Monday, 10 December 2012

Mail looking for trainee subs and reporters

This year's reporting course at the PA offices in London
The Daily Mail is now recruiting trainees for its autumn schemes for reporters and subs. The successful applicants will probably be on a post-grad journalism course and have a fair amount of newsroom experience. The deadline for applications is January 11. The courses, which involve several weeks training followed by placements on regional newspapers, begin in September. If you are interested send CVs and six examples of your work to Sue Ryan at The subbing scheme has been running for ten years and many of the senior subs on the paper - in both news and sport - are graduates of the course. The reporting course has been running for five years. Its graduates include Matt Sandy, who won young journalist of the year in the British Press Awards last year, and Fay Schlesinger, joint winner of the investigation of the year award at the British Journalism Awards earlier this month. If you are applying for any of these courses you might want to take a look at my advice on how to prepare for an interview. Good luck. More details on Hold the Front Page

Must-watch film for journalists

If newspapers die, who will conduct investigative journalism, who will hold public officials accountable? Black and White and Dead All Over, a film about the viability of the newspaper industry, looks like essential viewing for everyone, not just journalists. Great trailer here.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

German FT slips into black

The Financial Times Deutschland closed yesterday - 12 years after it began. The journalists certainly marked the demise of their paper with style - and with a dark sense of humour. The front page went from pink to black with letters from the titlepiece tumbling to the foot of the page. The headline roughly translates as 'Finally black'. Inside there was a photograph of the staff bowing out (scroll to the foot of the page here).  

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Nothing to cheer - except the front pages

There isn’t much to cheer us up on the covers of today's newspapers … except, perhaps, the front pages themselves. There is certainly a strong and varied range of covers on the autumn statement. 

The pick, and bleakest, of the bunch is The Independent which will jump off the news-stands. Promoting one of its greatest assets, cartoonist Dave Brown, to the front is a bold move. The yellow titlepiece is brave too ... a cross between a Watchmen cover (hat tip to @MrJamesMcMath) and the front of a Gothic Batman comic. 

The Times also uses its cartoonist, the equally excellent Peter Brookes, on the front. A simple and direct message illustrating the Chancellor missing his targets. Bold, if not quite as bold as the Independent.

I really like the Daily Telegraph's approach too, combining the snow picture with Osborne's grim assessment that there is a long, hard road ahead. The blurbs are wiped away, the titlepiece imposed on the photo and Benedict Brogan's analysis is promoted to the front.

The Guardian also uses an excellent picture, by the Press Association, of a hysterical Osborne and David Cameron with a smart and pertinent headline.

The Daily Mirror decides Stuart Hall’s arrest is far more important but uses a variation of the giggling Cameron and Osborne. It’s headlines are, as you’d expect, more broadsword than The Guardian’s. 'The grin reapers: Six more years of cuts and they think it’s funny'. Good tabloid stuff.

On the other hand, the FT wins the bizarre front page headline of the day award by a country mile. 'G-Dawg splashes out tax cuts like P Diddy with Dom Perignon in his blingiest giveaway'. Really?

The Daily Mail presents a more traditional front … one that makes it clear the paper is struggling to offer even lukewarm support to the Chancellor.

The Daily Express also offers a no-nonsense headline and makes sure, of course, that the weather is still prominent.

The Sun, like the Mirror, decides Stuart Hall means more to its readers. And, on a pretty bleak day, tries to offer a little light relief with the Australian radio hoaxers.

And finally the Daily Star ignores all that economic stuff and goes with its exclusive interview with Frankie Dettori on his drugs shame.

In the regions things are a little more uplifting. This wrap from the Eastern Daily Press, celebrating the Light Dragoons' return to Norfolk, is a great example of what regional newspapers do so well. 

Overall, though, a day of pretty grim content ... but all neatly wrapped up in some first rate pages. Well done the designers.

