Archive for the ‘Design’ Category

“On the podium above him, there was a can of Foster’s beer.”

In Design, IDS, Photography on March 26, 2013 at 10:58 pm

I remember every interaction I’ve had with IUPD Chief Keith Cash. He was a good friend to IU Student Media. In fact, in 2011 he was awarded the Trevor R. Brown Award, given each year to honor “a news source in the community who has been exceptionally supportive of IU Student Media.”

When he died Wednesday, I came into the newsroom and it was quiet, but reporter Hannah Smith was already on the phone with administration officials. After almost a week of some really intense, first-time reporting from the campus editor, the IDS gave it’s respects to the chief.




An urn bearing the IU emblem rested on a table below the auditorium stage. Between the American and Indiana flags was the police chief’s official department photoOn the podium above him, there was a can of Foster’s beer.

At 4 p.m., police officers filed in to the sound of a bagpipe. They were dressed in their formal uniforms, distinctive to their rank and department. Some wore black uniforms with flat caps, and others wore brown sheriff’s attire or navy dress pants with short-sleeved shirts.

They walked down the aisle and in front of the stage, filing into the rows, while the audience behind them stood, watching silently.

The officers stopped behind their seats as the rest filed in. They stood with their backs to the stage. In the overhead lights, their different badges twinkled on their chests.

Taped across their badges were strips of black cloth, matte against the gleaming gold or silver.

All had entered and the bagpipe stopped, replaced by ringing silence.

No one so much as coughed or moved. Then came the sound of whispered counting.

A group of officers filed past. The first held an American flag, folded into a triangle. The second carried the urn, embossed with the red-and-white IU emblem. Four officers followed behind them, one keeping time.

As they walked past, the hundreds of standing officers saluted.

In the back row, one officer removed his hat and bowed his head. His face crumpled as he began to cry.

This service was the final time they would salute IU Police Department Chief Keith Cash.

The IDS sent a team of three photographers (Chet Strange, Clayton Moore and Anna Teeter) to the memorial service and subsequent police procession. They came back with striking and emotional images. Freshman design chief Lacey Hoopengardner put it all on the page tastefully and with great class.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Hannah’s story was full of emotional details about a man who was beloved in this community that absolutely hit you in the gut.

On Wednesday, Keith didn’t come to work. He wasn’t feeling well.

Coworkers said the absence was unusual for him.

Flint, a short officer with blonde hair in a ponytail, grew up in IUPD with Keith. Keith had been there 29 years, and she’s been there for 31. They started as cadets in the student cadet program and worked their way up.

For Keith and most IUPD officers, work is a 24/7 job. Friends said Keith was always working, even when doing other things. Minger said coworkers would get emails from Keith time-stamped at three in the morning because he worked so much.

“We had a staff meeting scheduled at 2:30, and he did not show up for the staff meeting,” Flint said.

For several weeks, Keith had been feeling as if he had the flu. During the staff meeting, he called Lee.

“He had called me in the meeting and said, ‘Hey, when you’re done with the staff meeting, can you give me a call?’” Lee said. “My wife’s a nurse practitioner, and he wasn’t established with a family doctor, so he said, ‘Do you think she could see me today?’”

Lee said she could, so he picked Keith up and drove him to the Internal Medicine Associates. On the drive over, Lee said Keith was joking and in good spirits.

“In there he was joking with the staff, and he was joking until they decided that he needed to be transported to the emergency department,” Lee said.

Lee asked him then, “Do you want me to go with you?”

Keith said no and said he had been feeling dehydrated. He said he expected they’d give him some fluids and release him.

However, he did ask Lee to do one thing.

“He actually called me from the hospital, to tell me he’d left his coat,” Lee said, shaking his head. “He asked me if I’d get it for him, and I said I would.”

While Lee went to get Keith’s coat, Minger headed to the hospital to be with Keith so that Keith would know someone was there with him.

Before Lee could bring Keith his coat, he got a call.

