A lush graphic look at a biodiverse mountaintop rainforest

Have you ever heard of the Google Forest in northern Mozambique?

Me, neither.

Botanists from the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens near London theorized there must be some virgin biodiverse rainforest-like territory near Malawi and Mozambique, nearly a mile above sea level.

They used Google Earth to search for likely spots and eventually zeroed in on Mount Mabu.


Bingo! The area proved to be as biologically diverse as hoped. Scientists have been studying it ever since.

This happened ten years ago. My friends at Graphics24 in South Africa celebrated this anniversary with an ginormous graphic that explains how what’s become known as the Google Forest was discovered and some of the species found there.

Click this for a much, much larger look:

Google Forest new

Graphics24 graphics editor Andre Gouws tells me:

I had an idea for this one when I read an article that this forest was discovered by Western scientists ten years ago. I thought it would be great to show this amazing forest in all its beauty in an infographic.

I did the research, found the names of all the new species, and told Hanlie Malan about my idea to sketch the forest filled with all these beautiful creatures.

I love doing these kind of arty graphics with Hanlie.

Hanlie picks up the story:

This graphic was Andre’s great idea. He asked me to make sure to create the feeling that when you look at it, it must feel like you are inside a forest.


First I made a study of all the trees — I found a great site with all the info, then I proceeded with a rough drawing to be able to figure out where each bird/plant/insect etc must go. I discussed it with Andre first, and then I started the detailed drawing of the trees, after which I added the colors and effects. This took me one whole weekend and the following Monday nonstop.

After that was done, I started drawing each animal/insect separately, knowing it would facilitate the process as I go along, in case it needed to be made bigger or smaller or moved to add info later on.



The snake took many hours to draw.


Andre supplied a lot of info which helped me to me able to illustrate a lot of the newly found fauna and flora. I used a few different artist pens for all of the drawings. I added each one’s colors separately as well, and these took me an additional two weekends, but I also worked on this a few times during the weeks, when I had time, between my other work.

Yes, you are 100% correct by saying I drew it first, scanned it in and then added the colors in Photoshop. I drew everything quite big so that it could have a lot of detail afterwards, when scanned and reduced in size. I tried to make it look hand-colored with the effects I used.


And yes, I added the ‘halo’s’ to make them stand out, I am glad you say it works.

Andre finishes the story by adding:

I sent the graphic to the researcher, Dr. Julian Bayliss (he is in Malawi now)…


…and he very kindly responded with some additional info. He also asked for a copy of the graphic. He says he likes it a lot.

Graphics24 is the infographics division of South African media giant Media24. Among the company’s many holdings: Daily Afrikaans-language papers in Johannesburg, Bloomfontein and Cape Town, two large nationally-distributed Sunday papers — one publishes in Afrikaans and one in English — and a number of tabloids. I did quite a bit of teaching and consulting work for the company’s print operation between 2009 and 2011.

This graphic ran in the English-language Sunday paper, City Press. I’m told it’s possible it might also appear in City Press‘ Afrikaans-language counterpart, Rapport.

Hanlie Malan works out of the company’s Port Elizabeth office.


I posted about her work from time to time during my trips to South Africa. Here’s an example of her graphic work.

Here’s what I wrote about graphics editor Andre Gouws back in 2010, when Media24 appointed him to be graphics director:

Andre is very sharp and very organized. He has a ton of experience as both and editor and a manager, having worked in Cape Town and then at the Gulf News in Dubai.


When I was here [in 2009], I helped write a job description and recommended criteria for a departmental leader. Seems to me they’ve chosen wisely.

In November of last year, Andre and Hanlie teamed up to create a nice piece on the Berlin Wall. A month later, they worked on a piece that observed the 10th anniversary of the gigantic tsunami that affected the Indian Ocean.

Find the Graphics24 online graphics archive here.

Longtime WaPo designer moving to Beijing Weekly magazine

Longtime Washington Post visual journalist Pamela Tobey will depart this week for a new adventure.


She posted recently on social media:

I will start a visuals position at Beijing Weekly magazine in Beijing.

It’s an English-language news weekly and I will be in the visuals group, participating in design, graphics training and creating graphics. Their print edition goes to many diplomats and business people, and they have a monthly Africa edition, ChinaAfrique, in French and English.

It will be a challenging and exciting year in Beijing. Especially with being in a Chinese business, so I will need to also learn the office culture, which is different than here. I should also add that the magazine is a part of the China International Publishing Group, founded in 1949, and Beijing Review began publishing in English in 1958.

She received her visa Friday and is scheduled to depart D.C. tomorrow.

A 1981 graduate of Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas, Pam spent a year as a reporter and artist for the Beaumont Enterprise-Journal and then two more years at the Austin American-Statesman before moving to the Post in 1984. In addition, she wrote and illustrated for Fashion Doll Quarterly magazine.

