Shoemaker: Stick to shoe making.

Imagine that you have to organize a restaurant as a manager… of course you know very well how you want you place: Service, food, ambiance, decoration, etc, etc.

So you hire the best team in the world to create the ultimate place, you got the waitress captain, who will build his team; the maintenance supervisor, he will tell you how much people he needs; the administration guys; interior designers; entertainers; and of course The CHEF.

Each area have its own intern structure and organization, its by the way not your job to be the best electrician, but to the maintenance guys to know who is, of course you will see obvious problem if a light do not goes on.

Lets say that your Master Chef, had hire some guys who know how to make cakes, he had bring them from all the corners of the world because they are famous and awarded on pastry. And they have worked in your place granted for  you several prices and recognition internationally.

Would you go there and tell them: Hey you, “I DON’T LIKE CINNAMON in the pastry!”… You would be doing “gastronomic hara kiri” and probably compromising you restaurant prestige with such decision. In Mexico a good friend would tell you: “Shoemaker, go to your shoes” Meaning: You take care of your area of expertise and let the guys who know the other to take care of that in which you are not a specialist.

This a a very common situation in Newspapers: Art directors trying to lead editorial, editors trying to create new graphic styles, Marketing pushing for less content and more ads (they will sell ANYTHING even the logo if they can make profit*) etc.

I was that manager in some stage, I was editor in charge for the department of “NEW EDITORIAL PRODUCTS” in a newspaper, and I was trying to do everything, one day one of the of directors called me and give one of the best managerial advises ever: “Shoemaker, make your shoes” “You don’t need to be the best designer neither the best editor, your function is to know WHO is the best and make sure he is doing so”

For me it made nonsense, “HOW can I lead them If I’m not better than them?” but this is where specialization comes on scene.

As a good restaurant, newspaper had specialist and very well defined areas with very  specific functions.

Lets take a general view of the most basic departments and their most basic tasks and needs:

  • 1: Editorial: It is the responsible of collect and produce content, as well to lead the whole newspaper. Editorial team is the head, they should know to where they want to take the publication. They are legally and morally accountable for each letter so is very important nobody mess with their content. They know the pulse of the area of publication and what info is worth, basic structure:
    a) Editors-In-Chief: Drives the show, he/she settles the editorial identity.
    b) Deputy or operative editor: They are the “hand” of the EiC
    c) Editors: Each section should have one, who is the expert in this field, knowing everything related to their section.
    d) Copy editors: They are the keepers of the editorial styles and grammar, making sure that all is be the book.
    e) Reporters: They are the eyes and ears of the publication. They have to know perfectly the styles and must be versed in grammar.
    f) Columnist: There is no newspaper without opinions, isn’t? they are expert in their field that base on analysis provide the reader with a informed point of view.

  • 2: Design: Its the responsible of the readability of the product and to deliver the content to the right “audience”. Imagine a super modern looking newspaper that talks about elder people health…?  structure:
    a) Art Director: Lead the team and decide the way it should look defining styles based in psychological projections of symbols (colours, structure, proportions and typo styles have symbolic meanings) and methods of enhance the communication process; also define the quality standard for the publication.
    b) Graphic Editor: Produce ideas, organize the team, and keeps the styles and coordinate the flow of content.
    c) Designer: Create visual concept that will transmit the mood of the concept and organizing big amount of info into that “tiny” pages. They should be focus in front pages and features. It is advisable as with editors to have one per section and to chose a designer who is well versed on this are (sports, showbiz, etc)
    d) Page makers: Experts in layout, they take care of the fast elaboration of the regular pages.
    e) Illustrators: The creation of “functional-art” its a real art… they take a concept chew it and spite out and abstraction of symbols universally comprehensible that will tell you an story in seconds if not fraction of it.
    d) Infographic artist: They are the READERS AND EDITORS BEST FRIENDS, they shredder complex information and explain it “with apples**” if necessary.  They will struggle and work for several to understand this info and translate it into a diagram that the reader will understand in minutes and effort free.
  • 3: Photography: They need no explanation; but there is field of specialization: Breaking news, fashion, sports, politics, etc. They produce almost a third (half in some beautiful publications) of all the information.
    a) Photo director:  Organize the team, and settles the quality standard.
    b) Photo editor: Select the best images, gives assignments and make sure the designers DON’T MESS the edition of the picture.
    c) Photographers: Lens artist they are the eyes of the readers and take him to where he/she can’t go.

