For my final week of Digital Hours I explored the post-Corsair world by organizing a new publication, Diptych with Hazel, Dakota, Jackie, Yasser, Martha & Andrew:
Tuesday 21 May ’19 – Conversation with Nicole about Corsair Online. Squarespace vs WordPress. Focus Points. Auto import of captions. Managing excessive numbers of authors. Creating a style book for future staffers. SEO.
Discussed launching a new, post-Corsair magazine with Andrew, Hazel, and Dakota. It will be a quarterly magazine with a unique theme for each issue. Title: Diptych. Theme for issue #1: Water. Theme for issue #2: Failure.
Meanwhile back at the Corsair – for this week’s issue the editors have once again stretched photos. I am completely baffled by this. I’ve spoken about it so many times I’m starting to feel like an idiot. I’ve spoken to editors one to one, I’ve spoken to the group, I’ve left messages on Facebook. All to no avail. How did anyone get the idea that it’s ok to stretch photos? It’s unethical and ugly. Isn’t it? Am I missing something?
Watched 2 episodes of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown with Yasser & Andrew in preparation for a video project Victor wants to do with the SMC Organic Learning Garden next Tuesday. Victor wants to do an "interactive-interview-eating" video in the spirit of Parts Unknown. In honor of The Corsair newsroom’s visit with David Hume Kennerly earlier in the day, we watched the episode where Bourdain goes to Vietnam and meets with President Obama there.
Pitched 2 Corsair Online ideas to Dakota, Yasser & Andrew:
It looks to me like the way this page has evolved is:
For both semesters of 2017, we (correctly) made new staff pages. After Spring ’17 passed, the "current" Spring ’17 staff page became an "archive" page, and the "new page" for the Fall ’17 staff became the "current" page.
In the 1st semester (Spring) of 2018 we again (correctly) made a new Staff Page and the previous one became an archive page.
But then, last semester, Semester 2 of ’18 (aka "Fall") instead of (correctly) making another new Staff Page, we cannibalized the Spring ’18 page to make the Fall ’18 page.
We repeated that mistake again this semester, by cannibalizing the Fall ’18 page to make the Spring ’19 page.
The result of these mistakes is:
- We have a good Staff Archive for both semesters of 2017, and a current 2019 page, but we have lost all the souls who made The Corsair possible in both semesters of 2018.
- I appreciate that continuity is hard with a student publication that has a lot of turnover each semester, but if there’s a way to be sure we do not cannibalize staff pages in the future, and instead make new pages each semester, that would be great. (the "new" page can be a copy of the old page, so "new" doesn’t mean we have to start from scratch)
- We should try to have new pages have current content, so, for example, the EIC bio should not read "This is my first semester at the Corsair" as ours currently does.
As for the 2 lost 2018 pages:
- It would be nice if we could resurrect them
- I presume that Squarespace saves "Page History", so the earlier Fall ’18 and even earlier Spring ’18 pages should still exist as previous revisions of the page.
- If true, what we could do is copy the entire contents of the current page to a new page for Spring 19, and then revert the page to it’s Fall ’18 state.
- After that we could copy that state out to a new Fall ’18 page and then revert the original page back to the earlier Spring ’18 page.
I hope that didn’t sound too confusing. It actually shouldn’t be hard. Whether we do that or not… I hope we can install enough institutional memory to at least not repeat the mistake in future semesters.
When Jackie, Clyde, and I were doing our "SMC Style" mini-profiles for the 4-hour story turn last week on Main Campus, we interviewed 8 or 9 students. Everybody we asked said "yes" and everybody was happy to do it. When we were done, just about everyone wanted to know where they might be able to see the result.
Jackie did her best to give them the answer. First she went through that it might or might not get published, that it might come out in print, or it could be on the Corsair online, and so if you could just check Corsair kiosks around campus and/or maybe look up the URL to our website and see if it comes out on the digital edition at some point.
I realized that we don’t have a clear and easy way to tell people where to find our content. Of course, we aren’t going to publish every lead we pursue, but we should at least have a very easy way to get to our content.
In principle (if not reality) the online edition is a superset of the print edition, so we could simply direct anyone to our website.
