Tuesday, April 28, 2009

And on the eighth day, TNH gave us videos

Relative newbie freshman Zack Cox opened up in the staff interview, even if he doesn't know what he's doing next year.

Because it needed explanation. Brandon walks us through the Playoff Beard.

Monday, April 27, 2009

We're doin' a 180! Well, kinda...

The section formerly known as Arts & Leisure has switched it up again. In previous weeks, we ran a design called The Verb, but last Friday, we took Etc. for a test drive. The changes are a pretty dramatic shift because the Etc. design adheres to a more traditional newspaper layout. For starters, the flag runs along the top of the page which is standard for most section fronts. Also, the events column (still called The Groundling) runs along the left side of the page where a regular commentary piece or information box might normally sit.

As nice as it turned out, we like the design of The Verb more for a couple of reasons:
1) The Verb looks a little bit more 'artsy,' if you will. The top-of-the-page flag of Etc. gives the section a nice, clean look but its aesthetic appeal and white-space quotient is ultimately diminished by the cramped feeling of the rest of the page.
2) Speaking of cramped, the presence of "The Groundling" as a side bar is distracting and takes up too much space on the front page for the other articles to have a bit of breathing room. Further still, there just isn't enough space to fit as many events as we would like to see accommodated.

BUT we do really like the "What we're listening to" box and have grand plans to do more with it in the future.

Verdict: We'll probably stick with The Verb.


Friday, April 24, 2009

TNH cleans up at 2009 awards banquet

Last Tuesday, April 21, UNH Student Organization Services, held its annual awards banquet, honoring the accomplishments of UNH's student orgs and the individuals that participated in them.

This year, The New Hampshire took home four awards:
  • Publication of the Year
  • Rookie of the Year: Christine Hawkins
  • Student Leader of the Year: John Wayne Ferguson
  • Organization of the Year
We are extremely proud of our accomplishments this year and humbly thank SOS for the recognition.

The picture above shows only a small fraction of the people who were involved at TNH this year. To date, there are over 150 students on TNH's contact list, all of whom have contributed to part of our organization - from writing and photography to advertising and distribution - at some point this year.

And while TNH did not win the Phoenix Award for the most improved organization this year, it was the first time in many years that we were honored at the banquet, a fact in itself that shows how much we've changed over the past year.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Announcing your new student body leaders

At noon today, the student senate released the results of this year's student body elections.

The next pair of students to hold the position of student body president and vice-president will be Marie Charlotte Noreng and Richard Washburn Peyser III. The pair received 32.8% of the vote (637 out of 1,938 votes).

There was a drastic drop 0ff in voter turnout this year. Of 11,720 possible voters, only 1,938 entered a vote, a 16.5% turnout. Last year, 4,019 of 10,998 voters elected John Banks and Stephanie Saporito, a 37% turnout.

Nicholas Benson, the sole candidate for the student trustee position, won took in 1,793 of the possible 1,938 votes.

Look for full coverage of this story in tommorow's edtion of The New Hampshire

Friday, April 17, 2009

Taking the first step

It was a different production night. After much reflection, celebration, and sugar (lots and lots of sugar), the staff of 2009-2010 took the reigns on Thursday. And, knock on wood, everything went off without a hitch. Or at least nothing a quick phone call wouldn't fix.

Cam took his spot in the Batcave. His big project was writing his letter from the editor. Like his predecessor, Cam outlined goals for TNH - including a new business section and a beat system. Missing though was something about adding a coffee maker to the newsroom. Caffeinated journalists are happy journalists.

Keeley manned the news section with ease. Her first night included editing 11 stories, picking the lead, then planning for next week. Not bad, not bad. Next week, she's going to juggle flaming swords while reciting the periodic table.

And brave Brandon Lawrence did NOT crawl into the fetal position underneath the sports desk. No, instead he valiantly put together the first of many sports pages, switching between seats. With a little help from some cameo appearances, Bran put out a good looking back page. Pretty impressive considering before Thursday he's only ever looked at InDesign.

