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Journalist

A graphical cliche that should've been abandoned

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I don't know if I'm the only one with this personal gripe but here me out:

 

ecea3795391a90b6b9914c37d0a5ed64.png

 

Text wrapping. It's been a staple of broadcasting for the longest time but the industry already advanced with better graphical technology and standards, like real-time visuals and high definition. Despite this, text wrapping still prevalent in news presentation design. Text wrapping is overdone, executed poorly, and creates illegible headlines. Therefore, why haven't networks and stations learned to use the magic wonders of line breaking?

 

Why is it still here?

 

(and yes I created those designs. sorry if I made tvnt into a fox news show! <3)

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This is why I like Look N, it's has a small lower third in width but it still can seem to fit a lot of characters in it. I've notice that's CNBC doesn't do this much anymore. However, yes I do think this shouldn't be allowed anymore.

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Why is it still there?

(and yes I created those designs. sorry if I made tvnt into a fox news show! <3)

It's still there because many of the Cable News networks graphic department or graphic designer doesn't create a second or third line for extra characters.

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I don't know if I'm the only one with this personal gripe but here me out:

 

ecea3795391a90b6b9914c37d0a5ed64.png

 

Text wrapping. It's been a staple of broadcasting for the longest time but the industry already advanced with better graphical technology and standards, like real-time visuals and high definition. Despite this, text wrapping still prevalent in news presentation design. Text wrapping is overdone, executed poorly, and creates illegible headlines. Therefore, why haven't networks and stations learned to use the magic wonders of line breaking?

 

Why is it still here?

 

(and yes I created those designs. sorry if I made tvnt into a fox news show! <3)

 

Another reason why they're still around is because a lot of stations and producers are lazy or haven't got a clue how to condense a story slug down to 3-5 words. Small, concise story titles that fit on one line looked good in the 1990's when graphic/animation companies like TVbD executed the idea. They did it right!

 

WJZ's could work if they get super creative and figure out how to sum up a story title with just one word.

 

wjz.png.9cb4666b23b520915a11ec08254788e7.png

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Another reason why they're still around is because a lot of stations and producers are lazy or haven't got a clue how to condense a story slug down to 3-5 words. Small, concise story titles that fit on one line looked good in the 1990's when graphic/animation companies like TVbD executed the idea. They did it right!

 

I can assure you, producers are not lazy or "haven't got a clue" — or at least most of them. When producers and writers are working as fast as they can to write a string of scripts, find the right video, transcribe SOTs, stack, time out the show, hound reporters in the field for scripts, deal with a squawking assignment editor, make sure the editor doesn't cut the video the wrong way (if they even have an editor), and god knows what else, writing the lower third is not the top priority. It's more important to get the script right to ensure the anchor will read it correctly and in the right amount of time than to sit there for another minute to two looking at the lower third saying "hmm, how can I shorten this to make sure the kerning and spacing is right for the four seconds this graphic is on air?" If it gets condensed but is at least somewhat readable, fine, and move onto the next story.

 

I agree that it doesn't look good, especially CNN's current look — but my guess is it comes from someone up above who says "these graphics need to be bigger so that people in low def can read them!"

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Agree, having worked in multiple newsrooms, I can attest that not all are lazy or don't know how. My earlier point is that some, not all are. Part of the problem today is that fewer people are expected to do far more jobs than they should have to. If lower thirds can't be done right, like they used to, then the practice shouldn't be used at all.

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With news available anywhere at anytime, there's a push for producers to be as specific as possible when writing lower thirds. For example, a 2-line super with "House Fire" on the top line and location on the bottom, may have been acceptable in the past. Now, a more specific info bar with something like: "Neighbor rescues children from burning home" is much more appealing. Yes, extreme text wrapping looks bad. Not every graphics program has an acceptable preview, either. Producers are busy enough making sure there are no typos and doing 15 other things at the same time.

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Therefore, why haven't networks and stations learned to use the magic wonders of line breaking?

 

I know for a fact that VizRT makes simple line breaks extremely difficult to pull off. You can do them but if the Producer types too much for the second line to handle, it will create a third (nonexistent) line and the text will simply flow outside of the graphic area OR the third line will just disappear. Viz allows you to set a "max size" for text going horizontally (which is what ends up compressing the text on the networks shamed in the OP) but not vertically.

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I'll say this much regarding Viz templates: If the artists/techs making these could stick to their guns enough to cap the character count on these fields (which you can do), you'd be seeing far less of these squished lines.

 

But sticking to your guns, depending on the type of people you're dealing with in editorial, can be very difficult.

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Of course I have no screenshots, but WFMZ (which uses the WLEX package) does a lot of 2-line headlines. The text actually gets pretty small, but stays proportional, and is very informational.

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I'll say this much regarding Viz templates: If the artists/techs making these could stick to their guns enough to cap the character count on these fields (which you can do), you'd be seeing far less of these squished lines.

 

But sticking to your guns, depending on the type of people you're dealing with in editorial, can be very difficult.

