Saturday, May 16, 2009

The end of an era...

Today, former executive editor John Wayne Ferguson (aka The Duke) will be flying to St. Petersburg, Florida as a Poynter Institute college fellow. He'll be learning the ropes of journalism in a two week "journalism boot camp" along with other top college journalists in the country, making us proud, of course.

This week, along with the others at the end of the school year, marks the end of an era. John made tons of changes to the paper, as he recorded here on Mub 156, integrating our paper with the community more than ever. And more than John - saying goodbye to Joe, Kyle, and Jake will be sad. I'm still having a tough time imagining sports without Joe's fiery rants and spontaneous high-fives.

As a news editor this year, it was interesting seeing the transformation John's passion for the paper had on us all. I think there was quite a bit of a "piggyback effect" - at least, I know that when I came back from break, many of us wanted to make a difference in the way the paper ran. When the group that went to San Diego came back, they had a vision of what our paper could be, and plenty of ideas to implement.

I have to admit, I was a bit taken aback by the increase in responsibility that came with being content editor. I'm glad I got to give the position a test drive this spring, so I know what to expect in the fall. Seriously, though - when you get at least 50 emails a day, it does get difficult to keep up. And I'm already looking for story ideas for next year - email me at if you have any!

As we all leave for the summer or go off into the world in search of our next calling, I have to give a shout out of love to the organization we call The New Hampshire. It really is the people that make it all worthwhile. The late nights don't seem so bad when you have a good time with the others around you. I've never seen anybody else get so worked up over body text (yep, Meredith - I didn't forget), front page layout design (Nate has offered to give certain stunning front pages a date, if you can believe that), hockey (complete with beard-betting contests), and random photo/multimedia shots of the newsroom (Meg and John - you never know when they'll be watching!). And shout out to Tori Lewis, because, as Meg says, she's probably the only one who's not a nerd and chooses to work with us in the newsroom.

Ah, a special group, indeed. Can't wait to see what next year brings, with new Executive Editor Cam Kittle at the helm. Until then, we have a fabulous summer to enjoy.

Monday, May 11, 2009

TNH by the numbers: Part 2

Now that we've got the numbers done in the big picture sense, it's time to recognize the writers who have done the most work for TNH since September 2008.

First a caveat, TNH does not believe that quantity necessarily means quality. However, we were blessed this year to have both dedicated and talented young journalists contribute to the paper throughout the year and they should all be commended for their hard work.

1. Cameron Kittle 29
2. Joe O'Connell 28
3. Biz Jacobs 23
Meg Power 23
5. Shawn Cyr 17
6. Jake O'Donnell 16
7. Michaela Christensen 14
8. Laura Hedges 13
9. Alex Cornetta 12
Thomas Gounley 12

1. Thomas Gounley 21
2. Biz Jacobs 20
Joe O'Connell 20
4. Brittney Murray 19
5. Cameron Kittle 17
Brandon Lawrence 17
7. Michaela Christensen 15
8. Shawn Cyr 13
9. Meg Power 12
10. Terri Ogan 11
Kerry Feltner 11

1. Joe O'Connell 48
2. Cameron Kittle 46
3. Biz Jacobs 43
4. Meg Power 35
5. Thomas Gounley 33
6. Shawn Cyr 30
Brittney Murray 30
8. Michaela Christensen 29
9. Brandon Lawrence 21
10. Laura Hedges 18
Nate Batchelder 18

1. Thomas Gounley 33
2. Brittney Murray 30
3. Michaela Christensen 29
4. Laura Hedges 18
Nate Batchelder 18
6. Kerry Feltner 16
7. John Wayne Ferguson 15
8. Tori Lewis 14
9. Dustin Luca 13
10. Keeley Smith 12

Two notes on these final counts.

First, when they were hired, staff writers were told they only had to write one article a week. Editors were not required to write anything.

Second, our sports staff is prolific and possibly did more work than the numbers indicate. But the reason that we discount them from the last byline count is because they got many bylines by virtue of writing a game story. Call it an asterisk, if you will.

Good job everybody and thanks for all the hard work.

