Want a more creative publication? Skilled staff? Conduct art classes

Sylvia Kolaski, Senior Art Director, and Pierrette Dagg, Creative Services Director for Crain's Detroit Business, prepare art training sessions for the staff.

Sylvia Kolaski, Senior Art Director, and Pierrette Dagg, Creative Services Director for Crain’s Detroit Business, prepare art training sessions for the staff. [Photo: Madalyn Knebel]

Often the road to redesign brings happy surprises (beyond, one hopes, a smart looking publication). Prototyping and other goal-setting can suggest workflow restructuring, clarification of roles and responsibilities, and training needs. All came about at our redesign this spring of Crain’s Detroit Business, where redesign project manager Pierrette Dagg was promoted to Creative Services Director shortly before the relaunch. She began looking for ways to elevate skill levels on the staff while making the redesigned pages even more inviting. One big solution? A regular series of cross-departmental art classes, or what she calls “Design Think Tanks,” which are already making the publication look and read better. The effort has expanded to include several sister newsrooms in the Crain family as well. Here’s my conversation with Pierrette on how that all came about and where it’s going.

What prompted you to suggest doing art classes for Crain’s Detroit Business? How did the redesign factor in to this idea?

“Everybody on my art team (marketing, sales and editorial) has a very different set of skills. That said, people are working differently, creating files differently, and sharing is difficult. Not to mention the hell that comes on when someone goes on vacation and we have to fill a gap. When I was promoted to Art Director, I took time to consider everyone’s strengths and realized we have a lot of talent and specific skills on this team. Marketing could benefit from some of editorial’s layout and typography skill. Editorial could be more aesthetically pleasing with some additional art techniques and understanding. Read the full post »

For Akron Beacon Journal, a ‘facelift’ redesign debuts May 2

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 3.43.02 PM

When Bruce Winges, Editor and Vice President of the Akron Beacon Journal, first contacted me in January about a possible redesign, he cautioned that he didn’t think he had to blow the whole place up – and didn’t really have the time or budget for that, anyway. What we agreed on was a limited set of consulting services that allowed him and his team to meet a very tight deadline and to create enough change to prompt readers and advertisers to take notice.

Read the full post »

Redesigning your magazine
or newspaper? Start here.

Magazine and newspaper redesign resources. Start here.

By Ron Reason

Welcome to Design With Reason, the blog of Ron Reason Consulting. I’m passionate about excellence in editorial design, branding and strategy, and have collaborated with clients worldwide for more than 25 years. (Bio. LinkedIn. Client list.) I’m based in Chicago and often work virtually but travel to clients as needed.

What’s kept me in business, even through turbulent times for editorial publishing? A creative yet grounded approach that puts great storytelling and functionality ahead of good looks and technology. My clients usually express this best:

“Ron showed a real understanding of the day-to-day editorial process and limitations – something I’ve found to be the biggest weakness of most other editorial designers. His designs are not only aesthetically pleasing, but actually help build a better publication that gives more (and more useful) information to the audience – in other words, he can actually help you improve your journalism, not just the look and navigability of your product.” [Jonah Bloom, editor during my work over several years with client Advertising Age in New York City. For additional references, link here.]

Here you will find more than 300 blog entries with tips, cases studies, and tons of advice for approaching an editorial redesign – with the help of a consultant or even by yourself – or just improving your daily design, graphics, writing or editing. Magazine redesign? Got that covered. Newspaper redesign? All over it. Business and trade publications? Kinda specializing in that. Tabloids? Here you go.

LET’S TALK! After poking around here a bit, if you are interested in learning more about how we can work together, here’s what happens next: Read the full post »

Dean Baquet on longform’s future, the Apple Watch, sending reporters into war

New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet spent Thursday, April 16, 2015 speaking with the School of Journalism at the University of Montana and the Missoula community. Following are  statements from his appearances before classes, including “J494: Critical Thinking About Design and Disruption,” and videos from a lecture to the public on creating quality journalism in a digital world. Please note that responses to questions from classes are paraphrased except where quotation marks are specifically used.

Read the full post »

Course syllabus, “J494: Critical Thinking About Design and Disruption”

Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 2.15.11 PM

By Ron Reason
University of Montana School of Journalism
Spring 2015 T. Anthony Pollner Distinguished Professor 

WELCOME TO THE LANDING PAGE for “J494: Critical Thinking About Design and Disruption,” The Spring 2015 Pollner Seminar at the University of Montana School of Journalism. Here I post summaries of the focus of each week of class, with links to relevant blog entries, assignments, required reading and more. (RelatedHow I developed this course, and its intentions. Basically, it’s a leadership and management course disguised as a design course, proposed to prepare grads to navigate, and dominate, the disruptive workforce they are about to enter. Background on the generous Pollner family endowment that funds two professorships each year.)

PLEASE NOTE: In addition to assignments and readings required and suggested by the instructor, the syllabus below has been amended to include numerous articles suggested by students in the course. Look for entries in bold and blue, below, with credit to the student who posted the item to our class Facebook page.

