Saturday, March 31, 2007

Unintentional and painful

The Houston Chronicle had a great story Thursday highlighting some of their goofiest mistakes. By inviting the public to laugh at their mistakes, laid bare, The Chronicle is taking a light-hearted step to regain a little trust. Reporters aren't right all the time, and editors can't catch every mistake; being completely honest with the times we have dropped the ball helps us prove we have nothing to hide.

Sometimes we have to write the wrongs
Everybody goofs — even us — so we thought you'd get a laugh out of these mistakes

Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle

We all make mistakes, write?

Chronicle staffers were red-faced Wednesday when a photo cutline for a story about Anna Nicole Smith in the Star section said, in part, "the model could barely right a sentence."

Oops, that would be "write a sentence."

Chronicle readers didn't miss it.

"So," said one reader's e-mail, "it wasn't just poor Anna Nicole who could 'barely RIGHT a sentence' ... ?!"

Some readers hoped the cutline writer was trying to be funny.

"Come on," said one. "If intentional, it's probably too clever, and, if unintentional, it's painful."

Giving the credit where the credit is due, check out the full story by Louis B. Parks on the Chronicle's website,, here. There's more amusing examples at the bottom.

Cleaning up the Post

On Friday, the Washington Post rolled out its new home page design. There's a letter from the editor here that explains the changes and the thinking behind it.

Changes include:

Less clutter: More white space, less long lines of text and links.

  • Multimedia strip: highlights photos, videos and interactives with "iTunes-like buttons."

  • Smart Living, a new lifestyle/feature section for the site, is highlighted on the front page.

  • Added Most Popular module

  • Page is designed with a lighter weight to enhance load times

I'm a huge fan of cleaner pages with more space. Being a clutter hater, I approve of the change. You?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Oops. Wrong pic.

People DO read online text

The most recent "EyeTrack" study -- computer research that tracks what people read by documenting the eye's path through publications -- was released this week at the annual meeting of the American Society of Newspaper Editors in D.C. (Here's the blog entry.) It suggests that people read online text more comprehensively than they do print matter -- a reversal of common thought. The Poynter study is available here.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

This kills me

Personally, I don't think question marks should ever be used in heds. The Trib does it all the time, and, quite honestly, it just strikes me as lazy; you can always find a better hed. To me, the newspaper's job, above all else, is to be informative. It's harder to do that when you are always asking moronic, rhetorical questions in your news space.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Who does it best?

I though it was interesting the way these two different Massachusetts papers ran the same centerpiece. I'm not sure how the two are affiliated - the Patriot Ledger is out of Quincy, Mass. and The Enterprise is out of Stockton, Mass. - but it's clear that they're working with the same series about "wasted youth" (though The Patriot says it's a 3-part series and The Enterprise says it's a 4-day series). Anyway, I thought these slightly different layouts highlighted how much of a difference subtle changes can make. Personally, I like The Ledger's font and placement for the "Desperate Measures" hed better than The Enterprise's. I think it helps show the severity of the issue. I think it's interesting how they both used the large, red letters to start the story. It's also interesting how both photos have the same cutline, but The Enterprise capped and bolded the first part of the sentence in theirs while the Patriot Ledger used a small bullet point to set theirs off.

Overall, I don't know if I can say I necessarily like one better than the other - they're so similar - but it really does get you thinking about design!

SND has a baby publication

I'll copy below a notice that just arrived in my e-mail:
WELCOME TO Update: The Blog

Spinoffs are not a new concept. We all missed Cheers when it went off the air. Frasier was a nice evolution; it filled a void in many TV fans' schedules. But it's not every day that we can introduce you to an SND-produced spinoff. (Drumroll please... )
Welcome to SND Update: The Blog!
The blog will...
* Endeavor to make and break visual journalism industry news
* Keep you up to date on the happenings in and around The Society
* Help keep you connected to happenings within your SND region. Board members are going to start publicizing more events and happenings on The Blog, to get more information out to the entire membership in a much more timely fashion.
As always, please contact Update Editor Tyson Evans if you have ideas, suggestions or feedback for Update (the print edition), or email us at Update: The Blog at ...

When you check it out, you might enjoy the birthday cake video in honor of helvetica. :-)

Monday, March 26, 2007

Malicious Web comments

What do you think about the new trend of allowing readers to comment on newspapers' Web sites? In a way, I can see why editors would think it was a good idea. Readers can feel more connected to the stories, and sometimes can even give tips that lead to more stories. Both of these things are true, but rare. What happens more often is that people leave vulgar, racist or even violent comments, like this recent article in the Washington Post describes.

