Files under General | Apr 5th

Next Monday I will be in El Cairo (Egypt) to present the last Arabic edition of our INNOVATONS IN NEWSPAPERS World Report.

This is the third Arabic edition of a report produced by INNOVATION since 1999.

Since then, the reports have been translated and published in English, German, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Russian, Chinese, and Arabic.

The 2011 World Report now in progress will be presented in October in Vienna at the WAN-IFRA Newspaper World Congress.

You can buy the reports here.

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Files under General | Feb 15th

More good news for INNOVATION from the Society of News Design.

Lee Steele reports:

In its 32nd annual The Best of Newspaper Design™ Creative Competition, the Society for News Design has named Portugal’s inewspaper, a daily that launched in 2009, the World’s Best-Designed™ Newspaper.

Newspaper: i (short for informação)

Launched: 2009

Based in: Portugal

Size: Compact format, saddle-stitched, 250 x 345 mm or 9 ¾” x 13 5/8” with the trim


As judges, we may have been more surprised than anyone to see that only one paper ended up on the World’s Best list in 2010. In fact, we carefully “parsed” our decision — reached by secret ballot, hence the surprise — to see why one publication edged out the other world-class newspapers on the table in the final round.

In this era of great upheaval in media, the decision came down to innovation.

Many publications we saw are clearly operating at the top of their game, and have been tenacious and intelligent enough to emerge stronger from the economic battering of the last few years. But Portugal’s daily newspaper, i, stood out for its ability to take the best of the visual language of newspapers, magazines and other publications and create something new that is more than the sum of its parts.

It’s compact. It’s fresh. It’s consistent, yet full of surprises.

Its magazine-like size allows the reader to hold the newspaper close; the format invites the reader to engage more deeply. The publication is packed with information, yet extremely well organized, using elements of layering and editing to draw readers into every page.

i walks the line between newspaper and magazine with perfect balance. Its format supports the kind of flexibility that lets it focus on hard news one day and features the next. The editions we saw featured a lead story about a great author one day, then strong reporting of the Haiti earthquake the next. We encountered stories told with a sense of urgency and newsiness, and others told with subtlety and humor.

The paper delivers traditional newspaper content with new, engaging presentation.

This causes us to wonder: Is this where newspapers are going? Is it where newspaperscould go, or should go?  Can new techniques make print even more vibrant and relevant?


The covers appealed to our curiosity, using techniques like thoughtful cropping of images to add intrigue. Color and variety drew us to the publication, providing provocation and an intellectual challenge. The cover featuring the Jose Saramago illustration “is amazing,” said one judge. “I just want to eat it. Every page offers up things that you want to devour.”

It’s smaller than most tabloids (250 x 345 mm or 9 ¾” x 13 5/8” with the trim) and it is saddle-stitched, so it holds together like a magazine. Readers can easily fold pages back, navigate without difficulty and — perhaps — concentrate without the distractions encountered with larger, unbound formats.

Designers are clearly thinking about the way two facing pages work together, whether the stories are related or not. This creates a flow that encourages reading without interruption.

i is composed like a beautiful piece of music. It has the discipline to play only the high notes that matter most. For example, it uses its full bleed capability sparingly. It creates strong impact, even with small things. The surprise of occasional whimsy makes the content inviting.

The publication has a steady grid structure, type and color palette that create a strong platform for difference and surprise. The grid and space look effortless. But there is more complexity than it first appears.

Typography is classic, not trendy. From very large to very small, the principles of scale and contrast apply throughout their type palette. Sans serif feels serious; the serif is more playful. It’s a wonderful contrast.

Headlines are relatively small, but pop within the context of the page.

We found color on every page, yet it is used purposefully, with smart pacing. It’s as though the designers are using a highlighter to clue the reader in to what’s important. One judge called this “print search optimization.”

The palette is rich. Cyan, magenta and yellow create a base for navigation while richer colors provide depth and contrast.

Details in the informational graphics are lovely. They are efficient, distilling ideas down to their purist form. Icons are very simple, easily discernable.

A minimalist approach allows larger treatments to stand out. One example: a two-page graphic that starts the cover story for the “Zoom” section.

i has even rethought the ubiquitous weather page, with a smart approach to organization and color. The compact approach communicates lots of information quickly.

Much of the photo play in i is like a mini reportage. Informational photos are used well, often organized in a series. Most of these images aren’t huge, but they are used proportionally within the design. We were amazed at how compelling we found spreads that didn’t actually include a dominant image. The structure of the page tied it all together.

Mug shots are set up within a round frame. This balances the very rectangular format. It’s a nice trick. It softens the hard edges.


What we recognized in this year’s winner was its fresh, unique approach. “i” can inspire visual journalists and publishers anywhere in the world to rethink their models and revise or create new ones that best serve their audiences. They may look nothing like i.It won’t — and shouldn’t — represent everyone’s treatment.

We encourage all designers to apply similar creativity and tenacity to finding their own voice and expressing it with conviction and excellence, no matter the size of the staff or access to other resources.

The judges:
Haika Hinze, Die Zeit
Heidi de Laubenfels, The Seattle Times
Svetlana Maximchenko, Akzia (Moscow)
Carl Neustaedter, Ottawa Citizen
Sara Quinn, Poynter Institute.

What the SND report  doesn’t say is that “i” was from scratch an unique project of INNOVATION lead by Javier Errea and working since the first day with a brilliant team of founding editors (mainly Martin Avillez Figueiredo, Andre Macedo and Nick Mrozowski) that doesn’t work anymore for a paper that with less resources than ever still keeps the same creativity fire.