Pam left the Post in November after 30 years. Find her Twitter feed here.

A South African chain observes the 10th anniversary of the tsunami

Ten years ago today, a 9.3-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. The resulting tsunami grew to nearly 34 feet tall in places. Nearly a quarter-million people were killed in and around the Indian Ocean.

My friends at Graphics24 — the infographics arm of the Media24 chain based in Johannesburg, South Africa — put together this piece to commemorate the disaster.

Tsunami gray

Click that for a much larger look. Click here to see a version in Afrikaans.


The illustrator for that graphic was Hanlie Malan, who works out of the company’s Port Elizabeth office. I posted about her work from time to time during my consulting gigs at her company. Here’s an example of her graphic work.

Graphics editor Andre Gouws researched and wrote the piece. Here’s what I wrote about Andre when Media24 hired him to be graphics director back in 2010:

Andre is very sharp and very organized. He has a ton of experience as both and editor and a manager, having worked in Cape Town and then at the Gulf News in Dubai.


When I was here [in 2009], I helped write a job description and recommended criteria for a departmental leader. Seems to me they’ve chosen wisely.

Last month, I wrote about Andre and Hanlie’s collaboration on a piece about the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Find the Graphics24 online graphics archive here.

A tribute to Joe Cocker by the Times of Oman

You probably know that legendary singer Joe Cocker died Tuesday.

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

Design director Adonis Durado tells us:

I designed the Joe Cocker obit.

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


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


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

Click this for a much larger look:


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






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

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

Find Adonis’ Twitter feed here.

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

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

A fresh angle on the fall of the Berlin Wall

Here’s an idea on how to observe a historical anniversary: Illustrate it.

This is from my friends at South Africa’s Media24. It ran in City Press — the chain’s English-language Sunday paper — this past weekend.

Click for a readable version.

berlin copy

My friend Andre Gouws, graphics editor of Media24, tells us this piece was…

…something Hanlie [Malan, illustrator] and I designed together.

I have been working with her quite a bit this year creating some graphics. As you know, I am not a sketch artist, but I can plan, do rough drawings and do research, so the two of us together make a nice team.

This Berlin one was based on a drawing (or storyboard) I made, and then I asked her to do the illustrations, and then, in the end, I added the text to finish it off.

My plan was to show a sideways view of the wall and the two sides simultaneously, I thought it was an original and different way to look at the wall.

Then, I added history and background below the main image, all done in the same 1970s style and colour palette, to give a sense of history and time to the graphic.

Hanlie works out of the company’s Port Elizabeth office.


I posted about her work from time to time during my consulting gigs at her company. Here’s an example of her graphic work.

Here’s what I wrote about Andre when Media24 hired him to be graphics director back in 2010:

Andre is very sharp and very organized. He has a ton of experience as both and editor and a manager, having worked in Cape Town and then at the Gulf News in Dubai.


When I was here [in 2009], I helped write a job description and recommended criteria for a departmental leader. Seems to me they’ve chosen wisely.

Find the Graphics24 online graphics archive here.

U.K’s Northern Echo honors WWI dead with a poppy and a tear

The Northern Echo of Darlington, England, printed a special Remembrance Day edition today to observe the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I.

Editor Peter Barron writes in today’s paper that the cover illustration is by artist Mackenzie Thorpe:

The Middlesbrough-born artist, whose work is in demand all over the world, was asked by the paper if he would like to be involved in the First World War centenary edition. His immediate response was “it would be an honour”.

Within 48 hours, Mackenzie had produced the pastel artwork which is used on the front cover. Against a dramatic skyline, it shows a poppy with a dew drop, which symbolises a tear. Inside the tear is a subtle silhouette of soldiers at war.


Mackenzie told the Echo:

If I can put an image on the front page on such an important day I’m going to be so proud and my mum’s going to see it and everybody I know is going to see it. I didn’t care what was going on in my life everything stops. So, I started at 2 am and I did the piece and I’d finished it within 48 hours of being asked for it.

The issue contains a listing of the 100 local soldiers lost in the Great War, plus vintage wartime front pages from the Echo. Barron adds:

Mackenzie has also produced a second piece of art, featuring a poppy design, which is used on the back page and inside the newspaper.


Ten percent of Sunday’s single-copy sales will be contributed to Help for Heroes, an agency that assists war veterans via a local rehabilitation center called the Phoenix House. In addition, Mackenzie’s original art will be auctioned off to help that same agency. The paper is trying to raise £100,000 for Help for Heroes — £1,000 for each year since the Great War began.


Find Mackenzie Thorpe’s web site here and his Twitter feed here. The Echo published a profile of him here.

The first declarations of what would become World War I came in July 1914. The war officially ended with the Treaty of Versailles in June 1919. The armistice — at the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” — happened in 1918, which is 96 years ago Tuesday.

