Tagged News design

Put knowledge in the world

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Editorial from SNDS Magazine no. 2, 2016

Complexity is a fact of life, so we must learn to deal with it

– Donald A. Norman*

In his book Living With Complexity Donald A. Norman argues against the dogma that simple is always better. His area of interest is the tools we use in computing and in everyday life – tools that are often seen as too complicated.

But ‘complex’ and ‘complicated’ are two very different things. The world may be complex but the tools and technology we use to get through the day should not be complicated to operate. And it is up to both designers and users to make them manageable and understandable.

One way to deal with the complexity of life is to “put the knowledge in the world” – by adding hints and suggestions that guide our way (like lines on the floor in aircrafts showing the way to the nearest exit) or by learning from the knowledge other people put in the world.

In any case, it is not a solution to make the tools simpler because we want that complexity:

“Complexity is good. Simplicity is misleading. The good life is complex, rich, and rewarding – but only if it is understandable, sensible, and meaningful,” Norman says.

SNDSF 2016
Complexity is also a basic condition for the news and media business, if the SNDSF conference held April 7–9 in San Francisco is anything to judge by. With a two-day, four-track schedule it was maybe not complicated but then at least difficult even to choose which sessions to go to.

My own personal impression of the subjects – which took up a whopping nine pages in the programme – was that our business is headed in many directions.

There were talks about handling big data; building connections and co-creation; there were thoughts about visual reporting compared to other kinds of reporting; and even hands-on tips to write html code for the sight disabled. We also saw hundreds of magnificent, if not exactly new, front pages of iconic Spanish Metropoli. For the start-up designer or journalist, there was advice on how to be a team of one. “One is the loneliest number,” Rebecca Monson said – but it’s also great fun and has its advantages.

As varied as the full programme was the Saturday session with “Ignite Talks” – 15 speakers, 5 minutes each. Moderator Steve Dorsey promised us a complete conference in less than two hours – or at least a glimpse of some of the complexities out there (p. 28).

The final keynote speakers from IDEO, Bryan Walker and Zena Barakat, commented directly on the theme of the SNDSF workshop: “Evolving our craft” – when they closed the programme with the words: “To evolve journalism, we as designers must evolve”.

In which direction we must evolve, is of course up to each individual or organisation. One of the (too) few Scandinavians to attend SNDSF, Lotta Ek, Art Director at Dagens Nyheter, Sweden, was not in doubt when reading the signals in the SNDSF programme:

“The conference had such heavy focus on digital that it almost seemed as if print was already dead and gone,” she says.

Former SNDS President, Anders Tapola from Smålandsposten, Sweden, describes his impressions of the SNDSF conference in these words:

“My first SND workshop was in Washington D.C. in 2003. The focus, as I remember, was how to be relevant in the paper when all the fast news channels, like tv, radio and the web already had told the actual news story the day before. Juan Antonio Giner gave an excellent speach on that theme.

SND San Francisco 2016: Today much focus seems to be on data and specially so-called big data, how to visualize the data and how to get the audience to interact with this big data. And focus is of course on the digital platforms. How to be relevant in the paper seems nowadays as a non-issue when instead everyone desperately try to be inventive on the digital platforms.

The only question is whether they are relevant?”

In this issue
Putting knowledge in the world is also about teaching other people what you know. This is our main focus in this issue – education, or how to learn from others.

Several articles draw from inspiration found in books – like Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow (p. 8); Nielsen & Thurber’s brand new The secret of the highly creative thinker from which we also borrowed our cover illustration (p. 16); and we review a new book about Contemporary Danish Illustration (p. 26).

We introduce 20 new media designers from NTNU in Gjøvik, Norway (p. 12) and report from a new course in editorial design and interactive storytelling in the digital domain at DMJX, Copenhagen. Last but not least, a brand new initiative will be launched in connection with the SNDS16 conference in Malmö: a 2-day web workshop called CampSNDS (p. 14).

And there’s more; enjoy it all.

Oh, and remember – don’t miss out on the low prices for registering early to the SNDS16 conference – head over to page 6–8 to learn more. And have a great summer.

