the balancing act


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It's a tough act to balance reader wants/needs with journalistic standards. This session covers a few strategies for success in terms of content and coverage with award-winning yearbook examples.

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the balancing act

  1. 1. the balancing actthe challenge to meet journalistic standards & exceed reader expectations ideas from Sarah Nichols, MJE
  2. 2. A few questions to begin…• What is your yearbook mission?• What do you do well?• Where are your improvement areas?• How well do you know your readers?• Are you willing to take the next step?
  3. 3. Act I:It’s about details
  4. 4. knowing the standards• State/regional press associations• National press associations• Staff manual• Training days• Workshops like this one!
  5. 5. first things first• Looks are everything• Judging a book by its cover• Often, less is more• Restraint in typography• Purposeful design• Attention-getting images
  6. 6. concept development• Carefully planned theme/concept permeates the book both verbally and visually
  7. 7. Cover// Loudoun Valley HS, Purcellville, VA
  8. 8. Endsheet// Loudoun Valley HS, Purcellville, VA
  9. 9. Title page// Loudoun Valley HS, Purcellville, VA
  10. 10. Opening// Loudoun Valley HS, Purcellville, VA
  11. 11. Opening// Loudoun Valley HS, Purcellville, VA
  12. 12. Opening// Loudoun Valley HS, Purcellville, VA
  13. 13. Dividers// Loudoun Valley HS, Purcellville, VA
  14. 14. Dividers// Loudoun Valley HS, Purcellville, VA
  15. 15. Dividers// Loudoun Valley HS, Purcellville, VA
  16. 16. Closing// Loudoun Valley HS, Purcellville, VA
  17. 17. Parting page// Loudoun Valley HS, Purcellville, VA
  18. 18. reader services• Table of contents is accurate, complete – All major sections, including index, closing• Folio appears consistently and provides detailed information without over- emphasis in design• Index is a complete alphabetical listing with more than just names: advertisers, clubs, sports teams, topics, events
  19. 19. captions as stories• Expanded: 3-4 sentences with complete name(s), actions and additional info• Provide the date and as many of the 5Ws and H as possible• Go beyond what readers see in the photo• Background info about the photo’s content, not the person pictured
  20. 20. ROLE REVERSAL Balancing on Eric Juddʼs shoulders, Brenden Sady cheers during the senior/ junior powder puff game on Oct. 9. Fourteen boys formed the cheer squad, performing sideline cheers and a four-minute halftimeroutine to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” “We practicedabout 50 times during lunch to get the stunts right. My favorite part was the skirt because nobody expected we had them on under our pants,” Sady said.
  21. 21. keeping score• Sports captions: additional info required• Provide the school/team name and whether the game was home or away• Get the opposing player’s full name and position• Provide the outcome of the action as well as the game’s final score and/or other pertinent info not obvious in the photo
  22. 22. Sports HANDS UP. With nine seconds on the clock, Jeremy Patterson reaches for the pass thrown from quarterback Tom Schroeder in the Oct. 15 home game against West. Patterson caught the pass at the endzone and was able to escape West player Carlos Gonzales for a 27-10 win. “I didnʼt even think Iʼd get to play but Coach put me in at the last minute and it wassweet being the one to make that catch,” Patterson said.
  23. 23. student life• Coverage is a balance between in- and out-of-school activities• Topics range across full calendar year• Royalty, awards, superlatives minimized• Emphasis toward this year specifically
  24. 24. academics• Focus on students, not teachers• Coverage includes captivating photo coverage of students engaged in the learning process (not typical desk shots)• In copy, consider labs, field trips, required reading, standardized tests, hands-on…• In photos, provide a new angle or perspective of learning with each shot
  25. 25. people• Logical panel arrangement for portraits in alphabetical order• Designed with names to the outside, not underneath (may include senior activities)• Combined with interesting feature coverage (one topic per spread, unified with headline, photos and copy)• Faculty/staff includes detailed info
  26. 26. Northview HS, Duluth, GA
  27. 27. Westlake HS, Austin, TX
  28. 28. clubs and organizations• Coverage is news-driven, not based on a summary of the group’s purpose, goals or “projects” for the year• Action shots capture more than one activity or event per group and are designed larger than posed group shots
  29. 29. Horizon HS, Scottsdale, AZ
  30. 30. consistency is key• Group shots have simple, uniform background and adequate lighting• Head sizes are consistent and large enough for identification• Rows are labeled with names listed in order left to right (although unstated) with consistent titles (Front row, Row 2, Back row) and are same for clubs/sports/other
  31. 31. sports• Team life is captured beyond the playing field, with emphasis on this year• Photo coverage represents practice and other activities• Game shots show a variety of opponents• Each team’s results are presented in a reader-friendly scoreboard that is accurate, complete and minimal in design
  32. 32. how’s it look?• Overall appearance of book is planned, unified and teen-friendly• Designs are related but not monotonous• Packaging is proportional• Each spread offers multiple entry points• Type is attractive and readable• Color is used with purpose
  33. 33. Whitney HS, Rocklin, CA
  34. 34. Whitney HS, Rocklin, CA
  35. 35. Whitney HS, Rocklin, CA
  36. 36. Whitney HS, Rocklin, CA
  37. 37. get the picture• Photo quality: If it’s not top-notch, don’t use it• Dominant and subordinate images• Storytelling value with each image added• Visual variety (angle, distance, shape)
  38. 38. Act II: It’s aboutinnovation
  39. 39. covereveryone
  40. 40. Rocklin HS, Rocklin, CA
  41. 41. San Clemente HS, San Clemente, CA
  42. 42. Whitney HS, Rocklin, CA
  43. 43. Specialty// Whitney HS, Rocklin, CA
  44. 44. Specialty// Whitney HS, Rocklin, CA
  45. 45. enliven copy
  46. 46. Northview HS, Duluth, GA
  47. 47. Rocklin HS, Rocklin, CA
  48. 48. Whitney HS, Rocklin, CA
  49. 49. play to your strengths
  50. 50. Bryant HS, Bryant, AR
  51. 51. know your readers
  52. 52. Northview HS, Duluth, GA
  53. 53. Rocklin HS, Rocklin, CA
  54. 54. incorporate trends
  55. 55. Whitney HS, Rocklin, CA
  56. 56. Whitney HS, Rocklin, CA
  57. 57. Whitney HS, Rocklin, CA
  58. 58. Rocklin HS, Rocklin, CA
  59. 59. Rocklin HS, Rocklin, CA
  60. 60. Rocklin HS, Rocklin, CA
  61. 61. Rocklin HS, Rocklin, CA
  62. 62. Rocklin HS, Rocklin, CA
  63. 63. askquestionsEmail me at