    I will talk about production and marketing in another post.

As you can see, there is no way any area overlap in functions whit any other, they have to Interact as a orchestra to create everyday a powerful new symphony.

*We all should love marketing guys, somehow they fetch our salaries.
** In Mexico in first grade of elementary school, teachers use huge illustration in the walls to teach maths, (1+1=2) is represented with apples. So when saying “explain with apples” means to explain in a way a 6 years old kid will get it.

Posted in Editorial, Medium Newspapers, Organization, Small Newspapers, STAGE2: Structural bases | 3 Comments

Editors vs Designers and What are editorial designers good for?

What are editorial designers good for?

In many newsrooms seem to be the quintessential conflict … romanticized if you want: writers against painters, the eternal debate of who has the best art. Letters against images; designers -illustrators against editors-reporters.
It’s amazing how this whole world of professionals dedicated to analysis and communication are so inefficient to analyze our environment within the newsroom and how difficult it is to communicate with each other.

We have to set our egos aside and understand that no career is better than the other, and we seek for the same ultimate purpose, just we deliver this message in different ways.

Before continuing the debate and in order to make the designer’s work more understandable, I assure you that your designer (if he-she is a true professional) does not work for SND, does not work for IFRA, World Press Cartoon, Malofiej, etc … he works for yours and his reader.
Do not create thinking about the awards, but seeking the same goal as any journalist: COMMUNICATE.

I think is the editors know better the task of a designer, It will help to get a better understanding so.. What is a Editorial Designer good for? (apart of complaining eternally) 😀

What is a designer?
Graphic design is not a career where the goal is to beautify but to communicate and be functional. The artists are looking for aesthetics as the ultimate goal; the designer uses the aesthetics for your purposes and he could sacrifice it for the sake of better communication and functionality.
Graphic design is visual communication and is an extremely powerful tool, without you knowing it  is what guide your buying trends, for example the cereal you buy contains the same as the another one that costs 3 times less but its exterior design is horrible, as your favorite looks great, giving you a sense of superior quality.
Graphic communication is so powerful because in a fraction second (light speed I would like to say) delivers an incredible amount of information, far beyond the written word, such huge is the that becomes feelings. The images can produce tenderness, happiness, excitement, anger, disgust, etc … is not the same to see the photo of the beautiful smiling pinky baby in the cereal box to put a poem or a narrative description of a beautiful baby. Right?
Editorial designer, is devoted to reading materials as books, magazines, pamphlets, newspapers, web sites are based on theories of editorial design, tablets, electronic books, etc. If you can read it, it can be designed by a Designer Editorial. He will ensure above all to fulfill the sacred goal of editorial design: make it readable.
Make something readable is a bit harder that what the editor might think, but basically is to choose appropriate fonts for the reader (not the same thing a young man of 18 an 60, or tastes, abilities and trends reading), knowing how to measure the amount of text before giving a visual break, where and how to place the aid, choosing colors, hierarchies of information, photo editing, etc..
In some parts of the world (USA, Mexico, LA, Europe) the role of an editorial designer is well defined, valued and respected. But in other regions where these techniques have only recently arrived, designers are seen as mere “embellish-pages.”
But this is also mostly in large cities, in smaller cities, the culture about design has not yet penetrated, so that the designer’s role remains poorly understood and underestimated.

What is the function of an Editorial Designer?
1: Communication. As we have seen the goal of this branch is to deliver a message. As editor you know if the designer has gone too far under this simple rule: IF YOU CAN´T READ IT EASILY IS UNACCEPTABLE.
On the other hand, trust your designer, he know the best techniques for presenting large amounts of information in an attractive and comfortable ways, he is the expert in his field. If he insists, be is confident in their knowledge.

