news (11)

#SNDmakes rethinks articles

We all just want to make the Internet a better place, right?

So that's what a group of coders, designers and thinkers set out to do March 19-22.

At the first #SNDmakes, four teams set out to find solutions to problems users encounter when viewing content with current article forms.

And it. Was. Awesome.

As a student, I was able to sit in a room with a bunch of thoughtful professionals and observe the ways they approach different challenges.

I watched as representatives of traditional newsrooms and newer media brought their ideas to the table, finding answers that could work in either setting. And of course, I was able to bring my own ideas forth, too.

As a group, we asked ourselves, "How might we ... ?" until we had covered a wall with oversized Post Its with possible ideas.

We then selected four questions and split up into four teams to solve them:

My team worked on the last bullet.

With representatives from the San Francisco Chronicle, CNN, NPR, Knight Lab and two student publications, we believed we could all benefit from creating a better video experience.

What we came up with was a format that allows videos to determine their own pace when viewing video. By breaking up an existing video into separate sections and incorporating text, we cut a six-minute video down to an experience of about 45 seconds without eliminating content.

So what did I learn from all this?

• A solution isn't a solution if you can't identify the problem it's attempting to solve. That sounds simple enough, right? But when we were brainstorming about possible projects, several ideas came up that were interesting within themselves, but did not have a purpose except to be cool. In starting with a problem, then developing a solution, we were able to better focus our projects and use our time more efficiently.

• Don't be afraid to kill your darlings. Ask the tough questions along the way. By questioning the process of developing a product continuously, we were able to identify challenges to users and ourselves as we went. But we were also able to fine-tune our mission and create a better end product because of what we asked

• The Internet is totally whack, yo. The folks at #SNDmakes only worked to solve four problems of the many we identified, and so many more problems still exist. But that's awesome. That means smart people have the opportunity to continuously improve upon things and raise standards. And with the promise of new devices entering the market all the time, our job of improving the storytelling experience will never end.

So that's that. Be sure you check out the links above to experience and learn more about each project.

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A new website means time to analyze

The Ball State Daily News just worked with other student media organizations to relaunch


The site is now responsive and works well on mobile devices and tablets, instead of just desktops.

I'm using this new website as an opportunity to pursue my love of data and analytics.


Disclaimer, the relaunch just took place Oct. 16, so any trends or patterns I may think I see from these few weeks following may not be indicative of our overall successes or failures.


But here's what I know:

• For a month prior to to Oct. 16, mobile visits daily accounted for only 0.2 percent of the total. On Oct. 16, mobile visits jumped. They have since accounted for about 34 percent of our daily visits. This jump seems drastic to me, so I have emailed our support folks to see if any other variables may account for the increase.

UPDATE: I learned that because our former website host redirected mobile to a separate website, they had not been collecting data for mobile accurately.


• Between Jan. 1 and Oct. 15, 70 percent of page visits lasted 0-10 seconds. After, about 60 percent stay 0-10 seconds. Conversely, the number of visits lasting 11 seconds or longer has increased.



• Twitter typically has accounted for about a third of our web traffic. With recent breaking news, however, there have been days it has contributed more than half of our overall daily visits. (Side note: We are currently working to cultivate our social media presence. Being a free service to the students, it is crucial that we continue to expand our reach and target students on services they are using most often. We do not want to become an unused app on someone's home screen – we want to actively participate in and engage with students' lives.)


• Not surprisingly, our tablet numbers are staying relatively stagnant. Daily visits were 8 percent from Jan. 1 to Oct. 15, and after have remained at about 5 percent. Ball State has studio that creates digital publications for tablets, and they have found that publications geared toward students have very few downloads. Furthermore, a 2013 survey by Ball State associate professor Michael Hanley shows about 68.3 percent of the student body do not even own tablets. You can't target a demographic that doesn't exist.