So there you have it. The new crew took over, and the office still stands. Now we've only got, what, 50, 60 more times? Sweet.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Inside the newsroom

Christine Hawkins, Keeley Smith, and Tori Lewis (with a few other cameos) hang out on a production night

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Joe's last night

After three years of dedication to The New Hampshire, Joe O'Connell is now just a contributor. He took some time out on his last night to talk about the ups and downs of being married to MUB 156

Friday, April 10, 2009

'the verb' finally launched!

After much toil, we bring you the new look of the section formerly known as Arts & Leisure. This is one of two designs we plan on experimenting with, but hope to run at least three or four trial sections before the close of the spring semester. Get excited.


What's changed this year

Feeling a little retrospective today. One of our goals at TNH this year has been to provide the paper with a more consistent and professional look. Obviously, our front page had a significant makeover, but we also overhauled the inside of the paper. Today, I went and grabbed a couple pages from papers this year, as well as the corresponding pages from the equivalent editions from the '07/'08 school year.

What I'm stressing today isn't the content, but the look of the pages.

Here are pages 2 and 3 from the March 6, 2009 edition

And here are the same two pages from the March 4, 2008 edition

Bullet points on the changes that were made, since I've been told my posts are too long.
  • Index w/ page numbers and summaries moved from front to Page 2. Leaving more room for design on the front, and quick bites on the inside. Cons: Depending on who writes the index summaries, they can be more comedic than most editors prefer.
  • Corrections moved from Opinion to A2 and staying there every week. It shows we're not trying to hide our mistakes.
  • "Seen around Durham" adds at least one more picture to the paper. However, we still need to find the photogs to take good and consistent standalone art.
  • The extra space underneath the photo was meant for rotating "fun" content, community announcements, and selected calendar events.
  • On the third page, we decided to anchor it and make the "World" page on Tuesdays and the "Nation" page on Fridays. There are definitely influences from the Boston Globe, the paper I grew up reading, and I think it's good to have a "zoomed out" page to provide some historical context to what's going on in the world. Cons: Some people don't like having AP stories so high up in the paper
  • As for what we took out. There's no more calendar anywhere in the physical paper. This is mostly because it was a pain in the ass to fill out every week and was mostly filled with the same exact things every issue. It'd be one thing if we had a reporter that took the time to develop an interesting calendar, it's another to just take the things that are on the UNH site and paste them in without any thought.
  • Finally, because of the anchor section that we placed on Page 3, the opinion section can no longer ever appear in that spot. I believe that's a good thing and that at least some sort of news should always appear before the opinion section. Today, depending on the number of pages we are producing the opinion section will be on Pages 4 and 5 or, more often, Pages 6 and 7.
  • One other thing that we were able to kill this year were those big-ass house ads that used to take up so much space in the our paper. Some people complain about the amount of wire content we run. What they often fail to realize is that, in the past, the space that the wire content fills would have been taken up by a house ad. I'd take news, even wire news, over a house ad any day, so that's why we do it.
There will be more comparisons coming soon, since I think this is going to be very similar to what my portfolio looks like.

Thanks for reading,


TNH celebrities

We're in the presence of celebrities. Can you name the pop star and Wings fan?

Possible Business Logo?

Admire it. Bask in its glow. Take in all of its glory. Yes, I am a magician. Yes, those bills do appear to be actually inside his mouth because you can still see his teeth on the outside. No, I'm not quite this condescending all the time.

This is the possible business logo for next year. It took me a long time to make and I'm proud of it because I had to learn a lot of techniques in Photoshop and then play with them for a while before I got to the finished product. And I'm still deciding if the 'Cat needs a top hat and monocle, which would be uber-badass, but might make it look too busy.

I won't do as in-depth of a lesson as John has done with his great tree design and hockey front page, but I will go through a little bit of my process.