2: Attract. Today we compete fiercely against highly visual and interactive media, we have to look good, to give the feeling of high quality to attract readers to our pages. Good design is synonymous with high finishes, that’s what makes the difference between well-known brands and others that possess the same materials but do not have the same finish.
Attracting readers with strong images, bold and creative designs is one of the added values ​​that the newspaper has over the electronic competitors.
As a advise to editors: Do not expect a spectacular design if you give your artist 3000 words, and when he shows the hand in scissors mimic (index and middle finger extended, opening and closing) do not tear your clothes and say, “BUT ! we are still in the parameters “.
If you want a good page, attractive, make a balance between image and content, and remember, the modern reader likes smaller texts and easily lose interest. To be successful, draw them aggressively and deliver a concise and brief message. The reader will love you for that.
3: Organizing: What to read and where to start?. Design Organize methodologically large amounts of information taking the reader into the most relevant information without him even noticing the process.
4: Establish mood: As journalism is humanistic science, in many cases the stories are inherently laden with emotions, feelings.
When the information required it, the designer can through organization of information, typographical games, selection of colors, illustrations and other visual resources, communicate to the reader the feeling of the article long before it begins to read.

This is one of the most powerful skills of designers and the best know, but this resource should not be abuse, for journalism, must first inform not influence. Whether we are trying to influence we are going against journalistic principles that HIGHLIGHT that the reader should be the one forming his own opinion base in information.

5: Show what words will just make confusing.

Do not overestimate the power of the written word, in psychology, symbolic logic and semantics, has been shown that the process of verbal and written communication are inaccurate, because we use words that are abstractions of objects, actions, people, etc.. And every word has a value, for example if in a conversation chair is mention, the word has a semantic value (i.e. chair: furniture used to sit) and a symbolic (Chair: Rest or food or power, as in presidential chair) and also has a different image in my mind than in yours, mine is square, un retouched, brown-backed, and brick red cushion, and some wear marks on the back right side …
This is where the written word has limitations, even with all that description, it could not make you see the same chair in my mind, I could write a couple of thousand words before you get how I visualize it.
But if we’re both watching the same chair, then we know which one are we talking about, although it has different symbols for each one of us, but language is not an abstraction but a tangible object.
This is how is born the need for another communications specialist the Infographics artist, who analyzes and transforms complex content into easily understood images. Example, a whale stranded on the beach, measures 20 meters, which is like a school bus … if I make a drawing of the whale, next to the school bus and a person standing aside. The brain transforms the image into information that can be compared easily, even if you have never seen a whale or a bus or if mind think in meters or yards.
6: Getting to where words cannot:

Explain in words the frustration and uprooting of third-generation children outside their own countries and their lack of identity, some skilled writers will say “piece of cake”, go on and lets rise the bet… deliver the concept in less 5 seconds. A good photograph is incredibly powerful, “says a thousand words.” The same effect is the Illustration, with the advantage that is not tied to any natural law but the artist’s imagination.
The illustration is not the last resort to fill that space on the page, no, the picture has a value based rich in symbolism that deliver a concept, a feeling. And believe things that do not exist in nature. It’s aesthetics at the service of communication.

All this are for what is good an Design Team in a newsroom. Quite impressive I would say.

If you’re an editor: The designer is a professional who uses a range of effective communication techniques as valid as the written content and that will be of great help and enrich the quality of your product. Rate design as one of your other tools necessary to deliver your message, USE DESIGN TEAM, the will be more than happy. Investing in this would be of great benefit and will never be a sacrifice of content, but a reassessment and improvement.

If you are a Designer: Send this to all your beloved Editors 🙂


Posted in Design, Editorial, Newspapers | Leave a comment

Designers vs. Editors and For what is good an Editorial Designer?

(English version will come tomorrow)

¿Para qué es bueno un diseñador editorial?

