Wednesday, April 28, 2010
I (and some of my colleagues) have been pondering a question lately, and I’d like to hear your opinion on it.
The question? Why is it that print editors are so often seen as having the expertise to oversee a magazine website, whereas web editors aren’t seen as able to oversee (or, often, even contribute to) print?
After all, many web editors have print experience – if not as creators, then certainly consumers. And definitely more print experience than web, perhaps unless they’re very young. I, for instance, have been a voracious reader of print magazines for 20 years or so – and the internet’s only been around for about 15.
What do you think is the reason behind this? Am I wrong? Do you see the situation changing?
Friday, April 16, 2010
One of my favourite magazine blogs is Glamour’s Vitamin G health blog. Check out today’s post (part of their daily “Breakfast at Your Desk” series), featuring… mention of a story in Health magazine and a link out to their home page.
They’re not direct competitors, but they are from different companies. Thoughts?
Thursday, April 15, 2010
There’s a lot of debate over the importance of “above the fold” (ie within the viewable area of the screen without scrolling) and whether online readers are happy to scroll rather than click/flip pages.
My philosophy has always been that your most clickable content should be above the fold, but that as the internet evolves and people’s browsing situations become more and more comfortable (think laptop/iPad on couch rather than clunky desktop at uncomfortable desk), they’ll be more likely to read on-screen for longer. That said, I think attention spans will always be shorter online than in print, for the simple reason that there are more distractions.
A recent issue (“Scrolling and Attention”
) of usability researcher Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox newsletter dealt with this issue. His conclusion was that you should prioritize design so that the most important information is above the fold, but that users will happily scroll if the information architecture sends them down the right path. He also suggests making sure there is clickable content at the end of the page as this is where users will go next if they make it that far (e.g., if they read an entire article, they’re not likely to scroll back to the top to click on a related article – better to put something relevant at the end for them to click on).
His article also provides a few screenshots of eye tracking on websites that are worth checking out. It’s interesting to see where readers’ eyes go and how they scan down the page.
Monday, April 12, 2010
From a recent article on PBS’s MediaShift
“The magazine doesn’t become a paper product, but a brand of journalism,” [Juan Señor] says. “The magazine can still have a digital destination. It has a design. It has a masthead. It’s a brand proposition as opposed to a platform proposition, but it’s still doing a specific kind of storytelling.”
Each magazine expresses its content proposition in its own unique way, across multiple media and even through different business models.
Monday, April 12, 2010
Looking to perfect your copy-editing skills (essential for web staff, who usually don’t have copy editors) or learn about InDesign? The Magazine Publishing program at Ryerson University (where I teach) has classes available in the spring term with two of our fabulous instructors. Details below.
Spring Brings Extra Convenience for Two Popular Editorial Courses in Ryerson’s Magazine Publishing Program
Thanks to greater availability of classroom space in the Spring/Summer university term, two of the most popular continuing education courses in Ryerson’s Magazine Publishing program can be scheduled far more conveniently.
Magazine Copy Editing (course code CDJN 119), a 42-hour course, ordinarily meets once a week (for three hours) over 14 weeks. In Spring,however, it runs twice a week for seven weeks, which the instructor says is a far more effective way to learn this material, each lesson being reinforced after a few days rather than a week. This year, Magazine Copy Editing is scheduled for Monday and Wednesday evenings, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., from May 3 to June 21. (Standard fee: $542; enrollment deadline April 26)
Layout Software for Magazine Editors (CDJN 204), a 21-hour/7 week course) moves from 9 a.m. Saturday mornings to a much more popular Wednesday evening time slot, 6:30-9:30 p.m. And because CDJN 204 appeals to many of the same people as CDJN 119, it begins this term on June 23, just as the Copy Editing course finishes, allowing students to continue making Wednesdays their Ryerson night. (Standard fee: $298; enrollment deadline June 16)
For more information about both courses, and the rest of the Magazine Publishing Program, go to www.ryerson.ca/ce/magazine
Applicants already working at a magazine may call Charles Oberdorf (416-480-2750) to obtain a counseling slip – required to register initially in the program (past or current students can enroll online).
Applicants not working at a magazine should consult www.ryerson.ca/ce
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
Since Canada doesn’t have the iPad yet, the next best thing is this video by Brad Colbow that gives us a tour of three magazines that have launched with the new format: Time, GQ and Popular Science. (Thanks to Twitter for alerting me to it.)
It’s always hard to judge remotely, but my inclination is that Popular Science has done the best job, followed by Time and then GQ. I don’t quite understand GQ’s decision to use up half the screen for a static image while reading articles. I do have a possible solution, though, to Colbow’s question of why the design on two of the apps is so much better in landscape than portrait: since apps are sold for both iPhone/iPod touch and iPad, it’s not unlikely that the portrait version (simpler, one column) is meant for the smaller devices and the landscape (larger, more dynamic) for the iPad.
Thursday, April 01, 2010
From an interview with Wired creative director Scott Dadich
"The framework of magazine design is predicated on the fact of gluing two pieces of paper together. There’s a conversation that happens between those two—whether it’s text and image, or ad and edit, or image-image. There’s a relationship between those two. When you take that away, when you take away the spine, and you reassemble it under a piece of glass, what you’re left with is a series of panes, or canvases. That fundamentally changes the graphic design is initiated and implemented."
Thursday, April 01, 2010
Just read an interesting opinion piece by Graydon Carter
titled “Print is dying… really?” What makes it interesting most of all isn’t so much Carter’s analysis – it’s more or less the same “TV didn’t kill radio” analogy paired with “just create great magazines” that we’ve heard many times before – but that he seems to be proving the wrong point.
The piece begins by separating “reading” from “search-and-find” – not a bad thing to do – and goes on to defend people’s continuing desire to read in-depth, well-researched, well-editing stories. But where it fails is in defining what it is, exactly, that makes print magazines the best format to deliver those stories. In fact, Carter even goes so far as to point out (contrary to common wisdom) that long-form journalism is popular on vanityfair.com
. And his conclusion?
"If print journalism’s business model is changing, our only move as editors is to double down on delivering what our readers have always wanted from us: compelling stories and iconic photographs. And it won’t matter if they’re read on a laptop, a cell phone, or on paper."
So, print isn’t dying… except that lots of people will read magazines on formats other than paper.
Don’t get me wrong – if print magazines are dying at all, I expect them to die a very slow death, and as we in the industry know, it’s more likely to be precipitated by declining advertising revenue than by drops in readership (on average, at least). But if we want print to survive, we need better arguments than this.
So let’s discuss. What really makes magazines unique?