“The director called me from the hospital,” Lee said. “Then he called me back and said he’d passed.”

He had died of a heart defect he’d had his whole life but that had only now surfaced…

…The line of cars, stretching for several blocks, drove to Indiana Avenue and then up to 17th Street. At 17th and Woodlawn Avenue, the cars streamed beneath an American flag stretched between two fire trucks.

When they reached IUPD, dispatch sent out the final call over the radio for all officers to hear.

“This is dispatch,” the officer said, “and he’s gone home for the final time.”

When that came over the scanner in the newsroom, man oh man. What a fitting tribute.

Congrats, folks. You sure gave the chief a good send-off.



Where is IU ranked?

In Design, IDS on January 9, 2013 at 5:41 pm

Something on today’s IDS front page jumped out at me.

The headline is “IU rated as No. 4 value,” yet here’s the lede…


IU came in at No. 39, one spot higher than last year’s ratings, on a 2013 list of Best Public College Values recently released by Kiplinger.

Wait, what? If I’m reader Joe Easily-Distracted, I’m real confused after that first line in relation to the headline. Are we No. 4 or No. 39? But we continue…

The new rankings also place IU fourth in value within Big Ten schools.

So what’s the news here? Is the fact that IU is No. 4 in the Big Ten more important? Or that IU is No. 39 overall? The headline and the lede should agree on this. I understand that the subhead (“IU ranks in top 5 for overall value in Big Ten, 39th among all US universities by Kiplinger”) offers a little more explanation, but just based on reading the headline and lede alone — which is all I did on my average walk from the news-stand to Ballantine — the reader can get confused.

Also, let’s take a look at the centerpiece graphic, a nice visualization by Lacey Hoopengardner.

RankingCP copy

The main graphic here is showing that 89 out of 100 students at IU return after their freshman year. Great graphic, interesting information but again, this doesn’t directly relate to the No. 4 and/or 39 ranking. Based on the story, Kiplinger measured “a college’s ability to keep students engaged and on track for graduation,” but is there better data to display the ranking highlighted in the big headline and lede of the story?

Is there a better way to visually show off the ranking or the data Kiplinger used that relates better to the story/headline? Is there a way to make the story and headline more reflective of each other? Comment below and let’s start talking. That’s what the Writer’s Block is all about.


New semester, new Writer’s Block

In Design, IDS, Photography on January 7, 2013 at 4:48 pm

Well it’s been quite a while since this blog has been updated, so I figure it’s about time to re-up. What a better time than a new semester and a new year, am I right?

And as students return to campus, the IDS starts off with a fine edition with a few solid hidden gems.

Like this front-page story about local artist Joel Washington…


Joel Washington’s skateboarder name used to be “Rad Rat.”

On Friday, the 52-year-old Bloomington skateboarder-turned-artist used his colorful pop art to teach children about color theory at the WonderLab Museum of Health, Science and Technology.

Joining him were portraits of Michael Jackson, B.B. King and four of his own brightly designed skateboard decks.

“I’m a color fanatic,” he said. “There’s little colors I have to put in.”

Also this wonderful quote from a creative youngster at WonderLab.

Rosie Black, a 4-year-old preschooler from Bloomington, was experimenting with popsicle sticks.

“I have a shed, and it’s snowing cats,” she said of her abstract design.

Also some great ASF work by Lacey Hoopengardner and Anu Kumar on the region page…


…and Will Royal on the opinion page.


That text reads…


After seeing several prospective sorority members trek through the snow, I began to wonder what their motivation was. I could not see myself walking from house to house in formal attire. Their dedication is truly admirable.

I asked myself, what would motivate me to rush? While sisterhood is not something I dream of, I do have desires that could encourage me to bear the cold.

Clever stuff. In the back section, some really solid design by Chelsea Coleman and photography by photo editors Amelia Chong and Clayton Moore on the arts pages.


Overall, a great start. Can’t wait to see what else these folks pull off this semester.