The Echo unveiled the poppy covers online Saturday between 19:14 and 19:18 on the 24-hour clock. Barron writes:

For that suggestion, we have our graphic artist Chris Moran to thank.


He adds:

In 16 years as editor, it has been my privilege to be involved in recording great moments of history, and seeing campaigns come to fruition which have changed people’s lives…

We really should love newspapers, protect them, and never underestimate the work and care that goes into producing them — especially on days like this.

Average daily circulation for the Daily Echo is 38,479.

Thanks to former Echo editor — and now consultant — Peter Sands for retweeting a link to the art and the story last night.

The story behind that amazing Thursday Globe and Mail front page photo

Did you see the front page of yesterday’s Globe and Mail of Toronto in the wake of the lone gunman attack on the Canadian Houses of Parliament?

It was stunning.

The Globe and Mail‘s design director, Devin Slater, tells us:

We were after an image that spoke to the assault on our democracy, our freedom and our leadership.

Ultimately, however, yesterday was an assault on our country’s spirit. It was a tall order for a front page photo.

As powerful as the pictures were from the events in Ottawa yesterday, the goal was to take the design further, toward a deeper level of meaning. What does this day mean for Canada’s security? Our government and leadership? Our soldiers? The memory of our fallen?


Of course, many readers will interpret and react to the photo differently. For me, what makes Fred Lum‘s photo powerful is the glint of the Canadian flag. After a very tough day, it shows a glimmer of hope, resolve, and intense patriotism. That’s Canada.

Click on that page for a much larger look.

A few hours later, Fred himself shared with us the story of how the picture came to happen.

All my photos have been filed today so I can finally sit down to talk about our paper’s front page…

Got here late in the afternoon and Roger Hallett, one of our photo editors, had relayed information that the paper was looking for an iconic and moody image from Ottawa. All the breaking news photos had come and gone by the time I arrived so there was no point in playing catch up.

Ideally, we were hoping to line up the War Memorial with Parliament Hill (the Peace Tower would have been great) as one concept but walking around it became obvious that this was not going to happen. Any good vantage points were locked down with absolutely no access whatsoever.

In case you know Ottawa, I started down by the east side of the canal north of Albert St. and it was here that aside from not being able to get the memorial and Parliament Hill in one frame, the setting sun had backlit the Canadian flag of East Block (which was already silhouetted along with the Peace Tower) and this was what I put my efforts into photographing. I worked this location a bit before deciding to try another vantage point on the Albert St. overpass — which, I believe, was the spot the front page photo was taken from.

I’d made a number of exposures with the flag unfurled so I headed back to file and make deadline and to give Devin and [art director] Jason [Chiu] time to work with the photograph as they designed the front page of Thursday’s paper.

Here’s the full-frame image Fred shot. Click for a larger view.


Fred adds:

Being given direction but the freedom to interpret my task however I felt I should, allowed me to “see” this photograph and give the editors back in Toronto, what they needed to work with. That our paper took a different path visioning the day’s events is something that makes the Globe stand out.

Nuts and bolts: I underexposed the photograph a bit (normal practice for how I work) to bring out the clouds and darken the buildings on Parliament Hill, but I also brightened the flag slightly in post processing. But basically, what was printed was very close to what I saw and photographed.


Fred has worked at the Globe and Mail for more than 30 years. A couple of years ago, he gave readers tips on how to make great pictures in their own backyards. Find that here.

The Globe and Mail was all over this story Wednesday.

Political reporter Josh Wingrove was inside Centre Block on Parliament Hill then the place was locked down. He caught video of part of the attack via his cell phone.

My good pal Tonia Cowan and her crew put together this map that showed how the attack unfolded. Click for a readable version.

Shooter Chrono new ED3_Tim

And reporter Jane Taber put together a detailed tick-tock of Wednesday’s events.

Twitter feeds for some of the folks mentioned here:

Find the Globe and Mail‘s coverage of the Ottawa attack here.

When you blow your main headline on page one

A man from England is on trial for killing his wife while in South Africa.

On their honeymoon.

That’s a talker for sure. However, folks are also talking about the headline atop page one of today’s Cape Argus of Cape Town.


Gotta make sure we don’t misspell words in our display copy, folks.

My condolences to the folks at the Cape Argus.

That front page image is from PressDisplay. Thanks to my two South African friends who alerted me to this today.

A look at today’s UK front pages about today’s vote for Scottish independence

Today is a huge day in the UK — Scotland is voting on whether it should remain part of the United Kingdom or break away to form a separate country.

It would be a completely separate country — much like most of Ireland is. But it would keep Queen Elizabeth as its monarch and it also wishes to keep the pound sterling as its currency.

Let’s look at how papers in the UK are covering today’s vote…

The Scotsman of Edinburgh used a great headline today but kind of wimped out with its lead photo.


A man placing polling signs? Really?

