always someone out there at a level above you — or a level above where you perceive yourself to be — sucking up to someone even higher.

Q. Wow. I feel a bit better, then.

A. Good. Stop sweating and, um, join the suck-fest.


Starting with SND/Boston, back in 2007 — and the next year in Vegas, and the year after that in Buenos Aires and the year after that in Denver and then last year in St. Louis — the wifi airwaves were buzzing with information as the conference was happening.

SND maintains a live blog of the entire workshop, but frankly, I’ve had difficulty in locating that live blog. I never did find it last year. And I was there.

But still, word gets around amazingly fast. Mostly, thanks to Twitter.

Joey Marburger of the Washington Post, Matt Mansfield

of Northwestern University and Scott Goldman, then of the

Indianapolis Star, at SND/Denver. Photo by Michael Stoll.

While some of this coverage is aimed at folks back home who can’t make the trip, quite a bit of it is aimed at folks on-site: Where the cool party is happening. The scuttlebutt on which morning session will be the most kick-ass. Last-minute schedule changes. Who’s hiring.

David Kordalski tells us:

Absolutely. We plan on making the recipients of the SNDF travel grants sing, er, blog for their supper through social media tweets, updates on the sndcle Facebook page and on the website. Also, we’ll be collecting your feeds and instagram impressions of the conference and Cleveland on

Every speaker will have a hash tag, as well as the general #sndcle

So don’t forget to bring your iPhone or your iPad or Droid or whatever and log on often.

Just don’t make the mistake of living all weekend with your nose in your device. Because, y’know, it’s a hell of a lot cheaper to do that at home.



Just because.

Q. I can’t go this year. I’ll keep up with the happenings via Twitter. But I sure wish I could feel like I’m a part of things.

A. Me, too. Luckily, there’s a way we can party like it’s 2012: Visit the SNDCLE Swag Store, where you buy items like T-shirts…

…and MacBook sleeves…

…and even specialty items like Andrea Levy apparel…

…and Julie Elman coffee mugs.

The same applies if you’re going this week but simply forget to pick up some swag. David tells us:

The Swag Store will be up until the end of time (which could be Dec. 21, 2012, if you believe the Mayans.

Find the Swag Store here.

Q. Is there no illustrator auction this year?

A. David tells us:

No, we’re not doing an illustrator auction this year. Frankly, we don’t think it was fair to the artists to have that commitment hanging over their head for a year.

The idea of illustration as a fund-raiser is still very appealing, though, so we’ve come up with a nice alternative. It’s easy for artists to participate, yet it puts them in control of exactly how much time that participation requires.

They simply send us one (or more) digital illustrations that fall within specific sizes, granting SND the second rights. We’ll put them on products on the SNDCLE Swag Store — shirts, mugs and/or notecards and art posters on archival paper — then make them available for up to a year. A high percentage of the proceeds will go toward the Foundation or toward conference expenses.

The piece(s) can be from their own freelance work, or they can be from their publication as long as they have the right to grant the usage. Of course, if they want to do something special just for this project, that’s very cool, but that’s not what we’re asking.

From our end, we’ll ensure we tell the story of the illustration, and provide links where the people purchasing the merchandise can see more. That way, the artists get more exposure, they have a closed-end to their participation and people (even non-SND folks, as this goes into the general Zazzle marketplace) get cool stuff. Win-win-win.

Again, find the Swag Store here.

Q. But wait! I have more questions!

A. I’m afraid I’m out of answers.

If you do have more questions, the best place to go is to Twitter. Make sure you use the #sndcle hash tag. I’m sure someone will get right back to you.

Essential links:

Last chance for lower rates for next week’s SNDCLE

Heads up: If you’re planning to attend the Society for News Design workshop in Cleveland next week and you’ve not yet registered, then do so today. Right now.

Because tomorrow — Oct. 5 — the rates go up by $100.

Currently, the rate is $395 for an SND member, $495 for a non-member and $220 for a student or faculty member.

Register here.

In addition, be advised that the block of hotel rooms at the Hyatt Regency — the official hotel for SND this year — is sold out. And, yes, there is a Browns game in town that Sunday. So rooms are going fast.

Look for options here.

Find the SNDCLE Twitter feed here.

Society for News Design/Scandinavia to host ‘Space’ workshop next month

The Society for News Design’s Scandinavian branch will hold huge seminar/workshop next month in Copenhagen. They’re calling it “Space 2012” and it sounds like a fabulous chance for anyone to immerse him or herself into the many forms of news design, old and new.

Among the wide array of speakers lined up for the three-day conference to be held Sept. 27-29:

Tom Byermoen of VG Nett, Norway’s largest news web site and most-read news outlet in the country.

Carles Capdevila, director and publisher of Ara, a Catalan-language digital-first newspaper founded in Barcelona in 2010. The title translates into “Now.”

Steve Duenes, graphics director of the New York Times.

Haika Hinze, design director of Die Zeit, an award-winning German weekly.

Nick Mrozowski, creative director of Adweek magazine.

Mark Porter, former creative director of the Guardian and currently principal at Mark Porter Associates.

Lærke Posselt, photographer for Danish newspaper Politiken and first-place winner in the portrait singles category of the 2012 World Press Photo and Picture of the Year International competition.

Sara Quinn of the Poynter Institute’s visual journalism faculty.

Lena K. Samuelsson, editor-in-chief of Svenska Dagbladet, a resurgent Swedish daily that was named Digital Newspaper of the Year last year and, of course, was the society’s first Best of Show winner in ten years. Lena was named Swedish media personality of 2011 as well.

And that’s just a taste. There’s plenty more going on: Even more speakers, breakout sessions, coffees and an awards banquet.

Find more details about the workshop here. Register here.

Find the Space 2012 home page here.