I don't remember what I Googled, but it was something along the lines of "put one picture in another" and I found a good tutorial. I'd link to it, but I couldn't find it again. Anyway, the first thing you have to do is get the two images you will use. Done and done.Then, I used the eraser tool in Photoshop to erase all the background around the crushed money to end up with this:Then came the hard stuff. Naturally, I won't go into too much detail about the tough parts because I can't explain it very well in my own words. Life's solution: Google it and learn it on your own.

I will tell you that from what I remember, I used the polygonal lasso tool to draw the shape I wanted to place the money into (inside the 'Cat's mouth, making sure to go around the teeth to give it the desired effect). Then a quick click of "Paste In Place...," some resizing, and a counterclockwise rotation gave me the visual orgasm you see at the top of the page. I love it. Do you?


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Front Page Ads

In order to deal with their dire financial situations, many newspapers have had to consider adjusting the way they do business in order to keep float. For some papers, this has meant cutting the number of pages, dropping wire content, firing staff, charging for web content or stopping home deliveries.

While most of those measures are aimed at cost-cutting, there are only a few ways papers have found to increase revenue: most notably, they have started to put advertisements on the formally sacrosanct front page. It's not a new concept, smaller and struggling papers have had this practice for decades. But at larger, more respected newspapers, A1 was always for editorial content only.

Last year, The New York Times took the leap, and put ads on their front page (and made buckets of money doing it). While there is not an ad on the front every day, I wouldn't classify them as "rare" either.

For instance, today's NYT featured an ad for an upcoming miniseries on CBS (who seem to pay for a large percentage of the A1 ad content)

This ad is pretty typical of what has been appearing in the Times, a banner across the bottom , underneath the editorial content. The color, the layout and the text are all significantly different from the way the news looks, meaning no one can confuse the ad as something else.

On today's LA times, the situation was a little different.
That boxed in article on the left side? That's an ad, made to look like, at first glance, like a news article. Now, LAT probably insisted on a couple things in the ad to make it look separate from the news - the sans serif text and hed, the boxed-in article, the big NBC logo above the story). NBC probably payed out the wazoo for it too.

To me, the LAT ad pushes the limits on what front page ads should be. This one cuts into too much editorial space, risks confusing readers and is ugly. I understand the Tribune company is desperate, but I'm really surprised they chose to allow that much advertising on the front page. I guess it's good that they didn't allow the ad to go above the fold. Also, notice how the designer made sure the article it is not flush with top of the "Citizens snared" article, in order to make sure the reader had to look more closely at the story and differentiate news from ads.

And while what the LAT did was distasteful, what UCLA's student paper did this week is practically criminal.

On Tuesday, the Bruin had a wrap-around ad that covered their front page.

Here's what the real front page looked like

And here's what real front was wrapped in and what people saw when they picked up the paper.


Apparently, there was much objection from the editorial staff over the fake front, and even offers by the staff to pay for the cost of the ad to stop it from running, but not enough to stop it from going to print.

The editors of the paper wrote in an editorial in the same paper

The Daily Bruin senior staff has begrudgingly agreed to run an advertisement as the front page of today’s paper. We see it as a regrettable but relatively unavoidable consequence of the recent financial trends devastating our sources of revenue and our industry....We were forced to make a decision we find distasteful at best – and dishonest and unethical at worst – because of the ever-present and unrelenting reality of the economy and the downturn of the journalism industry.
The editorial goes on to say that, because of the amount of money the ad was bringing in, the paper had no choice but to print it in order to "save the paper".

And without knowing to full extent the way the Daily Bruin operates and what their financial situation is, I can't outrightly criticize them. I will say, however, that at TNH, an ad like that would never had made it to a production, no matter how much money it brought in. Of course, TNH has the benefit of funding from the university, while the Bruin is independent and apparently running short on cash.