Average daily circulation for the Scotsman is 28,500.

The Herald of Glasgow — circulation 37,728 — also used a nice headline and went with an inspiring — but purely illustrative — picture of a man looking off into the mist of a distant Loch.


I was surprised at English papers. Neither the Sun nor the Daily Mail made a big deal today about the vote, so I didn’t bother to collect them. The Daily Express of London — circulation 488,246 — used a huge headline today, but under a gigantic skybox featuring a circulation-boosting promotion.


Personally, I’d think the news of the day would drive circulation. But perhaps not.

The Times of London, on the other hand, used a gorgeous picture of the UK Union Jack for a wonderful poster front today.


Now, see? That’s more like what I expected to see. What’s more: This is just the front part of a wraparound cover.


Ont the back are the lyrics to Auld Lang Syne.

On its actual front page, the Times ran a somewhat routine headline and lead photo.


Downpage is an editorial advocating a “no” vote.

Average daily circulation for the Times is 394,448.

The Times was just one paper that built its display around a flag motif today. The free Metro papers of England went with a picture of the Union Jack and the Scottish flag on a flagpole but also managed to find a clever headline to pair with it.


The Independent of London used a much more dramatic picture of flags and came up with perhaps the most clever headline of all.


Average daily circulation for the Independent is 63,907.

The Independent‘s i — circulation 292,801 — didn’t do nearly as nicely as its sister paper.


The Daily Mirror of London photoshopped the cross of St. Andrews out of the Union Jack for this morning’s lead art.


Average daily circulation for the Mirror is 962,670.

The Daily Telegraph built its front around what appeared to be a picture taken at the same time as the Daily Mirror‘s.


Average daily circulation for the London Telegraph is 523,048.

My favorite flag-themed front page of the day, however, was this one by the Glasgow version of the Daily Mail.


Now, that’s outstanding. And powerful.

The Daily Mail circulates 113,771 papers in Scotland.

Metro publishes two editions in Scotland: Glasgow and Edinburgh. Those papers today used page one to urge citizens to the polls.


This is important, because in 1979, Scotland voted on whether or not to create its own Parliament. The “yes” side got 52 percent of the vote, but the decision didn’t stick because not enough people voted. In the fallout afterwards, the UK elected a new prime minister: Margaret Thatcher.

I doubt a low turnout will be an issue today. But still, it’s an interesting approach.

The Daily Record of Glasgow — circulation 253,500 — also urged citizens to vote today on the cover that wrapped around its daily edition.


Take note of the list of inside pages across the bottom. That doesn’t seem well thought-out, does it?

Meanwhile, the actual front page of the paper today showed the very latest poll numbers — this referendum is simply too close to call.


The Glasgow version of the Sun used its front page today for a very interesting conceptual piece illustrating the importance of today’s vote.


Naturally, there were folks out there who had a little fun with this today.


The Sun circulates 340,000 papers in Scotland.

But my favorite treatment of the day was the huge satellite photo the Guardian used today.


Average daily circulation for the London-based Guardian is 185,313

These front pages were culled from a number of sources, including Press Display, the Paperboy and Wales Online.

For a truly great look at today’s UK front pages, though, make sure you check out Peter Sands‘ blog.

UPDATE: 9:20 a.m. PDT

In addition, my Focus page today was on Scottish independence. This was aimed at folks here who might not have been keeping up with all the issues involved.

Click for a much larger — and, hopefully, readable — look:


The picture is by the New York Times Andrew Testa of a rail line that runs from England to Scotland. I played off that picture — both in theme and with color — for the rest of my page.

Polls close tonight at 10 p.m. local time. That’s 5 p.m. EDT and 2 pm here on the west coast. I’m not sure when we’ll know results.

Use comic sans on page one and the reaction is ‘swift and fulsome’

What happens when you use Comic Sans on page one?

The world comes to an end. That’s what.

Or so our friends at the Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald found out Wednesday.


Matt Martel, executive editor for photography and presentation at Fairfax Media — which includes the Sun-Herald, the Age, the Sunday Age and the Australian Financial Review as well as the Sydney Morning Herald — tells us:

The reaction was swift and fulsome. The day started with us being pilloried for its use and ended with us being praised widely for the same thing.

The treatment was the idea of Tom Reilly, who is our weekday print editor until today, his last day. It was executed, under some duress, by senior designer Kevin Kearney.

I wasn’t involved, but had to clean up the pieces the next day. I first saw it when the paper arrived.

Apparently our use of Comic Sans was the end of the world. Our competitors, mainly News Corp’s publications, were quick to attack, as they normally are.

But it went viral on Twitter, with Editor in Chief Darren Goodsir‘s Twitter handle, @sirgooddarren, trending during the day and the article I wrote between arriving at 10:15 a.m. and my first meeting at 11 a.m. getting more than 2,500 shares to Facebook alone.