News sites leave disclaimers saying the opinions of these "peanut galleries" do not reflect that of the organization, but do you think it affects the respectability of the Web site anyway? How does freedom of speech play into this? Should the opportunity to leave comments be continued? What do you guys think?

Friday, March 23, 2007

51-second "total tool error"

"John Edwards suspends White House bid." So read a hed on -- until it was replaced. Executive editor Jim Brady said it was the result of a glitch that had nothing to do with a journalistic decision. Seems heds to possible stories are backlogged, ready to go as soon as they're needed to post a story online FAST. This one went on too fast. After 51 seconds, it was replaced by a hed that reflected the facts. Media Bistro captures the story here and here.

Really though?

I was reading through Romenesko today - I'm addicted - and came across an entry regarding a national journal article (it's linked) about how newspapers have given up on design. I also read not too long ago about how no U.S. papers won some design contest because they're not pushing the envelope (I forgot the link, sorry).

Anyway, I think together they're both very interesting because essentially they're both giving up on American newspaper design. I don't necessarily think they should. I would agree that not enough papers experiment with design as they should, but I think there are some notable exceptions, the Virginian-Pilot being one of the most obvious. What are your thoughts?

Also this past week (Wed - Fri), we've been trying to spice up the front page a bit for The State Press so if anybody has suggestions for future issues, please let me know. We have five weeks left, I figure I better play around while I can! Oh and the person who can catch my major mistake in the issue picture (it's on the front page) rocks.

Why are newspapers obsessed with weather stories?

Rain is not news -- even in the desert. So why, then, do newspapers tend to go into a tizzie every time a few drops fall. I realize yesterday's storm was a bit uncommon, but so is a major presidential candidate's wife finding out she has a recurrence of cancer. As is a Senate panel approving subpoenas for members of the president's staff. Those things didn't appear on the front page of the Trib this morning, though our cloudy skies did.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Journalism educators must leap diversity hurdles... ?

I came across this article from the Society of Professional Journalists webpage. It is an excerpt from Sally Lehrman's book News in a New America (I believe it was published in 2005 so it is a bit older) and is aimed at young journalists and their educators; I was wondering what everyone thought.
It basically outlines the lack of diversity in journalism schools across the nation. It says that less than 1 in every 12 full professors are someone of color and only 40% of the teachers are women. The excerpt recommends that teachers integrate more readings by authors of different races to help "diversify" us. It says that if we graduate without knowledge of diversity we will have a handicap in reporting because newsrooms want to hire people who can cover a multicultural society.
Personally, I don't feel that the Walter Cronkite school been very outgoing in trying to diversify us. However, we are living in Phoenix - a place that is definitely not lacking in culture. Do you feel like you're lacking in journalistic diversity?

A LOT of census info..

I thought it was interesting that I happened to pull up this frontpage from The Charlotte Observer after hearing Jennie Buckner speak yesterday. It caught my attention because it seemed very busy from the thumbnail showed on newseum. Upon clicking on it, it wasn't much different. Census information was just released (and Maricopa county is the fastest growing county, if you hadn't heard) and this article talks about the boom in Charlotte, NC. While the centerpiece is VERY informative, theres almost too much information. I like to stand by the rule that less is more in most cases, and this is a bit too busy for me. I don't know where to look. It's ironic because the woman in the picture beneath the map looks just as confused as I did when I first looked at it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Newspapers Under Siege

In the first of the Paul J. Schatt Lecture series, three panelists discussed the future of the journalism industry and ethics with a moderately good turnout of students and faculty.

Jennie Buckner, who spoke to us earlier today, Jim Crutchfield, former president and publisher of the Akron Beakon Journal, and Tim McGuire, former editor and senior vice president of the Minneapolis Star Tribune talked about the issues while sitting on comfortable- and expensive-looking furniture on the stage of the Evelyn Smith Music Theatre.

The panel predicted that newspapers were going to morph and slim down, but that their content will have to get more ambitious if they are going to survive. There will need to be a balance between the expectation for reporters to write five or six stories in a day, and the expectation for reporters to write in-depth stories. Meanwhile, the Web should be used to experiment, to push the envelope, and post news more instantly.

Some of the issues include: The fact that you can't charge people to read a newspaper's Web site. Young people *typically* don't read the newspaper as much as older generations do. One major complaint with today's media is that it is too biased. (I thought it was clever that McGuire, currently the Frank Russell Chair in the Business of Journalism at the Cronkite School, would assign his students to find 10 examples of the media being biased, and the students complained that the assignment was too hard.)

