In this critical reflection, I will make an objective evaluation of what the course learned by the Advanced Journalism Skills in the spring semester. I also will talk about the problem I met during this process and the solution I took. In this course, we learned how to re-write and shape journalists’ copies for print and online versions and how to use InDesign for layout to create a spread in a magazine. we completed a magazine spread whilst working with a team and worked towards a timed in-class exercise to create and completed the magazine.
Our magazine style is based on the design of the BBC FOCUS, Time and other agazines. In addition, it incorporated the creative elements of our group, which eventually formed a magazine that contained social, political, education, medical functions. In the News and Feature Writing course, which ended last semester, I created two features. One of them is against animal testing the other one is campus bullying. The feature about against animal testing uses the example of The Body Shop to know against animals testing became the main reason why The Body Shop cannot trade in China for the Chinese Market.
It seems China cannot ensure the company’s products are safe for uman use, so has decided not to engage in business with The Body Shop. The feature of campus bullying is talking about a youth drank a bottle of highly toxic pesticide to commit suicide because of campus bullying. The requirement of the group assignment is that each person selects one feature for the magazine design, therefore, the first thing we did was collected the feature of the team and discussed the topic to find the better one of own features.
The evacuation of Aleppo was written by Emma Abbas, it tells the story of the most valuable archaeological sites destroyed by the war. Music therapy is ritten by Jingjing Liu, follows several examples of the treatment of music. Qinhan Zhou wrote a feature about a girl running away from home. Through discussions with our tutor Pete, we finally decided to use music therapy as the lead feature in the magazine. I finally chose campus bullying because the theme of bullying on campus was more appealing to readers than against animal testing.
The picture on the cover of the magazine is based on the lead feature, and our lead feature is music therapy, so we chose the instrument to do the main elements. Since the style of our group’s style is relatively heavy, we choose the black yellow and hite as the main color of the cover. The border of the magazine’s cover is yellow, and the cover picture is a handsome man with a cello in his hands. The name of the magazine is Focus, the letters are separated by yellow and white.
The right side of the magazine cover is the title of the lead feature, and the bottom of the cover is the feature’s title of the other members of the group. The cover of the magazine was roughly completed, and the team members began to design their own features. Later I found out that the cover of the magazine was missing something, so I tried to design some unique patterns to oin the magazine cover. I designed a combination of three circle patterns, which included the type of magazine introduced the text to form a fancy pattern in line with the magazine cover.
In addition, on the bottom of the magazine covers, I set up two red lines to create a small space in which the insertion of news ads. When I showed my design to the team members, they were very happy that the elements I added made the magazine cover more attractive, they finally decided to keep my design. After completing the magazine cover design, we started designing the master page. Master pages are very important in the group esign, they are good for placing header material, footer material and any other logos, guidelines or material that go on every page throughout the publication(Frost,2012).
Our group design of the master page is relatively simple, a thick long dividing line across the entire layout. The upper left corner with a color of the square to fill the gaps in corners, the upper right corner of a two overlapping triangle and plus a black for the background the text box. At the bottom of the Master page, there is also a black slender line across the entire layout, with the bottom page number, magazine initials and dates. We’ve been discussing the different themes using different colors during this process, eventually, our team’s master page is the same but the color is different.
Jingjing’s page is green, my page is red, Qinhan’s page is yellow, Emma’s page is brown. Our group assignment is to work together to complete a magazine, so our font and size in the headline, picture caption, quote and by-line have strict uniform requirements. Everyone is aware of design – we use it to choose colors, shapes and patterns when we decide what to wear and how to decorate our homes. and we know that every choice we make dentifies us and communicates something about ourselves to others(Hand and Middleditch, 2014).
When designing my personal feature page, considering that my story is about a Chinese middle school student suicide incident, therefore I tried to find the bullying pictures of Chinese student as much as possible. My feature design has a total of two spreads, and the reason I chose the red master page is that the red color represents a warning, due to my theme is campus bullying. A fifteen-year-old boy tried to commit suicide on twice occasions, and he left three suicide notes. Finally, the youth chose highly oxic pesticides to commit suicide because of campus bullying.