I had to do a video, too, with five minutes notice, which went quite well.

My Twitter feed (@matt_martel) also got a workout much bigger than anything I’ve experienced before. This morning, a woman claiming to be an art director was insisting I should resign in disgrace.


Darren’s email to BuzzFeed was written in Comic Sans, and that helped get social media going.


A TV channel in Florida has done a piece on our use of Comic Sans. As has…

…and all of our competitors.

I wasn’t able to find the HuffPo story but I did find this one at Gizmodo.

As Matt mentioned, much hash was made Wednesday out of this rather extreme Twitter put-down by news.com.au editor Rob Stott.


Stott works for the aforementioned Rupert Murdoch-owned News Corp.

Now, hold that thought. Because I have, in my collection  — from June 14, 2010 — an example of another newspaper using Comic Sans.

Please note the folio:


That’s right. The Wall Street Journal. Which is owned by Dow Jones… a division of News Corp.

And what’s more: A few days later, the WSJ did it again.


Now, granted, Rob came back a short time later and “kind of” apologized for his tweet.


But heed my warning, News Corp.: I have my eye on you. When they record the downfall of News Corp., that ‘comic sans’ tweet by Rob Stott may very well be seen as the beginning of the end.

While I’m at it, I have in my collection two more examples of Comic Sans in U.S. newspapers: USA Today used it — prominently on page one — on Nov. 5, 2010…


…and the Virginian-Pilot used it in an editorial on April 23, 2011.


But one thing in common among those four uses — even the two Wall Street Journal examples — is that the font was used fairly well for comic effect.

My take on all this: Sometimes, it’s OK to use Comic Sans. Just like it’s OK to use substandard English from time to time. Or even sentence fragments.

[Full disclosure: I, too, had some fun with these older examples when they hit the streets. “Another sign of the apocalypse” and all that.]

Matt tells us:

There are four daily newspapers based in Sydney and it is fiercely competitive. The SMH was founded in 1831 and converted from broadsheet to compact over the past year. We are a fairly serious upmarket newspaper and we treat news seriously.

But New South Wales has a lot of political corruption and the treatment worked because we were highlighting the comical comments these politicians were making to the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

My attitude is that we inadvertently got some great attention for our print version and that is a good thing. But Comic Sans has had its little outing and can now go back in its box.

Interesting front-page Gaza fatalities graphic from Belgium

We’ve all seen graphics that quantify the number of fatalities in the ongoing hostilities between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

But check out the full-page data visualization piece that ran on the front of de Morgen of Brussels, Belgium, Monday.


Roughly, the text at the top says:


There have been more than 1,000 deaths so far in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Of the 206 children killed on the Palestinian side, 179 have now been identified.


The blue icons represent boys and the pink girls. The age of each child is listed below — the “j” stands for jaar, or years old.

Note the names at the top of each icon. Cases in which several children in the same family were killed are grouped with tint boxes — like, for example, this family.


Six children in the same family — from age 17 down to 18 months old — were lost.

There is no byline on the graphic, so sadly, I can’t praise the designer by name. If anyone in Belgium can enlighten me, I’d be happy to dish some credit.

The data is from the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights — an organization that is most definitely oriented towards the Palestinian side. Please note: I’m complimenting only the design of this graphic. I’m neither vouching for nor arguing against the accuracy of the numbers.

Average daily circulation for de Morgen is 53,860.

Cute idea… but haven’t we seen this before?

That’s a wicked-funny cover illustration today on the front of the Daily Telegraph of Sydney, Australia.


That’s Clive Palmer — businessman, politician and head of the Palmer United Party (guess who it’s named for). His actions caused headaches in the Australian Parliament Thursday and unraveled what was reportedly a popular deal to reduce a carbon tax.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, you’re familiar with Miley Cyrus and the video for her hit song, Wrecking Ball. A note in the bottom right of the page alerts readers that this is a “digitally altered image.”

The cover is a scream. There’s just one little problem with it: It’s been done before — in the neighboring country of New Zealand.


The page on the left is by Auckland, New Zealand Herald editorial cartoonist, Rod Emmerson, for a story on his own country’s politics back in May. Read more about it here.

In fact, this is the third illustration I’ve seen using a Miley Cyrus Wrecking Ball motif. The second was about a certain newspaper publisher here in California. You’ll forgive me if I decline to post a copy of it here.

Read more about Clive Palmer and the Daily Telegraph illustration here.

A look at the ‘four-platform’ redesign of the Ottawa Citizen

The Citizen of Ottawa, Canada, launched a redesign a week ago today — one that reached across four platforms, the paper says, and elements of which will spread to other PostMedia company papers.

On the right, here, is Monday’s front page. On the left is a page from 2011.