TNH by the numbers: Part 1

If you picked up our year in review section last Friday, you may have noticed the little breakdown of just how much content TNH has produced over the year. But just to reiterate, here's our year, by the numbers.

  • TNH has produced 52 issues since Sep. 12, 2008. The '08/'09 staff was also responsible for producing freshman issue for orientation week, the dining guide for Family Weekend, the special Election Day pullout, the Year in Review, and the (soon-to-be-published) Summer Issue '09.
  • Over 150 people have contributed to the production (writing, editing, or photography) of TNH since September. The list we give SAFC only has the two dozen names of our paid staffers, but we would be nothing without our hundreds of contributers. From journalism students who had to contribute an article for their class, to freshmen looking for a place to fit in, to upperclassmen that were just interested in trying their hand at journalism; our contributers make TNH of the most highly-participated organizations at UNH.
  • Over 740 articles were written by TNH writers since September. That's an average of over 14 bylines an issue. 
  • TNH's editors paginated over 1,100 newspaper pages over the last year. 
I'd like to make a quick point about those last two statistics. One of the criticisms we often receive is that we run too many Associated Press or UWire articles in the paper. Going back through some issues that year, there were some that were really heavy with out-of-house content. However, it's my belief that one of our job's at the paper is to teach aspects of journalism that are not taught in the UNH journalism program. One of those things is the use of programs like InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator. During the time our news editors are preparing those 14 articles to be fit for copy and layout, our paginators built their skills by putting together wire pages. I'll take the increase in skills (and a couple extra pages of news) over having people sit around in the office complaining there's "nothing to do" any day. 

Saying Goodbye to TNH

In a couple hours, I'll be leaving my apartment to participate in my final production night ever at TNH. When I started working there 13 months ago, I never could have imagined the effect it would have on me not only as a journalist but as a person. As I prepare to say goodbye, I wanted to write out some of my thoughts here for all to see.

I resisted coming to work for TNH for a long time. I'm not sure if it was because I didn't think my writing was good enough, or if I was scared to put myself out there, of if I was intimidated by the people in charge, or what it was exactly that kept me away. I would look at the paper often times and think of many ways it could be improved, but I never actually did anything about it.

Then came my editing class, 2nd semester of junior year. A whole new world was unlocked for me in terms of what I could do as a journalist. Sitting across from me in the journalism lab was this kid named John. I had no idea at the time that he'd become one of the real movers and shakers on campus, and the person that would finally bring me into the TNH fold. Because he was taking over as executive editor, his previous job as sports editor became open. Originally intending to come to TNH as a copy editor, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to do sports. I took a chance. I dove right in.

Helping me from Day 1 was Joe. He showed me all the ropes pretty quickly, and we hit the ground running. We took TNH Sports in a great direction, putting the emphasis on clear and concise stories, interesting features, hard-hitting commentary and effective design. We had amazing reporters and photographers that made our jobs that much easier. 

Every Tuesday and Friday, Joe and I put out three or four pages of sports content and I don't think there was one time we were unsatisfied with the result. In my opinion, we had the best semester ever for TNH Sports. Because of my impeding journalism internship, I walked away in December thinking I'd worked for TNH for the last time. But because I was still living on campus, and had nothing to do besides my internship, I couldn't stay away. Two days a week I'd spend roughly 11-12 hours working at a newspaper. And I loved it, because this is what I love to do.

Part of the reason why I stayed was the people. I'll be lucky if I ever work in another office as great as this one. You can never accuse us of not having fun every Monday and Thursday night. But at the same time, the office is overpopulated with people who honestly care about putting out the best possible product. I saw the things that existed in me regarding attention to detail and putting in that extra effort reflected in so many people I worked with. 

I give a lot of the credit for this to John and Kyle. Their dedication to the finished product trickled down to everybody, and resulted in the many hard-earned awards our organization won a few weeks ago. The best part is I know that isn't going away anytime soon because Cam, Nate, Keeley and everyone else possesses that same desire.

This is getting long so I'll try to wrap this up. I'm part of a generation of young journalists who has no idea how they're going to make money in this industry going forward. But the things I've learned by working for a forward-thinking college newspaper have been invaluable, and I'll use them for the rest of my life. I've forged lifelong friendships there, and hopefully, along with John, Joe and Kyle, we've left something behind for future TNHers to follow.

