Whither the weather map?

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There is a proliferation of weather apps on the iTunes store and Google Play. I found at least 500 iterations of the weather app on Google Play and not much less on iTunes.

These range from weather apps for specific countries and locations to specialised apps for surfers and such like.

Today, at the click of a button, you can check the weather anytime anywhere in the world. If I am travelling to London, I just have to check the app on my iPad or iPhone to know what clothes I need to bring or to gear up appropriately for the forthcoming Arsenal-Liverpool match at the Emirates Stadium.

Frankly, when was the last time you looked at the weather map in your newspaper?

Which brings me to the question: Whither the weather map?

Weather reports and maps have been around in newspapers for as long as I can remember. But I am wondering if they have passed their use-by date.

Undoubtedly, the idea of a full-page weather map first blossomed when USA Today appeared on the market in the early 80s with the first-ever full-colour map on its back page. And soon, before we knew it, every single newspaper started producing their own weather map – and at great expense.

It is almost de rigueur to have a weather map, even if many people no longer refer to it in a newspaper. I mean, why bother when you have it at your fingertips anywhere?

Smartphone penetration in the developed economies around the world is more than 50 per cent of the population, and in many cases, closer to the 90s.

So perhaps newspapers need to rethink the weather map. Perhaps a reduced one, but even so, you just cannot compete with the instantaneous availability of apps.

Could the space be used for other more useful purposes? An advertisement, perhaps? On the back page, that would command a princely sum and would be most welcome in today’s financial environment.

What are your views?

Great journalism is all that matters, really

After two days of listening to speaker after speaker at the World Newspaper Congress here in Bangkok, one thing that has remained true for all time is this. Nothing beats great journalism.

You can have the best-looking newspaper or website or tablet/smartphone app but if that ingredient is missing, you can forget about success.

Should journalists interview journalists?

One of the first things I learned in my early days as a journalist was that we should never interview another journalist for a story.

Many papers seem to uphold this principle. But there are just as many that has done away with it. 

On Fairfax TV (part of the Fairfax group in Australia), it has become a very common practice. What is irksome is that they even interview their own journalists!

Here is a screen shot of one of their journalists, Mark Kenny, being interviewed by a colleague. 

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The reasons for not interviewing colleagues are many – mostly good ones.

But I would like to hear your opinion.

Independent and The Mail win with Wimbledon Page 1s

As to be expected, the British papers were full of stories of the Wimbledon final between one of their own and Swiss phenomenon Roger Federer.

After Scot Andy Murray lost to Federer, the papers gushed with praises for their countrymen. Almost all the national dailies played him on Page 1 with some great photos and even better headlines.

I love the one by the Daily Mail and The Independent.

The Mail, a paper with a huge female readership, had this: “Don’t cry girls, he did us proud”. It was accompanied by pictures of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, and Murray’s girlfriend, Kim Sears, and Murray in between them. All were in tears.

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The Independent did it more cleverly with a headline: “Andy, we know how you feel”. And that picture is fantastic! Very well-cropped.

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Its sports section had 11 pages on Wimbledon and some great columns with writing and photos that put you in the centre court. This is real journalism. Real reporting. Real opinions. Real commentary.  Only the Brits could do such a marvellous job.

And the golden boots award goes to….

The Euro 2012 tournament is coming to an end, with just the final match between Spain and Italy on July 2.

It has truly been a feast for the soccer fan. We’ve seen the best players stuff up in front of goal. We’ve seen tempers and tantrums, poor refereeing (especially the disallowed goal for Ukraine against England),  sheer lunacy (Nicklas Bendtner showing off his Paddy Power underwear), plenty of tattoos (many of them grotesque, such as Raul Miereles’), some stupendous goals (Sami Khedira’s wonder volley and Mario Balotelli’s two super strikes against Germany), and plenty of boots.

Yes, those pink boots, lime green boots, yellow boots, golden boots, white boots. But no black boots (yes, when was the last time you saw a professional footballer wearing black boots?).

But there’s a lot of technology that goes into these new boots made by Nike, Adidas, Puma and so on.It’s strange that newspapers worldwide hardly think about answering readers’  curiosity about these boots. I myself have wondered so many times that commentators can tell how many kilometres a player has run during a match.

A German paper, the Rheinische Post (Rhineland Post), the main paper in Düsseldorf, answered the questions for its readers, with a whole page about those boots.

Here it is:

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My friend Hans Peter Janisch translated the page for me.

The main headline says “The football boot in the passage of time” and had this as the deck: “The most important piece of football equipment underwent dramatic changes in the past few years. Today the world stars carry the names of their girl friends or pets upon it. Individual design is affordable for everybody.”

But what’s interesting for me is the main graphic on the individually designed boots, showing the different kinds of studs for different weather conditions and other stuff. OK, it’s not the best graphic in the world, but it tells me a lot more than what I’ve seen in other papers.

I love the one about the technology that goes into those boots. Embedded in the soles is a very small chip which just weighs 8 grams. It records the speed, distance and all the runs the player makes in a game. The data can be analysed by the coach while the game is in progress and by the player afterwards.

How fascinating! Well done to the Rheinische Post.

El Mundo Deportivo in Spain had a small story about Cesc Fabregas’ boots made by Puma. Here it is:

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I have no clue what it is about.

 

 

PS: All images from Euro2012 are from www.pressdisplay.com. You can see thousands of papers from all over the world with a low monthly or yearly subscription.

