Okay, call me crazy but the iPad has revolutionized the way I read news. I don’t mean that in a “order my venti mocha, text, drive, and read at the same time” sort of revolution. I mean, in terms of streamline. The NY Times iPad app makes news interactive, succinct, and clean.
One of my biggest pet peeves is bad or cluttered design. If we take a look at any current print newspaper, it is cramped and riddled with ads that swallow up whole pages and are meant to distract your eye away from what is actually important-the news. I don’t care if I can save $200 on car insurance. I don’t even own a car. Please let me just read my article in peace.
But in a world ruled by Marketing and Sales, it is hard for news to make its voice heard over the white noise of advertisement. Design is sacrificed for profit. Keeps those starving journalists alive just long enough to write another article that no one will read anyways because they are too busy being barraged by ads. But what if we put design first? (I know, even over writing?! Just stick with me for a second.)
The average person reads an average news article for 12 seconds. Let me write that out and bold it for dramatic effect: twelve seconds. We live in a world of easily distracted and easily bored readers. Give it to me freeze-dried, microwavable, compact, compressed, explained in three easy steps, and quick. However, the one defense we have against our over-stimulated brains is design. Design is digestible. It sets a tone. It pulls you in before you have to forage through a forest of words; many of them you probably just pretend to understand anyways (I get that). It casts a spell over your mind. “Hey, this looks interesting. I could stare at it longer.”
Without good design, we can’t have good text. Think about all of those terrible high school text books. Not pleasing on the eye and no fun to read. As a English major, I many times choose my books based on cover/font/font size/margin size/paper quality. I’m not kidding! If I’m gonna dedicate a week to reading this book it better not be written in Curlz MT. (Side note: I promise I’m not some sort of shallow, terrible English major! I consider publisher and edition, too! That’s important! I learned that at college!) (Other side note: does anyone else HATE the paper that the Norton Anthology is printed on? C’mon. You could print the thing on toilet paper and that would still be better quality. The number of pages I have ripped just by turning a page… waste of money…. cheap ass academics… grumble grumble…)
Okay back to design. My point is: it is important. It actually does something for your reading experience.
Now back to the iPad. While some in journalism continue to mourn the loss of good old time-y print newspapers, I would argue that where journalism is going is much better. Ads on the NY Times IPad App are so much smaller and less intrusive to the reading experience. They aren’t splashed across the front page and somehow easily fit in with the layout. Plus you can stream Times Cast Videos, watch photo slideshows, and browse interactive news articles without batting an eye. Makes ordering the venti mocha, texting and driving easier, that’s for sure!
As I am looking down the sad, poor career path of journalism I am relieved to see that good media and good design are doing something to keep the world of journalism exciting and looking good. You know me. I can’t resist a good makeover and online journalism is the deluxe makeover. And if anything, it helps keep me from being easily distracted by all the shiny shiny ads.