The ‘Chicken Salad’ may have had too many elements

Session: Chicken Salad II: Extreme Makeover

Michael Koretzky, Florida Atlantic University

This session could be painful—watching Koretzky completely redo newspapers that you know a staff spent so much time working on. However, he makes it not painful. He understands that people worked hard on it, but he just wants to make it better.

Some of the tips that he gave were very helpful and true:

  • Avoid putting photos of old people in the paper or as he called them people “almost dying.”
  • Editors should be able to write good headlines
  • All people are created equal, but not all photos are
  • You should make your design elements big
  • The front page story is often buried somewhere in the paper
  • Do not force art to go with a story, if art is not available
  • Ledes should not tell readers what to do
  • Clip art is not recommended

I felt that everything he was changing needed to be change. But I do not agree with how he changed things. I was overwhelmed by many of his design changes. After all the hype I had heard about his “chicken soup” sessions, I was hoping to be overwhelmed in a “this looks so much better” way. Unfortunately, I often just sat there going, TOO MUCH. STOP IT.

I agree that at times you need to go big or go home. But should you go that big on every design element of the front page? Well maybe, but I won’t pick up the paper. There are some simple elements that are attractive and have a point, and one of those points is to avoid scaring off audience members.

Basically I loved the idea of everything he did, but the execution left me a little unsettled.

-Rebecca Smith


One thought on “The ‘Chicken Salad’ may have had too many elements

  1. I beg your pardon, Rebecca, are you disputing my wisdom? From one of your elders? Good.

    We seem to agree on the major points, but I’m glad to read that my design style doesn’t mesh with yours. That’s what keeps media interesting. As I said in my session, I’m not God’s gift to journalism.

    I also respect that you differ with me dispassionately and back up your arguments. That kind of reasoned skepticism will take you far. Good luck with your career.

    — Koretzky

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