Thanks as always to

Friday, 30 November 2012

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Mail recruiting trainee journalists

The Daily Mail is on the hunt for trainee subs and online journalists who will be able to start work in February. For the last ten years the Mail has recruited trainee subs and reporters at the beginning of the year and they have started their training at PA Training's Howden base in September. 
The last intake left only a month ago for their placements at regional newspapers and the Evening Standard. Now, due to demand mainly by Mail Online, we are running an extra course in Howden in February. Applicants will want to work as online journalists or as sub-editors, will have probably completed a journalism post-grad course and will be able to start work in February. It isn't suitable for those on courses that graduate next summer. If you fit the bill you should send your CV and six examples of your work to The deadline is December 5.
The Mail is also looking for trainee subs and reporters for its usual training schemes. These will start in September, so are suitable for those who do graduate in the summer. The deadline for applications for the September courses is January 11. Again CVs and six examples of your work should be sent to Sue Ryan. If you are applying for any of these courses you might want to take a look at my advice on how to prepare for an interview. Good luck. 
More details on Hold the Front Page

Friday, 16 November 2012

Shocking newspaper bill? Or just a pile of ...

I'm grateful (I think) to old Northern Echo colleague Steve Hughes for drawing my attention to this bill from the Bridlington Free Press. Steve, now editor of The Press in York, says it's the strangest newspaper bill he's seen in a while. Quite so ... but hands up if it makes you want to go out and buy the paper? I can't imagine the good folk of Bridlington tripping over themselves in eagerness to read all about it. Then again, they might think it's a great example of onomatopoeia (geddit?).  

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Why you shouldn't lift things from the web

Here's a warning to everyone: Don't just lift material from the internet for publication. Apart from the copyright issues, many things flying around the ethernet are, as we all know, simply not genuine. This week an American TV channel ran an item about the CIA sex scandal. It showed David Petraeus's mistress Paula Broadwell and flashed up a copy of her autobiography of Petraeus, called All In. Only problem is someone downloaded a doctored book cover - which changed the name to All Up In My Snatch. Ouch.

And a second warning: whatever you are publishing, whether it is copy, a caption, a graphic, or an image, read it thoroughly first.
You can see the video here and there are more great examples of things taken from the internet that shouldn't have been on Charles Apple's blog. 

Monday, 12 November 2012

The perfect Christmas card for subs

Looking for the perfect christmas card to send to your sub-editor friends? Then look no further. These cards, by former American sub (copy editor) and designer Sara Hickman-Himes, are for sale here. The inside looks like this:

The cards were inspired by the regular Why xxxxx needs a copy editor feature on the excellent blog by US newspaper designer Charles Apple. Must get my order in. 

Telegraph looking for journalism trainees

This year's trainees outside PA's Manor House in Howden: Rhiannon Williams, Dan Johnson, Olivia Goldhill, Ben Riley-Smith, Radhika Sanghani and Theo Merz.
Three weeks ago I said farewell to the latest Daily Telegraph editorial trainees. After seven weeks at Press Association Training's Howden HQ they finished with a multi-media presentation to the paper's executives in London. They have now gone off on their regional placements and will return to the Telegraph next year. Meanwhile, the hunt for the next intake has begun. If you fancy a career in journalism with the Telegraph, you have until November 30 to apply. The details are here. You might also take a look at a couple of interviews by former trainees Rowena Mason and Jonathan Liew. There are some interview pointers here too. Good luck.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Extreme tabloid headlines by NY Post

This headline from the New York Post, on the resignation of CIA director David Petraeus, made a few people smile this weekend. But inevitably it wasn't to everyone's tastes. 'Brutal and juvenile' was how one of my Twitter friends responded. The Post can be both of those things. It certainly pulls no punches and is the least politically correct newspaper you are likely to read. The tabloid style, and particularly the headlines, were initially influenced by Rupert Murdoch's Australian and UK titles, such as The Sun, but it is fair to say the Post has taken tabloidese to a different level.

Its most famous headline, 'Headless body in topless bar' was voted as one of the greatest newspaper headlines of all time by New York magazine. It was written by the Post's larger-than-life managing editor Vincent Musetto. Since then its headlines have continued to shock. 

Even I was taken aback by this headline after Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave the peace sign at the UN conference in September. The Post is, of course, the print equivalent of Fox News so shouldn't really be taken too seriously.