Lars Pryds
Editor, SNDS Magazine

* In: Living with Complexity, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2011

A calm garden of news

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Run from a former art gallery in Amsterdam, De Correspondent aims to move away from the daily news cycle by focussing on context, rather than what happened in the past 24 hours

From SNDS Magazine 1, 2016

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Launched in 2013 following a record-breaking crowdfunding campaign that raised $1.7m, Netherlands-based De Correspondent now has over 45,000 paying subscribers.

De Correspondent currently has an editorial staff of 30, including 14 fulltime journalists, plus a network of 22 contributing correspondents.

Rather than trying to catch up with the usual news flow, the expectation is that readers will follow a particular correspondent who collaborate with the communities around them.

Founding Editor-in-chief Rob Wijnberg says that when other media claim to be reporting “the news” there will always be thousands of other stories to be told. De Corres­pondent aims to let their reporters tell these stories on the publication’s website, which was designed by digital creative agency Momkai, featuring a custom-made cms  called Respondens.

The mission
Each journalist has a particular area or ‘garden’ on the website – sections of the site they can call their own, and in which they can build a relationship with readers who choose to ‘follow’ them.

“De Correspondent has a stated mission of establishing a lasting relationship with the readers, who are also asked to contribute their expertise on the topics, the correspondents cover,” says Stine Carsten Kendal, Director for development at iBureauet, a media company owned by Danish newspaper Information.

She thinks that Scandinavian media can learn from the Dutch startup:

“Information is inspired by all the new things going on in the exciting world of journalism. In Holland, journalists, designers and web developers worked together to create the new platform and cms for the online journalism, and everything is thoroughly designed to invite the readers to participate. They call them ‘members’ to stress the inclusion and particip­ation of the readers. The new media platform is also kept ad free, which I know is something all designers enjoy!”

stine-quote

Spaces of calm
However, the decision to make the publication completely ad free is not to please designers, although this is a nice touch, but rather to give the readers a special environment for reading. Creative Director Harald Dunnink compares the spaces on the De Correspondent website to rooms in a welldesigned art museum:

“The museum affords me a calm space where I can focus on the works of others. This is an idea that ties in seamlessly with our approach at Momkai and The Correspondent. In the fragmented real time of digital media, we are bombarded by images and messages non-stop. Rarely do we tune out this background noise long enough to listen attentively to a single, solitary message. Our mission therefore, as I see it, is to create online spaces of calm.”

In a recent article he describes the basic principles for succeeding with this philosophy (see bit.ly/cultivatingcalm).

Openness to readers
Stine Carsten Kendal visited De Correspondent in 2015 when they were expanding their staff and were thrilled that their initial succes with crowdfunding was continuing.

“I was introduced to De Correspondent through Cathrine Gyllensted, a Danish specialist in constructive journalism, who has just been appointed director for constructive journalism at a Dutch journalism school. By communicating very professionally about their succes, De Correspondent has received international attention. I think it is also due to the simplicity of their site, design and message. Another thing I like is how they use infographics to show how they spend the membership fees, to show their responsibility towards their readers and their openness,” Stine Carsten Kendal says.

“One of the issues De Correspondent has raised, is how to qualify comments and debate following the journalism. They work both with the cms and with active participation by the journalists, and also with little triggers like pointing out some members as specialists or experts and showing their comments more prominently. They also make it possible to add notes to the article for further reading, without interrupting the flow with links.”

Synergy in publishing
In today’s multi-layered media landscape, it’s not enough to focus on a single outlet or on just reporting the news. It’s important also to reach out to readers on other platforms and through other media:

“To me, it is interesting that this new online only journalism organisation publishes a book, sets up an art exhibition and arranges public meetings. It shows that the synergy between different kinds of publishing is also important in a digital first world,” says Stine Carsten Kendal.

“So much interesting is going on right now with online media that I cannot wait to see what the future brings.”