Guardian scores with photo

Not only is Euro 2012 a feast for the soccer fans but it is visual heaven.

Take a look at this photo from the UK’s The Guardian today:

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The picture by Getty Images’ Julian Finney is spectacular, showing Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic in full flight.

It’s one of the best goals of Euro2012, surely. And one of the best photos I’ve seen.

Great ideas from Europe

Soccer fans all over the world are having a feast with Euro2012 taking place in Poland and Ukraine right now.

I’ve been having sleepless nights watching two matches each day at the unearthly hour of 2am and then again at 4.45am. It’s like working on the split shifts in newspapers. But thoroughly enjoyable.

What’s more enjoyable, however, is to read newspapers from all over the world, courtesy of Newspaper Direct (www.newspaperdirect.com) and looking at the ideas that are flowing as freely as Mario Gomez of Germany is scoring goals.  Pity my favourite striker, Robin van Persie, isn’t playing to his usual standard.

I’ve been looking, in particular, at some of the newspapers in the UK. As usual, they are doing a sterling job. I think they still have the best journalism in the world (I don’t include the Sunday Sport and the other racy tabloids of course although they are masters of headline writing).

For example, I love this idea from the respectable tabloid, Daily Mail:

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Discussing the June 15 clash between England and Sweden, the paper has put in a nice sidebar on one of England’s defenders, Joleon Lescott. Football fans would have seen Lescott many times playing for his club, Manchester City, and before that, at Everton. They, too, would know that Lescott, like many other footballers, have tattoos all their body.

But the Daily Mail has responded to our curiosity with this sidebar that tells why he has that scar on his forehead, what the tattoos are about and a bit of background about him. Nice work.

Would love one on David Beckham’s canvas.

Then there is a column about what fans think in The Daily Telegraph:

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I like it because it combines a bit of journalism with marketing (which seems to be happening with a lot of newspapers these days in the face of stiff competition online).

The Tele has got Sharp, the Japanese electronics and consumer goods giant, to sponsor the column.

Best of all, fans get to say what they think of their teams.

A winner, surely!

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The Independent is not sitting still while its competitors are crowing. It too has a good idea – getting former Liverpool coach Rafael Benitez to write a column.

Every self-respecting football fan would surely want to read the thoughts of Rafa.

Across in Germany, Der Tagesspiegel (translated “The Daily Mirror”) has some nice pictures of WAGs, i.e., wives and girlfriends of soccer stars.  Nice eye-candy.

Here it is:

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Sadly, I couldn’t find such nice ideas in French papers nor the Italian ones. Like their soccer teams, they appear to be off duty.

That’s a set up!

As journalists, we are taught never to cook up quotes, write things that are not properly backed up, and to always check, check, check the facts.

But I think many editors are remiss when it comes to the visual side of journalism. They don’t demand the same high standards of visual journalism as they do on the words side.

We’ve seen graphics that are skewed, or just plain wrong or misleading. We’ve seen illustrations that are way below par. And we’ve seen zillions of news photographs that are set up.

Take this one, from the Aug 21 issue of the Sunday Telegraph in Sydney, Australia. The story was about the effects of putting children in forward-facing prams.

The photo shows four mums at a park but unfortunately, you can tell it was set up because it is just unnatural to gather to chat like that! And look at those two kids in the pram! One’s in a forward-facing pram, and the other in a backward-facing one. How appropriate!

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Or this one from Page 2 of The Australian today. The story was about how some Libyan families in Australia were celebrating the fall of Qaddafi.

The story clearly said that the mother was sitting in the lounge watching events unfolding in her homeland. But the photo showed her entire family outside the house “celebrating”. The youngest child was waving a flag and another member of the family waving two balloons.

Lovely, but I wonder why they would celebrate standing in a group outside the house?

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Sadly, we see a lot of news photos that are set up in many newspapers, especially those in Australia and the UK.

But what’s wrong with posing? you ask.

Plenty, I’d say. News photos must capture what the great French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson called “the decisive moment”.

If we do not set up stories, why do we set up news photos? Shouldn’t news photos tell the truth on the same basis as words, i.e., as it happens?

Silly rules still rule!

When are newspapers going to keep up with the times?

This is the 21st century, but still many newspapers stick to very old rules about photographs.

Take for example, The Australian, this morning.

Reporting on the arrest of an Australian man in Kentucky, USA, over a bomb hoax in Sydney several weeks ago, the paper used a picture of him being led handcuffed, presumably to a waiting police car.

His photo had a black strip plastered over his eyes, presumably to hide his identity since the case is still before the courts. But strangely, the story had his full name and even some details about his movements. Here it is:

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I find this to be a very strange rule because across town, the Sydney Morning Herald carried a picture of him without masking his face! Here it is:

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But in today’s interconnected world, newspaper readers can read about him in other newspapers, such as the The Sun in the UK, several thousand kilometres away.  Here it is:

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I am sure if you are determined enough, you will find his photo in many other newspapers. Makes The Australian look a bit silly, doesn’t it?

Surely it is time newspaper editors examined all the old rules we have lived with for decades which are actually quite meaningless today. Over to you, editors.

Peru’s beautiful tourism logo

I love the curly and stylised P in Peru’s tourism logo.

Here it is:

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The logo was created to promote the country’s rich and diverse culture. An Argentinian company was hired to create the friendly and joyful look.

The Bree typeface was stylised and customised by Type Together to give a breezy feel to the whole advertising campaign.

Have you seen beautiful logos? Or ugly ones? If so, send them to us.