Judges’ comments on 2011 KIPA contest submissions

Asbury and Kentucky universities learn from success

Kentucky university and colleges will awardsKentucky university and college students don’t have to wonder why their work succeeded at the  Kentucky Intercollegiate Press Association Contest in 2011. Comments from the judges are posted on the KIPA WordPress so you can check it out for yourself.

This may seem a little late to post the results of the KIPA contest but I have a feeling not many of the Asbury University winners got to see the feedback provided by KIPA. Personally, I think it’s really nice to catch a glimpse of why the stories, photos or layouts were selected.

KIPA awards presented to Asbury students

First Place:

Brownrygg Woolls – News Photo

Rebecca Baker – Sports Photo

Tyler, Rebecca, Zack – Photo Essay

Staff – Website Home Page

Staff – Overall Website

Anna Leon – Feature Headline

Staff- Sports Headline

Jordan Crouse – Sports News Story

Jordan Crouse – Sports Feature

Brison Harvey – Sports Column

Tyler Hoff – Front Page Layout

Laura Laffoon – Sports Page Layout

Zack Klemme – Analyses and Special Reports

Second Place:

Brownrygg Woolls – Feature Photo

Zack Wilson – Sports Photo

Ian McAfee – Informational Graphic

Tyler Hoff – News Photo

Staff – Sports Page Layout

Anna Giaritelli – News Story

Whitney Ward – Continuing News

Zack Klemme – Analyses and Special Reports

Riah Lawry – Personality Profile

Sarah Abiro – Sports Feature

Brittany Howard – Sports News Story

Brittany Howard – Sports Game Story

Laura Laffoon – Sports Headline

Third Place:

Ian McAfee – Comic Strip

Anna Leon – News Photo

Will Houp – Analyses and Special Reports

Anna Leon – Personality Profile

Staff – Continuing News

Kenton Sena – Sports Game Story

Kenton Sena – Sports Headline

Ben Joubert – Feature Headline

Leah Girard – News Headline

Tyler Hoff – Sports Photo

Eric Shelton – Feature Photo

Honorable Mention:

Leah Girard – Analyses and Special Reports

Zack Klemme – Continuing News

Joey Nunez – Feature Photo


Get Google+Facebook, download malware and a gimmick all in one click

Browsing through my Google Plus feed today, I noticed a post about a Google + Facebook add-on that incorporates your Facebook feed into your Google Plus feed. Sound too good to be true? Yep, sure is.

On Reddit, a social news website, a user called RougeDarkJedi discusses the add-on and notes it “acts like malware and the service is a security vulnerability waiting to happen.” For example, the add-on can go through emails and attach a signature to try and get your friends to install the add-on. Biggest issue with the Google+Facebook scam is undoubtedly the privacy issues.

CEO and co-founder of Crossrider (the developer of Google+Facebook), Koby Menachemi, claims this is just a misunderstanding. Here’s a screenshot of what they claim it will look like.


But the overwhelming response from those who have unfortunately installed the add-on and those who have researched it shows it probably is a deceptive program.

Best idea is to keep away!


Freelancing and Search Engine Optimization

Here are some notes from two workshops I went to yesterday. They were really helpful to me and I hope I can pass some of the most important things on to you.

Second Workshop: Online freelancing

Sandra Romo from California Baptist University gave this workshop; she did a great job. The content is very useful for a student, such as myself, and it definitely gave me motivation to give freelancing a try. Here are a few websites she recommends:

Elance.com – A site where you can bid on articles. You get 10 bids for free per month. She mentioned that there is also a section of the site where you can bid on design projects. I’m not quite sure how that works.

Seed.com – a site that creates content for AOL. You create a profile and write requested articles. There is some risk involved since there’s no guarantee your article will be picked up. It is, however, a great byline for your resume.

Demandstudios.com – This site requires you to apply to work for them to create content for eHow. I believe you get paid around $15 an article. If you can spit out two in an hour, that’s not a bad hourly wage.

Writersmarket.com – Rather than buying the huge writer’s market book, freelancing positions can now be conveniently found online. There is a yearly membership requirement, though.

Mediabistro.com – Free courses, job postings and overall a great resource. With a paid membership, there are even more resources on hand.

Issuu.com – A site where you can create a snazzy looking portfolio that actually looks like a book – the pages turn and everything. If you don’t want ads to run along the side of the portfolio, there is a small cost.

Sandra also emphasized that social networking, investing in a website or blog and creating a virtual portfolio is a must. Great workshop! Thanks for all the helpful resources, Sandra.