Still, I'm amazed the Bruin doesn't have some kind of guidelines for this sort of situation, in order to prevent advertisers from this kind of trickery, or an adviser or manager that has the sense to stand up to it. There are certainly other kinds of ways the company could have set up their ad (and I'd argue, there are ways to do it more attractively as well).

In March, TNH's advertising department was given the go-ahead to discuss front- and back-page advertisements with clients. So far, we have not had a buyer, but it is unlikely that our front will remain immaculate forever. I hope and believe we will never let our ads get this far, and our ad reps have been told as much.

I hope the Bruin's blunder serves as a lesson for everyone as to what could happen if we allow our fear of losing money to override our journalistic integrity.

Here endeth the lesson,


Where I originally found the story
The Bruin's editorial about the ad
A note from the editor about the Bruin's ad
From Variety: LAT sells front page to Southland
LAT editors objected to the ad

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The World Needs More People Like Mike Ilitch

As a former resident of the Detroit area (I lived a half-hour away in Canton, Mich.), I will hopelessly defend the downtrodden city to the very end. I'm overly obsessed with my Red Wings and Wolverines, and I leisurely root for the Lions, Tigers and Pistons (oh my!) as well whenever the season calls for it. That's why whenever a new story comes out about the Big Three automakers, I'm always intrigued to read it.

While I do think the Big Three have had awful business strategies for a long time, it's terrible to see them in such dire straits. The city can't survive without them. And Detroit is a great city; the country wouldn't be the same without it.

That's why the world needs more people like Mike Ilitch. He owns the Red Wings and Tigers and could probably buy the rest of the world too, if he felt like it. Ilitch runs charities, donates millions per year, provides jobs for the unemployed with his Little Caesar's pizza chain, and simply never puts himself first in any situation. He has more give than a broken trampoline.

So, you should read this article. It's written by my favorite columnist, Mitch Albom, and is truly a great piece of writing. Every week Mitch doles out anywhere from 700-1000 words, and every week he impresses me. He's not just a sportswriter; he's a human magician with words. Albom's archive is here. I highly recommend it.

It's always nice to appreciate good stories when you find 'em. Just thought I'd share.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A college newspaper's worst nightmare

The Daily Universe, the student newspaper of Brigham Young University, had to recall there entire press run and reprint today's paper because of a typo on the front page.

From the Salt Lake Tribune,
A caption on a photo from this weekend's LDS General Conference stated that "Members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostates and other general authorities raise their hands in a sustaining vote Saturday morning. ..."
The group was actually called the "Quorum of Apostles". Ooops...

Quick vocab lesson
Apostle (n) 1. A person sent our on a special mission 2. any of the twelve disciples sent out by Christ to teach the Gospel...6. any of the twelve administrative officials of the Mormon church

Apostate (n) a person guilty of abandoning beliefs; renegade

While they are only separated by three words in Webster's New World Dictionary (apostatize, a posteriori, and apostil) they're obviously a world apart in meanings.

The paper's editors said mistake was not intentional, but rather due to a spell-checking error that got through at least three levels of editors.

For the non-newsroom savvy, that may seem like a lot, but coming from personal experience, spell check is the newsroom's worst enemy. It wasn't until this past year that TNH had a mandatory spell check on our InDesign documents, and even then, editors often forget take that last step. Or, like happened here, spell check is used but the editor just makes sure the words are words, not that they're the right words.

If this typo had happened in TNH, it's very unlikely would have pulled the run and reprinted it. Off the top of my head, I can't think of a situation where we would do that (at least when it comes to typos, if there was something libelous or defamatory we'd probably pull it). It would require a correction in the next issue of the paper.

Of course, this typo is a little more personal to BYU and the members of that community, but do you think it's bad enough to reprint the day's run? I'm not convinced.

Here's the Salt Lake Tribune story

The letter explaining the mistake from The Daily Universe

and their original article about the error

In that last link there is a student that says that he thought the paper was always sloppily edited, a criticism I'm sure every college newspapers (and most professional ones) hear. Newpapers aren't perfect, but that's why they made correction pages.