On ethics, Buckner said they will be the deciding factors for those news organizations that "make it." Crutchfield said, "If we give up our ethics, we're toast." With the increasing number of news sources, credibility and reliability will be a news organization's most valued asset.

During the question-and-answer portion toward the end, McGuire referenced a conversation he had with Dr. Thornton. It was about how broadcast-oriented students and newspaper-oriented students interpret stories differently. He said Cronkite School professors "have to take that as a challenge," which I thought was interesting.

Overall, the panel didn't discuss ideas that were necessarily ground-breaking. Many of the industry trends they discussed have already been covered in our classes or overheard in the newsroom, but it was still worth attending, if only to gain additional perspectives.

Easy editing fix. What is it?

From an e-mailed feature headlined: TODAY'S WORD ON JOURNALISM--Wednesday, March 21, 2007

ENG 101 (from the Hunh? Dept):
"The facts are stunning. More than 40 percent of students arrive on college campuses needing remedial work. . . . Colleges and universities spend billions of dollars a year trying to bring those unprepared students up to speed. . . . The whole nation is suffering as a result. America is fast losing its lead in critical fields.
A survey of professors and HS teachers finds that 84% of profs and 65% of teachers think HS grads are unprepared for college. Worse: 6% of profs think students are very well prepared in writing, compared to 36% of HS teachers."
--Chronicle of Higher Education, March 10, 2006

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

By Jove, is that a Soundslide screengrab?

It is indeed -- on the bottom of the Syracuse, N.Y., Post Standard today.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Four years in Iraq: Cool centerpiece

This centerpiece took a different approach to the war and I found it really interesting. It tells the stories of the war's supporters, and I like how it stacked three pictures on top of each other. The top picture is of a Korean War veteran, who is an avid supporter. The woman in the middle is holding the dogtags of her brother, who was killed in Iraq. The woman on the bottom supports the war, which creates a rift between her and her family. All three pictures were taken by different photographers, and I think they put together the triple cutline very well.
While the pictures are creative and exciting, they leave little room for the story on the side. The headline is stunted and awkwardly-worded, and they even tried to cram an info box into the rail, which I think makes it look cluttered and confusing.
The things I like about the pictures help to balance out the negative aspects of the story layout. All and all, I'd give this page a "B+" for effort.

Newspapers Under Siege: Ethics on the Firing Line

Don't forget the Schatt Lecture this Wednesday (the 21st) at the Evelyn Smith Music Theatre here on the Tempe campus. Panelists are Jennie Buckner (in picture), former editor of The Charlotte Observer and vice/president/News for Knight Ridder; Jim Crutchfield, Edith Kinney Gaylord Visiting Professor in Journalism Ethics here at Cronkite and former president and publisher of the Akron Beacon Journal; and Tim McGuire, Frank Russell Chair in the Business of Journalism (Cronkite) and former editor and sr. v.p. of the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune. Kristin Gilger will moderate. For directions and parking, see The picture accompanies a story at this page.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Fouth years...

This is from the Orange County Register and I thought is was pretty dramatic with the black background and chosen photos. Compared to the rest of the pages on, this one stood out so much. The photos that accompany this piece can really tell a story and black is really the pretty color to represent the things happening over there. I don't think many people thought it would continue for four years, but now it doesn't seem surprising that it may continue for another five. Other papers I saw mentioned that we are going into our fifth year there, but few did it in such a dark light. I find this front page powerful and eye catching. Terry O.

Guilty until proven innocent?

Check out the second item on this blog, the one that starts with "The second is about something concerning me more and more..." It's about the issue of journalists implying the guilt of suspects before they've had their due process in court, just like the story we looked at for extra credit for our midterm. In this case, a story about a paramedic who allegedly stole money from a patient came straight from the wire with the headline "Paramedic took patient's money." Doesn't sound like there's any doubt that he did it, huh? Well, the Charlotte Observer printed the story with that exact headline. WCNC later published the same story with a much better, rewritten headline "Paramedic accused of theft from patient, co-workers." I guess this just goes to show how important it is to be extra-sensitive and careful when editing and writing heds for crime stories.

Do you have what it takes to be... THE INTERN?