To all of them (past and current editors and designers) must go all the credit.

For the full story see the chapter about “i” in our 2010 INNOVATIONS INS NEWSPAPERS.

Over 200 pages of “i” can be seen in Flickr

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Files under General | Jan 3rd

A review of our first INNOVATIONS IN MAGAZINES World Report.

The 2011 will be ready in a few weeks.

Get a copy of the 2010 here.

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Files under General | Feb 26th


Read the first paragraph of this poor column and you will see how to write 597 words without any real information, but pretending that you are an insider.

“I ran into James Murdoch last night…” Oh, my God… That’s incredible!

The author of the Murdoch biography seems to be obsessed with the CEO of News Corporation.

As Miran, Pavic twitters to Wolff and about his book “you seem to be compensating for notion it was too soft”

So without real news, he plays the bullshit card.

He is not the only one.

Yesterday, the Manhattan gossip blog, did the same but worse with this kind of pseudo-journalism.

Well, Murdoch never has been a popular figure, but at least deserves some credit as media investor.

Others speak, he does.

Perhaps he is wrong with the pay-model for all his publications, but at the en of the day, you don’t need to worry.

He is the boss.

It’s his money.

And if you don’t need to like him.

So all this anti-Murdoch furor seems out of focus.

Full disclosure:

In my case, I subscribe to The Times of London.

And, I’m sorry Mr. Wolff, I like it very much.

His company invited us for a “One Day with Innovation” and the meeting with his publishers and editors in Australia was a pleasure, and he also wrote a terrific Foreword for our 2009 INNOVATIONS IN NEWSPAPER, and he was very gracious with us.

(Illustration by Luis Grañena)

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Files under General | Jul 16th


This is an interesting question.

Asked by some of our clients and friends.

So, I decided to start the INNOVATION READING LIST based on what our clients, friends, me and our consultants are reading.

Your suggestions are welcomed too.

The recommendations will be compiled later below the INNOVATION READING LIST banner.

But let’s start today by recommending our annual report about INNOVATIONS IN NEWSPAPERS.

Get your print and digital copy of INNOVATIONS IN NEWSPAPERS 2009 NOW for a special price.

With a preface by Rupert Murdoch, the annual report looks at major innovations and developments in the newspaper industry world-wide.

This year’s edition, the 11th in the series, focuses on:

•    Multimedia organizations – how to transform your newspaper’s vertical matrix into a horizontal, audience-driven management structure
•    Newsroom design and work flows – how to successfully integrate your newsroom in order to offer content on a 24 hour cycle to different audiences on every platform
•    New advertising models – how to shift from linear to modular advertising and change internal mindsets to selling audiences rather than just selling space.
•    Mobile content and advertising; – the power of mobile news and how mobility might hold the key to developing new revenue streams
•    Blogging – how to leverage the content of local bloggers and generate new audiences for your newspaper
•    social media – the power of micro-blogging to generate traffic and loyalty to your news operation. How to integrate it into your daily news planning schedules effectively
•    Branding strategies – the best newspaper marketing campaigns, cases on how to rediscover the power of your news brand in your community.
•    New storytelling techniques – and much more.

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Files under General | May 27th

Rob Curley is a very nice guy.

I met him just once.

Last year, both of us were speakers at the same Canadian Newspaper Publishers conference.

After his terrific presentation, I invited him to run a “Day with Rob Curley” in our periodic Harvard one-day seminars for our best clients.

Unfortunately, his crazy job prevented any assurance about any specific date too much in advance, and the one-day seminar idea didn’t work even though he was willing to do it.

So today when I read the news of his departure from The Washington Post, I was very sad.

Here we have another online news pioneer leaving a first-class newspaper company at the time that the elephants need a lot of of Rob Curleys.

Minutes after I posted my “bad news” comment, I got a nice message from Rob wanting to talk.

And he called very soon to tell me the full story.

As I said to him, I am not interested in the inside politics of the Post, but in a more global and disturbing trend: why so many Rob Curleys are leaving big newspapers and going … to new “pure digital media projects” (like Mario Tascon from Prisacom, Gumersindo Lafuente from El Mundo or Juan Varela from ADN in Spain in the last few months).

The good news here is that Rob is not leaving the newspaper industry, and he has two interesting remarks:

First, at a small newspaper, you don’t have too many layers of bureaucracy and things are done and implemented on the spot.

He likes this.

He was raised in this culture and he expects this way of life in Las Vegas.

Second, if you do great things at a big paper, other papers will say: “Yes, it’s great but we don’t have the resources, talent and visionaries that the big guys have.”

So, going to the Las Vegas Sun, Rob told me, is going to be great because no one will have any excuse not to do it.

If the Las Vegas Sun can do it, anybody can do it …

Well, I said to Rob, if the Las Vegas Sun is a rich family-owned company that has just hired some of the most talented new media people in the country, then it is not the standard local U.S. newspaper company owned by the big publicly-traded newspaper chains that are killing print and online newsrooms.

And this is, again, the good news.

A local newspaper like the Las Vegas Sun can become the new mecca for the next generation of online news conquistadores.

When I told him that three years ago we presented his Kansas case in our INNOVATIONS IN NEWSPAPERS Global Report, Rob said: “Look, Juan, come to Las Vegas and in a few months you will be able to report about the most innovative online news operation in the country.”

And for this reason Rob is heading for the Far West.

So, good luck and God speed!

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