The Georgia typeface.

(Public domain)

Recently a man in the Midwest attempted to contact nearly a dozen large U.S. newspapers’ newsrooms. He wasn’t using Twitter or Facebook, other social media or text, but rather the telephone, the voice feature. He wanted to talk to a live person.
 
He got nowhere.
 
Some of the numbers he called were newsroom or news tip lines he found on the papers’ websites. No one answered and voicemail prevailed.
 
He called some of the papers’ main phone numbers and either got a voicemail or the circulation or customer service department. People there wouldn’t or couldn’t transfer him to the newsroom or give him a newsroom number.
 
In one case, a newspaper news tip line he found online went to a TV station in the same market, a station no longer owned by the same company that currently owns the paper. The man asked to talk to the copy desk chief, the copy desk or maybe a news editor and was met with confusion. “That language was not familiar to the person I was talking to,” he said. “That’s interesting,” the person who answered said when it was finally determined that the phone line was reaching the TV station, now a competitor to the paper in the city. (Although it’s true that some in newspaper newsrooms may not be familiar with copy desk chief, as many papers don’t have local copy desks anymore.)
 
The man reached one person in a newsroom in a large market in the upper Midwest, but that person wasn’t able to connect him to the person he wanted to talk to.
 
Newspapers and other media operations may be missing good tips by failing to answer, with a live person, the newsroom phone. They may also be avoiding a lot of political or other cranks by not picking up, it’s true.
 
In a mid-sized paper in the mid-2000s, one caller obsessed with local beauty pageants regularly phoned in results, despite having no official connection to the pageants, and badgered the copy desk that the pageants needed more coverage. But among the cranks is some real news and tips that papers can’t get anywhere else as some people don’t want to put their tips in writing or leave them on a voicemail.
 
There is also the possibility that some publications are averse to tips from the public or are too overwhelmed to handle them. Raw tips are much more time-consuming than processed news coming from official sources. Tips often come up as false or nothing. It's hard or impossible to send people to chase maybes when you struggle to cover definitelys.
 
Now, things change, and Musings knows and embraces that. This is not a bit lamenting the passing of things. We’re raising a practical, business concern, as some good tips do come from talking to people and bold, original news can sell.
 
Amid smaller staffs and other challenges the media face, is the news tip fading? Weigh in at editors@newsandtech.com.
 
Fount of font news
 
In 2007, The New York Times dumped Times New Roman and opted for the Georgia typeface.
 
“We changed our main font from Times New Roman to Georgia, which is a little wider and which many people find easier to read. We continue to use Arial as our sans serif font,” says an archived FAQ (see link) from the company. 
 
Fonts get less attention than they did in decades past when they would garner careful examination, consideration and even heated debate. Fonts were a big deal in Apple’s evolution, as Steve Jobs put a major emphasis on them, as highlighted in this Vulture story (see link). 
 
Jobs’ passion spawned a lot of font chatter in the 1980s. One would debate one’s brother, for example, over whether serif or sans serif fonts are better.
This debate would come up for years.
 
Font choice remains key in advertising and fonts still make occasional appearances in the news. Twitter’s new font, Chirp, for example, has recently run into some snags, as Slate reports
 
In 2020, the Times reported on a group regularly meeting in Los Angeles to discuss fonts in a story headlined “These People Really Care About Fonts.”
 
And font choice can go terribly wrong (see link). 
 
What fonts is your publication using online or in print? Are they serving you well? Weigh in at editors@newsandtech.com.

Hot copy: Font links
 
 
 
 
 
 
Clarity call
 
Vendors serving the print and digital publications/media industry are to be appreciated. They drive the industry forward and are often essential in a pinch, bringing relief to people who find themselves in a jam, typically late at night or on weekend, it would seem.
 
One thing that has come to News & Tech’s attention: It’s often hard to tell what some vendors do. Their websites talk vaguely of solutions and vendors often label themselves solutions providers, which says little. They may rely on these labels to have flexibility to provide new services or to shift products focus; they won’t be boxed in when clients’ demands change.
 
One often has to dig for quite a while on company’s site to determine the nature of the company’s offerings. Some vendors use heavy or buzzy jargon that some media industry publishers may not be entirely familiar with and is not always illuminating. Jargon is indeed needed at times and one doesn’t want to insult potential clients by explaining everything at a rudimentary level. And in some cases, a vendor doesn’t want to be too explicit, for trade or business reasons. 
 
But unless you’re being opaque on purpose, perhaps consider being clearer about what exactly you provide or what service you perform. You may win more clients this way.