Day Three: “Ledes need to be concise and work as a launch pad into the rest of the story”


  • The Pendulum critique by Chris Whitley, Tarrant County College (located in Hurst, Texas)
  • The following are tips, advice and notes from Whitley about our latest edition of The Pendulum (Oct. 28, 2009)
  • Conscious decision to use serif and sans serif fonts for headlines?
  • Got a nice, clean look and design to it (front page)
  • Good name plate, good teasers boxes up on top
  • Really looks sharp (graphic) and makes the package looks good from the very top
  • Only thing on page one: if your redesign is still relatively new, might take a look at the beginning of next semester (don’t change in the middle of a semester) to look at making it a consistency to use serif or sans serif type. Serif type for headline, sans serif for jumps, bylines, etc.
  • If have big BIG story, want to have hammerhead with sans serif, but only save it for special occasions (things that you really want to draw attention to, this week doesn’t fit that)
  • Center spreads are different, if you want to make the style section stay apart from the news section, that’s fine. Throughout news, Lucida is a much better type
  • Might bump byline and position a little font size up a point bigger or two
  • Fighting flu story: good lede
  • Marijuana story: make lede more concise, misspelling in lede
  • Ledes need to be concise and work as a launch pad into the rest of the story to keep readers interested (with the lede)
  • Economic story: showcase second sentence by having it as its own paragraph. Try to avoid lede paragraphs that are more than one sentence
  • There are exceptions to every rule
  • Study abroad story, photo tilted
  • Club Belk extended cutline: too much text for extended cutline
  • Avoid ribbon-cutting photos (it’s a cliché photo); avoid like the plague. He’d rather see a law student entering the door to a new building, show what’s going on inside for the building, get to what is real. Ribbon cutting doesn’t get to what the heart of it really is
  • Opinion section: good clean design, nice color in section head, we give prominence to editorial (clear we take that seriously with the amount of space we give to it)
  • Comic hard to read, make hay with the printer about that (since it’s clear in the InDesign document)
  • Nice mug shots and column sigs, looks good
  • Make sure photos are similar, make sure lighting is consistent
  • Style: good photo page, got people, regular students, that is good. In line about alumni, why did she win that? Put that little extra detail in the cutline
  • Ledes in style too big, it’s okay to use the exact same sentences, just hit return (depending on the flow). Generally keep it to one sentence
  • Sports: cliché lede in cross country team (moment they are waiting for has arrived); focus on one student who is losing sleep over this meet, show a detail that is backing that statement up, rather than giving me that statement
  • Good organization on sports page, nice scoreboard and calendar
  • Good sports photos
  • Great visual back page: good art, text over photo is not something that always works, but here it does (it doesn’t take away from the photo), and it also shows that it is special when you do it this way
  • Likes multimedia button, perfect section to highlight what’s outside the paper and on the Web site
  • Contact: or 817.515.6674


  • Session by Bradley Wilson, Olympic College
  • On staff, photographers have the hardest job on the staff because reporters can pick up the phone and call somebody. If you need a picture, you can’t do that. You have to go out and deal with it, you can’t sit in the office and get your job done.
  • Being a photojournalist is not work. Find something you love to do, and you’ll never work a day in your life
  • Being a reporter is your excuse to ask anyone any question any time—without looking stupid
  • Yearbook should try to not have the same photos as the newspaper since they’ve already been seen by the community
  • Organization Chart: You have to have a chart
    • Do photographers answer to photo editor or editor? If need liaison between the two, put an art director or managing editor
    • Do photographers work for more than one media?
    • Who gives assignments?
    • Who is in charge of discipline?
  • Job descriptions:
    • Director of photography, photo editor, photographer, freelance,
    • Administrative vs. shooter
  • Making assignments:
    • Who gives assignments?
    • When are assignments given? Should have a weekly photo meeting (not e-mail)
      • Actively taking a written assignment, or a verbal contract
      • Agreeing to take a photo
      • Finding good action shots to take without being “told” to take them
    • What does an assignment entail? Detail line for line what you expect.
      • Step one: Shoot the photos
      • Step two: Download images
      • Step three: Cut the crap
      • Step four: Cull (with a partner) on what will make the story better
      • Step five: Basic editing
      • Step six: Caption
      • Step seven: Copy to server
      • Step eight: Backup raw images
      • Step nine: Delete raw images
    • Who handles emergency work or spot news? Make sure photographers have camera on them at all times. If you have a shooting on your campus, how are you going to mobilize people?
    • Copyright: who you’re employed by probably owns the copyright to the piece of work (don’t even have to be receiving money, using any type of gear or have a contract)
    • Types of assignments: feature, news, spot news, sports, portraits/mug shots, photo illustration, studio/still life
    • Have solved the caption problem! Team pays $1 for picture published, and $9 addition if there is a caption
  • Rewards/Motivation:
    • Gear (let them check it out, not required to have it when they walk on staff), access (press passes, credentials to take pictures and share it with the rest of the world), free meals (food is a huge motivator, free pizza! We will give you an ad for some free pizza, and with that free pizza we will train our staff), money (normally secondary motivator, if pay enough money by getting them to shoot enough, they may not have to get a second job and go away from the paper), awards (create awards for staff as well as enter in national ), credit (name being on front page of the paper), friends, trips (like coming to Texas, taking aerial photos from helicopter), fun (retreats, parties, etc.)
  • Contact:

SHOWCASING AUSTIN09: 7, convention center, 3rd floor

  • Session led by Lee Warnick, Brigham Young University-Idaho
  • Theme this year: hard to get people to pick up papers and engage with it
  • More than 50 slides
  • Went through more than 90 publication, looked at every page in those publications, looked at 8 magazines, broadsheet 40%, tabs 60%, looked at most recent editions (six full size broadsheets)
  • Will be surprises in who they show
  • If saw multiple things from one publication, they would eliminate some so that only two designs are represent one publication
  • Looking for: design, packaging and page architecture
  • Thin column on outside is using columns aggressively in juxtaposing to larger columns (little bite-size bits of information); bold, italics, etc. create variety but make sure keep legibility (not a lot of hyphens)
  • Clean, consistent introductions to each section (descenders with color bar underneath it); presentation techniques to readers
  • If dealing with information with a lot of little information, run as it stands alone with larger text story (design something that looks nice but also invites readers), make sure you can read through gradients, combine thin and bold
  • World news: point around globe to make a news page a design asset
  • Pulled out photographers they liked, package with running a good, solid image big and playing it up as an asset. Need headline big enough to handle the photo as well
  • Sports gives an opportunity toward the back of the paper to really dress up the pages, and photographers like to shoot it (they’ll bring back images that deserve to be run larger), opportunity to build dominate art in the back page
  • Instead of giving every sport its own photo, take one and really play it up
  • Center spread of the paper, run full page pictures and have photo that can handle it go with it
  • If have a lot of pages that have text, keep readers engaged by throwing in big photo and go back to text (pacing)
  • Printer needs to be good for reproduction
  • Three dimensional effect with photo, leg coming out on top of text box and text wrapped around it
  • Photographer has to go out shooting in advance knowing that this may be done with their work (wide shot with lots of room around it)
  • Interesting angles, go with new perspective to handle things a different way (type in neutral spot of the photo) and consistency of the page overall
  • Look for horizontal, vertical lines in photograph, line things up to the eye line, look for lines that are going to direct you to type
  • Triangle most dynamic shape to keep people circling on the page
  • Can build pages around people that have talent of illustration; illustrations can work to your benefit (think about it as an option to communicate a concept)
  • Four types of art: straight photography, photography illustration, cartooning, illustration
  • Turn over back cover to illustration and full-page cover (each week a new installment of the series)
  • One-page guide to prepare for earthquake, what to do if one happens, etc. not presented as long article, but as an easy-to-access package where you can digest information
  • Consistency in cropping (make sure heads are all the same size) and use opportunity to get people involved in the paper, allow neutral space to just be what it is
  • Don’t just list something because of your research package, make a nice, interesting package that presents inters to the readers
  • If you have a lot of information that is boring, but keep it fresh with plugging little bits of information in leading (bolding important parts), create consistency, pump up throw-away pages
  • Calendar different places in the paper attached to a different section (campus, sports, A&E, etc.), always at bottom of page and in the same form (template and easy to plug in), easy to read and carried out consistency throughout paper
  • Get people on campus involved by including information on the Web, playing it up in the paper
  • Infographic if don’t have the photo available, so sit at a computer and can still get reader to visualize something (don’t feel intimidated)
  • Convey a lot of information in two pages by breaking it up into several chunks
  • Include a set of valentines that you can clip out and hand out (take concept we’re familiar with so people realize what it is but make it fresh and unpredictable)
  • Staff member gives five tips to save money (cutout of person)
  • Come up with different ways to convey the information, OTHER than the article
  • Don’t be afraid to use a color pallet, but be consistent and make sure it makes sense (pay attention that we don’t just do things because we can; have a reason for the design decisions you’re making)
  • Look into the page and get some depth that way (don’t look just left to right), look for opportunities to do that, circular shapes against the linear
  • Need lots of different entry points (story, infographic, map, etc.); a lot of information being conveyed
  • Take something you run a lot and package it a different way (comparing one team to another), frame mug shots differently, take bits of information and direct people to them by running type in thin columns in center of the page (built a page around mugshots)
  • On opinion’s page, have four miniature columns that they can cover in 100 words on a narrow topic
  • Use bold colors but still have legible type, think of sizing (something need to run things a little bigger than we usually do; have contrast between them all)
  • Open leading to make story a little more appealing
  • Take a concept and pull in multiple pieces for an overall story; bold graphic to carry the page, but little pieces of information/graphics help complete the page (opportunities to help direct the readers to what you want them to see). Do it on a smaller scale and not cover as many elements
  • Want nameplate to be consistent each issue, since news is going to change
  • Work with photographer since you know you’re going to need a candid mugshot
  • What do you do when you don’t have a picture? Graphics can carry visual element, give practical information by showing it through numbers (have face/human element to make it relatable)
  • Rule lines to divide the information, want main images/headline to be above the fold, narrow column on edges to give bits of information, and good range of large, medium and small types of information packaged together
  • PENDULUM: Have main news story and complimented with graphic and photo for package, teaser than sends people to the Web site (good to consider, that there will be more information elsewhere), nice handling of name plate and clean look and good use of the space there, excellent typography

Andie Diemer


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