- is not easy to say/hear
- not easy to remember
- not easy to type
FIRST – know that I am NOT saying to get rid of our current url! That URL is already out in the wild and it should be maintained forever. I do not want to generate any 404 errors!
SECOND – what I am suggesting is that we have "2 telephone numbers ring to our 1 handset" I am not talking about duplicate content, but I am saying that both thecorsaironlinedotcom and a new url should point to the bounty of new and archived content we have on Squarespace.
Are both currently available. In that same scenario with Jackie and Clyde, Jackie could simply say "corsair.edu", all our content is there! That’s a much easier thing to remember and type. A much better way to be fair to the campus community members who give us their time. And a much better way to promote our website and our brand.
- Thursday, 25 April ’19 – 8-9 am – discussed photography in the print edition vs photography in the digital edition with Yasser, Nicole & Conner. I expressed disdain for print photos in fractional column widths, for example a 2-1/2 column-wide photo, with the resulting skinny half column of text running down alongside it with just 1 or 2 or 3 words per line. Yasser and I both felt that in the online edition the galleries with next arrows were not the best way to display photography. We both felt that laying out a page was a stronger format that a gallery. In this context we discussed page design (laptops) vs streams (mobile). We all felt that pages are stronger for people who care about content, but that mobile, eg Instagram, has really advanced the stream model.
- Thursday, 18 April ’19 – Discussed upcoming digital edition SMC Style section with Andrew & Yasser: compared scrolling to single pages for presentation value vs continuous consumption factor. Settled on a compromise of single features with a row of photo-button choices at the bottom. Will implement at next Thursday’s digital production day. Talked up Digital Production Day with as many staffers as possible!
- Tuesday, 10 April ’19 – Discussed digital edition, campus news vs international news, and other topics with Dakota.
- Thursday, 4 April ’19 – Discussed digital edition with Nicole.
- Tuesday, 2 April ’19 – Discussed digital edition with Dakota & Yasser.
Thursday, 28 March ’19 – I went to main campus to photograph preparation for Fashion Design & Merchandising’s LA Mode fashion show from 1 – 2:30 pm. By the time I returned to the newsroom there were not a lot of people there. The 2 senior staffers there were waiting for an interview and once that was completed, they left. Victor and I were the only ones there through the late afternoon and evening, so we had our own production session.
We discussed the March 27 print edition and approaches to improve content. The AS candidates "Photostory" seemed like a good effort, yet problematic. Technically, it is not a "photo story", and even if it were, it is unclear why 1" of newspaper need be dedicated to the word "photostory". Except for one blonde candidate, all the candidates had dark hair and were photographed on a dark background so they tended to disappear into the background. We felt that either a hairlight, and/or a lighter background might have been a better choice. About half of the photos seemed very warm toned. It also seemed inefficient to take up two full pages of newspaper simply to run candidate photos with no information about their positions. Even a one sentence statement would be helpful. In 2018, The Corsair Online ran candidate statements.
Next week I am planning to spend my Digital Hours with Digital Editor Nicole Washington. As illustrated below (under Wk 5) I still believe that The Corsair Online’s current typography is rather hard to read. I think simple font and paragraph changes could make a big difference. Beyond that, graphic elements like pull quotes and additional photography would also help. My previous conversation with Yasser unfortunately resulted in no changes. Next week I’ll make the best case I can to Nicole.
- Thursday, 21 March ’19 – discussion with Digital Editor, Photo Editor, and staff members about communication, workflow, coordinating writers & photographers, flaws with Camayak, flaws with too many online communication platforms and little or no F2F time to coordinate with each other in the Newsroom.
- Tuesday, 12 March ’19 – discussed Corsair Online typography with Yasser. I argued that our current type: Arial, 16px, 1.5em line height, up to 1100px width, is hard to read. I suggested switching to a serif face, for example: Times, 18px, 1.7em line height, line width limited to 800px would be easier to read.
- Tuesday, 12 March ’19 – discussed Corsair Print Edition line spacing with Dakota, Yasser & Piper. I suggested that the awkwardness in some of the spacing was due to a combination of narrow columns and Justified type. I suggested switching to Ragged Right for cleaner word spacing. Later I looked up examples in some different newspapers…
Here’s a nice article by Ilene Strizver on Fonts.com about choosing between Justified & Rag Right: