End is Near ...Or Is It?

Sometimes I'm in a quandary when it comes to deciding the topic for my column. So today, I took to Facebook - you've probably heard of it - and asked journalists to key in with their own thoughts. My post:

Should my column today focus on (choose one):

1. The state of the industry, in particular what is going on in the Syracuse N.Y. area

2. Technology and software

3. Reaction to my recent speeches and columns concerning the Newhouse/New Orleans situation

I knew that options #1 and #3 were similar and could skew the results, but I threw caution to the wind and asked anyway. Within a few minutes, I had 44 responses. I discarded two from non-journalists.

The results:

1: 12 votes (state of industry)

2: 15 votes (technology)

3. 13 votes (New Orleans)

Is Syracuse a newspaper graveyard?

Several voters, led by editors and publishers in New York, chimed in that the situation in Syracuse, where 17 community papers, owned by Scotsman Media Group, closed in one day - more precisely, one moment - in March, should be my emphasis due to the timeliness of events. I have a keen interest in what took place in Central New York on March 11, partially because I was in Syracuse when the announcement took place. In addition to the physical proximity of the announcement, the situation follows the dismantling of another daily owned by Advance/Newhouse in Syracuse.

The end is near. Or is it?

Which leads me to option #3, the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Recent circumstances convince me that interest in the events in New Orleans continues to plague the thoughts of many journalists. During a recent convention, I stood in front of a sizable group of publishers and ad managers to speak to them, presumably about customer service.

Before I began to speak, a hand went up from the audience. That doesn't normally happen as I begin to speak. A question was posed to me concerning the future of newspapers and the relationship between the demise of print journalism and events in New Orleans.

Another hand - and another question - followed. This was followed by another. Finally I said, "I'm really supposed to be speaking to you about customer service. Would you rather spend time talking about this instead?"

"Yes," was the resounding, verbal response. It looked like a southern church service as I saw people saying "yes" and shaking their heads in affirmation.

"OK," I said, "let's talk about it."

And talk about it we did. Almost every person in the audience held a hand in the air to ask a question or make a comment. I used language I don't normally use when asked about "experts" who say print is dead. Verbal cheers arose from the audience as I gave my honest opinions about various concerns.

Finally, after half an hour, I announced that I was going to talk about customer service. The crowd laughed and wrote frantically as I discussed customer service snafus I'd dealt with and, afterwards, a line formed. Everyone, it seemed, loved my stories about customer service. But it was the other topic - the future - they wanted to discuss.

One publisher asked if I could address all the publishers of his group during a summer meeting. A university professor asked if I could speak at a national academic conference related to journalism. A lot of folks, it seems, are tired of hearing that print journalism is dead, when their own circumstances elucidate a different reality.

Now let's make those photos look better!

As you might have guessed, with a vote so close, I decided to fit a little of all three topics into this month's column.

So what is the question I'm asked more than any other related to publishing technology? It's not about new features in Adobe CS6 applications or the latest platesetter. It's not even about PDF files.

The question I'm asked most often is, "How can I get my photos to look better in print?"

So let's talk about a feature in Photoshop that's been around since our grandparents' days: Hue/Saturation. It might not be as exciting as some of the newer tools in Photoshop, but it's rare that I edit a photo without it.

Here's the premise behind my love of the Hue/Saturation tool. The most common irritation most newspapers have with photos is the contrast and clarity of skin tones when printed. A big reason for this is that skin, when printed, is primarily created with red ink. Red tends to look much darker when printed on newsprint. The Hue/Saturation tool is a big help with this peccadillo.

Try this on a photo and see how it works:

1. After adjusting the levels or curves, click on Image>Adjustments>Hue/Saturation

2. Select any color from the "Master" color list

3. With your mouse, click on an area that contains skin in the photo

4. Adjust the "Lightness" to the right, just a tad, to lighten the skin

5. Click "OK" and celebrate with donuts for everyone!

There you have it. It seems we've fixed, or at least discussed, a little of something for everyone. No need to thank me. It's what I do.

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