The Citizen‘s Andrew Duffy wrote in a launch-day story:

“We’ve reinvented each one of our products from the ground up — from a completely blank canvas,” said Wayne Parrish, chief operating officer of Postmedia Network Canada Corp. and the man in charge of transforming the business.


That transformation begins with today’s newspaper and extends to the Citizens website, its tablet and smart phone editions. The four platforms will feature news, information and ads created and designed to take advantage of the strengths of each medium and to serve each platform’s unique audience.

Mario Garcia, who led the visual revamp for the Citizen, writes in his own blog that the project meant…

….not only a new look and visual identity. It is also a total rethinking of how news is edited, designed and distributed in the digital age.

Mario, his project manager Reed Reibstein and the creative director for the project, Gayle Grin of Toronto’s National Post, organized the paper’s content into three “buckets” — Ottawa, Context and You.


Those buckets apply across all platforms. In the print edition, as you can see, that translates roughly into local and sports sections, a nation-and-politics section and a features section.

Other features of the redesign:


  • Two new type families — Titling Gothic FB (below, left) and Shift — joins Benton Sans, Chronicle Text and Georgia.


  • Mario says the paper will be…

“doing print happily,” using the broadsheet canvas to display large headlines and photos.

The paper’s own story reports:

You’ll notice more graphics, information boxes, and fewer long blocks of type.

Here’s a sample inside page Mario posted last week — page two of Tuesday’s debut edition:


The paper’s report continues:

The paper will put an emphasis on context and analysis in recognition of the fact that most people find breaking news online. It will focus intently on local events, which in Ottawa include the drama of Parliament Hill.

Here’s a closer look at the new front page. This one is from launch day — again, a week ago today:


Note the story count — two, plus an ad, a skybox, a rail and a fat quote/refer to what appears to be a column on page six.

Here is today’s front page:


Today, the lede photo refers to a story on page two of the Context section. Again, there are only two stories on the front.

Among the non-print features of this project:

  • The web site is now responsive — meaning, of course, it formats itself to work on any device of any size.


  • Even though you might think a responsive site reduces the need for mobile apps, the Citizen launched new apps for iOS and Android phones. For these apps, Mario writes…

…the focus is fast and local, with short and snappy updates created by a dedicated editorial team.

  • And a new evening edition iPad app — a completely separate animal from the web site and the print edition — will be published at 6 p.m. every night.Mario says the edition will be…

…edited and designed from the ground up to take advantage of the tablet. It will have interactive “pop-up” moments galore, along with video, photos, audio, and of course text.




Mario is really high on the iPad app. After his first post offering a case study on the entire Citizen project, he came back on Friday with a second blog post describing the Citizen‘s iPad app as…

…the first I’ve seen in recent months that resonates with me as what tablet editions should be.

Inspired by good storytelling, it has no pretense of being adapted from print… The Citizen for iPad salutes print with one hand, while taking the user with a steady hand towards what true multimedia storytelling should be…

They have provided the industry with a textbook case study of how to create a tablet edition that does not duplicate content, but extends it, magnifies it and presents in such a way that many stories that may be ignored in your phone, online and print edition, will gain new and vibrant life here.

I should add: Both of the phone apps appear to be free. The iPad edition costs $1.99 for a single edition or $9.99 for a month’s subscription.

The paper’s launch-day story reports:

The unveiling of the new Citizen is part of a massive, chain-wide initiative known as Postmedia Re-Imagined, which will see similar products introduced by eight of the company’s daily newspapers during the next year.

The move to a four-platform strategy, introduced during a period of cost cutting and staff reductions, has been made possible through the launch of Postmedia’s One Newsroom. The initiative leverages the combined resources of 10 Postmedia papers to produce a comprehensive national and international file, which will be shared across the chain.

The collaboration is designed to allow metro papers, such as the Citizen, to concentrate resources on local news, analysis and features.

Translation: They’re hubbing nation and world news in order to free up resources for local coverage.

For the record, the other Postmedia papers are:

  • The (Toronto) National Post
  • The (Vancouver) Province
  • The Vancouver Sun
  • Edmonton Journal
  • Calgary Herald
  • (Regina) Leader-Post
  • (Saskatoon) StarPhoenix
  • Windsor Star
  • (Montreal) Gazette

There’s so much more you can read about this project on Mario’s blog — he goes into great detail about the project, how it was discussed, how the objectives were solved. He even offers up samples and working versions. Go read all that here.

This gargantuan Godzilla graphic is great

Adolfo Arranz built a really cool graphic about Godzilla for last Friday’s South China Morning Post in Hong Kong.

Click for a much larger look:


There’s so much graphic goodness here to love. There’s this bit, showing how Godzilla was originally designed with the most interesting parts of three different dinosaurs.


This bit shows how the original Godzilla costume fit.


This illustrates the new Godzilla, who looked so natural in the water.


There are breakouts on Godzilla’s little playmates.