TOPICS, ASSIGNMENTS and RESULTS, WEEK BY WEEK

Week One, Jan. 27-29, 2015: What’s Design? What’s disruption?
Let’s discuss in detail what we mean by design (it’s not just visual – we design products, organizations, leadership techniques, marketing campaigns, and more) and disruption (it’s not just contraction or death – think startups, reinventions, redesigns, partnerships, innovation and experimentation). Read the full post »

4 big ways the NYTimes is helping us teach ‘design and disruption’

Manhattan meets Montana: With great help from Times staff, we have a front row seat to study news media innovation, leadership, risk and hope

By Ron Reason

Several months of discussing innovation and change at The New York Times culminates this Thursday for our class, “Critical Thinking About Design and Disruption,” when Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet comes to campus as part of Dean Stone Week. He’ll spend an hour in our classroom, and others at the University of Montana School of Journalism, and later present a lecture to the public, “Quality Journalism in the Digital Age: Challenges and Opportunities.”

baquetBaquet’s visit comes in the wake of months of intense change at the Times, and a huge media spotlight on the evolving yet challenged brand, its people and their work – a lucky break for students getting an up-close-and personal look at issues shaping the industry, and their future, partly thanks to a variety of Times staffers helping us out. Here are ways we’ve been taking a deep dive into the Times, in preparation for Baquet’s time here this week:

Read the full post »

He wears pink socks: A Dean Baquet/ NYTimes reading list for UMJSchool

Baquet is seemingly everywhere, including the current issue of The Hollywood Reporter. Link here to learn why...

Baquet is seemingly everywhere, including the current issue of The Hollywood Reporter. Link here to learn why…

Hebdo, Abramson, innovation, diversity, mobile, Magazine, multimedia: Studying up on an esteemed visitor, his company

In advance of this Thursday’s visit to the University of Montana School of Journalism by Dean Baquet, Executive Editor of The New York Times, students in a variety of classes including J494: The Pollner Seminar, Critical Thinking About Design and Disruption have been studying up on the institution, its innovations, and the man, who will spend an hour with our class and give a public lecture later that night. Following is a curated list of articles and links, including many assigned to J494, for anyone wanting to learn more in advance of his visit to campus. (Related, from this blog: “4 big ways the NYTimes is helping us teach design and disruption.”)

ABOUT or BY DEAN BAQUET

Dean Baquet bio with links to his Times columns and articles (NYTimes) 
Baquet assumes editorship after departure of Jill Abramson
(NYTimes, David Carr)
On Abramson, race, surviving cancer, and ‘TMZ envy’ (Daily Beast, Lloyd Grove)
Meet Dean Baquet, the Times’ first black boss (New York magazine, Joe Coscarelli)
“One of the most famous quotes in political journalism came from his reporting”: 10 facts about Baquet
(Politico, Lucy McCalmont)
Baquet: Media failed after 9/11, hopes next Snowden comes to them (Huffington Post, Michael Calderone)
Dean Baquet calls critic of Times’ Hebdo decision an ‘asshole’ (Politico, Dylan Byers)
‘We were arrogant,’ Baquet says of Hebdo decision (Spiegel, Isabell Hülsen and Holger Stark)
Turbulence at the Times (Politico longform from 2013)
Baquet gives tour of private office, says he checks Facebook 15 times a day (Hollywood Reporter)

Read the full post »

U of Montana High School Journalism Day: Visual Journalism Resources

100years

By Ron Reason
T. Anthony Pollner Distinguished Professor, U of Montana School of Journalism, Spring 2015

Following are some quick links to explore, particularly for students attending my presentation “Creating Visual Journalism” at High School Journalism Day at the University of Montana School of Journalism, Thursday, April 9, 2015.

Part 1: COOL STUFF HAPPENING AT THE U OF MONTANA J SCHOOL

The campus newspaper, the Montana Kaimin, is being totally reinvented in Fall 2015 as a color newsweekly magazine! (Staff has been actively working on plans and designs behind the scenes since early this year.) They will also accelerate publishing daily on the web, including interactive storytelling, and are active on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Check them out to see the kinds of cool stories they publish across all media. UM may have as many opportunities if not more than any other school in the country for students to get published, in print, online and on the air, including some you can find nowhere else such as Native News and Montana Journalism Review magazine. Check those out here.

Wondering where Grizzly grads are getting jobs, and how they are adapting to this crazy disruptive world of journalism and change you have been hearing a lot about? Read the full post »

Launching today: A new Crain’s Detroit Business for a new Detroit

a compo

[The relaunch issue cover, and a Special Report opener inside.]

Read the full post »

NYT Magazine redesign: for students, textbook “Design and Disruption”

IMG_9831

Early word last week on the redesign/reinvention of The New York Times Magazine gave a good indication this wouldn’t be just a cosmetic exercise, a shuffling around of fonts with a few new editorial features. Instantly I suspected this would offer great lessons for the coming week for my class, “Critical Thinking About Design and Disruption,” at the University of Montana School of Journalism. (With NYT Editor Dean Baquet coming to speak to us April 16, and channels like The Upshot garnering great buzz for innovation and audience development, the Times is big on our radar this semester in Big Sky country.)

Read the full post »