Saturday, September 15, 2012

Designing My First @SMC_Defender Pages - A Double Truck Extravaganza

You know when you open a blank Word document, place the heading, and then just stare at the screen?

You think "What should I type?" or "Where should I place the picture?"

Well, that is how my first day in the Defender lab started. (In case you don't know "Defender labs" are the Sundays that the editorial board of the Defender get together and layout the paper. It is part of the Publication Editing and Design course and if you want a concentration in journalism, you have to take the course.)

My first (and really my only) project for the day was laying out the Double Trucker, a two-sided, open-faced page in the middle of the paper. My "Fall Sports Preview Article" is front and center in the article, which I think is VERY exciting.

The interesting thing about Defender is that it is "learn as you go." For the most part, design skills are taught in Digital Media 1 and 2 and those design skills are for Photoshop, Illustrator, and Flash. Publication Editing and Design is primarily focused on the use of inDesign.  Since we are putting out a paper in the third week school and several of our class periods are dedicated to pitching and editing articles, you can imagine that we haven't had much time to learn inDesign. Fortunately, I am a self-taught inDesign user after my summer at Western.

My primary issues were deciding where to place photos and text and make it all look cohesive. Photos need to correlate with the text they are sitting with. I had to decide if I'd use a photo for every article or just a couple large photos. I had basically laid out my entire 2 pages when Professor Swope arrived on the scene. (Professor Mindich was on the scene for the morning section.) You may want to look at things this way. Mindich is our writing guru and Swope is our photo and design guru. Mindich edits our stories and Swope edits our layouts. I am pleased to say that my article (1,600 words long I might add) got an A.

Of course, what I really want to talk about are the finite, nit-picky details of design. There was too much white space on my page. According to Swope, extra white space should be on the outside of the page. Therefore, at 2 pm after 3 hours of laying out my page, I had to do a reworking. I ended up with some cute purple boxes for statistics and regular article text. (See a .jpeg of the design below) Thank goodness for Professor Swope. If there is one thing being a media studies major teaches you, it's how to take criticism.

My first ever newspaper layout!
My housemates often joke that my ego is to big for St. Mikes. My nickname is "Boss lady" or "Miss SMCVT." However, I know that I don't know everything about design for newspapers. (Hello, I'm a blogger! What do I know about paper?) Although it may appear that I have everything together, I have a lot to learn.

My advice for aspiring MJD majors: Help others when you can and take criticism and advice with a smile.

Have questions? Ask me here (you can ask anonymously!):


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