Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Oh for the wings, for the wings ...

Could the caption writers and picture editors at Metro be on holiday - or perhaps they are just bored, or maybe they can't work properly because of all the ants? If these things are plaguing London it shouldn't be too difficult to get a picture, should it? Here's Peter Barron's view. Very funny.   

Champions of junior sport?

It was our football club's presentation day this month. Beckley Rangers FC was formed 15 years, ago by me and Phil Brain so local children, including our sons, could play organised football. At the awards day each player received an inscribed trophy and a magazine that includes their picture, playing record and a brief write-up. I have been producing the magazine for 12 years and it has become a memento for a generation of footballers. It's easy to do ... and could be a rich vein for local publishers. There are 60 plus players in our village. Replicate that across the county - and then the country - and you have an awful lot of interested families. During the close season there are scores of tournaments. The local newspapers aren't there, not even a bill saying the results will be in on Monday. Why on earth not? Covering junior sport properly - names, scorers, pictures, league tables has to be a reason to buy the paper. Yes, the leagues have their own websites and there is But you can't cut them out and send to granny. I recall Mark Sweetingham, editor of the Romford Recorder, telling a conference that his 20 pages of junior sport - treating kids like Premiership stars - had led to a colossal sales rise. Some newspapers take it a step further organising events around local sport. The Northern Echo’s Local Heroes Awards are a triumph. 700 people turn up to pay tribute to “unsung heroes” and “leading lights”. The Leicester Mercury Sports Awards are also prestigious event. Isn't this the essence of what local newspapers should be about - reflecting the success and achievements of local people, offering genuine reasons to buy the paper, appealing to a generation of non-newspaper readers? The irony is that it doesn't have to be labour-intensive. There are scores of enthusiastic club secretaries, myself included, who would supply all of this as a labour of love. It must be a more valuable use of space than the 'what's on' entries purporting to be news stories, the recycled press releases and the often banal community correspondents. 

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Headline deformation

Thanks to Mike Watson for drawing attention to this headline from today's Guardian. Deformation is, of course, a legitimate word (although I can honestly say this is the first time I have used it in either copy or a headline) so the spell-check would have let it through. But can there really be a trained journalist in the land who does not know what defamation is ... or how to spell it?

Friday, 9 July 2010

A regional Star to follow ...

At the Wolverhampton Express and Star this week with my old colleague, Adrian Faber. His paper remains the biggest selling regional title in the country - a position it has held for years. Why should this be? Well, I don't think it's rocket science:
i) It is family run, locally owned by the Grahams who believe in journalism, sound business practices and realistic targets.
ii) It has resisted the trend to turn evening newspapers into mornings (a misguided mantra by van drivers in suits purporting to be circulation managers). If something happens in the morning it will be in the paper, and the readers know that. The morning newspaper market is a crowded place where readers have ten papers to choose from, the evening market is an exclusive zone. Where would you rather be?
iii) It still has proper local editions,  eight of them, which run from a first deadline of 11am to 2.30pm. The paper changes the front and a substantial number of news and sports pages each issue.
iv) It concentrates on good content - loads of it - and not filler material.
v) It has a feisty former news-editor, who doesn't suffer fools or fads, in charge.
There is a lot more besides. The paper has had it tough, just like everyone else, but there is a robust culture, a self-belief and it feels like a proper newsroom. Perhaps the managers at some other regional groups, should take a closer look. 

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Just don't do it ....

In a response to the 'good taste, dirty minds' rule on my last post, Irish newspaper designer David Bailey sent this web page from Reuters. It's deliberate, I fear, and very tacky. Don't even be tempted. 

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Back to basics ...

Here are some basic training tips that, on the evidence of these recent examples, we clearly need to revisit.

1. Don't cut and paste from brochures. Good sub-editors should know how to read ... and to edit.

2. Have good taste and a dirty mind ... so that you keep the innuendo and double meanings out of the publication.

This rule also applies to the advertising department.

And it certainly applies to the relationship between pictures and words.

3. Libel by juxtaposition is very rare, I'm pleased to say. It usually just leads to giving people a laugh at your paper's expense. 

4. Always, always, always check your sources, something that AOL appeared to have forgotten here. The web is not a reliable source of facts ... go to original sites.  

5. Watch out for that old favourite of disaffected sub-editors ... the abuse of drop caps.

More to follow ...

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Africa wins the typeface World Cup

If the team with the best typography won the World Cup (as type designer Dalton Maag claimed when Italy won in 2006) it would have been Ghana who collected this year's trophy. For me, their away kit was the best strip of the tournament (with Slovenia, home and away, and the US, away, vying for the worst). African countries carried their names and numbers with a flourish, using the typeface Olembe, designed by Puma's Paul Barnes and sported by both Ghana and Cameroon. 
Now the favourites to win must now be Brazilian designer Yomar Augusto whose Unity font is to be found on the adidas shirts of Argentina, Germany and Spain. Certainly a worthy winner - but not quite as stylish as Olembe. 

The numbers in Unity are bold and clear but the letters less so - and the R and A look the same (FABAEGAS??) which isn't such a good idea for a tournament where half of the players are unheard of. This year, Italy's typeface is called Crepello. That's why they played so badly. Read interviews with both designers on the FontFeed website.