Here endeth the lesson,


Friday, April 3, 2009

Front Page Design: Can I put "tree drawing" on my resume?

Hi again,

I'm back with another tale about designing the front page of TNH. Last time, we had a great photo to work with for the lead story. Yesterday, we had nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada. It's not exactly an uncommon problem to not have lead art for the paper, that's a problem that comes with not having many photographers.

Fortunately, we had already known earlier in the week that Kyle Stucker's piece about the open forum on strategic planning and plans to improve the quality of education at UNH would probably be our centerpiece story. While it's not exactly a topic that screams "Graphics!", it doesn't hurt to have ideas stewing in your mind for a couple of days, just in case something better doesn't reveal itself.

In doing some token research of the open forum, I came across a Facebook group dedicated to get students involved in the process called
"What's the Best/Worst of UNH? How Do We Make It BETTER?" That group featured a list of nine "working groups" that would help determine the university's overall direction. Essentially, we had nine parts to a whole

It wasn't much, but it was something, so we ran with it, thinking if something better came up we could scrap it and change directions.

The next step was deciding how to display the nine work groups graphically. This was a little tricky because we're dealing with some pretty vague concepts. I knew I wanted something simple, even geometrical if possible. So, after a round of word associations alongside Managing Editor Extraordinaire Nate Batchelder, I came up with the following logos for each of the working groups. I've bolded the words that were especially inspirational.

Breaking Silos, Scrambling Categories: Integrating the Academy Horizontally and Vertically

Research: New Frontiers and Old Challenges
My original idea was a sunset, to represent "frontiers". That was shot down.

Teaching and learning: Modalities, Technology and Contexts in the 21st Century

Communities and Alliances: Expanding and Deepening UNH's Strategic Partnerships
The original idea here was to have a set of linked chains, but I couldn't figure out for the life of me how to draw that. So we went with a Venn Diagram instead.

Affordability and Access: Developing a Sustainable and Socially Responsible Business Model for UNH

Sustainability: Extending the UNH Commitment
Yeah, yeah. I know sustainability isn't just about recycling. But I think it works better symbolically than a lightbulb or a tree. You'll see in a moment another reason I didn't want to use a tree.

STUDENT EXPERIENCE: UNH As A Student-Centered Institution
Drawing concentric circles is deceptively difficult. I wish I had spent a little more time on this one. We also thought about drawing a graduation cap or a diploma, but this was simpler and faster to draw.

New Markets: Generating Resources to Meet Core Missions
Another case where I was starting to feel the time crunch. This is supposed to be a drop of water (or oil). Something is off about the bump on the bottom and the slope of the sides.
I also don't think the working group is talking about natural resources, but financial ones.

UNH and the World: Advancing a Global Perspective
This is the symbol that got the most "what's that supposed to be?" questions. I was going for the look of longitude-latitude lines/Captain Planet's chest logo, but I didn't bother checking what those things actually looked like. The execution could have been better, if I had taken some lines out and added some curves. However, I still like this idea better than trying to trace the continents using the pen tool.

The logos were only a part of this project however. The other idea that Kyle had touched on when talking about this story was an idea about UNH changing, growing, or heading down a new path. I chose to run with the growing idea and make the largest part of the centerpiece a tree, with branches extending to each of the different icons. (I also considered a path/road motif, but I didn't like the initial sketches I made for that so dropped it)

Of course, I had knew I wasn't going to be able to find the exact clipart of the tree I wanted, and I didn't want a tacky looking Photoshop either. Again, I wanted something simple and clean with a decent amount of air around it to break up the gray that was going to be all over the rest of the page.

I was going to need to draw a tree in order to get what I want. And since I don't have the time, skill or technology to do something freehand, I went back to what worked in middle school, tracing.