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Sources/Read more:

De Correspondent:
decorrespondent.nl

Dutch journalism platform the Correspondent reaches milestone of 40,000 paying members:
bit.ly/corresmile

De Correspondent on Medium:
medium.com/de-correspondent

Cultivating calm: a design
philosophy for the digital age:
bit.ly/cultivatingcalm

It’s all worthwhile

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Editor’s column from SNDS Magazine 1, 2016

There’s a starman
waiting in the sky
He’s told us not to blow it
Cause he knows
it’s all worthwhile

– David Bowie: “Starman” (1972)

In the first week of March, I had the pleasure once again of spending days in Legoland, attending the judging of entries in this year’s Scandinavian news design competition. Among my duties was to help with photographing all the print winners for the annual catalogue. Læs more

The sweet smell of success

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Editor’s column from SNDS Magazine no. 2, 2015:

Do not try to win awards.
Do not try to follow fashion.
Be true to your subject and you will be far more likely to create something that is timeless.
That’s where the true art lies.
– Paul Arden*

Although you should not create just to win, nearly everybody likes to win awards. If the awards are given to you by colleagues or people you look up to within your profession, the feeling is especially great. Once again, Scandinavian newspapers can enjoy this feeling: In April, the jury behind the SND 37th Best of News Design competition named Dagens Nyheter (S) and Politiken (DK) “World’s Best-Designed™ Newspapers” – together with De Morgen (Belgium), and The Guardian (Britain).

The jury chose between 215 newspapers submitted from all over the world, and it’s worth noting that Dagens Nyheter wins this title for the third year in a row. Politiken is now a four time World’s Best winner, having previously received the title in 2006, 2011, and 2012.

We even had a Scandinavian runner-up this year: Svenska Dagbladet (S), (World’s Best in 2004) was among the 17 finalists.

So it’s fair to say that Scandinavian news­papers maintain world class quality, compared to regions with a much higher number of publications to choose from – and probably much higher budgets to draw from, too. This bodes well for the Scandinavian competition of which the winners will be announced in October.

In the digital competition, SND named only one “World’s Best-Designed™ Digital” winner – Facebook. This controversial decision was announced in April at the SNDDC seminar in Washington and evoked strong reactions from many in the business – even after the SND website published an extended statement (labelled by Roger Black on twitter as “sad excuses”) from the judges. We wanted to keep the discussion going a bit longer and asked leading news designers for their comment to the jury’s decision (see p. 18–20).

In February, I had the honour of serving once again as judge in the print categories of the Best of Scandinavian News Design competition. It’s such a privilege to get the opportunity to see hundreds of submitted entries representing a snapshot of Scandinavian newspaper design right now. A lot of good work, a fair amount of excellent work, and among them the few pieces that really stand out.

One unique voice this year was that of Finnish illustrator Klaus Welp – whose detailed drawings earned him an Honourable Mention and (on this issue’s cover) a nomination for a Silver or Gold Award. We wanted to see more of Klaus Welp’s work – and found out that the style used in the two winning entries is just one of his many distinct voices – see p. 22-29.

Also in this issue
Pål Nedregotten, Chief Innovation Officer at Amedia AS, Oslo looks into some of the myths that surround digital news – and argues that even though more and more people read news updates on social media it is still extremely important to have a dedicated, well-edited front page on your own website – not least to care for your most loyal readers. See p. 10–12.

We also look into a new design trend called “anti­cipatory design” which will also be a theme on the SNDS15 Conference in October. Kartin Hansen, Head of Digital Development at Jyllands-Posten, Denmark, explains the basics and wonders when the news media will jump on this trend wagon. See p. 14–15.

Anders Tapola, former SNDS President and Design Editor at Smålandsposten, Sweden found himself “last man standing” when his design department suddenly disappeared and was replaced by software tools and a centralised design hub. Read his thoughts about the pros and cons of this new situation on p. 16–17.

Finally, in case you haven’t noticed yet: the snds.org website has been updated with a new look and feel, so take a look. And while you’re there – don’t forget to check for updates to the SNDS15 conference in October.

Have a great summer!

Lars Pryds
Editor, SNDS Magazine

*In: “It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be”, p.90. Phaidon 2003. Paul Arden (1940–2008) was a creative director for Saatchi and Saatchi at the height of their advertising might, and an influential author of several books on advertising and motivation.

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Read the online of the mag here, or sign up here to get your personal printed copy:

SNDS Magazine 1, 2015 is out

The first SNDS Magazine of the year is on its way to the printer. Take a look in this web version at all the great content we have put together for you. The cover story is a very personal story by John Bark and a project by him and his colleague Charli Kasselbäck, in the cold north part of Sweden. There’s also a presentation of the first speakers at the SNDS15 conference – oh, and we’ve redesigned the magazine – a needed facelift after nine years in the same look, more or less. Hope you like it!