Media Magazine

Tampa at the Center of the Universe

Posted on the 28 August 2012 by Themarioblog @garciainteract

TAKEAWAY: I spend about 10 days a month at home in Tampa, Florida. It so happens that my days at home this month have coincided with the Republican National Convention, but also a surprise: preparing for what was supposed to be the arrival of Tropical Storm Isaac.. AND: Tampa Bay Times publishes a great special section about the RNC.

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Suzette Moyer , Tampa Bay Times art director, on the first day cover: For our debut cover, we worked with a story about “Florida as the center of the universe.“ Florida is a diverse state and 29 electoral
votes. As former Gov. Jeb Bush says in the story, “”Florida is a microcosm of our country. Floridians are from all walks of life,
backgrounds and economic levels. It’s not just the people. Our economy is diverse and so are our cities, from large urban areas to suburbs to rural agricultural lands.“

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Graphic by Tampa Bay Times artist Steve Madden with help from Chris
Kozlowski. Done in Lightwave with every seat drawn!

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It is my city, it is where I live and, this week, it might as well be the center of the universe.

The Republican National Convention is meeting here—-and we have welcomed up to 65000 delegates, journalists and visitors, who want to be here for the historical event where Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will be officially crowned to carry the Republican banner as candidates for president and vice president in the upcoming November presidential elections.

And, while we knew that the RNC contingent would be descending upon Tampa, what we did not know is that Tropical Storm Isaac also wanted to pay a visit to this beautiful cigar city by the bay. 

For two or three days we have been preparing for the arrival of Isaac—following it as it caused some havoc through Haiti, Dominican Republic, Cuba and then the Florida Keys.  But , as I have learned living in hurricane-prone places most of my life, hurricanes have their own navigators.  Nonetheless, we prepare, since nobody should take the threat of a hurricane anything but very seriously.  I stocked on water, flash lights, candles and some basic food items, just in case.

Fortunately for us, Isaac has decided to follow a different route, and we are hoping that it decides to disappear quickly without touching land anywhere.

In Tampa, the sun shines, sort of, and there is no wind.  Downtown, the Republicans prepare for their now three-day convention.

Tampa Bay Times special section

I am quite impressed with the special section published Monday by the Tampa Bay Times, all about the Republican National Convention.  Team effort is obvious here, but also excellent design, use of photos, illustrations, and magnificent storytelling, not just about the main event, but also why our city was chosen for the honor, and what it means to the local and state economy.

I asked Suzette Moyer, Tampa Bay Times art director,  to tell me more about this special section, which will be published daily through Friday, with 16-20 pages.

There were many people involved in this. We started planning about a
year ago but concentrated with stories. AME Amy Hollyfield has done an
amazing job coordinating all of the political work. It was threatened,
of course, at one point over the weekend by Tropical Storm Issac.

We are running 30,000 in full-run color for the delegates
and convention folks. Then we copy everything into another section -
b/w and color - for the rest of our readers (circulation: 300,000,
Sunday 432,000). We are also running an entire news section as well so
designer Candice Bosworth is in every night to work on that page.

News Design Director Chris Kozlowski worked on the design the RNC
section with headers, templates and great display for stories, photos
and graphics. Each night the section is divided among several
designers including Jennifer Wright, Tom Bassinger, Terry Chapman,
Suzette Moyer (me) - a few others have jumped in to help as well.
Deputy Design Director Paul Alexander handles A1 as well as some other
pages. Ron Brackett, AME/Design and Copy Editing, manages the show
each night. There are many people making this happen each night - too
many to name!

About the process:

Several sketches were drawn on how to present the story. We went
through many revisions and I finally commissioned a photo illustration
from Jon M. Fletcher of Jacksonville who came up with the idea of a
politician holding the world - but with Florida as the center of the
universe. Jon shot a model - actually it’s his father - so that his
face is dark but the reader gets the idea that it’s a hard-working
politician. He thens puts it together in photoshop. Jon used to work
at the Jacksonville paper. We’ve used him previously and he’s great to
work with.

I worked with Paul Alexander on the cover and we feel the front makes
a bold statement and really draws in readers. Its’ funny though
because Paul changed up that cover many times Saturday night because
of the storm and later because of the Neil Armstrong death. Candice
ended up with a front page with Armstrong, Issac and a great
investigative piece on Citizens Insurance. Paul’s RNC stood alone and
was not cluttered with other pieces.

Great work here that makes us all proud.  As a Tampa Bay resident, I have appreciated the many details about this important story in our city; as a visual journalist, I give these guys a gold medal for superb efforts in reminding us that WED (the marriage of writing/editing/design) can be a wonderful thing when well executed.

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Suzette also sends us this cover to the Tampa Bay Times’ special RNC section that
printed in early August.  “Al Austin, the gentleman who literally brought the convention to Tampa, is photographed with an elephant in
front of the Tampa Bay Times Forum. We rented 2 elephants that day -what a day that was.“

Sign up to get information on my new digital book

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Assorted screens from the book: top, chapter openers all of which are color coded and carry illustrations by Luis Vazquez, of the Gulf News of Dubai; second image, opener of Storytelling chapter, and two inside screens.

As we get closer to publication date for The iPad Lab: Storytelling in the Age of the Tablet, we are now set up so that you can give us your email address and you will automatically be informed when the book is ready for download.

I admit it is an exciting time for us at Garcia Media and for me personally, as my first digital, interactive book, The iPad Design Lab: Storytelling in the Age of the Tablet, gets much closer to publication.

Now you can leave your email address so that you will be updated and informed the moment the book is read for download.

As I review this final version of the book—-is it ever final, especially with a digital book that can be easily updated?—-I am happy with what I see, the result of 8 months of hard work, assisted by my very able co pilot Reed Reibstein, who has edited and art directed the book.

The book’s audience is anyone with an interest in tablets—-including people NOT directly involved in the media but who use the iPad and would like to know more about the thinking that goes behind getting stories, features and visuals into the new platform.

The premise of this book is that the emphasis should be on storytelling.  But we know that most of the news apps today emerge from the content that is published in their sister print publications.  My book aims at describing how this content can be adapted especially for the tablet, where multi sensory, interactive experiences are possible.

As such, the book is ideal for practitioners of our craft at every level, from reporters, designers and editors, to publishers and managers.  At the same time, the book is especially crafted to be a college textbook and companion in any number of university courses, from writing/editing to design and even business courses.

I hope you share our excitement. I urge you to leave us your email address so that you can be kept updated about publication date:

Simply go here:

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Video walkthrough of the iPad prototype of iPad Design Lab

SPD: Speaker Series Begins with “News You Can Use

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(Joe Zeff Design Illustration, courtesy of SPD)

Tickets are now available for the Society of Publication Designers first Speaker Series event of the fall, “News You Can Use,“ scheduled Sept. 10.

For more information:

SND Scandinavia Space 2012 conference

Still time to get a spot to attend the SNDS conference in Copenhagen, Sept. 27-29;

For more information:
SNDS workshop ever. Read all about SPACE 2012 here:

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Mario Garcia’s upcoming speaking engagements:

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WAN-IFRA World Editors Forum, Kiev, Ukraine, Sept. 2-5

Cumbre Mundial de Diseño en Prensa 2012: Mexico City; September 24-26

SND (Society of News Design) Cleveland; Oct. 11-13

TheMarioBlog post #1084

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