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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.


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Saturday, March 24, 2007

entry arrow6:07 PM | Redesigning MetroPost

It's six p.m., and I just woke up. You read that right. I just woke up. I've been awake and working since yesterday afternoon, running on coffee and other substances guaranteed to keep my eyes wide open, trying to finish the layout of this weekend's MetroPost.

It's our community newspaper, and like most papers of that kind, it has a very small staff consisting mostly of an editor or two, plus interns of various sorts. This week, Ma'am Irma Pal -- my former teacher in mass communication in Silliman and managing editor of MetroPost -- asked me if I could recommend any layout artist to do this weekend's edition. Hers had just graduated and she was facing the prospect of having nobody around to put the weekend paper to bed.

I could not think of anybody at all in Dumaguete who could do justice to newspaper design. Usually, when I go around and see all these local papers being sold in newsstands, I die a thousand deaths at the aesthetic murder I see being spilled on newsprint everywhere. So, like the adage that goes, "The only way to make sure something is done correctly is to do it yourself," I volunteered to do it muyself. Suicidally, in fact. I had other deadlines looming, and I still had to finish my original story for this week's LitCritters session. But how do you say "no" to a friend and former teacher?

I started around Friday afternoon, having finished off two other deadlines. I was already getting panicky from the seemingly lost list of things-to-do. But nothing could suppress the mission to do a much-needed face-lift to MetroPost. Sure, I'm a columnist for the paper, and I'm loyal to it -- but MetroPost, for the past eight years of existence, was newspapering's equivalent of looking like a tramp. The design elements were so badly placed, everything laid out on haphazard pagination without heeding aesthetic commonsense that sometimes I would flip through its pages and sigh over the many atrocities of design.

And so I gave the newspaper a totally different design, from the sectioning to the masthead to the columns to the titling to the flow of articles. Everything changed, because they needed to be. In many ways, last night was like a little reminder of my first job as editor-in-chief of the (former) rival paper NegrosNews, where I was editor, writer, cartoonist, layout artist, photographer, and sometimes account executive -- all for measly pay. I had no staff, except for Ma. Fe Tabada, the co-owner's sister who was my high school friend and who was just there to give me a hand. (God, I missed having a Friday social life for a year, and I felt overused and underpaid -- and so when Silliman University offered me a teaching position, thanks largely to Ma'am Ceres Pioquinto*, I jumped at the chance and said goodbye to community journalism like it was a rash.)

Tomorrow, when the regular readers of the paper will get their copies, they will get the shock of their lives, hehehe. Here's what the front page looks like...



(See details and sample pages here and here.)

I finished tiling the camera-ready sheets for the press around noon today, and promptly went to bed. So if I'm a little bit grouchy now, you know why.

*goddess and literary theory mentor

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