So those are the basics. I know I cannot use the statistics from Oct. 16 to present to inform my long-term plans. I have, though, been experimenting with this knowledge on a day-to-day basis, using trending stories and engagement numbers to generate story ideas and manage presentation.


I've always called The Daily News a sort of journalism playground. Analytics help me play.




• Next semester, I'm enrolling in a class that produces a tablet publication, 72HRS. It functions as a weekend supplement to The Daily News. Because people are producing the content specifically for tablets, the content lends itself to interactivity. I am focusing my time in the class on producing this content for, integrating audio, video, photos and interactives so they can supplement each other seamlessly. Or at least, that's the goal.


• As I've mentioned in prior notes about Ball State's Unified Student Media organization, the university's student media organizations have slowly but surely been working together to create a media group. As a part of this, the university is creating a massive, digital-focused newsroom that will be complete in December. They took the walls around it down this week.


• I met Michael Rogers, the former New York Times futurist-in-residence, when he visited Ball State last week. His lecture, Q&A and my discussion with him after were all extremely motivational. That may also become its own blog post, soon.


• There are not enough hours in the day.

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Racially denigrating tweets.

Confederate flags.

A new smoking ban.

It's been a fast-paced year full of change at The Ball State Daily News.

I took over as editor-in-chief in August, and since then, we have had a slough of fantastic stories.

But as important as the stories themselves, we have had the visuals team to help push the stories forward.

This year more than the past two I've been a part of the student paper, our photographers, designers and reporters have been collaborating to produce visuals that tell stories as well as the words themselves.

This could in part be because this year we have a dedicated art director, Amy Cavenaile, who works hard each day to make sure each editor is communicating and contributing to get photos, illustrations and graphics when necessary.

Undoubtedly, is is also because of the hard work of Michael Boehnlein, our design editor, and Corey Ohlenkamp, our multimedia editor.

They and their staffs have been blowing me away this year.

And trust me, I've been challenging them.

This year more than ever, we've been considering the nature of our newspaper. I tell our design staff time and time again, treat the top fold of the front page as a billboard for The Daily News.

We have a few brief seconds to capture people's attention as they walk by our stacks of newspapers. More often than not, we are competing with friends and phones for attention.

So make it sassy.

Between the increased relevance of our stories' topics and the energized way we now present them, the return rate of our paper is lower than in years past.

As we continue to reconsider the way we use our current design style, we are also moving forward with a redesign. Our top concern as we redefine ourselves is usability. We want our print product to be easy to follow, enjoyable to read and able to compete with the "lean forward" mediums while still being a "lean back" experience.

This means we are reconsidering the types of stories we include in the paper, as well as how we structure them. Even previews, for instance, rarely are treated as full stories. Instead, they are posted on our twice-weekly "Bulletin Board," to which people submit their events and we write a few sentences about them.

That allows us to devote many reporters and a lot more space to news of more consequence. For instance, we have been able to focus far more on administrative issues, policies affecting students and other changes in campus life because we have spent less time on this fundraiser or that.

Of course, it is always our priority to report on the lives of our readers. But as a print organization, a campus event that happened yesterday isn't news tomorrow. That's what the internet is for.

We want people to pick up our paper – to think and learn because of it.

That said our web focus has grown far stronger. We no longer have a photography staff. Their name is now the multimedia staff. They produce videos and photos, now, knowing that the things they cover needs for more than stills and text.

We are working with Ball State's new media organization, Unified Media, to cover spot news and daily events in a timely way for the web.

(As a little background, last year, The Daily News got rid of its website in favor of posting, which aggregates all forms of student media on campus. The student media organizations now work together to cover news and produce multimedia packages. It is still a bit rocky, but it's an amazing project that has enabled our staffs to grow as multipurpose reporters.)

Because of our shifted focus on online coverage, we are also about to launch a new version of

Launching later this week, the website is responsive and has a much stronger focus on visuals and video.

It is a website meant to compete for attention, and because of that, it demands attention through strong images, sounds and headlines.