And, of course, the obligatory bit on the much larger size of the monster in the new movie.


Adolfo tells us his…

…graphic combines digital hand draw with vector work.


I drew the monsters with a Wacom tablet and Corel Painter software…


…and finished in Adobe Illustrator.

Research was done through the Internet — many crazy websites.

I had a very busy week with other projects and finally I could not dedicate time to the graphic work I had wanted.

Well, gee, I can’t see how this piece could have been much better. It’s gorgeous and it’s a fun read.


Adolfo has been at the South China Morning Post for the past three years. Previously, Adolfo worked as an infographics artist for Madrid’s el Mundo.


Find his portfolio here and here and his blog here.

For your consideration…

…this front-page illustration in Friday’s Herald of Auckland, New Zealand.


The illustration is by the Herald‘s editorial cartoonist, Rod Emmerson, who took a moment today to clear up the muddled explanation of this cartoon I had written in an earlier version of this post.

Rod tells us:

The Wrecking Bill illustration on the front of the New Zealand Herald is actually about the 2014 budget, wrecking the aspirations of the opposition in an election year.


The government basically pinched some of the opposition’s social welfare policies and built it into their own policies. This, in turn severely damages their election chances.

Obviously based on the Miley Cyrus Wrecking Ball video clip, the artwork and coverage package was well received by readers. We knew it would be risky, but we were very keen to break some new ground visually.

Find more samples of Rod’s work here.

That front page is from the Newseum. Of course.

We don’t see editorial cartoons or editorial cartoon-like-illustrations on page one very often. Here are a few from my collection:

A look at the National’s all-visuals edition from last Thursday

As we noted last week, the National of Abu Dhabi in the UAE published its Thursday edition with no narrative. Instead, the paper was full of pictures and infographics.

National editor-in-chief Mohammed Al Otaiba wrote the day before…

…a newspaper is not all words. We are visual creatures and pictures taken by talented photographers have the power to capture in a single image the absolute essence of a story, be it a heart-rending tragedy or a joyous triumph of the human spirit.

Tomorrow, The National turns six. Tomorrow the pen stops. Tomorrow we will show the news and let you, our readers, share with us what we see.

Thursday’s front page featured a montage of various images.

Laura Koot, managing editor and art director of the National was kind enough to send us a nice care package of PDFs. Click on any of the pages below for a much larger look.

Again, Thursday’s front page featured a montage of various images.


Note the little QR code in the middle of the page. Readers who wanted a little narrative with their stories Thursday could scan that code with their mobile device to read a story.

Directions on how to do this ran atop page three.


Notice the stories in the A section: Pictures and cutlines, with headlines beneath. No stories.

Page seven was a graphic look at a staple in the area, the date palm tree.


The center spread of the A section was this gorgeous look at fishing by staffer Antonie Robertson.


Page 11 was another graphic — this one is a look at separatist movements going on around the world.


Page 12 was another big photo essay — this one on a city in Gaza that houses 6,000 refugee Palestinians.


The photos are by famous war photographer Heidi Levine.

The sports section kicked off with an enormous wraparound photo of a cricket stadium by staffer Pawan Singh.


As was the case in South Africa during my visits there, cricket is big in the UAE. This double-page graphic on sports pages four and five looked at some of the biggest cricket stars in the world.


Here’s a closer look at the South African bowler at the far bottom right.


Pages six and seven hold a collection of photos from the previous night’s big win over Mumbai.


The pictures, like the cover wrap shot, are by Pawan Singh.

Pages eight and nine were about the Chinese Grand Prix Formula 1 race in Shanghai. The track diagram is cleverly presented as a traditional Chinese dragon.


Those are little caricatures of each of the 22 drivers around the sides, along with information such as world titles, wins in China, podium finishes and so on.


A little segment at the upper right also very cleverly shows what time the race will be on TV there in the UAE.


This is some brilliant work. Staffer Matthew Kurian is credited on the piece.

The business section starts out with an enormous portrait of a national bank president.


Pages four and five take a graphic look at the growing financial center of al Maryah Island.


Biz page eight contains a look back at world markets over the past ten years. That green line that does so well and the nosedives is the Dubai Financial Market.


Also very nicely done. Like several of the other big pieces, however, I see detailed source attribution but no credit line.

After all that visual news, it’s time for a little fun. Th front of the arts and life section illustrates some of the world-famous celebrities who can be found in Abu Dhabi these days. Kind of a Where’s Waldo? approach.


Among the folks hidden in that crowd scene:

  • Elvis Costello
  • Jeff Dunham and what appears to be a green-painted version of his puppet Peanut


  • Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
  • Ozzy Ozbourne
  • Bollywood actor Deepika Padukone
  • Justin Timerlake

That, too, is by Matthew Kurian.

And on page three, this flow-chart graphic helps you decide: Should you or should you not go to see the Lionel Richie concert Thursday night?


