I LOVE JOURNALISM!! Did you think I was happy when I typed that? Well, today at the Journalism conference I learned about design and typography and exactly what effect it has on readers. At times today, the first of our three-day conference, I was overwhelmed, sometimes fearful but mostly I was invigorated. I felt unstoppable! Having so many people surrounding you with the same passion for journalism was such an amazing feeling! I loved that there were speakers like Ron Johnson, who complimented me on the look of The Beacon but also offered me so many great ideas for how to improve our paper. My session with Ron Johnson also taught be that you can never have too much white space. If you think that there is dead space on the page, you’re probably wrong! During Ron’s session I was able to objectively look at the way we run The Beacon and the way we design The Beacon.
Another session I went to pretty much blew my mind! It was called design in the alternative universe. This session taught me all about alternative story forms, which mostly consisted of graphics, but it taught me ways to break down a story into key questions, idea, essential data, and it showed me that you don’t have to have full blocks of text for a story to be a story.
Some other random design tips I took away from today was to always put content first and the design that you put with that content should be silent. You don’t open a paper for the design you open it for the content. This statement blew my mind at first because being a designer, I always think about the design first, but its true if you don’t have a good story you don’t have a good design and the content is what’s most important. The design aspect is supplemental.
I also learned some things about color. For example if you have a so-so photo you aren’t going to make it better by putting color behind it. I had to chuckle because this is a go-to technique for me that I will quickly be killing! I also learned that instead of coloring whole headlines, you should color key words because they make the design stronger and they pull readers into the story and paper.
I also learned that sometimes you don’t need to put a stroke around photos!! I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! I was always taught to put a stroke around photos but Ron Johnson said to use .25 or .15 if we needed a frame! Needless to say I heard lots of things from Ron that I already do as a designer, but there were other things that completely blew my mind!
I think the most beneficial part of my day was not when I was complimented for my work, or when I was told I was doing so many great things, but when I gained new information about different ways to present stories in our paper. It’s amazing all the different perspectives people can have, and the varying ideas that a conversation with 20 journalists all from different places in the US can bring. For the first day of the conference, the bar has been set pretty high so I can’t wait to see what tomorrow will bring!
– Shellie Adams