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By Ron Reason

Welcome to Design With Reason, the blog of Ron Reason Consulting. I’m passionate about excellence in storytelling, editorial design, branding and strategy, and have collaborated worldwide for more than 25 years with news publishers, as well as corporate, academic and nonprofit news providers. (Bio. LinkedIn. Client list.) Read the full post »

New offering for alumni and academic magazines: content/design audits

By Ron Reason

Dear editors of alumni and other academic publications:

Are you making the most of your storytelling tools to reach the audiences most important to your school’s mission? Beyond alumni in general, is your content seriously reaching out to those who are also donors (or should be), those who help recruit potential applicants, and others who are most critical to keeping your mission going? Do your peers at other schools look to your publication as a standard bearer in your field?

Each year around this time I try to do something to give back to the publishing industry. Now through Jan. 7, 2018, I’m offering free detailed critiques to the first 10 alumni or other college publications that respond. (More below on how to reach me and what else I need.) Here’s what I’ll be looking for: Read the full post »

A passage to India, where magazines and newspapers thrive

Top editors and staff from the Mathrubhumi Group of newspapers and magazines discuss progressive publishing techniques with great enthusiasm, during our training workshops in July 2017 in Kerala. [Photo by Ron Reason]

[August 2017] While newsroom training is mostly a thing of the past in the U.S., it remains alive in India, where I’ve just returned from two weeks conducting workshops in visual storytelling, UX design, and innovation in publishing news across print, digital and social media. Some observations:

Print thrives – for now

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Redesign amplifies NCAA magazine’s focus on diversity, equality

[Related posts: How new formats and philosophies for the Cincinnati Enquirer frame its powerful investigation of the region’s heroin epidemic; The Standard of Nairobi, Kenya, shines a spotlight on government corruption, public safety, poverty and famine.] 

By Ron Reason

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Alternative story forms: Just say no to lifeless, gray pages

Magazine publishers who contact me about redesign are interested in making pages inviting to readers in new ways. In each case, I identify areas in their existing design that could easily be reformatted to make the pages more inviting, the publication flow more easily, and production – including the writing and editing process –  simpler and more streamlined.

Champion, the magazine of the NCAA, does terrific work with alternative story forms such as these. (I advised Champion on strategy and process for its reinvention; you can read more about that process, and see other great layouts, here. The following are live pages produced by Creative Director Arnel Reynon.)

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For Athletic Business magazine, an architectural approach to redesign

Athletic Business magazine redesign

By Ron Reason

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The art of the critique, Part 2: Making “post-mortems” work

The pages of The Villages Daily Sun are attention-grabbing, and the subject of lots of internal critique, before and after publication.

Feedback after publication has its rewards, if done right

(Second of two parts. For the first part, focusing on “pre-mortem” critiques, visit this link.)

It’s been a while since I’ve helped manage a daily newsroom, so, for my two-part series on what works and what doesn’t in newsroom critiques, I thought I’d reach out to Bonita Burton, Executive Editor of The Villages Daily Sun in Florida, for a view from the front lines. The Sun is a 44,000-circulation newspaper, robust and yes, growing (thanks, retirees!), and in recent years Bonita has carved out an expanded role for visual journalism in the newsroom. The payoff? The paper was named one of 12 finalists earlier this year for World’s Best-Designed Newspaper, in the annual competition of the Society for News Design. Here Bonita shares thoughts on my preference for “pre-mortem” critique, and offers lots of specifics about how “post-mortem” works in her newsroom, too. – Ron Reason

By Bonita Burton 

I prefer “pre-mortems” as well. I hate the morning-after “critique,” when it’s too late to make improvements, and the final gatekeepers are typically not even in the office yet to explain their decision-making. Here’s what we do instead – it doesn’t always lead to brilliance, but the hope is it does elevate the report AND morale. Read the full post »

The art of the critique, Part 1: The value of “pre-mortem” feedback

3 newsroom factors must change to allow feedback before, not after, publication

(First of two parts. For the second part, focusing on quality feedback after publication, I spoke with Bonita Burton about what works at the SND-award winning Villages Daily Sun. Link here for that blog post, with lots of tips for post-publication feedback.)

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Bringing change into focus: ‘Photo-activist’ sets sights on Kenya Parliament

Boniface Mwangi takes his message to the streets in this photo by our mutual friend, Noor Khamis [via Reuters].

Once a newspaper photojournalist and now a candidate for Minister of Kenya’s Parliament, Boniface Mwangi takes his message to the streets, in this photo by our mutual friend, Noor Khamis [via Reuters].

He once delivered live pigs to politicians to protest their outrageous pay. This week, the President conceded: salaries must be slashed. Meet Boniface Mwangi, the former Standard photojournalist making change happen. 

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NYTimes 2020 report: What it means for visual journalism, there and elsewhere

By Ron Reason

The New York Times today released its 2020 report, identifying various targets for newsroom innovation and improvement, and there’s lots of good news for visual and multimedia journalists, at the Times and elsewhere. Read the full post »

They’re people, not props: Photographing across cultures

A favorite image from my travels in Africa: A candid moment of a photojournalist Noor Khamis interviewing and interacting with a resident of the Kibera slum. [Photo by Ron Reason]

Following is an adaptation of presentations given during my professorship at the University of Montana, and a variation on earlier talks for the National Press Photographers AssociationPoynter, SND, and my ongoing work with the photojournalists of Standard Media Group of East Africa. For more in words and visuals about my life and work in Africa and elsewhere in the world, visit this link. 

By Ron Reason 

What distinguishes an ordinary photo from an impactful photo? One that might have potential to give viewers pause, to be seen as a call to action, to generate engagement? Read the full post »