Here are some other Post headlines. Juvenile, brutal or tabloid brilliance? Make your own mind up.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

A look at the design of the Obama pages

So here's the dilemma. It's a huge story and you are laying out the front page. But you know that every other newspaper is going to lead on the same tale. The main image has to be a man in a suit. It is likely to be a library picture in most cases too (note the array of ties) unless you get something decent on the wires. And you really only have half a dozen headline options. You are also up against it on deadline. So how do you make your page better than the rest? Well some of the designers on the other side of the Atlantic certainly had a go. Here is my look at some of their pages.

This is as straight as they come from The Standard Times. A square, badly-cropped picture with more suit than expression and a headline that feels the need to remind readers what Obama's first name is. And why the index on Page 1? It's probably been thrown together as the result emerged but some forward planning would have led to a bolder page.

The Washington Post's free paper, Express, goes for another square picture and the world's biggest one-word headline. There's no doubting the impact ... although the picture could have been cropped tighter. His head is just too small, perched on his huge name.

The Panama City News Herald's choice of picture doesn't really capture the moment. Obama looks like a fairly ordinary face in a blurry crowd - and is barely the main focus. There are an awful lot of words to explain how nothing has really changed.

This is a very powerful page top - one that looks like it has been properly designed. The picture is atmospheric and captures some of the emotion. The votes on either side of The Reporter's titlepiece work well. Again a one-word name headline is seen to suffice.

Here's a similar crop of the same picture in Town Talk from Louisiana. The same one-word headline, only this time above the photograph. I prefer the serif lower case, which doesn't overpower the image. Pity about the advert. 

The Examiner in San Francisco captures the mood in both its choice of picture and its headline. This was not the elation of four years ago, it was more relief. The sombre picture and understated headline tell the story well while retaining impact. Nice job.

The Canadian paper The Province, based in Vancouver, does it better though. It clears the front page of the clutter which allows it to use the same statesman-like photo much bigger. The headline would have been my choice too ... it's what Obama said. Very stylish.

If you are going to use a library headshot as the main picture, then the key is crop it well. The crop in Newsday is nice and tight (no suit) and the smile sits perfectly in the centre of the frame. A strong headline too. The second story might look like an advert but is an effective way of recognising that in Long Island, election or no election, there is still a weather crisis.

The Virginian Pilot's crop is nice and tight too, neatly bleeding the face off the edge with a slight cutout around the masthead. The organised clutter at the bottom of the page works and, if you are going for a one-word, 'encore' works better than just 'Obama'. I would worry a little about white text out of yellow on newsprint and the width of the body text - but overall this is an impressive cover.

Boston's Metro has the tightest crop of them all but the clutter detracts from the creative use of the image. The red at the top of the page is potentially the first thing the readers sees. Obama tweeted 'four more years' but it doesn't need the quotes around the headline. And the titlepiece competes with the heading. Pity, because the use of the photograph is very effective. 

The other way of displaying a man in a suit is to choose a picture with some animation. The Chicago Sun-Times skies a live photograph of Obama's victory wave. It could have been tighter and the hand might have just cut into the titlepiece but it certainly has impact. The headline, a Stevie Wonder song title, is original and sums it all up nicely.

A cutout is an option that needs be considered every time you do a page. It works OK on the Farmington Daily Times, adding white space to a very busy page. The picture looks as though the president is leaving on an aeroplane and is clearly a library shot. There is a lot of brown suit too. For a big news story such as this, there are just too many other things going on.

The Orange County Register also uses a cutout. The suit is kept to a minimum and Obama certainly looks presidential. The OCR is well-known for its graphics, and it really goes to town on the data. One for the analysts. It too goes for the one-word 'Obama' headline (although the exclamation mark is superfluous).

The Sandusky Register goes for a full-page picture. No suit, no tie ... so clearly from the library. It is bold but perhaps there is too much white shirt. It is also let down a little by the headline, with its fussy outline and the over-use of blue type at the top of the page.

The Clarion Ledger also uses a fuller picture of Obama. It's not as big as the Sandusky Register's picture and could have come in a little tighter, taking his finger into the text. But the page looks like it has been properly laid out. The use of red, black and white is a tried and tested combination. There is a good structure to the page, a clear bold headline, two subdecks, then the photo with the cross refs at the bottom. Nice scaling, stylish page.

