About Ron Reason

[Links below are to case studies or portfolios elsewhere on the blog.]

Welcome to “Design With Reason,” where you’ll find hundreds of original articles and essays, with case studies, visual galleries, advice and perspective. My focus is a unique mix of a journalist’s eye for storytelling, an art director’s passion for visual impact, a news publisher’s concern for revenue generation, and the nonprofit’s need for audience affinity and engagement. One thing I know for sure: Great design makes for great storytelling, and makes a difference for our readers and our communities.

I am a consultant in storytelling strategies and redesign to news publications, universities and communications companies worldwide, with more than 25 years of experience. I’m currently based in Portland, Ore., and work remotely and travel to clients as needed. Magazine clients have included Champion (the magazine of the NCAA), Athletic Business, Advertising Age, Modern Healthcare, Capital Ideas (the journal of economics and finance research at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business) and many others. Newspaper clients have included The Harvard Crimson, The Dallas Morning News, Emirates Evening Post (Dubai), The Standard (Nairobi, Kenya), Chicago ReaderOrlando Sentinel, Cincinnati Enquirer, Boston Herald, San Francisco Examiner, and numerous small and medium market news companies. Visit a more detailed client list, with links to case studies and portfolios.

I have appeared around the world as an invited speaker to more than 200 publishing companies, universities and professional groups. I present the inside stories of reinvention from my recent clients, discuss industry challenges, trends and best practices, critique and often remake attendees’ work, and conduct hands-on exercises. I have lectured at colleges including the University of Oregon-Eugene and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and for trade groups including the Florida Magazine Association, the Russian Press Federation (Moscow) and the Society for News Design. In July 2017, I presented two weeks of custom training for magazine and newspaper professionals in Mumbai and Kerala, India, via WAN-IFRA South Asia.

My most recent teaching gig took me to the University of Montana, where the School of Journalism selected me to serve in its Pollner Distinguished Professorship, a newly endowed post bringing to the school an expert in visual and digital journalism and/or the business side of the news. In addition to helping advise student media across all platforms, I created and delivered an honors course titled “Critical Thinking About Design and Disruption.” One highlight: extensive exploration of real-time innovation and disruption by The New York Times. (Link here for the final course syllabus, with lots of hyperlinks to what we studied, discussed, produced and read.)

At Poynter, I served for five years as full-time Faculty Member and Director of Visual Journalism, and later served as visiting instructor for many years. There I created, directed and taught in hundreds of seminars and conferences dissecting and sharing the best practices of visual journalism, and taught in adjacent programs in writing, ethics, newsroom leadership and diversity. I also helped write and edite Poynter books, periodicals and websites, and assisted with research including eyetracking and infographics impact studies.

My focus is a unique mix of a journalist’s eye for storytelling, an art director’s passion for visual impact, a publisher’s concern for revenue generation, and the nonprofit’s need for audience affinity and engagement. My references attest to my ability to work well across departmental lines and across cultures, to navigate challenging conversations, and to help manage projects to keep them on track. Among the testimonials found on my LinkedIn profile:

“Ron has a great perspective on how words and images should work together to create an enhanced presentation of news pieces, beginning with a highly visual approach to story planning. Ron is also a great trainer, fully capable of orchestrating engaging seminars, fully sensitive to working in different cultural environments.”

For additional references, link here.

If you have questions about hiring a news design consultant, to create or redesign your news publication or provide training, visit this link. Of course, an outside perspective is always helpful – for an independent report of how one client viewed their working relationship with me, and how they achieved success, visit this link.

Please visit often and share your comments, especially questions about the industry, and I’ll answer promptly. Just leave them in the comments section, e-mail me at any time at ronreason@gmail.com, or phone (773) 562-7464. Thanks for stopping by!

– Ron Reason
Updated October 2017

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  1. Rob Merwin

     /  April 20, 2011


    “Things to never say …” items are truly poignant, hilarious and painful. Couldn’t have said them better! Thanks for sharing.

    Hope all is well,


    -Rob Merwin

  2. Craig Groshart

     /  April 6, 2013

    The question of jumping stories has come up in the newsrooms of two tabloid papers I edit.
    Information I remember from the past said that readers don’t like jumps and readership can go down. Is that still the thinking? Does it matter? If so, are there ways to handle long stories without jumps?
    Thanks for any information/help/advice you can offer.

  3. Our experience just last month with the Cincinnati Enquirer redesign confirms that readers do NOT like jumps. They reacted with wild enthusiasm to the conversion to “promo only” front pages, with the complete story starting on an inside page, with its own headline. If pages must continue on another page at all, they go to the next page. For exceptions like longer project stories, they can “flip” to a third or even fourth consecutive page, but they must be consecutive. The editors report that readers say they are reading and comprehending more with this approach. Makes great sense – fewer distractions on the way to completing a story. Confirms my prediction of a few years back that newspapers will be adopting more magazine-like approaches, not only in page size and shape but in editorial philosophies like this.

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