Third Workshop: SEO 101 for Journalists

Now this was also an awesome workshop! Aram Zucker-Scharff from George Mason University gave a fast-paced lecture on Search Engine Optimization for websites, blogs and anything else you put up on the web. He said there are three areas search engines pay close attention to: the title, description of the article and keywords.

Title – Is what to call the Article. You might have to sacrifice creativity for keywords in order to get noticed by Google. He also said titles should be no more than 60 character since they will get cut off by the search engine and look rather odd.

Description or excerpt – Is a summary for search engines. WordPress and other blog platforms will often have a field to enter descriptions. Make sure the lead is here and is no longer than 160 characters. There is also talk that Google will pass over or penalize descriptions that do not match the content of the article. Remember, content is still very important.

Keywords – Some call these tags. Keywords can include locations, events, important information, companies, titles and even your name. (It’s also a good idea to develop 10 to 20 keywords to work into your articles, but remember not to over do it.) Also consider using keywords you think you can win with. So don’t just go for a really broad keyword when you can make it more specific. You may show up on page 10 with a broad keyword instead of page 1 with narrower keywords.

He also reiterated the importance of linking to and from sites. If you have a choice between linking to the homepage or linking to a specific article, always be sure to link to the article. This is called deep linking. There are many things you can link to, company webpages, data, stats and products. Just don’t overdo it. I get the feeling that it looks cluttered.

It’s also important to have high ranking sites linking to you. Aram said it’s almost as if the websites are casting their vote in your favor; the more important the site casting the vote, the higher and the more power it has to push your site up in rank. For example, twitter has a page rank of 9, facebook has a page rank of 10 and anything ending with “.edu” will be considered a higher than average rank. (This is one reason why it’s really good to get “.edu” websites to link to your page.) But be careful to not be repetitive. So don’t post the link to your article on facebook then an hour later repost it. Apparently Google penalizes for that kind of repetitive posting on the same host.

Well, it was a great workshop. Aram closed by saying it’s important to market yourself and your content. By doing so in a smart, ethical way, search engines will start to recognize your site even more.

I’ve been to many more workshops since these two and I’ll post more about them later. The workshops have been great so far! I can’t believe tomorrow is the last day.

The future of newspapers looks like…magazines?

I admit. I’m addicted to browsing the front pages on Newseum. I cringe, laugh and moan my way through the 15 pages of content. On a good day, it’s smooth sailing with several good designs and a satisfied feeling when I happily post my daily “favorite front page.”

Today, however, that feeling did not accompany me as I went through the steps to upload my favorite. Why? Well, I’ve found that the problem with having a daily favorite front page is the assumption that there will actually be a superb design every day. Today, there was not; rather, I found many that had one or two good elements yet lacked that overall “like” factor (think facebook).

So what’s a girl to do? Well, this young lady looks at magazines. It’s sad to say, but most newspapers are still far behind magazines (ouch) and if they are trying to catch up (it feels like most aren’t), there’s still a long, long way to go.

For example, check out the awesome magazine cover of the day (seen below) from the Society of Publication Designers. The cloud is a beautiful thing…in the literal and “techie” sense. Newspapers have a tendency to overpopulate content on the front. The message here is simple and clear.

There’s another thing I love about magazines: typography! There’s so much more freedom to make text interesting. That doesn’t mean all type needs to look like the examples in Smashing Magazine’s post on bold and experimental typography.

Just a little more creativity would be nice. I found this example on Speckyboy in their post on 32 Inspirational Examples of Amazing Layout and Typography. Yeah, this particular example is a little girly. I suppose the target audience was women. That’s not a bad thing so…continuing on. What does the future of newspapers hold?

It may not look exactly like this. But there are many elements seen in magazines that should and will eventually become incorporated in newspapers: color, condensed content, more graphics and pictures and better typography.

Even Working Mother has a better design than most newspapers (you can check out their new redesign on SPD). What a tragedy! (note: the tragedy is in newspapers not in Working Mother magazine…just a little clarification.)

So I’m just saying, if AARP (see previous post) and Working Mother can design better than over 500 newspapers, we’ve got a problem! But no worries *cough,* there’s always tomorrow. I can still hope.

“AARP magazine is cooler than you are.”

AARP better desing than your newspaper

Yes, folks, I’m afraid Tim Harrower is right. My daily trip through the front pages on Newseum was especially sad this evening as I noticed so many poorly designed papers. But there were a few good ones…Portugal’s “i” comes to mind.

The "i." A newspaper in Portugal.

Beautiful, isnt' it?

The “i” was actually named the best newspaper in the world by the Society of News Design this February. And how many blocks of gray text do you see? Everything is summary (I assume since I can’t ready Portuguese) with lively color and great fonts.