Again, there’s some pretty amusing stuff here.


Even the QC codes throughout the section have little pictures embedded in them.


Evelyn Lau, a features web editor for the National, tells us:

A bigger version of some of the graphs or charts can be seen in the Interactive section of the site.

Johannesburg daily Beeld switches to a compact for Saturdays

A couple of weeks ago, the Portland Oregonian converted from a broadsheet to a “compact” format.

Just three days later — on April 5 — one of the South African papers I worked with did the same thing.

This is Beeld, the daily Afrikaans-language paper of Johannesburg. On the left is the front page from Saturday, March 29. On the right is April 5’s relaunch front.


The sizes are about as good as I can approximate them here. The page width shrinks from 90 picas to 64 picas.

The idea is to make the Saturday paper stand out as a special edition that contains quit a bit of feature-like reading material and to give it some shelflife. The nameplate now reverses out of a red box and the cover becomes a magazine-like page with a lead photo and refers to stories inside. Stories no longer appear on the front.

This was the April 12 front page — the second week with the new look.


The commentary page features a smaller editorial, one column and one cartoon — this one is about sports — a quote of the week and lots of posts culled from Facebook.


The sports pages always used a lot of nice graphics from the folks I once tutored over at Graphics24. Looks like the new format means a little more space for them, perhaps.


The intro to this piece on Augusta National makes me laugh.


It says, roughly:

The Masters in America has a history that goes back so far far that one wonders whether Abe Lincoln didn’t participate in it.

Um, no. If there’s one place on Earth where Abraham Lincoln wouldn’t have been welcome, it’s Georgia. Trust me on this.

The name of this segment of the paper is called “Relax.” This particular story is a travel piece on Peru.


This one observes the 20th anniversary of the death of Kurt Cobain.


This technology page compares Amazon — yes, it serves Africa — with its South African-based equivalent, Kalahari.com.


Beeld always included a tabloid insert — they call it a “supplement” — with reader-oriented features stories. That’s not changing, despite the conversion of the entire paper to a more tabloid-like format.


This April 12 spread is an interview with sometimes-controversial radio show host Gareth Cliff, who recently announced he was leaving popular radio station 5FM.


Thanks to my old Media24 friend Arlene Prinsloo for sending the PDFs.

Because of all the time I’ve spent teaching at and consulting for Media24, I’ve posted quite a few pages from Beeld over the years. In case you’re curious…

  • Dec. 4, 2010: A fun first-person graphic [that I did] for the business page
  • Dec. 17, 2010: I told you it’s been raining here in Johannesburg
  • Feb. 11, 2011: Tomorrow’s front page today
  • Feb. 18, 2011: Fulfilling every stereotype of South Africa for you folks back home…
  • March 11, 2011: How Johannesburg’s Beeld is playing the earthquake/tsunami story
  • March 26, 2011: South African papers on their team’s cricket World Cup loss
  • May 11, 2011: A little contest horn tootin’ here…
  • May 18, 2011: Municipal election day coverage from South Africa
  • Nov. 22, 2011: South African newspapers observe ‘Black Tuesday’
  • Dec. 6, 2011: Beeld of Johannesburg, South Africa, redesigns
  • July 30, 2012: A Johannesburg paper celebrates Olympic gold for a South African swimmer
  • Aug. 1, 2012: Olympic gold medal elation on South African front pages
  • Aug. 8, 2012: There’s no front pages like snow front pages [This was during my last trip over there]
  • Aug. 12, 2012: How South African papers covered last week’s disastrous mine protest
  • Feb. 20, 2013: How South African visual journalists are covering the ongoing Oscar Pistorius story
  • Dec. 6, 2013: A sampling of Nelson Mandela front pages

Abu Dhabi’s the National publishes all-photo edition

The National newspaper of Abu Dhabi celebrated its sixth anniversary Thursday with a special edition that celebrated visuals.

Special as in: All photos and graphics and no stories.

National editor-in-chief Mohammed Al Otaiba wrote Wednesday…

…a newspaper is not all words. We are visual creatures and pictures taken by talented photographers have the power to capture in a single image the absolute essence of a story, be it a heart-rending tragedy or a joyous triumph of the human spirit.

Tomorrow, The National turns six. Tomorrow the pen stops. Tomorrow we will show the news and let you, our readers, share with us what we see.

Thursday’s front page featured a montage of various images.


That little blurb in the center tells readers they can still read the narrative that goes with today’s stories, but they’ll have to visit the web site or use their mobile devices to scan the QR codes on each page.

I’d love to show you a few inside pages. But you must subscribe to view the paper’s e-edition to see them. I failed to find anyone who could slip me a few PDFs.

In fact, there’s a lot going on in Abu Dhabi at the moment. Both Fast and Furious 7 and Star Wars Episode 7 are filming there, the National reports.