Furthermore, we are contributing to Unified Media's new tablet app, The Weekly. (I should note Amy Cavenaile had a major roll in designing the app as the new website.)

The app publishes, as you would expect, weekly, and is meant to highlight the top stories from the week prior. It is highly interactive and meant to truly engage through touch, not just look.

Every image, button, link makes you want to say, "I'd tap that." I really encourage you to download it!

In short, I and my staff recognize that media organizations cannot continue as they have in the past. We are trying to be solutions instead of victims.

If you haven't, feel free to take a look at our staff's account. We would love your feedback. (

And please, let us know what you think of when it launches Oct. 18.

Thanks for your time!


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The end of the first semester

It has been a long, grueling, unforgiving semester filled with disappointing, dream crushing, heart smashing, and most importantly, a very passionate staff that I'm extremely grateful for. 

I started out this semester as a designer-turned-editor thinking this was going to be a piece of cake. To some extent this was true, but most of that notion was immediately proven wrong. Managing a staff of 10 with 40-50 writers is very hard.

But it wasn't just the staff and new management challenges which arose, it was the burden having to baby a new redesign to a publication that hasn't had a refresher in nearly eight years. Wait, yes, exactly eight years. I think we did okay, though. Those long days in the summer, pent up in front of a computer monitor with a bag of cheetos, were worth it. I had my adviser and managing editor to assist briefly at times, which took some of the burden off.

One thing that I didn't expect was having the hard-working and passionate staff that came to be. I've been with The Clarion since I started at Madison College, and I've only ever seen one or two staff who are passionate at a time. The whole lot of us invested a lot, though, and I hope it continues into next semester.

Some things I know I will be better at next semester:

- Designing efficiently: towards the last three-or-so issues, I could design nearly the entire publication alone. One of our designers left, so I had to pick up the slack. About 4 pages of slack, to be exact.

- Managing story and budget meetings

- Knowing when to use food as a bribery: almost never used it this semester, except at the end when I knew people would fall off the face of the planet.

- Knowing when to put a foot down and say no

- Planning for illustrations and graphics

- Knowing what stories to look for and who to give them to

- Reacting to staff drama: all of it focused on one staff member, who ended up having to leave us.

My graphic design classes could never teach me these things, and I'm glad I can utilize these skills now while still being able to design and have fun on a visual level.

All that's left this semester is to apply for the SND annual contest and hope for the best.



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Very few high street retailers and luxury designers do not include a famous face in a new season collection.  As H&M announced their latest celebrity face to endorse their collection would be American songstress Lana Del Rey, the power of celebrity endorsement has once again proven its hold on the fashion industry. Since Madonna appeared as the first celebrity on the cover of Vogue, fashion PR teams have relied on the power of celebrity endorsement to connect with and sell to the general public. Fashion houses rely on celebrity star power to generate interest and buzz around their upcoming collections. 



PR consultants’ will spend months negotiating deals with their desired celebrity, creating a contract that can see the celebrity be dressed in the brand for photo shoots, film premieres, award shows and television appearances. The impact celebrities can make on a brand is stronger than ever before.  Choosing the wrong celebrity can be detrimental to the overall image of the company’s brand. Their actions should reflect the values of the brand. Celebrity PR teams must work diligently to make sure their client’s public presence reflects that of the brands the celebrity represents.


Celebrity PR practitioners have seen a large growth in requests from outside the fashion industry. The success of celebrity endorsement has proven to be so successful that other industries including consumer, lifestyle, and even sport have quickly adopted it as one of the top ways to promote their brand or product. The ‘real time’ of social media outlets like Twitter and Flickr, for example, have created an outlet in which PR consultancy’s thrive in.  It’s easier now more than ever for clients to receive instant feedback from their consumer base. Online PR campaigns allow for companies to interact instantaneously with their public, building a fan base, and generating interest in the brand as a whole.