Finding Lauren: IDS summer staff gets a national story

In Design, IDS, Multimedia, Uncategorized on June 30, 2011 at 5:33 pm

Four weeks, seven P1s, hundreds of Tweets and Facebook updates later, and the Lauren Spierer story is starting to fade.

With daily searches and press conferences ending, it seems a fitting time to take a look at how the IDS has covered an important local story that took off nationally.

First and foremost, the entire IDS summer staff deserves kudos. Their coverage began on idsnews.com the day after Spierer went missing and continued both online and in the daily print edition through to the end. They were at every press conference and every search.

Today, the paper led with this story by Alex Farris, who also did video and photography during the IDS’s coverage of Lauren.


On the last day of general public searches for missing IU student Lauren Spierer, volunteer Jeff Ritter kept doing what he had done for more than a week.

“Every place we look is a place that’s been searched and a place we can cross off the list,” he said.

About 20 other volunteers, with help from professional searchers, brought an end to broad-based searches for the 20-year-old IU student, who has been missing since June 3.

Other notable coverage was written by CJ Lotz, Sarah Brubeck, summer Region Editor Zach Ammerman and summer Editor-in-Chief Brooke Lillard.

Lotz covered much of the early breaking news and wrote features about the Spierer family and the community response.


Before the national news paid attention, before Ryan Seacrest tweeted about Lauren, before the press conferences and the search parties, Robert Spierer taped up a picture of his daughter.

At 9:45 a.m. Sunday, he walked into Smallwood Plaza. He looked at his daughter’s face smiling under the words “Missing.” A roll of masking tape on his arm, he stuck another piece along the side of the white paper and rubbed it down against a lobby door in Smallwood.

He talked about Lauren, the younger of his two daughters, who loves fashion and talks to her mother every day.

He couldn’t have anticipated how huge this story would become. In the next few days, millions of people would see his daughter’s face.

In an email, Lotz discussed what the small summer staff learned covering a national story, something that doesn’t usually happen to this scale in Bloomington.

The IDS team has learned a lot on this story. 1. Get there first. We were there from the beginning. 2. Don’t push when it’s not appropriate. We watched broadcasters push microphones in the Spierer’s faces when it was totally wrong. We wanted to step back and respect what was unfolding, and dig in other ways. 3. Read Brook Lillard’s letter from the editor about why we aren’t reporting rumors.

The editorial in question ran on the front page of the IDS and drew a lot of flak from commenters on idsnews.com.


Since the day the police notified the press of Lauren Spierer’s disappearance, the Indiana Daily Student has worked tirelessly to tell you everything we know about the case.

The coverage is not for our benefit, it is for Lauren and our readers.

Are the commenters right in this case, or was it an appropriate editorial to run on P1?

We also saw some nice things come out from Christa Kumming and her design team. This timeline map did a great job consolidating the large amount of information coming out from BPD in the immediate aftermath of Lauren’s disappearance.


And after putting together front pages about the search for weeks, it must’ve gotten difficult to be creative, but this front in particular (John Lindgren’s first P1) took three stories about a two-week-old topic and made them look more than appetizing.


Any mention about the Lauren Spierer coverage would not be complete without talking about the online coverage, especially on the social media side of things. The Twitter campaign to #FindLauren has been noticed by everyone from Tom Cruise to USA TODAY.

Especially in regard to the anonymous tweeter @NewsOnLaurenS. In under a month, @NewsOnLaurenS has received over 25,000 followers. No wonder the IDS tweets on the search all tag @NewsOnLaurenS.

Lotz interviewed the woman behind @NewsOnLaurenS online.


Although the user behind @NewsOnLaurenS said she does not want to reveal her identity because it would take the focus off Lauren, she agreed to a “Twitter” interview with the IDS…

@IDSnews: What does your day look like?