Good design, like the “i,” doesn’t just happen magically, though. It takes practice and smart people, smart people who will share what they have learned. This Saturday (yesterday) I did quite a big of learning with some fellow students and journalists from around the East Coast as we learned from Tim Harrower at Vanderbilt University.

Tim’s workshop was excellent! It was fun, fast paced and went beyond the basics. Of everything I learned, the most important thing I walked away with is this: the way I design AND write needs to be geared toward the reader. For the three hours it takes to drive back from Tennessee, this idea floated around in my head. And I agree with Tim, there MUST be a change in both the writing and designing; it can’t happen in one without the other. Another thing that really stands out is this question on why student newspapers are so far behind. Why are we taking longer to catch the futuristic vision of journalism?

Why can’t college students design better newspapers?

So why does AARP magazine design better than most newspapers in the United States and why in the world are college newspapers some of the worst designed out of the whole lot? Tim said during the workshop, “college newspapers are some of the dullest in the country. It makes absolutely no sense.” We have so much talent, flexibility and the lack of “history,” which should make it possible for us to create fresh, modern pages.

1. You take too long to see beyond the rules

This little dude can still see the maze, yet he is no longer trapped by it

Maybe it has to do with the way we are taught journalism. There are set ways to research, write and design for newspapers and we get stuck behind this wall of rules. I’m not bashing my or your journalism professors: I have an awesome journalism professor (you can even see his blog and find out for yourself).

I just think college students need to move beyond the rules sooner rather than waiting until you’ve graduated and find yourself in a position on a 100 year old newspaper that would rather go out of business than be creative. My advice, don’t be blinded by the rules. Learn them, then discover your audience.

2. You satisfy tradition, not your audience

Discover your audience. What? Yeah. How many college students care if you are breaking the rule about “no text on pictures?” Answer: none. In fact, they might unknowingly love you for it due to the modern look you’ve just given your newspaper.

You writers aren’t off the hook either. Who said your story MUST be 500 words or longer? Your professor, but what about your audience? Do they care if you leave out some boring information that you’d previously added just to make a word count? No!

Write and design for your audience. College students have it the easiest too because it isn’t as if anyone is buying your paper. It’s free so be free with your imagination. Oh and did you know that some of the best newspaper designs in the world are breaking all those rules you have been taught about newspapers? I love it!!!

3. You see the past

It’s hard to see the future when you are still trying to figure out the past. That has been hard for me too. I’m still new to all this reporting and newspaper design. There’s SO much for me to learn about journalism and I struggle to take this hazy understanding of current newspapers and develop a vision of where they are headed. Is that what you’ve been trying to do, too? If so, rethink it.

Ditch the traditional and create something for your generation. If  you could design a trendy, popular newspaper or magazine for your coolest friends, what would it look like? Now take that vision and redesign your last issue. I’d love to see what you come up with.

(If you haven’t noticed, this is not the newspaper of the future.)

The paper of the past seen last Sunday

Two down, two more workshops to go

The first two workshops have been amazing! Erika and I love it! There’s so much here that completely changes your perspective on writing, designing and the future of news and newspapers.

Here’s a quick summary:

  • Are you focusing on writing or being read?
  • Consider the five paragraph rule.
  • If you aren’t worried about being boring, you are boring.
  • Incorporate technology…multimedia, links and user participation in websites.
  • Smartest business plan is making readers happy.

Keys, silence and Gothic buildings

Ever door here has a key to it, a different key. These are large doors, too. Not something you typically find in a hotel. But then, this isn’t your typical hotel. Large stone buildings in the Gothic style dot the grounds and tell of a once prosperous time, a time long gone. The Scarritt-Bennett Center in Nashville, Tenn. offers great rates for their rooms, though. 

The weirdest part is the silence. It’s so quiet here. After being on a college campus living with hundreds of other ladies in one dorm, this place feels empty… but peaceful.

And if you have no idea what I’m talking about and why I’m going on and on about some buildings in Tennessee, here’s what I’m up to: My friend Erika Graham and I are  sitting in the middle of the lobby of an ancient campus awaiting the morning when we will go to Tim Harrower’s workshop over at Vanderbilt University.

(This is what the middle of this little Gothic island in Nashville looks like.)

I wish I had a better camera with me. This place is beautiful. Tomorrow morning I’ll try and get some better pictures.

The location is great, though. We’re only a block away from the student center where the workshop will take place tomorrow and, as a result, I won’t have to worry about finding a parking spot tomorrow!

Well, I did bring some homework with me so I may (or may not) go do some reading in a few minutes. We’ll see how this all works out. Until tomorrow!