En muchas redacciones parece ser el conflicto por excelencia… hasta romantizado pintores contra escritores y la eterna discusión del quien posee el mejor arte. Letras contra imágenes, finalmente diseñadores e ilustradores contra editores y reporteros.

Es impresionante como todo este mundo de profesionales dedicados al análisis y la comunicación somos tan ineficientes para analizar nuestro entorno dentro de la redacción y cuán difícil es comunicarnos los unos con los otros.

Debemos dejar los egos fuera y entender que unos no son mejores que otros, que entregan mensajes de forma distinta y complementaria.

Antes de continuar la polémica y en aras de hacer el trabajo del diseñador mas entendible, debo asegurarle que su diseñador (si es un verdadero profesional) no trabaja para la SND, no trabaja para la IFRA, World Press Cartoon, Malofiej, etc… él o ella trabaja para tu y su lector.

No crea las cosas pensando en los premios, sino buscando el mismo objetivo que cualquier periodista: COMUNICAR.

¿Qué es un diseñador?

Diseño gráfico no es una carrera donde el objetivo sea embellecer, si no comunicar y ser funcional. Los artistas son los que buscan la estética como último fin, el diseñador usa la estética para sus propósitos. Y podría sacrificarla en aras de una mejor comunicación o funcionalidad.

Diseño Gráfico es comunicación visual y es una herramienta extremadamente poderosa, que sin que lo sepas guía tus tendencias de compra, como ejemplo el cereal que compras contiene lo mismo que el otro que cuesta 3 veces menos pero su diseño exterior es horrible, mientras tu favorito luce increíble, dándote una falsa sensación de calidad superior.

La comunicación gráfica es tan poderosa porque en fracciones de segundo (no quisiera decir velocidad luz, pero asi es) entrega una cantidad increíble de información, muy por encima de la palabra escrita, es tal la cantidad que llega a formar sentimientos. Las imágenes pueden darnos ternura, felicidad, excitación, coraje, asco, etc… no es lo mismo ver la foto del hermoso bebe sonrosado en la cajita de cereal que poner un poema o una descripción narrativa de un hermoso bebé sonrosado. ¿Cierto?

El diseñador editorial, es el que se dedica a materiales de lectura; Como libros, revistas, folletos, periódicos, sitios web siguen basados en las teorías de diseño editorial, Tabletas, libros electrónicos, etc Si se puede leer puede ser diseñado por un Diseñador Editorial. El se asegurara por sobre todo de cumplir el objetivo sagrado del diseñador editorial: Hacerlo Legible.

Hacer algo legible es un poco más difícil de hacer de lo que el editor puede pensar, pero básicamente es escoger tipografías adecuadas para el lector (no es lo mismo un jovencito de 18 que un hombre de 60, ni en gustos, capacidades ni tendencias de lectura), saber medir la cantidad de texto antes de dar un descanso visual, donde y como colocar las ayudas, colores a escoger, jerarquías de información, edición de la fotografía, etc.

En algunas partes del mundo (USA, México, LA, Europe) el rol de un diseñador editorial está perfectamente definido, valorado y respetado. Pero en otras regiones donde estas técnicas son recién han llegado, los diseñadores son vistos como meros “embellece-páginas”.

Pero esto también es mayormente en grandes urbes; en ciudades de menor envergadura, la cultura sobre el diseño aun no ha penetrado, de forma que el papel del diseñador sigue siendo poco entendido y menospreciado.

¿Cuál es la función de un Diseñador Editorial?

1: Comunicación.  Como ya lo vimos el fin máximo de esta rama es el entregar un mensaje. Y como editor puedes saber si el diseñador ha ido demasiado lejos bajo esta simple regla: SI NO SE PUEDE LEER FACILMENTE ES INACEPTABLE.

Por otro lado, confía en tu diseñador, el conoce las mejores técnicas de presentar grandes cantidades de información de manera atractiva y de lectura cómoda; él es el especialista en la materia. Si él insiste confía en sus conocimientos.

