Archives for posts with tag: interactive copy editors

Fred Vultee — a Mizzou Ph.D. and former Missourian news editor, now teaching at Wayne State University — offered a session on some of his research, answering the question “Do readers notice good copy editing?”

Vultee finds that readers notice when a story is well edited. They are particularly sensitive to details and good grammar. They are less sensitive to structural problems. Internal consistency is particularly important, but fine points of style are lost on readers. They expect stories to sound “professional” — better than what they could do themselves. Heavy users of news are much more sensitive to editing than casual users.

An interesting conclusion for Vultee is that editing varies by platform. Online readers seem to have different expectations than print readers. This might point newsrooms away from universal copy desks and in the direction we’ve taken at the Missourian: to separate production desks for print and online. How exactly do they differ? Online readers seem to have different expectations of story organization. They are more likely to see a well-edited story as badly organized, and they are more likely to see an unedited story as well organized. Vultee’s research doesn’t explain this, but I wonder if this speaks to the idea that online readers don’t want a traditional Point A-to-Point B story but need something more packaged and “nuggetized.” We may be hearing echoes of the Jakob Nielsen research on how online readers read and the need for us to more often do “scanner-style” stories online. It appears we might need different copy editors focused on print and online, working in different ways. I think that means more copy editors, not fewer, in a hybrid print-online news organization.

Vultee doesn’t claim that editing makes publishers more money, but if you consider what Mizzou’s Esther Thorson et al. have found about newsroom investments — that they do translate into revenue, probably because readers notice product quality — and you add Vultee’s observations that readers notice editing quality, you have the very beginnings of a case for hiring, not firing, copy editors.

During the arguably historic snowstorm earlier this month, many of the students and faculty who normally work on the Missourian’s interactive copy desk were unable to leave their homes. For those of us working primarily on the website, that’s not a huge problem. Our Web content management system lives online. Any of us can log into it from anywhere, as long we have Internet access. And because we’re Web-first, we edit almost all our content using this system, rather than our print CMS, which is only a part of the process after the fact for our small team of print designers and editors.

So working from home is no problem. But communicating with half a dozen people in half a dozen places? That’s harder. How do we efficiently let everyone know what needs doing and who should do it?

The impromptu solution we came up with was to launch a group chat within Gmail. Most of our students use Gmail for their personal e-mail, and even those who don’t will open Gmail accounts in order to get access to Google Docs and Google Analytics, two services we make extensive use of at the Missourian. While Skype or AIM might have been more reliable and elegant, Gmail Chat was the service we could get students and faculty most easily.

The chat function lives in the left-hand sidebar of Gmail:

The hardest part is inviting each new person to chat with you, and that’s not really hard. You simply type each invitee’s Gmail address in the invitation window. Once one person has accepted, you can invite that person to chat. Then, you invite each new person from the existing chat window, creating a group chat, where everyone can see everything that is being said.

It worked really well. We looped in the interactive copy desk, our print team and the management hub. I was the on-duty news editor working from home the first night of the storm, and I found myself completely looped in to what was going on. The next day, I was able to get to work, but many of us still couldn’t, so we fired up the chat again. And we did it again on the third day, even though most of us had made it in to the newsroom by that time. A surprising aspect of the chat was this: It helped those of us in the office communicate better with each other. It’s easy to make a quick announcement to everyone (“Hey, don’t forget to use the #comosnow hashtag!”) without having to command their immediate attention or contribute to the avalanche of e-mail.

So a question for us has become: Should the group chat become a permanent feature of work on the interactive copy desk and the management hub? I’m thinking about it. Missourian folk, what do you think?

Today, one of the most prolific entrants to our Show Me the Errors contest, Stephens College professor Jim Terry, was on a roll. Over the course of an about an hour, Terry submitted 21 separate errors, almost all of them simple and unarguably valid. The majority of them I would put in the category of “Careless.” If our editors had been paying a little more attention, none of these errors would have seen the light of day. I compiled the errors in this Word document for our editing staff, if you care to take a look.

This problem of failing to edit for detail reminded me of something I learned from a longtime colleague of mine at The Wichita Eagle, Roy Wenzl. Those of you here at Mizzou might have met Roy a few weeks ago when he was on campus working with some of Jacqui Banaszynski’s students. Roy’s expertise is in narrative reporting, and many of his pieces win a lot of attention. Nieman Storyboard recently did a great interview with Roy about his latest work.

Back in about 1997, we were having some editing problems at The Eagle, which once upon a time was infamous for having eliminated its central copy desk*. A lot of little errors were making it into print. Roy — the leader of the crime and safety team at the time — circulated a memo describing something he called “The Dink-Dink Solution.” I was a pretty fresh copy editor then and found this technique immediately improved the consistency of my editing. I adapted the technique, but it owes a lot to Roy’s memo. Here it is:

  1. When you’re copy-editing a story, the first time you read through it, you try not to touch it. You can fix very obvious, simple errors, but your goal is to read the thing from top to bottom and to try to understand it. You’re asking yourself: What is this story about? Do I understand it? Will the reader understand it? Is it fair and accurate? Any fiddly editing you do at this point is only going to distract you from answering those fundamental questions.
  2. You’re now going to pass judgment on the story. Does it accomplish its purpose? Did I understand it? Will the reader? Is it journalistically sound? If it’s flawed, can I fix it? If the story is misconceived, this is the point at which you have a conversation with the assigning editor or the night editor about it. There are some fundamental problems that a copy editor can’t, or at least shouldn’t, fix.
  3. If you still have the story, it’s time to really go to work. From top to bottom, fix the problems you find, whatever they are. Do the copy editing. And when you’re done with this pass of nuts-and-bolts editing. …
  4. It’s time to go “dink-dink.” If you have a way to hide your editing notes, do it. Now, start at the bottom of the story, with the last paragraph. Read it slowly and closely. Ask yourself: Does each word and each phrase mean what it says? Are there details here that I missed in my first pass? And when you’re done with the last paragraph, move up to the next-to-last paragraph and do the same thing. And then up to paragraph before that, and then the paragraph before that, etc. The idea here is that you’re divorcing yourself from the narrative of the story. You’re no longer going to get lost in what the writer is trying to say, you’re reading what the author actually wrote, in the way you edited it. This is what Roy meant by “dink-dink.” Imagine the staccato sound you make as you tap each paragraph individually, instead of the more continuous sound you make as you barrel through the story head-first. “Dink, dink, dink.”
  5. At this point, you’ve made three passes through the story. You might be done. Depending on how complex the story was, how much time you’ve got, how extensive your editing was, you might add a fourth pass, forward this time, just to read and understand the end result of your editing. And then, you move the story along to the news editor or slot.

When I’ve taught this to students, I’ve done so with this caveat: This is a technique — my technique. Try it. It might work for you. Or in trying it, you might figure out your own technique, just as I adapted this technique from Roy. The lesson here is that you’ve got to do something that forces you to read for detail. It doesn’t usually come naturally. Most copy editors are voracious consumers of information and tend to devour their recreational reading; part of our craft is cultivating the discipline to slow down.

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* The Eagle’s copy editors were parceled out to topic-based content teams in 1995, and many took the opportunities offered to transform themselves into excellent reporters and assigning editors. The content teams worked out well, but the dearth of copy editing did not. By about 1999, a frustrated newsroom voted to make reconstituting the copy desk one of its top priorities for the year, and Executive Editor Rick Thames and Copy Chief Jann Nyffeler made it happen. I succeeded Jann as the leader of the reconstituted desk, a post I held for five years. Today, some of the desk’s denizens and alumni are among the most prominent members of the American Copy Editors Society.

This item has been cross-posted at the Reynolds Journalism Institute’s blog.

Much has been said and written by editors about the need for headline writers to understand search-engine optimization. This is certainly important, although it is really just a different way of thinking about something that headline writers have always thought about: keywords. I’ve heard much less about another aspect of online headline writing that we talk about here at the Missourian. I’ll call it “reader-optimization.” First, though, an overview of what we’re teaching and doing.

All Missourian copy editors get access to our Google Analytics account, where they can see what terms our readers are searching for, both via major search engines and via our own site search. In class, we cover SEO for headline writing, particularly the importance of proper names in headlines. And we learn on the job. For example, early in the fall semester, we figured out that our stories about Missouri tailback and newsmaker Derrick Washington were much better off when we included his first name along with his last in headlines. Later, when an underage Columbia College student fell off the stairs at a downtown bar, we began using her name in headlines when it became clear it was a popular search term. We insist on including “Missouri” or “Columbia” in almost every headline where that’s appropriate, way more often than we’re naturally inclined to.

But writing headlines for the web can’t be just about SEO. About 45 percent of our readers at ColumbiaMissourian.com come from search engines. Another 35 percent are referrals, meaning they clicked a link to our content from another website, or from an e-mail or a tweet. The remaining 20 percent — a number we’d like to increase — type our address or click a personal bookmark. These are our regular readers. They probably live in Columbia or have some tie to it, and they probably came in the front door, the home page, to poke around for the news that interests them. These readers aren’t so different from the print readers who pick up the paper and start on Page 1A, looking for the headlines that pique their interest. It follows that the headlines we write for these home-page readers shouldn’t be so different than the ones we try to write for 1A. Intriguing. Terse. Story-selling.

It’s common sense, really, and I wondered how many other sites were “reader-optimizing” their home-page headlines. I assigned my copy editing students to each choose a newspaper, find a story printed on Page 1 recently, and compare that headline to the headline on the home page for that story and the headline on the story itself on the website. Their findings? Most newspapers write snappy headlines for their print front pages and prosaic, keyword-laden headlines — SEO headlines — for their websites. But most don’t bother to rewrite their headlines for the home page.

Granted, some online content management systems make this impossible. If that’s the case in your CMS, you should complain to its developers and request a feature that allows you to override the story headline on your home page, or make sure that feature is on your list when you go shopping for a new system. Our CMS at the Missourian — a internally developed system based on the Django Web framework — allows our editors to rewrite all the display type for the four stories that are featured on our home page. We’re not consistent about doing this, but it’s our goal. We want the headlines on our home page to speak to readers, not search engines.

(This is also posted on the Reynolds Journalism Institute blog)

The Missourian is wrapping up a semester-long experiment designed to improve the focus of our website production and change the definition of a newspaper copy editor.

The assessment: It works. The changes could be implemented in other newsrooms – but only if senior and assigning editors let go of the print control.

Like many newspapers, we’ve called ourselves “Web first” for a long time, but we knew we weren’t really when it came to editing. The Missourian’s production rolled along the factory assembling line from mid-afternoon to midnight. Meanwhile, the website came together sort of auto-magically, requiring minimal effort on the part of copy editors to select a fresh set of stories to highlight on the home page periodically.

We decided we needed a radical change.

In August, we segregated all print production processes from the day-to-day operations of the newsroom.

Most of our copy editors, most of the time, would have no involvement with the print product.

Instead, they’d become “interactive copy editors.” They would focus on getting stories to our website quickly and accurately, on finding ways to increase reader engagement with our work online, and on making sure the website is always putting its best possible foot forward. The work of a copy editor would be just beginning when an article published.

A small team of editors and designers, working separately, would manage all the details of the print edition, from story selection to final proofing, piggybacking as much as possible on the work of the interactive copy desk. They – not the managing editor, metro editor or senior news editor – would effectively “own” the print edition.

It has gone surprisingly well. We succeeded in resetting the rhythm of the whole newsroom.

We’re no longer focused on the paper tomorrow — the print team worries about that for all of us.

Instead we’re occupying news editors and copy editors with the work of producing the website 18 hours a day every weekday.

We actually made the mistake of continuing to staff the desk lightly on Friday afternoons and not at all on Friday evenings — as we have since the Missourian ended its Saturday print edition — but soon realized that Fridays had become just like any other weekday — busier than most, actually. We had to adjust.

Interactive copy editors are in charge of our social networks. They regularly use Twitter and Facebook. But we can be more creative and proactive in soliciting reader input for potential stories, rather than just the ones we’ve already posted.

Interactive copy editors also monitor the comment boards at the end of every article. They take down comments that violate our policies, and they jump in when the conversation demands a Missourian response. We think copy editors could do more in mediating conflicts among commenters and soliciting comments on stories that ought to be sparking them but aren’t.

We need to be better, too, at figuring out how to create energy and engagement on the website when the news by itself just isn’t doing it. All these are on our list for tackling in earnest in the spring.

The biggest drawback to the experiment has been the print experience of headline writing for our student copy editors. While they still do an evening print shift every three or four weeks, it’s not enough experience, especially when it comes to headline writing. Writing headlines for print — in a space strictly prescribed — is a skill that only comes with intense practice. It makes them better at writing headlines for the website. We’ll retool for spring to rotate more copy editors into print shifts and, on those shifts, to increase their focus on perfecting their headlines.

However, the benefits of our experiment, which we dubbed The Transition, have far outweighed the drawbacks.

Our website has improved tremendously and, with our interactively focused copy desk, we see room for much more. Meanwhile, our designated print team has done a great job maintaining the print edition. Their exclusive focus on print has even improved the product in some ways. (See print editor Jake Sherlock’s separate report on that aspect of The Transition.) We’ll try to perfect the experiment in the spring. Watch our Transition blog (transition.columbiamissourian.com) for regular updates about what we’re doing on the interactive copy desk and in other aspects of the Missourian newsroom.

Our story about the Columbia Daily Tribune’s plan to erect a paywall has about 2,200 page views as of this writing. Under the story, we’ve got several dozen comments from people expressing their intention to bring their conversation to the Missourian’s website, since the Trib’s comment boards will now be open only to paid subscribers.

Jake Sherlock piped into the conversation with this:

Hello,

There’s nothing more exciting for me than to see so many new names contributing to the conversation here. A big welcome to everyone who said they’re coming here from the Trib. We hope you’ll enjoy the community here as much as you did at the Trib.

We do ask that you comment under your real name when you post here. We will occasionally email readers to verify that they are posting under their real names. We do this because we believe in openness and transparency. If you’re not comfortable saying something publicly, drop us an email at editor@ColumbiaMissourian.com and let us know about your news tips, opinions and other matters that way. We won’t publish the contents of those emails in any way, shape or form under your name without your permission.

We look forward to reading your comments and contributing to the conversation.

Jake Sherlock
Opinion editor

Interactive copy editors and news editors, take Jake’s cue. Two important things happened there. One, we welcomed our new commenters with open arms. Two, we made clear our policy for using real names. We’ll probably have to be hypervigilant for a few weeks as folks used to commenting pseudonymously at the Trib migrate over to try us out. We want to encourage the new blood and fresh perspectives. But we also want to maintain the standards that we think help to elevate the conversation, even if it has the side effect of limiting it. Those of you helping us monitor the comments should consider this a call to arms to do both of those things, in as welcoming and personable a way as you can muster.

We’re barely on the downside of October. I asked for early updates, though, because the Missourian Publishing Association board of directors convenes 10/22, and the members will want an up-to-date report.

And so, without further ado, projects and their leaders’ reports:

COMOYOUKNOW (CMYK) — Creating a local, Wikipedia-like encyclopedia to provide systemic context for episodic news. – Laura Johnston

October update: Chris Carmody continues to take the lead on tracking edited entries and providing a consistent voice for the edits. Erin McNeil, a graduate student in 4406, is helping us edit the entries we’ve collected from various classes and past semesters. We’re moving at a slower pace than I’d hoped for, but we continue to make progress daily.

As we edit, we’re noticing gaps in  coverage. For example, we have no entry on prominent Columbians, such as Darwin Hindman. Another example: We have an entry on Pepper & Friends, but no entry on Paul Pepper, the personality behind the show. Most of the entries are related to places or organizations.

The Participatory Journalism class taught by Clyde Bentley is helping us to compile new entries, and finding local experts to contribute. Along with entries from students in a 2100 class taught by Mike Jenner and those from my 4400 students, we should have an additional 50 or 60 entries by the end of this semester.

The platform for publication continues to be of concern. At this time, it seems that a Google site will be our best option.

November plans: The launch date has been moved from Oct. 30, although all entries will be edited by that date.
The additional time will allow us to create the 200 web pages needed for the Google site. Once the site is active, the IT team should be able to make a quick redirect so that readers can find it.

Launch date: Nov. 15

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INTERACTIVE COPY EDITING – Creating a new job description for copy editors while restructuring the copy editing course. – Nick Jungman

October update: We’re in cruise mode now. Laura continues to invent ways to keep the day-side editors busy in service of the site. Maggie has added the long list of interactive duties to the the copy desk log sheets, which the copy editing students use to track the work they do. The copy editing class transitioned back into some more traditional editing. We’ve discussed improvements to the way we cover breaking, evolving news events and the copy desk’s role in that.

November plans: We’ll continue to work on ramping up or work on adding layers of interactivity to more content on the site. We’re waiting for a good breaking news event to test using time-stamped updates that are trafficked into place by the desk (rather than the writethru approach to updating we tend to use now). Editing lectures will end for the copy editing class, and it will transition into the six-week design lab.
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SHOW ME THE ERRORS:
October update: Participation by readers in the Show Me the Errors contest has been vigorous with about 130 reports as of Oct. 19 since the contest began Oct. 1.

Big submitters Kate McIntyre, an MU student, and James Terry, a Stephens College professor, have tailed off a bit but continue to post. Other participants’ reports often reflect a personal interest in the article, though there are occasional reports from non-involved readers who are willing to participate in the editing process.

The reports cover a wide range of error. Readers incorrectly posting comments in the Show Me the Errors option continues, albeit at a lesser pace.

The most frequently reported errors are missing spaces between words, an error compounded by the Django system’s notes mode. Copy editors have been advised to add the additional step of reading the text in “no notes mode” to check for these errors. That seems to be helping to cut down on those errors.

A lack of familiarity with Missouri style also has contributed to some reports of perceived errors that are not actual errors.

For example, the Missourian does not hyphenate compound modifiers for frequently used phrases. Using brackets instead of parenthesis, which is Missourian style, has also been suggested as has moving punctuations in the use of quotations – period outside the quote marks.

Of the reports pointing out errors, the most frequent ones have been incorrectly spelled names. Research has shown misspelled names to be the most frequent error in all newspapers, so the Show Me the Errors’ results are not surprising, but it is still disappointing that accuracy checks are not consistent.

Factual errors are the most disturbing for any publication, and there have been about a dozen of those reported. When that occurs, the interactive copy editing chief on duty contacts the city editor/reporter and works with them to ascertain the correct information and make corrections. That information is passed along to the print editors for needed corrections.

November plans: There have been home page banners on the website to promote the contest, and plans are afoot for additional print promos in the floorboard of the Missourian. We continue to monitor the posting of comments to the correction field. We also hope to spark discussion of the concept of participatory editing by writing columns and submitting posts to grammar, language and media blogs.

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MISSOURIAN ETHICS – Creating event(s) around proposed ethics policies on conflicts of interest and “un-publishing” of content. – John Schneller

October update: At this point, believe I’m in position to begin making some preliminary conclusions and recommendations that will include proposed language for our conflict of interest policy as well as identifying unsettled issues and ways to incorporate this issue into our teaching and newsroom culture. Although it’s beyond our immediate boundaries, there also appears to because for addressing the potential conflicts associated with social networking for incoming journalism students through FIGS, etc. I’ll provide a document of findings and recommendations by the end of October in hopes of setting the table for additional internal conversation
(Wednesday coffee?). No word from JSGA.

November plans: Focus on business conflicts.

  • Ask SPJ to host a session on business conflicts with special invites to representatives of KBIA, KOMU, MU News Bureau, graduate staff, etc.
  • Review info from Poynter, etc. on best practices for how/when to unpublish and provide report of same for internal consideration.

Launch date: Nov. 30

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PRINT DESIGN AND PRODUCTION— Giving ownership of the print edition to print designers (and the design class) — Jake Sherlock

October update: Space continues to be an issue as it relates to volume of news and good presentation. We’ve taken the paper up in size a few times to accommodate bigger events, such as the weekend paper of Oct. 10 for coverage of MU football and the Hartsburg Pumpkin Festival. We’re planning another 20-page edition for Homecoming.

On a day-to-day basis, we’ve taken to juggling stories to different days to make the most of our limited print space. For instance, if you look in the Oct. 20 print edition, you’ll find three stories  on the proposed parks tax. Two of the stories published to the website the night before — the third was a holdover from earlier in the week. It makes perfect sense to roll these out as soon as possible online — through the magic of linking and search, readers can easily find the latest news and dig into slightly older news all in one convenient stop. But for print, by packaging these stories in one edition, it gives the print reader a place to get all of the in-depth info needed to make an informed decision at the ballot box.

In portfolio reviews with the print design team this week, we’ve talked extensively about news judgment in tight news holes. Specifically, about how the narrative should not be the default element to run in full at the expense of visuals and non-narrative elements, or, as Tom might call it, avoiding the tyranny of the narrative. There still seems to be some hesitancy (or perhaps apprehension is the better word) toward cutting stories for space. Overall, however, I’m seeing a lot of growth out of our design team. They’re doing a fantastic job advocating for print, and they’re learning the art of being good newsroom ambassadors (I like to say that design is the UN of the newsroom). Most importantly, they’re learning to tell stories visually in a deadline-pressure situation, and they’re doing very well with that.

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VOX IPAD APP – Designing Vox for the iPad with ideas and techniques to share with the magazine industry. – Kristin Kellogg

October update: Kristin demonstrated the Vox iPad app to the advertising staff, including in her mockups some full-page ads pulled from Vox. The ad staff generally liked the design of the app and how ads would show up on it, but we  agreed that some ads (especially full page ones) will need to be rebuilt for the tablet’s size. The ad staff generally liked the design of the app and how navigation would work. We discussed the potential market for the app (number of subscribers) and ad pricing/bundling; those are decisions that Dan and Jack will likely need to take up with the sales staff.

On the programming front, Noah continues to learn the iOS software and has started focusing on some of the Vox-specific parts of that language, including text placement engines. He plans to be done with tutorials and into programming the app full time by Oct. 22.

Launch date: Week of Nov. 15

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JUNIT™ -  Creating a semantic Web platform for newspaper publishing with compatibility to print and Web 2.0. Tom Warhover

October update: Developers released the Oct. 15 release on Oct. 15. It’s the first time we’ve been able to see something that looks like the thing we imagined many moons ago. The system has some of the functionality that is planned, with more on the way. It still looks somewhat awkward; Missourian types sent feedback on design issues to the developers. Next release is expected in two weeks. After that, we should be able to begin some serious testing.

November plans: Testing Build 4 series of releases from Junit developers.

One bit of evidence I’m marshaling to prove we’re making some progress with this transition is what has happened on Fridays.

First, a confession: I screwed up Fridays. We went into this transition with the idea that we’d radically transform the production organization, focusing totally on the needs of the website and leaving every print concern to the print team. Except that’s not what I did when I scheduled the Interactive Copy Desk on Fridays. Because we don’t have a Saturday morning print edition anymore, we haven’t been scheduling Friday-night copy editors. When I came up with the schedule for the new Interactive Copy Desk, I scheduled Friday as we usually have — minimal staff all day, no real staff at night.

So (and I’m sure you see where this is going) we were caught flat-footed when we realized that, post-transition, Friday is just another weekday, and maybe a busier one than most. We’ve got roughly the same number of reporters working and a daily GA editor driving them. We’ve got at least the same amount of work flowing to the desk at the end of the day — probably more, given a tendency for some longer-range work to arrive at week’s end and for things to queue up in advance of the thinly staffed weekend.

It’s a happy problem. For now, we doing what we can, moving some resources to Friday and benefiting greatly from the double-time efforts of Michelle Hagopian, our late TA on Fridays, and pitching-in from Grant Hodder and the sports desk, who have always had work to do on Friday nights, with prep sports happening late. And we’re trying to sometimes draw a line on Friday evenings, at about 7, beyond which we defer any work we can to the Saturday desk, which is staffed pretty well.

What other evidence have you seen? Is there evidence to the contrary?

