Archive for April, 2010

A philosophical question

April 27, 2010

I (and some of my colleagues) have been pondering a question lately, and I’d like to hear your opinion on it.

The question? Why is it that print editors are so often seen as having the expertise to oversee a magazine website, whereas web editors aren’t seen as able to oversee (or, often, even contribute to) print?

After all, many web editors have print experience – if not as creators, then certainly consumers. And definitely more print experience than web, perhaps unless they’re very young. I, for instance, have been a voracious reader of print magazines for 20 years or so – and the internet’s only been around for about 15.

What do you think is the reason behind this? Am I wrong? Do you see the situation changing?

Love this cross-linking

April 15, 2010

One of my favourite magazine blogs is Glamour’s Vitamin G health blog. Check out today’s post (part of their daily “Breakfast at Your Desk” series), featuring… mention of a story in Health magazine and a link out to their home page.

They’re not direct competitors, but they are from different companies. Thoughts?

Do readers like to scroll?

April 14, 2010

There’s a lot of debate over the importance of “above the fold” (ie within the viewable area of the screen without scrolling) and whether online readers are happy to scroll rather than click/flip pages.

My philosophy has always been that your most clickable content should be above the fold, but that as the internet evolves and people’s browsing situations become more and more comfortable (think laptop/iPad on couch rather than clunky desktop at uncomfortable desk), they’ll be more likely to read on-screen for longer. That said, I think attention spans will always be shorter online than in print, for the simple reason that there are more distractions.

A recent issue (“Scrolling and Attention”) of usability researcher Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox newsletter dealt with this issue. His conclusion was that you should prioritize design so that the most important information is above the fold, but that users will happily scroll if the information architecture sends them down the right path. He also suggests making sure there is clickable content at the end of the page as this is where users will go next if they make it that far (e.g., if they read an entire article, they’re not likely to scroll back to the top to click on a related article – better to put something relevant at the end for them to click on).

His article also provides a few screenshots of eye tracking on websites that are worth checking out. It’s interesting to see where readers’ eyes go and how they scan down the page.

What is a magazine?

April 12, 2010

From a recent article on PBS’s MediaShift:

“The magazine doesn’t become a paper product, but a brand of journalism,” [Juan Señor] says. “The magazine can still have a digital destination. It has a design. It has a masthead. It’s a brand proposition as opposed to a platform proposition, but it’s still doing a specific kind of storytelling.”

Each magazine expresses its content proposition in its own unique way, across multiple media and even through different business models.

Upgrade your skills at Ryerson this spring

April 10, 2010

Looking to perfect your copy-editing skills (essential for web staff, who usually don’t have copy editors) or learn about InDesign? The Magazine Publishing program at Ryerson University (where I teach) has  classes available in the spring term with two of our fabulous instructors. Details below.

Spring Brings Extra Convenience for Two Popular Editorial Courses in Ryerson’s Magazine Publishing Program

Thanks to greater availability of classroom space in the Spring/Summer university term, two of the most popular continuing education courses in Ryerson’s Magazine Publishing program can be scheduled far more conveniently.

Magazine Copy Editing (course code CDJN 119), a 42-hour course, ordinarily meets once a week (for three hours) over 14 weeks. In Spring,however, it runs twice a week for seven weeks, which the instructor says is a far more effective way to learn this material, each lesson being reinforced after a few days rather than a week. This year, Magazine Copy Editing is scheduled for Monday and Wednesday evenings, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., from May 3 to June 21. (Standard fee: $542; enrollment deadline April 26)

Layout Software for Magazine Editors (CDJN 204), a 21-hour/7 week course) moves from 9 a.m. Saturday mornings to a much more popular Wednesday evening time slot, 6:30-9:30 p.m. And because CDJN 204 appeals to many of the same people as CDJN 119, it begins this term on June 23, just as the Copy Editing course finishes, allowing students to continue making Wednesdays their Ryerson night. (Standard fee: $298; enrollment deadline June 16)

For more information about both courses, and the rest of the Magazine Publishing Program, go to

Applicants already working at a magazine may call Charles Oberdorf (416-480-2750) to obtain a counseling slip – required to register initially in the program (past or current students can enroll online).

Applicants not working at a magazine should consult for requirements.

A first look at magazines on the iPad

April 6, 2010

Since Canada doesn’t have the iPad yet, the next best thing is this video by Brad Colbow that gives us a tour of three magazines that have launched with the new format: Time, GQ and Popular Science. (Thanks to Twitter for alerting me to it.)

It’s always hard to judge remotely, but my inclination is that Popular Science has done the best job, followed by Time and then GQ. I don’t quite understand GQ’s decision to use up half the screen for a static image while reading articles. I do have a possible solution, though, to Colbow’s question of why the design on two of the apps is so much better in landscape than portrait: since apps are sold for both iPhone/iPod touch and iPad, it’s not unlikely that the portrait version (simpler, one column) is meant for the smaller devices and the landscape (larger, more dynamic) for the iPad.

How to save media

April 5, 2010

In the words of John Yemma, editor of the Christian Science Monitor (from

The multimedia debate needs a new question: How are we using technology to create a more relevant product? We’re not going to “save” media by out-featuring each other. We can and will re-cement media by using the technology to deliver the experience consumers want most: intelligent, meaningful news that’s accessible where they are in the moment.