As I finished touch-ups on the logos, I tasked editorial assistant (and future Design Editor) Christine Hawkins with finding an image of a tree that I wanted to use, based only off the descriptions like "post-modern truck" and "like the Lion King tree, but less leafy". After bickering over about two dozen different examples (too many branches, the trunks too skinny, etc.), she finally brought me this image from a family tree website.

The branches were really the important part, because they needed to be thick enough and wide enough apart for the symbols to be "hung" on them.

Using Illustrator, I traced over the family tree using the brush tool. I was my first extensive experience with the tool, and I was pretty pleased with the results. I'm glad the computer program smoothed out my lines, but still left them looking organic.

This what the tree drawing looked like using the normal brush tool.

I liked it, but it looked flat. So I messed around with Illustrator some more and found the option to change the type of brush I used. I liked the look of the felt tip marker option the best, so one click and....SHAZAM!

Now that's a good looking tree (though maybe a little dead looking, we'll say that was a metaphor).

While I had been working on the tree and logos, Nate had been working on the front page, leaving the centerpiece space open for when I was good to go.

I dropped the drawing on the page and manipulated it increasing the height and decreasing the width just a little. I dropped the symbols into equal sized picture frames with rounded edges and an embossed effect. I decreased the tint of tree, because leaving it straight black would have made it too intense and I wanted layer the headline on top of the graphic.

The headline is Century Old Style. I messed with the vertical spacing to make it all come together nicely (notice how the question mark comes up into the line above it.) And that's about it.

I didn't start building this graphic until about 8:30 p.m. and finished a little before midnight. It would have gone faster if I hadn't been called away a couple times and if I was more comfortable with Illustrator.

I think the end result was pretty good. If I had to go back, I would have spent more time on the logos, since I wasn't happy with the final look of a few of them. I would have adjusted the placement of some of the logos (The bullseye was just a little bit too high).

I would not, however, have added labels to the logos. I think the graphic says enough by itself (specifically, that UNH, the tree, has many focuses, the branches, that they are trying to grow) without having to add a bunch of words.

Here's the PDF of the final page with all the stories on it. Nate Batchelder did the everything else on the page, and, of course, Kyle Stucker wrote the article that I had to work with.

Here endeth the lesson,

John "The Lame Duck" Ferguson

Total time on project: About 3 hours
Programs used: Illustrator, InDesign

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Testing, testing...

Okay, we admit it. Our Arts & Leisure section needed a breath of new life. You can still expect your old friend 'the movie review' to show its face once in awhile, but we hope to put in more previews of movies, music, and local shows, as well as the occasional how-to section. With any luck, we'll also have a permanent weekly columnist, student submitted photos, and more feature articles. (Topics may include: agriculture, cooking, fashion, trends, and anything else we find generally interesting.) Plan on seeing a few other interesting tidbits here and there like blog recommendations, quotes of the day and some snark from the staff.

With new content will come vast changes in the design and overall feel of Arts. For starters, we will no longer be called Arts & Leisure. A few ideas have been tossed around, but the most popular names came down to Etc., Current, and The Verb. As for design...check out these beauts! (Click the photo a larger view.)

Some pieces to note in particular: On Etc. the column running up the left side is a section called 'The Groundling' which will be devoted to listing local shows, concerts, plays, and art exhibits. On the Verb: the flag in the middle of the page. To our happy surprise, it lends itself to layout flexibility. Large feature photos could be put above the flag/fold with the lead story to follow directly below. A combination photo and lead story could be put above the fold and some of the extras would fit below. While the same combinations could be used in Etc., the overall layout is hampered by 'The Groundling.'

Of course, we intend to use elements from both examples to express a cohesive and lucid design, but we want your feedback! What do you like about the way these new pages look? What doesn't work? Is there anything you wish to see more of in terms of content?

Look in the April 10th edition of The New Hampshire for the first of a few previews. We hope that you'll like what you see.