Archive | February, 2011

Reflections

21 Feb

It has been more than two months since I started this blog. During this time, I have come to appreciate design elements in both online and print publications more than before.

In particular, the blog has taught me to explore topics that I would not have come across in my daily life if not for this very interesting module. Issues in Publication and Design aptly describes the essence of the course as the requirements truly pushes its students to consider every factor of design and publishing.

In my case, I have hardly given much consideration to the use of whitespace. Who would have thought that every inch of space around text and images is carefully engineered to enhance the presentation of information? The Gutenberg diagram particularly fascinates too – who knew such research and studies have gone into the science of human beings’ eye movement?

As a blogger, however, I have had some initial apprehension in approaching this assignment. While the topics are definitely worth exploring, blogging has for so long been a leisure activity I indulge in in my spare moments. Keeping up with a routine to put in an entry every week was something I had to work very hard on.

Nevertheless, I am pleased with the boundaries I have pushed to complete this assignment, and I hope my readers will enjoy reading this as much as I have enjoyed producing it.

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Influence of Blogs

18 Feb

According to Rutenbeck and Rutenbeck (2006), a blog (short for weblog) is a web page or a website that is regularly updated, usually by a single person. Blogs are often personal by nature, but gradually more and more blogs have entered the mainstream for opinions, political commentary, news and corporate information sharing.

Among these trends, however, blogs have increasingly been used for shopping. Big-scale retailers and small-time business owners alike have been on the online shopping bandwagon since 2005, raking in millions in total sales each year since then.

A quick check on Google Trends indicate that the online shopping business conducted through blogshops has indeed become one of the fastest growing industry.:


With clothes being one of the most commonly sold items on blogshops, consumers – especially youths – are finding the new past-time of online shopping exceptionally easy on the pockets. The pricing of goods on blogshops are normally lower than those sold in brick and mortar stores as little or no rental cost is incurred in an online set-up.

With consumers finding it easier and safer to shop online, online shopping through blogshops may just become one of the world’s biggest source of economic income in time to come.

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References

Rutenbeck, J. & Rutenbeck, J. B., 2006, Tech terms: what every telecommunications and digital media person should know, Focal Press, USA

Unfortunate Headlines in Print

15 Feb

According to Saxena (2006), a good headline is the few words set on top of a news report giving the readers a guide, compass and index to the story. Headlines spark curiosity and draw readers into a story, establish news value and relative importance of a news report, provide contrast and balance on a page and give character and identity to a publication.

But other times, in their effort to create headlines that grab readers’ attention, copy editors try too hard and instead craft headlines that offer alternative meanings.

Here are some actual headlines taken from newspapers around the world:

Headline: “Chick Accuses Some of Her Male Colleagues of Sexism”
Published: Los Angeles Times, June 24, 1995

In this article, Los Angeles council woman Laura Chick  accuses some of her male colleagues of sexism. The public was given a chance to interpret the headline alternatively due to the council woman’s unique family name – Chick.

“Chick” is an informal slang for a girl or a young woman. In this instance, it changes the original meaning of the headline to mean that a girl or a young woman is making the accusation.

This could have been avoided if the headline said, “Council Woman Accuses Some of Her Male Colleagues of Sexism”.

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Headline: “Colleagues Finger Billionaire”
Published: The Wall Street Journal, October 19, 2009

This article in the Wall Street Journal is about the colleagues of Mr Raj Rajaratnam, the billionaire owner of a hedge-fund firm, ousting him and his insider-trading crimes.

The word “finger” here suggests a sexual connotation. If the word had been replaced by “accuse”, the message could have been communicated better.

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Headline: “Girls’ Schools Still Offering ‘Something Special’ – Head”
Published: Gloucestershire Echo, February 2, 2011

This is a report based on the claims of the Principal of Cheltenham Ladies College that single-sex education in the country is still a “winning formula”, despite evidence showing the popularity of all-girls’ schools is declining.

Unfortunately, “head” is also a modern slang coined to represent oral sex, thus the unfortunate connection when the phrases “girls’ school” and “head” are used in the same sentence.

However, this blooper was quickly discovered by the publisher soon after the print edition was issued. To rectify the situation, the online edition of the news report was quickly rectified to say “Girls’ schools still offering ‘something special’ says headteacher”.

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References

Hugo, M., 1995. Chick accuses some of her male colleagues of sexism. Los Angeles Times, 24 Jun. p.3.

Saxena, S 2006, Headline writing, SAGE, New Delhi

Vickers, L., 2011. Girls’ school still offering something special – head. Gloucestershire Echo, 2 Feb. p.16.

Zuckerman, G., Clark, D., Pulliam, S., 2009. Colleagues finger billionaire. The Wall Street Journal, 19 Oct. p.1.

Print and Online Publications Analysis

12 Feb

In this entry, we take a look at the design differences between the print and online editions of the February 2011 issue of The Reader’s Digest.

Online: 

 
Print:

Intended Audience
The print edition of the Reader’s Digest is intended for its subscribers and other readers who pick up the publication at newsstands.

The online edition publishes excerpts instead of full articles, possibly as a teaser to entice its online readers to sign up as subscribers.

Layout and Design

The online edition of the publication is laid out in a single clumn. In the  instance of an interview article, the header and questions are distinctly marked out in bold. All text in the body copy of the publication is justified, giving the entire publication a clean, balanced look.

White spaces provide a frame for the text and graphics on a page (Reep, 2006), and in this instance, images have been placed in some of these white spaces to break the monotony of the text.

In the print edition, articles are laid out in two columns with balanced margins on both sides of the pages. According to Parker (2003), multicolumn layouts make the best possible use of available space as the word count per page can be significantly higher than pages containing a single column of text. Making efficient use of space is a fairly big consideration in print publications as every inch costs in terms of printing and paper costs.

Images of different shapes and sizes are also interspersed throughout the articles, giving the layout good balance.

Textual and Visual Elements

The online edition uses a sans serif font on a plain white background throughout the site. The white background serves to enhance the content.

In the print edition, a serif typeface has been used throughout the body text to maintain readability.

NavigationIn both the print and online editions of Reader’s Digest, it is clear that the order as stated in the Gutenberg diagram showing the basic eye movement has been closely observed. This is crucial to ensure good document design (Putnis & Petelin, 1996).

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References

Liu, I. 2011, The accidental movie star [online]
Available at: <http://www.rdasia.com/the-accidental-movie-star>
[Accessed 12 February 2011]

Reep, D. C. 2006, Document design, Pearson/Longman, New York

Parker, R. C. 2003, Beginning observations, Paraglyph Press, Scottsdale, Ariz

Putnis, P. & Petelin, R. 1996, Writing to communicate, Prentice Hall, Sydney

Self-censorship Online

2 Feb

Too often now we find ourselves hesitating before hitting that Publish button. In fact, sometimes the hesitation results in us not hitting Publish at all.

In this day and age, where information and opinions are uploaded for the world to see in split seconds, self-censorship is not such a bad thing.

Imagine publicising your every thought, including the deepest darkest one. What repercussions could there be?

According to Hutchinson and Petersen (1999), self-censorship takes on a perculiar situation where both the communicator and the censors are one person, as opposed to censorship where the roles are played by at least two persons.

In describing this situation, the writers stated that “one impulse or desire moves the person in one direction of expressing something, but some other impulse or desire checks the first.”

Personally, I tend to err on the side of safety in practising self-censorship. If I think a certain opinion is not of mainstream view, I will think twice about putting it up for the world to see, regardless of how strongly I may feel about it.

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References

Hutchinson, A. C., Petersen, K., 1999, Interpreting censorship in Canada, University of Toronto Press, Canada