Archive | March, 2019

Hard re-set

19 Mar

You see what we have to put up with?

This story’s set very densely, so all I wanted to do was split one paragraph (highlighted) to create a bit of air and improve the column breaks later on. But as soon as I did that, Adobe Paragraph Composer, of its own accord, generated an extra line in the next paragraph. In the next paragraph! Not only that, but it did it just by turning a single word.

What’s going on? Adobe says:

When you use the Paragraph Composer, InDesign composes a line while considering the impact on the other lines in the paragraph, to set the best overall arrangement of the paragraph. As you change type in a given line, previous and subsequent lines in the same paragraph may break differently, making the overall paragraph appear more evenly spaced.

Right: but that’s in the same paragraph. All that happened to the subsequent paragraph is that it moved a line further down the column. And yet it automatically recomposed itself? Why?

There’s some grumbling about Paragraph Composer at the Tribune because of its occasional habit of making a par one line longer, rather than shorter, when you cut a word out of it. But I’ve never seen it do this. It’s almost as though there were a phantom Article Composer controlling the overall density of the piece based on the user’s cues. But if there is, it’s not a documented feature. And really, life’s busy enough without your editing software making the stories longer too.


The cowboy and the president

5 Mar

Social media is changing journalism fast. Old news can be made fresh when something nearly 50 years old goes viral. Allegations of criminality can be sourced to a single user with a pseudonymous Twitter handle. We are becoming used to the idea that sources may be anonymous even to the journalists citing them. But, even in this complicated age, what are we supposed to make of this?

“An account parodying the late Richard Nixon”? What is the reader supposed to understand from that? Is this tweet meant to be:

  • Written in Nixon’s persona as a satire on the Nixonian worldview? (Although it doesn’t sound particularly like him.)
  • Written in Nixon’s persona, but meant as imagined serious commentary from an acquaintance and contemporary of Wayne’s?
  • Written by whoever is behind the parody account in their own voice, having dropped the presidential mask (which is what it sounds most like)?

In other words, is this tweet intended to say something about Wayne, or something about Nixon? And is anyone at the Mail going to help the reader navigate through the layers of meaning to find out which?

Further down in the same article, another tweet is quoted from “Twitter user” Jonathan Pie.

Jonathan Pie is the alter ego of the British comedian Tom Walker – a fictional, ranting TV news reporter who has become a cult YouTube favourite and has sometimes been mistaken for a real journalist (including, almost, once, at the Tribune). “Twitter user” hardly seems to cover the complexities of that CV. Is the reader absolutely sure who he is? Is the Mail?