Then there is the option to do something a little different - a photograph from the back. This was an approach widely used when Gordon Brown left Downing Street two years ago. I am not sure it works too well in the Charleston Gazette  though. There seems to be a lot of trouser and sky (perhaps that's symbolic) and I wouldn't have sliced the president off at the ankles. There are a lot of sunglasses in the crowd for November ... but I guess it is South Carolina.

The Stockton Record uses a live picture of Obama at his victory speech in Chicago. It is an atmospheric alternative and, with its confident wide crop, looks newsier than the library shots. The headline in three different sizes works on two levels. After the confident top, the page drifts off into a more traditional local, serif appearance with a lot of grey.

The family picture, for those whose deadline allowed, is a no-brainer. It's simply a great photograph. But the San Francisco Chronicle could have cropped it tighter, coming in on the sides and taking more from the bottom. Adding the word 'It's' is merely a way of padding out the headline.

The Ventura County Star's picture is a sharper angle, we can see all the faces  now, and comes in much tighter. A strong, clear headline across the top works too. 

This is the same picture as the Ventura County Star but the crop in the Pensacola News Journal is tighter still, covers a bigger area and is used higher up the page. The headline is neatly placed, any bigger and it would encroach too far on the photo. This is a well-structured page.

The Boston Herald goes for shape over content and ends up cropping off Michelle. It's bold enough though and the cutout hand is a nice touch (although not the exclamation mark). Not sure the motifs in the headline work either.
The Ottawa Sun - or the tawa Sun as it becomes during Remembrance time - has a smashing crop on a variation of the picture. It also has a clever tabloid headline. It just needs to be 24pt smaller so Sasha doesn't turn into a floating head.

This is my favourite of the family treatments, and probably my favourite of all the US papers. It demonstrates that simple layout prevails. Choose the right picture, crop it well, use it big, write an effective headline but don't let it dominate the photograph. Scale the secondary information, level it off and use the white space wisely. The cutout is a nice touch. Well done the Bakersfield Californian.

The UK newspapers had a little longer to put their pages together. The Times and The Sun changed their late editions (see previous post) when the results came in but it wasn't until Thursday morning that they could really offer complete coverage. 

The Daily Mail used a tight crop on the family picture across the full width with a trademark speech bubble headline. By Thursday morning everyone knew who won, so the Mail leads on a splash that hits at the heart of its market. 

The i uses a much looser crop on the sides but coming up from the bottom to Michelle's arm is a good call. The picture is dominated by the headline, and the paper's busy bits and pieces, but it's neatly done nonetheless.

The Independent chooses a tender picture of Obama and Michelle and lets it take over almost the entire page, using the residual black to excellent effect. 'The tenacity of hope' is a poignant label that made me want to read the story (the sole purpose of a headline). It sits on top of a great read by Rupert Corwnall but a write-off rather than a turn line might have worked better. I turned straight to Page 4 to find out why something 'fascinating and profound' had happened ... and forgot to revisit Pages 2 and 3. I guess I wasn't alone. Not sure why the Hillsborough cross-ref needs to be in bright magenta but I love the titlepiece, lifted from the colour of the tie.

The Times was bound to do a wrap ... and here it is. There are a lot more words than its usual approach - a front page comment - and the back is just ticker-tape. Having committed to a wrap it couldn't really use the family picture as it would have split them in half. The gatefold graphic on the inside of the wrap was simply wonderful. If you haven't seen it, get a back copy.

The Guardian offers a lesson in effective layout. It chooses the right picture, crops it as tight as it will go and uses it across the full width at the top of the page. The strongest quote is the headline but it sits underneath, where it doesn't interfere with the picture. There are plenty of words but thoughtful typography and white space make it very readable. Simple.

Finally, elsewhere in the world The Daily Star in Lebanon caught the eye. It went to press before the result was known so it created a mirror front page. The reader could then simply flip it once the result was known.

Clever. Although maybe the Star meant something else altogether - such as whoever won it wasn't really going to make a great deal of difference. 

Front pages courtesy of and @suttonnick #tomorrowspaperstoday