How to create online layout exercise for journalism students
January 26, 2012 5:26 AM   Subscribe

What's a good online layout exercise for journalism students? Seeking tools and ideas.

I'm teaching an undergrad journalism course on editing/presentation. Along with grammar and usage, we cover headlines, photo captions, etc. -- the building blocks of layout.

One of their projects is to design a newspaper front page using InDesign. They get 10 or so stories, scads of photos and a template with the banner atop. They have to design a Page One with five to six stories, headlines, photos... the whole nine yards. They're evaluated not just on the big picture (news judgment, use of art), but also on the nitty gritty (headline accuracy, spelling).

It's not so much a chance for them to demonstrate creativity, it's more about making sure they have the fundamentals down.

I'd like to find a way to create an exercise like this for online as well, without spending too much time on learning a specific CMS.

In other words, in my mind, they would create a news site home page that incorporate those same elements: news judgment, captions, headlines, etc. I know they could just mock something up, say, in Photoshop, but that feels flat. I'd like to have something where they're all working within some sort of template.
posted by veggieboy to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Tons of sites are done in WordPress; just find a template you like. You can also work up a static splash page and then jump to WordPress.
posted by jgirl at 5:36 AM on January 26, 2012

Take a look at and similar local news sites.
posted by jgirl at 5:37 AM on January 26, 2012

A WordPress template could work. But, if your intent is to emulate physical page layout, including copyfitting/trimming, the template would have to have a hard-coded definite length (because a web page can go on forever), set column widths, as well as a single, set body text size and line spacing. The point being, of course, that webpages can hold an infinite amount of stuff, whereas a printed page has hard limits.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:01 AM on January 26, 2012

Another challenge would be to have them layout information on a 3d object that students would print out and fold. You can find 3d templates online (maybe search for "origami photoshop template").
posted by jander03 at 6:07 AM on January 26, 2012

Right, Thorzdad. It definitely needs to let them practice trimming, hierarchy of stories, story selection, etc. I'll look at Wordpress but in the past when I've looked for other reasons, I've felt like I was drowning in templates.
posted by veggieboy at 9:17 AM on January 26, 2012

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