@NewsOnLaurenS: I’ve been falling asleep around 2 – 3 a.m. after one last “PUSH” to remind followers to RT (retweet) Lauren’s info.
@NewsOnLaurenS: A few hours later, I wake up, grab my iPhone and update my feed.
@NewsOnLaurenS: Typically, I find an inspiring message to RT to energize myself and our community. Then, it’s off to my regular business day at work.
@NewsOnLaurenS: I’m never too far away from my phone. If my schedule allows, I will tweet through the press conference and occasionally during the day.
@NewsOnLaurenS: In the evening, I continue to strategize and find new ways to inspire those to continue their advocacy work to help #FindLauren.

Although the anonymous tweeter has garnered most of the national publicity, IDS stories are consistently the most shared links on Twitter in conjunction to the Spierer story.

The IDS account (@idsnews) has also ventured into unfamiliar territory for the Twitter account: live-tweeting. In Bloomington, it’s rare that there is a newsworthy reason to live-tweet an event. Sports has from time-to-time, but live-tweeting involves sending a reporter whose sole responsibility is to constantly update in 140 character bursts. Not worth it for the average IDS piece.

The Lauren Spierer story is far from average.

Former web editor Danielle Fleischman has been live tweeting many of the daily press conferences from BPD. She had just gotten back from a School of Journalism trip to Kenya when she began tweeting the story for @idsnews.

It was heartbreaking to see the emptiness of their faces, the absolute lack of hope that surrounded them and it was then that I realized I had seen that look of despair before.  I had seen it in the faces of people in Kenya who struggled to get food on their table or send their kids to school.  And here in the states was that same sort of sorrow I thought I had left a few oceans behind me.    The whole scene brought tears to my eyes, and made it harder to keep tweeting.  In such an instant it’s difficult to rapidly type up quotes and send them off to Facebook/Twitter without much time available for revision.  It begins to feel exploitative, as though all these journalists are doing whatever they can to get the first bit of new information on the web as fast as possible.

The “Indiana Digital Student”, as it were, has also produced some wonderful content strictly for idsnews.com. There is a special page that archives the continuing Spierer coverage that readers can visit straight from the homepage. Videos from the multiple press conferences are available and slideshows are online from the search efforts.

The Spierer story has also given us an excuse to update some multimedia graphics that have been plaguing the IDS. Thanks to former photo editor Alex Farris, we have ditched the obnoxiously long bumper and now have snazzy new title and credit slides.

Title slide

A few months ago, this would have been a big red bar of gross.

Farris has also been completely on top of all things visual with the Spierer story. He even followed IU ROTC members on a search at Griffy Lake through knee-deep mud in shorts and tennis shoes. Now that’s commitment.

My experience with the Lauren Spierer story started very early. I was sent out June 4, the day after Lauren was reported missing, to take photos of fliers that were being posted and passed out. I only took a few photos, but while I was talking with friends at Scholar’s Inn on the square, a woman walked by and handed us some fliers. She asked if we had heard about Lauren, and I said, “Yes, we’re with the IDS. We’re on it.” I thanked her, and then she thanked me.
Being human was not only called for; it was required. Unlike out-of-town newspapers and TV stations, CJ said, we have to answer to our readers after the story dies down. The same people reading the story now will hopefully be following us later, but they won’t follow us if we’re insensitive and not on top of the story. In that sense, we have a higher standard to uphold than outside outlets.
For me, that standard has meant staying up until 5 a.m. following a tip from a source, dropping everything to cover a served search warrant, driving to the south side of Monroe County to take photos of a state police search, and staying with volunteers an entire day on the last day of public searches. It has meant going to every press briefing, photographing every possible search, following every possible lead, and dealing with every possible emotion. I like to think each struggle has not clouded my news judgment; rather, it has sharpened it, keeping me in touch with how the family, friends and readers feel.

Looking back on the coverage, a few questions come to mind. Shouldn’t @idsnews be the first stop for IU news instead of an independent, anonymous account? Yes, the story received national attention, but should we as journalists make the rounds on national cable news networks instead of letting the story speak for itself? What about the page one editorial? The IDS editor rarely publishes the behind-the-scenes work of the IDS or makes a direct statement to readers. These are questions we won’t answer. But let’s start a conversation. Comment below and we can talk about it.

