Friday, October 31, 2008

Kansas City Says the Darndest Things (Friday)

So, for those of you who might not know, after last night, I have decided that if I do decide to get married it will be to a musician. We went to this Irish Pub last night, where not only did I taste my first Shirley Temple, but there was an Irishman playing a fiddle.  He was very cute with an amazing accent, and he knew how to play the fiddle.

So, sadly this has nothing to do with my sessions today, I just felt that I should share that with the reader.

This morning I had a rough start. I kinda wanted to attend this First Amendment Breakfast at 8, and if the reader knows me at all then you know it is a difficult feat for me to attain.

Well, I wake up, but no one else does.  So what do I decide to do? I go back to bed. See, the problem is…I don’t like breakfast and I don’t like to eat in public alone. So, it made sense to me.

Well, I get up about an hour later and get ready for my next session—of course I am running late. So, I leave coffee-less and run through the hotel. I was so happy when I almost ran into a bellhop carrying a tray of pastries. He looks at me and goes, “Want one? They are for you guys.”

What a great way to start the day! Free breakfast after all!

9 a.m.: Professional Design Ideas

“Sometimes you have to kill your babies.”—oh yes, the speaker truly spoke those infamous words.

Nothing kills a great idea like a crappy layout, and sometimes you need move past your first amazing great idea to find the perfect one. There should be tension, contrast and variety in designs. Color books can be amazing, but they have the potential to be overwhelming.

Design is about a message. What do you want your spread to say? It does not matter how good the design is, it is nothing if it doesn’t have meaning.

There should be variety in everything, and everyone should understand this variety. The photographer, designer and writer should sit down together and discuss their ideas for the spreads.

Photographers should no longer just take photographs. They should be part of the story and be held responsible for captions.

Typography is art and should tell a story beyond the writer’s words. It should be readable and simple. Too many variations make it difficult to read. Type is only type when it is readable, otherwise it is just crap scribbled on a spread.

A designer should personalize his work, but he should also realize that he isn’t designing for just him. Radical ideas are great, but if you are going to use them, use them. Utilize them. Commit—wow, that’s a scary word.

Timid design is just as awful as timid writing. Both just suck.

Photography is important. Posed photography is ok, but no one should be posing.

Every spread should encompass something different, and the designer should experiment with contrast.

Cut outs are great, but they have to be perfect or they are tacky and ugly and stupid.

Trust you gut in everything. If you have a question about it, doubt it, etc then it’s wrong.

Toss ideas out to the staff. If someone doesn’t like it, then it is most likely not a good idea.

Over all, a good session. Informative, insightful, inspirational.


10 a.m.: Key Note Speaker—Mark Glaser

So, not going to lie, if it were not for my involvement with Preservation Today, I do not know how much of this session I would have listened to. Horrible, I know, but at least I am honest.

“Do the work you love.” I guess you could say that if you do what you love then maybe you don’t have to call it work. No?

Journalism is changing its course. It is no longer about newspapers and print. It has reached the media age and it is skyrocketing.

The audience now decides what they want to know and how they want to know it. The ball is in their court.

Mr. Glaser broke down the “rules” of new media for us:

1)   Audience knows more than the journalist. New is a convo, not just a lecture.

2)   People are in control of their media experience.

3)   Anyone can be a media creator or remixer.

4)   Traditional media must evolve or die.

5)   Despite censorship, the story will get out.

6)   Amateur and professional journalists should work together.

7)   Journalists need to be multi platform and entrepreneurial.

Mr. Glaser was very well spoken and appeared credible. After his session, I spoke with him about Preservation Today, and he agreed to let me email him a trillion (literally) questions regarding social media and how to help Preservation Today flourish. He seemed intrigued by the idea and the concept, so that was kind of cool.


11:30 a.m.: Award Winning Ideas

So, after speaking with Mr. Glaser, I was about ten minutes late to this session. You could imagine my excitement when I realized the speakers had yet to arrive. After waiting for ten minutes, Sarah and I soon realized they were not late, they just weren’t going to come.

Ok, so this is a way bigger deal that you might think. There were like 5 different sessions I wanted to go to, and after looking at the “yearbook of yearbooks” last night I figured that perhaps this would be the best one.

Now, if I had known the speakers weren’t going to be joining us, I would have picked one of the other four I had looked at.

Well, I didn’t want to go into a different session 25 minutes late, so Sarah and I decided to check out the venders again. That in itself, proved to be awesome.

I am not going to lie, I am slightly skeptical to work with Multi Media. Mr. Trotter might be amazing, and he might be the best thing that ever happened to Northwester, but after talking with some of the other yearbook folks out here…I am not too sure.

Sarah and I finally went and spoke with an adviser in the hallways, and she had a lot of good pieces of advice to share. I look forward to sitting down with Kera, Brandon and Ms. B to discuss all that she had in mind.


12:30 a.m.: Not Your Mama’s Yearbook

This was not my original plan. I sat up with Kevin and Sarah last night debating between this session and an editor’s one. Sarah and I finally came to the decision that she would attend Mama’s Yearbook , and I would venture toward the editor’s session.—if only I could get in the door.

So, needless to say, Sarah soon found me by her side yet again for what turned out to be one of the best sessions EVER.

She passed out a packet of her power point, and then she discussed different ways for us to think “outside” the box within different sections of the book.

“You can say Fuck in the book.”—you can say whatever you want to say, as long as it is accurately done.

Oh yes, our speaker dropped the “F” bomb in the session, and then encouraged naked. Oh yes, this lady could be our friend.

It was great. I am so excited to sit down the with staff and implement some of the ideas to the spreads we already have assigned, and I look forward to perhaps applying some of the other ideas to spreads for next year’s book.

1:30 p.m.: Features Pages

Wow. This lady had more energy than anything else I have ever seen. She was AWESOME!

“When you find something delightful inside your paper, it is like finding a chocolate chip in your paper.” Oh yes, she compared amazingess to nasty random chocolate. Don’t get me wrong. I like chocolate chips, but not in my newspaper!

Another thing that slightly disturbed me. In a story about how inappropriate porn is, should you really have to read the woman’s crotch to get part of the story? Maybe it is just me, but that that does not sound appropriate at all.

She had a lot of good examples, and things that I wouldn’t mind copying. I think one of the best things she had to share was this: keep it simple. Start BIG and simplify it. Work with what you have.


2:30 p.m.: Your Bias is Showing

This was a pretty good session. She showed a lot of examples of how newspapers inadvertently (maybe) use photography to display an opinion.

She had a lot to say, and a lot of it useful, but some of it was lost when we suddenly got in the middle of a political debate. I don’t know. I got lost and confused.—nothing new.

But I was able to use some of her designs and photography to come up with thoughts for our book. So that was good. I look forward to showing Brandon my sketches Monday.


Overall the trip has been good. It has provided the opportunity to bond with some of my fellow staffers and student media folks because we don’t bond enough already.

I cannot wait until tomorrows sessions and to see what else tonight has in store.

And I would also like to share with the reader, that I have successfully walked around Kansas City and found myself in some random places to get free wireless just to find out today while working on this blog that there was free wireless right outside the hotel. Oh ya. That was news I was tickled pink to hear.

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