With the likes of Kate Middleton and the American First Lady, Michelle Obama, bringing attention to fashion brands in their home countries, celebrity endorsement is vital for young designers starting out in the industry. Careers have been catapulted into success from a single image captured by the press. Desire from consumers to ‘get the look’ creates a demand which often outweighs the company’s supply of the specific outfit. Similarly, beauty PR consultants rely heavily on celebrity endorsement to generate a buzz and create demand for their client’s products.


It’s been argued, however, as to how much celebrity endorsement actually influences the overall sales for a brand. While fashion PR teams can spend a large sum to contract a celebrity for endorsement, it has to be asked as to how much the company sees returned on the investment in their bottom line. Are celebrities actually persuading consumers to buy? Media relations specialists believe it depends on the target market and celebrity endorsements are centred around a younger youthful audience. These are the individuals who soak up popular culture; buying into celebrity looks and celebrity culture.  What is for certain is that it’s a tactic that has no intention of slowing down.


Author Bio:

Katie Matthews is a freelance media analyst. She has been writing for many online publications since 2007. In her recent articles on fashion pr she shares some useful Celebrity Endorsement tips. Katie takes inspirations from while drafting her piece of articles.

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SNDS Magazine 4/2009 is out

This year's last issue of SNDS Magazine is out – in print and online. If you're not a member of SNDS or a subscriber to the magazine, you may read it online as an e-paper, or download it as a pdf.Find it in the SNDS Magazine section on – and read about: Scandinavians in Buenos Aires; Speakers in Oslo 2010; New Norwegian platforms; "på stan" back in tabloid; New Finnish fur for Helsingin Sanomat; Designing new typefaces; and much much more.In fact, all issues dating back to no. 1, 2006 are now online as e-papers, posted on you all sometime, till then – have a nice Christmas and a Happy New Year.Best,Lars
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SNDS: Mobile media included in the competition

Last year SNDS upgraded the online news design competition. This year SNDS takes a step further into the online media business by including mobile media in the Best of Scandinavian News Design competition."Mobile media is a growing platform widely used by news media. It is therefore natural for Best of Scandinavian News Design to include this platform in the annual news design competition," says Flemming Hvidtfeldt, chairman of Best of Scandinavian News Design competition, to media will be a category under the online competition. The net jury will judge the entries. The jury will base the judgement on the four basic criteria for all online entries – visual design, interactivity, usability and structure and journalism/editing.The categories for the online competition are:* Best front page* Best section page* Best article page* Best theme (feature, story, subsite or page)* Best application (for instance web-tv, maps, community, etc.)* Best mobile site* Best overall site design based on media brand* Open classEntries to the online competition shall be posted through the SNDS website. The entry form is open for posting of entries. Click on the below link and send in your online entries now. SNDS net jury is:Kim Pedersen, Ekstrabladet, DenmarkLinda Constenius, Aftonbladet, SwedenElin Madsen, Bergensavisen, NorwayJari Jurkka, Pohjalainen, FinlandEntry form and description for the printed competition will also be available on soon. The deadline for submitting your entries to both competitions are January 29, 2010.
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SNDS Magazine 1, 2009 is out

Hello friends of Scandinavian news design -the first 2009 issue of SNDS Magazine has finally been sent to the printers and will be delivered to its faithful subscribers this week. The 28 pages include a lot of great hype for the Oulu24 seminar, as well as a record breaking number of full page ads – five! – from external advertisers, as well as one for our own "Best of Scandinavian News Design 2009" competition, and a full-spread ad for the seminar. Also, there are the usual thoughtful columns by the chairman and the editor; a three page reportage from the judging of the competition in Billund – including a new extraordinary service for newspapers in need of help on design issues; an interview with a designer who really isn't a designer; we reveal the winners in the Scandinavian "Photo of the Year" contests, and bring you a guide to a 100 ways to work smarter, not harder. Ahm, I think that's about it.Delve into it all – wait for the print issue, or download the final pdf at the (not so) secret url:, Lars
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