Overall, the summer staff has done a great job with a skeleton crew. It is praiseworthy and it includes some damn fine reporting. Keep up the good work, gang.

UPDATE (July 1, 2011):

Brooke Lillard, IDS summer editor-in-chief, had this to say about the staff’s coverage:

I remember the first day her parents arrived to search for her, readers were calling into the newsroom as though we were a search headquarters. CJ was actually riding in the car with Lauren’s parents and we were texting each other back and forth to figure out where they were going and how people could help them to find there daughter. Once CJ would text me information, I would tweet it out immediately so that those who wanted to help could do so as soon as possible.

It was at this point when I realized how important it was for us to serve as a public service and that this story was only going to get bigger with time.

During the first week or so, three people were doing the work of 10 people. I think that in and of itself demonstrates that drive and dedication can go a long way.

Our relationship with our readers also went to totally different level. In all of my years working for the IDS, I don’t think I’ve ever received one compliment from a reader. Honestly, from looking at our comments, tweets and Facebook posts, it seemed as though the readers viewed us more as a friend informing them as they asked questions. The best compliment I saw came via Twitter, it was a tweet that said something along the lines of “These aren’t just student journalists, these are journalists outrunning other journalists.” We were seeing multiple tweets like this.

SND Scholarship winner: Danielle Rindler

In Awards, Design, IDS, Inside on June 29, 2011 at 5:04 pm

A big congratulations to our very own Danielle Rindler for winning the Society for News Design Foundation 2011 Scholarship!

From the SND release:

A panel of five SND leaders selected Rindler for the $2,000 award based on her thoughtful answers to two essay questions, the quality of her portfolio, the breadth of her experience, her professor’s recommendation and her strong grade point average. Rindler was also selected as one of ten travel grant recipients from the SND Foundation.

Danielle was the art director of the IDS last spring and will be heading to Inside magazine this fall, where she’ll be writing and designing. This summer, she’s a Pulliam Fellow for design at The Arizona Republic. She has also given her talents to Indianapolis Monthly magazine and is charting new waters as the first president of the IU chapter of SND.

Danielle was a guiding force in the IDS spring re-design and has helped lead the charge in incorporating more and more infographics in the printed product.

Danielle has done great work for the company, including on the 2011 Little 500 guide and many-a-section front.

2011 Little 500 guideAurora features frontPlus, on a rainy night in early May, Danielle churned out this gem of a P1 on deadline when breaking news hit.

Osama P1You can read her full bio, including a glowing review from Ron Johnson, on the SND website. To hire her or to see more of Danielle’s work, check out her online portfolio.

A visual column

In Design, IDS on January 26, 2011 at 9:41 am

Larry Buchanan launched his new column, appropriately titled “A visual column,” in the IDS today. His inspiration was “How the Recession Changed Us” from The Atlantic.

Larry scoured the IU Fact Book for interesting information and translated what he found into graphs. Here’s what he came up with.
















Here’s a closer look at some of the graphs.













It’s a thing of beauty. This is a smart way to convey a lot of data in a digestible format. Readers can skim it to get an overall idea of how campus has changed or really stop to think about a specific fact. The sad truth is that college students (and probably most readers) want to skim. Just think about how you read the paper. If you’re like me, you skim the whole thing and read the stories that interest you. So why do we fear ASFs? Is it because we don’t get to showcase our writing? Maybe it’s because we think ASFs are less clip-worthy. Hopefully this column will inspire you to try something new. Let’s start thinking about data (and stories about data) in a new way.

ASF: Indiana teens more likely to use drugs

In Design, IDS on January 19, 2011 at 9:42 am

Thank you, Danielle Rindler and Jessica Contrera, for putting together the ASF on the front page of the IDS today.