 

I've seen this done and the quickly removed when producers who weren't paying attention let a graphic that says "CHILDREN RESCUED FROM HOUSE FI" on air or complain to the news director who demands the restriction be removed.

 

Newsroom management needs to stop dictating design and Creative Services needs to stop bending to the whim of the Newsroom managers who have no real authority over them.

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Newsroom management needs to stop dictating design and Creative Services needs to stop bending to the whim of the Newsroom managers who have no real authority over them.

 

Yes. Or, perhaps design trends will continue to the point where we won't feel so insecure about not super sizing our graphics. In Europe, all the on-screen graphics are generally much smaller, so you don't really see the same issue of running out of space/cramming text in, and yet they're still at a size where everything is legible.

 

33722662746_bf87162901_c.jpg

33722661746_372f1d9b72_c.jpg

 

U.S. news design has already gone the way of flattening, getting rid of extraneous 3D effects, and using more restrained color palettes, so perhaps smaller graphics are the natural next step.

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Yes. Or, perhaps design trends will continue to the point where we won't feel so insecure about not super sizing our graphics. In Europe, all the on-screen graphics are generally much smaller, so you don't really see the same issue of running out of space/cramming text in, and yet they're still at a size where everything is legible.

 

33722662746_bf87162901_c.jpg

33722661746_372f1d9b72_c.jpg

 

U.S. news design has already gone the way of flattening, getting rid of extraneous 3D effects, and using more restrained color palettes, so perhaps smaller graphics are the natural next step.

 

Hold up. Is Sky News using Calibri?

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Hold up. Is Sky News using Calibri?

No, that's a proprietary typeface commissioned by Sky.

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No, that's a proprietary typeface commissioned by Sky.

 

I guess that's better, but it still might as well be Calibri. Ehyuck.

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I don't know if I'm the only one with this personal gripe but here me out:

 

ecea3795391a90b6b9914c37d0a5ed64.png

 

Text wrapping. It's been a staple of broadcasting for the longest time but the industry already advanced with better graphical technology and standards, like real-time visuals and high definition. Despite this, text wrapping still prevalent in news presentation design. Text wrapping is overdone, executed poorly, and creates illegible headlines. Therefore, why haven't networks and stations learned to use the magic wonders of line breaking?

 

Why is it still here?

 

(and yes I created those designs. sorry if I made tvnt into a fox news show! <3)

 

The Chilean version of CNN adopted these lower thirds at 12AM on this day, April 1st.

(see from 5:05)

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The Chilean version of CNN adopted these lower thirds at 12AM on this day, April 1st.

(see from 5:05)

 

Side question, but do Spanish speaking countries not have some type of closed-captioning requirement? I ask because the only place I ever see on-screen signers for live broadcasts are Spanish-dominant countries.

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The Chilean version of CNN adopted these lower thirds at 12AM on this day, April 1st.

(see from 5:05)

Hey news anchors...there's like a desk...behind you...

c213a52e515e5f26f344b06926bae14a.png

Might as well use it.

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Side question, but do Spanish speaking countries not have some type of closed-captioning requirement? I ask because the only place I ever see on-screen signers for live broadcasts are Spanish-dominant countries.

I think that they are not required. I remember when CC was implemented in two Buenos Aires stations (Canal 7 and Telefe) around 2002/03, and that didn't work (despite current TV sets have this service), but some programs (mostly in the early morning, between 5 and 10AM) add the square with the sign-language interpreter: that's a requirement.

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I think there are ways to do descriptive L3s without ugly wrapping. The SBG graphics are notorious for awful accordioning.

 

I've seen stations that will lower the font size to accommodate more text. As long as it's not done to a point where it's unreadable, it looks nice.

 

I think the descriptive L3 trend is a good thing -- it helps grab the viewer's attention, esp in a world where people are on their phones/computers/etc.

 

What's better "APARTMENT FIRE" or "THREE DEAD, FIREFIGHTER HURT IN APARTMENT FIRE"

 

To me it's night and day. It just has to be done right.

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I've seen stations that will lower the font size to accommodate more text. As long as it's not done to a point where it's unreadable, it looks nice.

Only if it's done right. For instance, my local station CITY-DT has gone descriptive as of late and switches from Helvetica (their default font) to Arial Narrow whenever the L3 text overlaps with the bug.

 

What.

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It's a downward spiral, especially when the veracity of stories is going down the toilet. Once "allegedly" is tossed in there, just give up even trying to make it nice and neat.

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Another reason why they're still around is because a lot of stations and producers are lazy or haven't got a clue how to condense a story slug down to 3-5 words. Small, concise story titles that fit on one line looked good in the 1990's when graphic/animation companies like TVbD executed the idea. They did it right!

 

WJZ's could work if they get super creative and figure out how to sum up a story title with just one word.

 

[ATTACH=full]3793[/ATTACH]

Helvetica isn't wide enough in this graphic for WJZ standards! :-)

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WJZ's could work if they get super creative and figure out how to sum up a story title with just one word.

 

wjz-png.3793

"Extreme?"

 

You should have gone with, "It's WJZ." That would be a static L3 throughout the entire newscast.

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