2: Atraer. Hoy en día competimos ferozmente contra medios extremadamente visuales e interactivos, tenemos que lucir bien, para dar esa sensación de alta calidad y así atraer lectores a nuestras páginas. Buen Diseño es sinónimo de altos acabados, eso es lo que marca la diferencias entre marcas de renombre y otras que aunque posean los mismos materiales no poseen el mismo acabado.

Atraer a los lectores con imágenes poderosas, diseños atrevidos y creativos es una de los valores agregados que el periódico posee sobre los competidores electrónicos.

Como concejo a los editores: No esperes un diseño espectacular si le entregas a tu artista 3000 palabras, y cuando te muestra la mano en señal de tijera (dedo índice y medio extendidos, abriendo y cerrando) no desgarres tus vestiduras y digas: “PERO! E en los parámetros!”.

Si deseas una buena página, atractiva, haz un balance entre imagen y contenido, y recordemos, el lector moderno lo lee grandes textos y se desinteresa fácilmente. Para ser exitoso, atráelo agresivamente y entrega un mensaje conciso y breve. El lector te amara por ello.

3: Organizar: ¿Qué leer y por dónde comenzar?. El diseñador organiza de manera metodológica grandes cantidades de información llevando al lector hacia la información más relevante sin que este siquiera se de cuenta.

4: Establecer emociones:  Al ser el periodismo una ciencia humanista, en muchas ocasiones las historias están cargadas intrínsecamente de emociones, sentimientos.
Cuando la información lo requiere el diseñador puede a través de organización de información, juegos tipográficos, selección de tonalidades, ilustraciones y otros recursos visuales. Comunicar al lector el sentimiento del articulo mucho antes de que este comience a leer. Este es uno de los recursos más poderoso, pero no se debe de abusar de ello, pues el periodismo, primeramente debe informar no influir, si intentamos influir estamos siendo parciales y esto va en contra de sus principios.

5: Mostrar lo que las palabras solo volverían confuso. No sobre estimes el poder de la palabra escrita, en psicología, en lógica simbólica y semántica, se  ha demostrado que el proceso de comunicación verbal y escrita es inadecuado, pues usamos palabras que son abstracción de objetos, acciones, personas, etc.  Y cada palabra posee un valor, por ejemplo si en una conversación menciono la palabra silla esta tiene un valor semántico (ej. Silla: mueble que sirve para sentarse) y uno simbólico (Silla: Descanso o comida o poder, como en silla presidencial) y también tiene una imagen distinta en mi mente que en la vuestra, la mía es cuadrada, sin retoques, color café, con respaldo, y con cojín rojo ladrillo, y algunas marcas de desgaste en el respaldo del lado derecho…

Es allí donde la palabra escrita posee limitaciones, aun con toda esa descripción, no podría hacerte ver la misma silla que está en mi mente, podría escribir un par de miles de palabras antes de que la visualices tal como yo.

Pero si ambos estemos observando la misma silla, sabemos de que silla estamos hablando, aun posee diferentes simbolismos para cada cual, pero ya no es una abstracción lingüística si no un objeto tangible.

Así es como nace la necesidad de otro especialista de comunicación gráfica, EL INFOGRAFISTA. Quien analiza contenido complejo y lo transforma en imágenes fáciles de entender. Ejemplo, una ballena encalla en la playa, mide 20 metros, que es como un camión escolar… si hago un dibujo de la ballena, junto al camión escolar y una persona parada a un lado. El cerebro transforma esta imagen en información que puede compara fácilmente, aun cuando nunca haya visto una ballena o un camino. Y si mente piense en metros y no en yardas.

6: Llegar a donde las palabras no pueden: Expliquemos en palabras la frustración y desarraigo de niños de tercera generación fuera de sus países y la falta de identidad, claro dirían algunos escritores hábiles, muy bien, subamos la apuesta y entrega el concepto en menos de 5 segundos.  Una buena fotografía es increíblemente poderosa y “dirá más que mil palabras”. El mismo efecto tiene la Ilustración, con la ventaja que en esta no estamos atados a ninguna ley natural si no a la imaginación del artista.