My last word of advice: don't hesitate to take that chance and dive right in. I'm sure glad I did.

Friday, May 8, 2009

TNHers win English Department Awards

Last night, the UNH English Department held its annual student awards and scholarship ceremony, and a handful of TNH staff members were recognized for their academic and writing success.

Former Managing Editor Kyle Stucker received the Laura Rice Journalism Award for excellence in writing and reporting.

Executive Editor Cameron Kittle and Content Editor Keeley Smith both received the Michael Kelley Memorial Scholarship for excellence in journalism.

Staff Writer Brittney Murray received the Theodore "Tad" Ackman Journalism Scholarship for excellence in the English/Journalism major.

Staff Writer Shawn Cyr received the John Hanlon Memorial Scholarship for excellence in journalism (sports writing).

We'd like to congratulate our colleagues on their awards and thank them for sharing the skills and dedication they show in the classroom with our publication.

Good job everyone!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Looking through the view finder

We've been at this multimedia thing for a few weeks now. Let's see what we've learned.

We learned it's not rocket science, brain surgery, or financial accounting. Putting together movies and audio slideshows is, overall, pretty simple. Because of the heavy population of Macs in the newsroom, our weapon of choice has to date been iMovie. Its an intuitive program with easy to use editing and bells-and-whistles. Audacity has been a put to good use as well.

Secondly, we've figured out the best format and look for publishing online. The, well, less than awesome site isn't exactly multimedia friendly (seriously, is a multimedia archive too much to ask for?) but we've found the best format and size for what one can only hope is the soon to be former site.

Finally, we've learned how to fix things. Need to flip a movie, no problem. Struggling with the audio, we can change that. Want the audio without the picture, got that. In the spirit of Woodstock, we've just kept trying, seeing what works.

Looking ahead now. We're going to need a how-to at some point, maybe even a (gulp) handbook. Just basic things - have a voice recorder going when you're taking video, you never know when you'll need the extra tape. There's no such thing as too many photos, just keep going. And everybody's favorite - hold the camera with two hands.

We also want to explore different medias. Okay, we got the audio slide show and the video down. At the risk of stepping on TV's toes, we could try broadcasts - writers talking on camera about a story, podcasts or something interactive. We've gotten our feet wet, let's go tread water now.

We knew when we started how multimedia adds to stories, how increasingly important multimedia is to a newspaper, website, even a reporter's portfolio. We knew there would be plenty of opportunity (thank you, greeks) for interesting stuff. And we knew incorporating this stuff was going to be a long process. But we're probably about a fourth (alright, fifth) of the way in and we're doing alright.

I mean, ya know, considering who's in charge ...

Friday, May 1, 2009

Front Page Revisionist History

Sometimes I get an idea in my head, and it won't go away until I get it out on paper. Unfortunately, one idea I had this week was "How else could we have done that Twitter front". You don't get do-overs in the paper, but if you have free time, you can redesign an old page and try to using it as a teaching moment.

Here's what ran on Tuesday.

And here's a version that I think would have been more effective (the layout would be the same below the fold).

The story's about a lot of people joining Twitter, so I went with putting a lot of birds on the front. I drew the birds in Illustrator, based off some sketches I had done in a notebook and some inspiration from others people's Twitter Bird designs (there are a lot out there). All of the birds are the exact same drawing, I just stretched, squeezed and flipped them to make them all a little different. I also bevel and embossed them, because I like that effect.

Here's the original drawing,

I made the lead hed as close to the twitter font as I could (it's just a rounded off Arial). I also was able to make the news deck exactly 140 characters, the amount Twitter allows you to include in one post.

But, like I said, you don't get do-overs and that first page looked fine. But sometimes, it's good to go back and think about how something could have been done differently. That way, the next time a design opportuniy like this arises, you know how to do something that works, rather than something you're not entirely happy with.

Here endeth the lesson,


Five issues in, still alive.