Here’s your monthly update, courtesy of those most involved in the projects:

Vox iPad app – Designing Vox for the iPad with ideas and techniques to share with the magazine industry. – Kristin Kellogg

September report: We presented mockups (in pdf form) of the Vox app to members of the magazine faculty to get their feedback. They signed off on the idea of launching in stages (having a basic version of the app with department content) then adding more features later on. Also agreed that we would make the app using real text, instead of having every page be an entire image (doing the whole thing as an image makes the file size huge — we felt this would be impractical for a weekly). Overall, everyone seemed OK with the look of the app. I’m basing this off the style guide of the print edition, with some modifications. The plan is to navigate the app by swiping (to go between pages) or clicking on a section icon at the bottom of the screen. Each department will have a landing page, functioning as a mini-TOC listing the stories contained in this section (so you don’t have to swipe through — you can click directly on the link from here). The navigation icons also function to let you know where you are within the app — it indicates which section you’re in and goes in order of the pages in the app.

Also worked with Noah to make sure we’re on the same page about what’s possible for the app, from a programming perspective. We should be able to pull in Twitter feeds and allow commenting between the app and the site, which is exciting news.

October plans: I’m revising the design of the app. We’ve agreed that we want the layout to change depending on if it’s in portrait or landscape view. I’m working on creating templates that can accommodate this. The tricky part is keeping about the same amount of text on the screen in either orientation (although it’s probably unlikely that users will be flipping the iPad back and forth within stories, I think it’s still a good goal to have). I need to look into different font combinations. For example, in the current mockup, I’m using the print magazine’s body copy font. This may not be the best choice for screen reading, so will need to look into other options. The body copy is my primary concern — the fonts for the display type seem to have translated pretty well to screen.

Launch date: Week of Nov. 15

CMYK (The CoMo You Know) — The Columbia Missourian’s community encyclopedia — Laura Johnston

September update: Most of the month was spent trying to determine what software would be best suited for publication. Nothing was settled yet and that issue remains a hurdle to getting this launched.

Chris Carmody and I have divided the editing work so that most of the entries will be verified and vetted in time for (more…)

This week, I don’t have much to report. Everyone seems settled with this transition — too settled — but I’m still going to be the annoying gnat in your face, reminding you there’s more to be done.

A big thank you to the design class for commenting on my last post. We are full steam ahead with ideas to improve the print product. We have a very smart, insightful class that isn’t willing to settle simply for what works. Right now, the print product is good, but we’re going to keep making changes and coming up with new ideas all throughout the semester because, as our Friday critique sessions tell us, there’s always room for improvement.

A few questions that came up at last week’s TA meeting were remedied this week. There is now a rough system for making corrections online that were found on the print desk. Print will mark the changes on page proofs, and it is up to the night news editor (who could delegate it to a copy editor) to make sure those fixes are reflected in the online version. For corrections made on a page in InDesign, it’s up to the designers to decide whether the changes even need to be made online (adding a comma here and there can probably slide) or whether they want to go online themselves to make the changes or put corrections in notes mode and ask a TA to do it. More often than not, I see the changes in print being too insignificant to merit taking the time to fix them online, but if you’re a designer twiddling your thumbs until your next story comes in, you might as well get into Django and make all our content squeaky clean.

Also, this week on the print desk, we had a case where our centerpiece was suddenly moved off the budget, and we weren’t informed. I was the 1A designer, waiting and waiting for my story that never came. Luckily, everyone in photo was great and helped me put together a photo package for the centerpiece, but I was still pretty peeved that no one even considered how removing a story from the budget at around 8:30 p.m. would affect print. I don’t want to call anyone out; I just want better communication. How is it that we’re excellent at communicating news to our audience, but there’s such a disconnect in our own newsroom? Sometimes, we can experience such tunnel vision in our own work that we have no idea what our colleagues are doing. We have some great minds in our newsroom, and the more they cross into different areas for a chat, the more ideas will actually develop into something.

Interactive Copy Desk, I’m coming for you this week. Please start thinking about your day-to-day tasks, how online updates are going (read Nick’s post if you haven’t already) and what we need to do to better engage the community. I’ll be in touch.