La ilustración no es el último recurso para rellenar  ese espacio en la página, no, la ilustración posee un valor enriquecedor  basado en simbolismos que entregan un concepto, un sentimiento. Y crea cosas que no existen en la naturaleza. Es la estética al servicio de la comunicación.

Esta es para lo que sirven los diseñadores editoriales.

Si eres editor: El diseñador es un profesional que utiliza una gama de técnicas efectivas de comunicación tan validas como el contenido escrito y que servirán de gran ayuda y para enriquecer la calidad de tu producto. Valora el diseño como otra de tus herramientas necesaria para entregar tu mensaje. Invertir en esto seria de gran beneficio y nunca será un sacrifico de contenido, sino una revaloración y perfeccionamiento.

Si eres Diseñador: Envía esto a todos tus editores. 😀

Posted in Design, Editorial, Newspapers | Leave a comment

Nosce vestri lector tunc nosce te ipsum (Know your reader and then Know yourself)

We could argue endlessly about models of communication, but all of them can be summarized simply: Sender, Message, Receiver, a little more extended would include “medium”.

In this perfect model we assume that someone has a message and someone will receieve it. However, for the newspapers involves some complications, such as the fact that most of us sell that message.
Seeing the problem: Who wants our message? or : The message we want to send, is there somebody willing to pay for it? Considering that today the information flows in monumental amounts and is FREE. then, Why someone would want to pay us this for information?

The newspapers have an advantage over free wandering the network, this is the selection of information, the media have the structure of a few dozen people (in the best case scenario) to choose the best information and deliver it to our receiver . Another advantage is the production of content, the latter is the most powerful resource to support a niche market.

Most publishers will be happy up here and even arrogant with the premise: “Sure, that’s what we do every day.” Nothing new, ah!

However, this simple recipe for “selecting and producing” begins to fail in sales.

Do not forget that newspapers are (unfortunately) a business that the board not only wants Pullitzers or medals in the SND, but above all it expects earnings.

Saying this, lets have a little history of newspapers in the last century and 12 years, will be very brief:

Beginning of last century: The newspapers are virtually the only durable source of information. The portable radio as they were not, and should be with the contraption to keep the news.

Half-century: the radio is already in the car at least, television has gained territory. Even so the newspaper is the news media for excellence.

70s-80s: broadcast television becomes the king of the household, and provides entertainment and information, instant and free.

90’s: OH MY GOD! appears internet, though very slow back then it changed the way we communicate. First newspaper came online.

TODAY: The world revolves around social networking, bloggs, you tube and search engines. And it is “free.” addition to widening the bandwidth, and there is not the boring waiting time anymore.

What has that to do with journalism, if we have the “select the best and produce notes”? well, it has to do about our readers change. They had change.

At the begging of the last century, the paper was important to the community because it was the only way to be informed, newspapers chose their identity and shape public opinion.

At one point they had to fight with the television, but they prevail  for the reader decided what time access to information. The newspaper even so slowed in front of this instant media.

Today, the reader has “all the world’s information” almost instant, and free, and can access it at any time, no space Oh, and it is fashionable.

What are we going to do? A print medium is not instantaneous, takes up space, and certainly you not attract girls reading the that huge gray broadsheet and smoking his pipe.

The old formula: “select and produce” will still work, it should only be redirected. our new motto should be: “Know your reader in detail, chooses and produces what interests HIM.” not what  interested in YOU.

When we talked about business, today’s newspapers can not printed thinking that people will buy. We must choose a market (there are many models for newspapers) and once done, providing our customers what they want and need.

Without knowing your reader, you’re toast; they can with a finger to look for what they need or want, and YES iPad attract girls.

So, in order of survival and evolution (electronic) must leave the arrogance of old editor who knows everything and understand we need the reader. So you know your reader and you will know yourself.

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