After two and a half weeks at the helm as TNH's new executive editor, I can say I'm coping well. I'm proud of the work I've produced so far, and I'm confident that I can do a better job too. Some of the small mistakes I've made have been stressful, but nothing to fret about for more than a few hours. It's part of the job description: mistakes happen. So, through five issues, I'm happy with where we are as a staff. I do need to find another sports editor and decide on a news editor as well, but we have enough manpower to get us through the last two weeks so I can make the decision over the summer.

I'm excited to see the paper next year, when a new flag and overall look to the paper will be complete. In the meantime, I've become a little too comfortable with John's layout because I find myself not wanting to change anything, but that wouldn't be much fun. So, I will go a little against the grain, but I will certainly keep the modularity and strong knowledge of good newspaper design intact (something the paper did not do well for most of 2007-2008).

To stop this post from being entirely uninteresting (which it is currently), I've compiled a rundown of what I like about the new job and what I don't like. Sort of a Friday tradition: TNH Thumbs up, Thumbs down -- blog edition.
  • Thumbs up to putting as many references to Detroit sports as I want in the opinion and forum sections. Suck on that, Bostonians!
  • Thumbs down to the ridiculous number of sleep hours lost. I knew it was coming, but 20 hours in a given school week? Really? Ouch.
  • Thumbs up to writing editorials. Easily my favorite part of the job so far. Yeah, they can be a hassle when I haven't finished one and it's already 1 a.m. and all the rest of the pages have been laid out, but it's my favorite style of writing. It really lets my voice come out. Like a column, but less outwardly opinionated.
  • Thumbs down to email lists. The sheer number of pointless emails I get is crazy. No, I don't care that some band called The Warlocks leaked their supposed "hit" titled "Red Camera" onto the internet. Spare me. And no, I don't want to cover a story about a guy pretending to be Shakespeare on Twitter (@WillShake if you're intrigued). Oy vey. And why does "unsubscribe" never seem to work? Subscribing at any point is like killing someone. You're looking at a life sentence, whether you want it or not.
  • Thumbs up to having final say on the front page. Our front pages have been excellent this year, and it's nice to be able to help my partner in crime, Nate Batch, design it, lay it out and proof it. Then when it hits news stands the next day, I have the accomplishment at my fingertips. It's a good feeling.
  • Thumbs down to forgetting things. This seems to happen every day. Sometimes it's little things, like forgetting to send out the email edition on production night, but sometimes it's bigger things, like forgetting to set an alarm and sleeping through class. I have yet to go a day on the job where there wasn't something I forgot to do at the end of the day, but I think that will get better next year when I only have three classes to worry about.
  • Thumbs up to leaving at the exact right time in UNH sports. Sorry Brandon, but when I left the sports editor position on April 15th, I was very happy. Your pages have been great and you're improving every issue, but I don't know how I would cope with women's lacrosse being the forefront to every issue after all the beautiful hockey layouts Joe and I had over the semester. It's nice to only worry about proofing those pages and not designing them.
  • Thumbs down to sacrifice. I'm all for sacrificing my time spent watching Transformers on HBO for the 48th time (I <3 Megan Fox), but I've lost many of my hobbies since taking over the position. Playing guitar, free reading, weight lifting, and lounging have all been left by the wayside as I spend more time running or working in the office on ideas for next year.
  • Thumbs up to staff relations. We're all such good friends and it makes the twice-a-week newsroom experience so much fun. There's hardly any tension, we make time for goofing off and we come out with a good product. I really love working with the friends I've made over the past couple years at TNH.
That's about all I got. I want to start working on a photoshop file that is extremely juvenile but perfect for my hatred of the Anaheim Ducks. Chris Pronger is a cheap-shot giving sasquatch, that's all you need to know. Happy Friday everyone, have a good weekend!

And, most importantly, Go Wings.


Checking in at 3:16 a.m.

It's nearly 3:30 a.m. Do you know where your newspaper is? We do. It's just about done. Nate's putting the finishing touches on the front, Bran's spell checking Sports as we speak. Keeley's double checking online. And Cam is reading an email unfit for the blog. Golf is a strange sport. Golf fanatics are even stranger.

All work and no play makes a very boring newsroom. Good thing we're not like that.