Speaker roundup: Notes from the Frankfurt workshop

Amelia Eramya, a page designer for The Detroit News, was among the attendees at SND Frankfurt last month. She shared her impressions of some of the sessions:

With just under 200 attendees, from speakers to students coming from all over the world, the Society for News Design concluded the fall conference in Frankfurt, Germany.

Before the opening reception, Peter Feldmann, Lord Mayor of Frankfurt am Main, spoke to a crowd at the Imperial Hall.

Michael Adams and Sven Gallinelli take the audience through a week of Swiss newspapers.

Michael Adams and Sven Gallinelli take the audience through a week of Swiss newspapers.

Following Feldmann’s speech, Michael Adams and Sven Gallinelli introduced the conference at the opening reception Thursday evening, titled “Schweizer Abend” (“Swiss Evening”), where they took the audience through a week of Swiss newspaper designs.

Adams and Gallinelli said there are 108 traditional newspapers out of more than 2,000 print products in Switzerland, which is among the top ten countries with the highest newspaper density.

The conference officially began Friday, Sept. 26 and ended Saturday, Sept. 27 with a closing speech on branding by Roger Black. Sessions ranged from a virtual tour of BILD’s newsroom where they practice distinctive skills in storytelling to how Vox was launched in just nine weeks.

Nine weeks to launch

Ted Irvine knew that developing and designing a website — vox.com —in just nine weeks would be difficult. But it happened. As a result, one platform that “powers it all” was created.

“How well we work together allows us to make the magic,” Irvine said.

The process consisted of a hack week, where every second of every day is completely and utterly dedicated to creating the website. Irvine said the idea needed to be sold to each individual involved. Then, staying focused by dividing and conquering followed suit.

“If something is good, it’s great,” he said. “If something is terrible, we fix it. And, we did.”

Fourteen pages were designed along with branding, typography and choosing a color scheme. The website is also available with mobile devices and tablets.

Vox — the 15th  largest digital publisher linked to other websites such as Curbed, Eater and SB Nation — is comprised of 65 designers, developers (back and front end), product and project managers along with support across all platforms.

“We’re solving the problem of developing high value digital journalism, storytelling and brand advertising at scale,” Irvine said.

There’s a spirit of collaboration within the Vox hub, and, at least 10 projects are taking place at one given time.

“We’re constantly changing people and process,” he said. “While tools and systems are important, you can’t beat culture and people. We have cross-functional teams.”

In just five months, Irvine said the website has received 20 million unique visitors. To check out more of Vox, visit their website or follow the online publication on Twitter, @voxproduct. You can also find Irvine on Twitter, @ted_irvine.

Keeping the craft of good editorial design thinking alive in a world of algorithms, acronyms and complex responsive systems.

Journalists and editors — they know best.

Developers — they know best.

Product and commercial team — they know best.

Designers — they know best. (Maybe even better.)

But, most importantly, the 100 million readers The Guardian tends to may know the best of the best.

After all, they are the ones being receptive to the redesign and redevelopment the publication has endeavored.

Alex Breuer, the creative director at The Guardian, said the publication is now viewed as a global news source. Its web presence has pushed a visual brand that is ultimately being portrayed through their print product.

In his session, “Keeping the craft of good editorial design thinking alive in a world of algorithms, acronyms and complex responsive systems,” Breuer defined the necessity for knowledge of tools in interactive design.

He emphasized the right use of typography.

“Get the type right,” Breuer simply said.

Norbert Kupper

Norbert Kupper

Europe’s creative diversity in print and online

Europe holds a type of creativity that differs greatly from those in the Middle East, United States and South America. However, most design differs appropriately as traditions and ideals change from country to country.

But with 1,800 newspapers, with varying styles come varying news, content and interpretation of such.

Norbert Kupper demonstrated some differences through examples of The Guardian compared to USA Today.

“Color is used greatly in The Guardian,” he said. “USA Today has tiled web design. Clear approach.”

Publications like Publico and Daily Telegraph also possess a clean and simple style, Kupper said.

The Best of Middle East News Design

Laura Koot, of The National, and Ibrahim Nehme, of The Outpost, demonstrated visual journalism as a dynamic and constantly adapting form of art production.

In their session, “The Best of Middle East News Design,” both individuals presented their product and projects they’ve conducted and executed.

“We’re a very international newsroom,” Koot said. “We have around 200 people from 28 different countries.”

When Koot arrived in Abu Dhabi, the newsroom wasn’t fully constructed. In fact, it was mostly non-existent. But, in April of 2008, Koot led the first printing press of The National in Abu Dhabi that was fully constructed from bottom up before the building was even built around it.

Koot, along with her staff, realized there was very little documentation of the history of Abu Dhabi. Following that, a project occurred, and little did they know that it would become a series unfolding history deriving from the very first day the country was founded.

The National holds some of the most visually stimulating layouts from illustrative to informational graphics. Even their editorial page demonstrates the use of visuals to obtain every bit of attention possible.

“We just gave our cartoonist the entire page,” she said as she presented a well-illustrated cartoon taking up the entire depth and width of the editorial page.

The National also defines a good use of images. In order to stray away from monotony and attempt to not tire the eyes of readers, Koot said photo pages differ greatly from edition to edition.

“We try to do our photo spreads a lot of different ways,” Koot said.

After Koot’s presentation, Nehme took the stage with his crowd-funded quarterly publication, The Outpost. The magazine offers conceptual long-form journalism accompanied by intricate informational graphics and illustrations.

The first edition consisted of coverage based off of the type of content that would be covered in editions that followed.

The second demonstrated movement in all types — how revolutions change, how innovators enhance, the money-laundering situation in Lebanon, the trafficking of sex workers, public transit, etc.

“To understand our society better, we sent 5 Arabs on one form of each public transportation.”

Nehme said he’s received several letters demonstrating inspiration of others after they’ve discovered the magazine.

“The magazine is an agent of social change for the Middle East,” Nehme said.

The circulation is just at 3,000. “We’re very small,” he said. “We needed a lot of time come up with the concept.”

Additionally, Nehme said they will begin the process of transforming the publication in to a bilingual one, serving both English and Arabic-speaking readers.

Amelia Eramya is a sports page designer for The Detroit News. She also designs their weekly auto section, Drive. Amelia attended Central Michigan University for four years before landing her first gig at The News in 2012. Follow her on Twitter: @ameliaeramya.

“While tools and systems are important, you can’t beat culture and people."

— Ted Irvine, Vox