The Society for News Design is once again prepared to choose five summer interns for Big Time papers. Unfortunately, unless you're here next semester, you may not be eligible. So check this out and see if you know someone who is... The internships are awarded on the basis of a "live" competition among 10 contestants. It will take place in October in Boston at SND's annual convention. Check it out. You might be interested in the conference, too. UPDATE: See the campaign put together by last year's winner, William Couch. Guess where he did his internship?

Poynter Ethics

Took me a while to get one of these under my belt, and there will likely be more than one tonight.

But anyway, I was browsing the ethics section at and found a listing of ten criteria that a good journalist should follow in making a good ethical decision. It's a pretty standard list, but the only issue is that it was posted seven years ago. A great deal has changed in this profession, particularly in online media, in the past seven years and was curious if anyone had something to add to this list. I'll leave the link here if any of you should feel inclined to check it out.

Friday, March 16, 2007

What would you do...

if you were asked to edit this piece of copy: WASHINGTON (March 16) - Valerie Plame put a glamorous face and a personal story to Democrats' criticism of the Bush administration Friday, telling a House committee that White House and State Department officials "carelessly and recklessly" blew her CIA cover in a politically motivated smear of her husband.

Would you find a touch o' sexism in it?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

What's wrong with this pic?

Well, it shows personal and non-public information of this lottery winner. The Morning Sentinel in Maine published a photo in print and online that clearly revealed the winner's address and Social Security number. The Lottery Post had a full discussion of the case and linked to the picture file. That's the image that's reproduced above. In print, it was more legible. One Sentinel reader wrote: "What has he won? Because of the lack of editing he has won a lifetime of grief. Within seconds of glancing at this picture, I noticed the form in the picture includes the man's name, address, telephone number, date of birth and even his Social Security number." The editor has apologized and offered to hire someone to go over the man's credit reports.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Free TimesSelect and the 2nd Kristof contest

The New York Times said today it will give free access to its premium online stuff (it's really good) to anyone with an .edu address. Use it to view some of Kristof's work; if you don't know it, you'll be impressed. It's some of the groundbreaking multimedia work being produced today and it's of particular interest to us because Kristof's background is print.

Guess it was like spontaneous birth

From an IT message: At 10:15 am, all power was restored. All effected devices have been tested to be working normally.

How'd *you* like to be a college editor?

Uh, I know we have some ringers in class. :-) This might be particularly interesting to you. I'm linking to a blog entry by Jon Friedman titled "How a campus editor faces real-world challenges / Commentary: A journalist for the Albany Student Press applies common-sense solutions." Nick Reisman wrestled with whether or not to run a column that said condoms weren't necessary during sex. Check here for his decision and his 20/20 thoughts.

Monday, March 12, 2007

March madness driving me crazy

I was looking at newseum today as I like to on Mondays to see the bigger news stories. I came across this one and it made me cringe. It is a perfect example of how my office functions and looks during March Madness. The bracket pages everywhere and people looking like there is something serious going on, only to find out it is basketball on everyone's lips. I like the graphic a lot because it is so realistic for me. The sliver of basketball is nice too. I can't wait til it's over!!
Terry O'Reilly

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

An eye-catching sign

OK, so I know what Stephanie feels like .... I do feel a little lame posting twice in one day.

This centerpiece, however, was simple and creative at the same time and deserved some attention. The use of this common towing sign really draws the readers attention, especially if you've had your car towed -- not fun. The abundant space on both sides of the text really brings you in, and, at the same time, makes the "sign" look more authentic. Another interesting feature is that the edges of the "sign" are dirty, which also makes it look a little more authentic... because I don't think I've ever seen a clean towing sign. This was just a really artistic way to display a story that could have been somewhat boring.

Not your typical fire photo..

I was poking around newseum today and this paper caught my eye. Since we started working on our centerpieces I've been noticing them a lot more and REALLY enjoyed this one. Well, I didn't enjoy it in the sense that it is about a 2-year-old boy dying in a fire, but I think that the image used is VERY effective. Without trying to sound insensitive, I'm sick of seeing that typical picture of friends/family members crying at a scene where a tragedy has occured... you all know what I'm talking about. This centerpiece in the Winston-Salem Journal used a photo of a burnt Bible on the family's front porch where the little boy died. It's eye-catching and really hits home. Even if you're not religious you know that there is some sort of feeling applied to a burnt Bible. I think the best thing about this image is that it isn't just art, its an actual picture from the scene. To be honest, the first thing I thought after seeing this picture was the family crying around the remains of the house. I guess that just proves my point that having the typical "tragedy photo" would be a little redundant...