I really liked the figures below the chart (6 percent and 10 percent) that sum up the findings. The whole package (including Michael Auslen’s story) gives readers some interesting information. Here’s a closer look at the chart.

One question: This story ran right below a story about a student death. The IDS hasn’t reported how this student died, but other sources (and people writing in the comments section) say it was from drugs. Was it appropriate to run this ASF/story package about drugs and alcohol below a story about a student death (likely from a drug overdose)?

We’re back

In Design, IDS on January 13, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Sorry for the delay. I blame the senioritis. As always, send me stories/designs/photos you think I should post.

Here’s a collection of stuff we can talk about today.

Stephanie Kuzydym wrote a story about the IU Anthem boys releasing a new song. I thought she did a good job grabbing the reader (and also capturing the spirit of the story) in here lede:

“IU Anthem” stars seniors Brice Fox and Daniel Weber want to be more than frat bros that can sing or white boys that can’t dance. And they definitely want to be more than a pair of mustaches and an anthem.

They’ve made a career out of what Indiana is all about. And Indiana is where it all started.

I think I’ll also bring up a column by CJ Lotz. She wrote about the one year anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti. Here are some of the tools we can learn from it.

  • Scene isn’t just for 1,000+ word stories. CJ used a few small moments to bring her story to life.

A mother gives birth to a screaming child, then stands up, sweating, and drags her IV across the floor to a chair. There is one bed for birth. She made room for the next woman in line.

  • Find a way to make it local. Why? It establishes a connection with the reader.

We grew tired of your brokenness. We grew tired of your crying because we only see what we gave you, not what you give us.

At IU, you give us The Creole Institute, the foremost research center on the Creole language in the world, led by Albert Valdman, a renowned linguistic scholar.

Haiti, you gave us Nick Andre, a former IU Creole professor and father of five who sang and performed at arts events around Bloomington before moving home to take care of his family.

You inspired our local organization, Bloomington for Haiti, to arrange a film festival at the end of this month to honor your people.

You sent us your children, adopted as babies into this community.

You gave us Solfils Telfort, a research assistant at the IU Creole Institute. He was born in Haiti and grew up there before attending IU in 2008.

What worked (or didn’t work) for you?

Finally, let’s talk about the Opinion front from Tuesday. It was a bold statement (literally), but did it work? Was it too much?

Covering anti-Semitism

In Design, IDS on December 6, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Biz Carson suggested we talk about how the IDS has covered the anti-Semitic events going on around campus. I’ll let her explain:

Which is better?

We’re always pushing for ASFs and graphics in the paper as a different way to tell a story. In the graphic, I tried to provide context to the attacks and also show the community’s response. The online story focuses on the events, incorporates more quotes and additional information about each incident, but is about 700 words.

What if the story had run in the paper? What if the graphic ran online? What is more effective at telling the story?

Here’s a link to her story. It starts like this:

More anti-Semitic incidents occurred during the weekend as Zeta Beta Tau’s mailbox was stolen, swastikas were found on a dry erase board in McNutt Quad and the president of Congregation Beth Shalom received a suspicious jar of jam on his porch.

Since Nov. 23, eight acts of vandalism targeted at the Bloomington Jewish community have been reported to Bloomington and IU police.

Here’s the graphic Biz made for the paper.


















My comment: What will readers spend time looking it? A story? An infographic? Both? On the bus this morning, I watched a girl read the paper. When she got to this page, she looked at the story and moved on. Then, she spent at least five minutes reading the infographic. Just one example of a reader interacting with our content.

Share your thoughts.

The Weekend Prophet

In Design, Weekend on November 18, 2010 at 8:38 am

After the Harry Potter books came out, I had two wishes:

1. Get my acceptance letter to Hogwarts. (Still waiting)
2. Work for The Daily Prophet.

Thank you, IDS, for making one of these dreams come true! What a perfect design for the release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I.” What was your favorite part of Weekend?
















Readers love The Weekend Prophet. Check out this comment I found online.