It was a real story happened in Qinghai Province, China on 1st June 2016. The story of this campus bullying sounded the warning to society. The tones of my first spread mostly gray, bring out this theme makes people feel heavy. The content of the first page is the story of the Chinese student who committed suicide because he couldn’t bear the violence on campus. There is a quote beside the photo of the Chinese student. There is a growing body of literature to show that color can convey information, owing to its emotionally meaningful ssociations(Gil and Le Bigot, 2014), I used a rainbow color for the background to represent hope.
The second page of the first spread, I cover a page with a large photo, this photo shows my theme fully and I can’t find a better picture than this one. On the second spread, I cover a page and three column with an image showcasing a Chinese student who suffered a school bullying, squatting in the corner to cry. I cover a page with three column for the text box and a colorful photo for the background. Since the content of this page is the way to solve the campus bullying, so I use the tone is warm colors. There is a sharp contrast to the previous spread.
I designed a red and yellow sun in the top of the picture of the student’s head, representing the campus bullying event was exposed, the student’s campus safe life will be improved. In the middle of the layout there are “Who can help me” words, expressed the demands of bullied students. My feature’s design is simple, the first spread gives people a sense of dark and heavy feeling, the second spread gives people a hopeful of feeling. The above is the design process of my magazine, the following focus on what we encountered in the creation process and the olution we took.
Before starting the mission, our team went to a large magazine store in Brighton to select magazines. There are too many kinds of magazines, and each of us has different taste, to select a magazine style that matched our feature is difficult in hundreds of magazines. Therefore, each of us to buy two of favorite magazines to discuss, fight together to form our magazine style from our favorite magazines which pick out the favorite elements respectively. In the operation of InDesign, there are individual and complicated tricks that often forget. My solution is to practice repeatedly for multiple times.
When the the idea of team members are not unified, we vote to select the optimal solution. Although the magazine design completed, but I am not very satisfied with my own design. There are a lot of places can be better, I strive for the graduation project design can achieve greater progress. There are two main problems in our design. Firstly, we started in the design of the font and the size of the quote did not measure well, so we met a situation when the creation of the quote font and size are too large in our page. Secondly, copy too close to rule, I need to stay enough pace so that the overall layout does not look too crowded next time.
Although my magazine has disadvantages, it also has advantages. For example, page one inset picture would benefit from frame and drop shadow. In addition, in my design very good use of the color. The proper use of color can makes the whole layout more attractive, allowing readers to have a pleasant mood when reading magazines. Thirdly, the striking layout that fits the subject matter of the story. Although this time the magazine design score does not include the detection of the feature, but a good feature is the magazine’s soul.
A professional journalist in addition to the need to edit the skills of the magazine, but also need to cultivate excellent writing skills and good at discovering the ability of the story. Kennelly(2013) explains: As young journalists, we have committed our lives to telling meaningful stories, and we disregard those who say that conscientious journalism is waning. Society will always need the kinds of stories that force us to pause and reconsider the world around us. Therefore, we cannot neglect the importance of training smart, compassionate editors who can help writers reach their full potential.
Magazine journalism is very much, and will continue to be, alive. Magazine editor is a professional journalist essential skills, through this course of study, I am a step closer to a journalist’s path. Originally, I thought it was very difficult to master this course, and fortunately we had a very patient tutor Pete, who helped us to answer a lot of additional questions while granting us skills and knowledge. For example, I saw a favorite pattern in a magazine, but I can ask Pete when I can not learn from my current level of competence. Pete will answer my questions patiently after class.
In addition, for Chinese students, the language barrier is the biggest problem. but the classmate like Sonia and other students are very enthusiastic to help us when we in difficult times. The course of Advanced Journalism Skills gave me a lot of creative inspiration. After learned the basic skills of the magazine design, I got a kind of sensitivity of the potential of valuable news in life. As if anytime, anywhere can explore the valuable news and it seems that the cover of this feature layout come into my mind. After the end of the course, I will have to spend more time practicing InDesign.
Only practice for many times and make a lot of modification, can create a better work. I believe that I can overcome all of the difficulties in the future. With the help of my tutor, I can deal with the complex information more patient and encouraging. With the help of the course reading, I can write the stories more methodical. With the help of this course, my skills have been greatly improved. In general, I feel like my magazine design experience at Focus has given me the skills to achieve a higher standard of reality, feature and layout building in the future.