Monthly Archives: July 2009

Ceiling…uh…pix

z CEILINGTHE SITE CALLS IT “ceiling porn,” a name I consider rather unfortunate because it may repel could-be visitors. Actually, it has nothing to do with porn or anything near it.

On the deputy dog.com web site is a collection of photos of ceilings from buildings around the world. Their design is fascinating.

Many of the photos are from flickr.com and other sites and I’m intrigued by the way they’re sourced—just by linking to the original. How original (OK, I just couldn’t pass up the pun)!

Take a look when you have the time. I think you’ll be delighted you did.

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Poll results: Are contests worth it?

A VERY CLOSE FINISH in this poll, both positive answers. Of 43 total votes, 11 said “Absolutely! They let us know how well we’re doing.” There were 10 votes for “Yes. They help build newsroom morale when we win.” Together, those two categories totaled 49% of the votes.

POLL | CONTESTSThe most negative response, “Not worth a flip. We hardly ever enter” received only 4 votes.

Interesting “other” responses were:

“I think it’s a great way for made-up institutions to create revenue for themselves.’

“Yes, but they’re a pain in the butt.”

“We appreciate feedback.”

“Not worth a flip, but management makes us enter anyway.”

“We rarely win anymore. When we do, it doesn’t boost company morale.”

So, despite the negatives, it’s safe to say the sentiment is pretty much for keeping those contests going.

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Poll results: Free form ads—the work of the devil?

MOST OF YOU (11 of 29 total votes…38%) think “Yes! We’re selling our souls” by running free form ads.

POLL | FREE FORM ADS 07.26.09Another 21% felt “Yes, but as long as they’re not on page 1…” That result was tied by another 21%, who wondered” “Sheesh! What’s all the fuss about? It’s just another type of ad.”

There was only one “other” answer: ” I think they are a unique form of advertising. Just not for everyone.”

Looks like the “aginers” win this round. Still, 29 votes isn’t that many. Perhaps there’ll be another poll on this one as the use of free from ads increases. Oh, yes, I think we can be on seeing more of them.

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Back from Texas

I’M BACK HOME from my sojourn to west Texas but I can’t put my visit there away until I mention how deeeelightful it was. The entire time, I knew I was in the company of wonderful, salt-of-the-earth people who believe in a strong work ethic and giving their communities the best they can.

z WTPA LOGOThanks to Melissa Perner and her husband and family, who chauffeured me around. Thanks also to Susan Calloway, who provided me with some toothpaste (I can’t believe I forgot that stuff!) when the hotel had none to give.

And to all of those publishers and editors who were there for the workshop—and put up with me during my evaluations of their newspapers: You were super!

Working with people who really care about their papers isn’t really work. It’s a pleasure.

I hope they’ll invite me again. I’d go on a moment’s notice!

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Design is not an “extra”: The rant!

OK, I’VE HAD IT.

I recently received an e-mail from an editor who was excited about the prospect of doing a redesign.

We had reviewed an issue of her newspaper together and the paper very much needs design work. On top of that, she’s struggling just to put the paper together every week—her company switched her to InDesign a few months ago. Oh, yeah…they gave her some training to handle the new software. Four hours. With someone who knew nothing about how newspapers are put together, much less how newsrooms function.

z DESIGN NOT EXTRAHer e-mail read, in part: “…the company won’t fork out any money for any ‘extras’ at this time.”

I am tired of design being written off as an “extra.” And—honestly—it’s not because it means less business. It’s because thinking of design as an “extra” is so short-sighted, especially nowadays when publishers are jumping through hoops trying to gain and retain readers.

What is the first thing a person sees when he looks at your newspaper? The design. And that design speaks volumes about the product as a whole.

It tells readers yours is a newspaper that is credible. Or not.

It tells readers yours is a newspaper that is careful. Or not.

It tells readers yours is a newspaper that is planned. Or not.

It tells readers yours is a newspaper that is professional. Or not.

It tells readers yours is a newspaper that is polished. Or not.

It tells readers yours is a newspaper that is organized. Or not.

It tells readers yours is a newspaper that is consistent. Or not.

But, for far too many publishers, design is an “extra.”

Yeah…

Like accurate reporting is an “extra.”

Like good writing is an “extra.”

Like making deadline is an “extra.”

Like selling ads is an “extra.”

Like good sales training is an “extra.”

Like hiring the right people is an “extra.”

Like checking your P&L regularly is an “extra.”

Design is not an “extra.” Not in the least. It’s one of the key ingredients you need to create a newspaper that’s worth reading—and worth advertising in.

But it’s your choice. You can continue to discount the value of design…you can keep thinking of design as an “extra.”

Here’s a quote you may have heard before, but it certainly applies:

“If you keep doing what you’ve always done…then you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got.”

If you keep thinking of design as an “extra”…then you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got.

And eventually, even that P&L won’t matter.

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