Monday, April 12, 2010

Sky-High Skyboxes!

EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J.—Okay, readers: For this post, I am taking all of you ever-so-briefly into my workplace, in a manner of speaking.

One of the many small tasks that I have gradually grown into as a news assistant at The Wall Street Journal is to write what are called "skybox refers": an informal term for the short items boxed off below the section banners at the top of the front page of each inside section, items which are meant to briefly summarize and refer to stories within that particular section. I try to pick up whatever skyboxes are available to write for the Money & Investing (C) section. It's not all that difficult, really; the main challenge is fitting pertinent information about a given story in a small space, and doing it in a way that will compel readers to turn to the story inside. In that respect, it's probably the closest I've come to writing headlines since I wrote them regularly as a Dow Jones Newspaper Fund copy-editing intern in summer 2007 (boy, that seems so long ago).

Considering the nature of the paper's famously sober style, there's not a whole lot of room to be too cutesy with these skybox refers; a lot of times, I merely end up borrowing a story's headline to fill in a skybox for that story. Every so often, though...inspiration strikes.


Inspiration struck last night as I was helping to put out today's paper. On page C2, there were two stories that dealt with the effects of the Euro zone's recently agreed-upon $40 billion aid package for Greece on U.S. Treasury markets and the euro. The markets-desk editor who chose the stories he wanted to mention in the skyboxes decided he wanted to have both those stories in the same skybox, one following the other. So I decided, instead of just repeating words in both—which would look awkward considering the proximity of both of the refers—I came up with this solution for the first two items:


Well, I thought it was a pretty creative solution—and today I got validation from a couple of higher-up markets-desk editors, both of whom complimented me on it.

So yeah, I'm showing it off. What of it? Might as well be proud of the work you do, even if it's small scale in the scheme of things.

And in case any of you might have been wondering what exactly I do for The Wall Street Journal five days a week...well, skybox refers aren't everything, obviously, but it's one of the more creative things I do.

2 comments:

Brittany said...

It's the little victories that count! Keep plugging away, maybe one day they will finally give you your due reward!

kenjfuj said...

Maybe. I hope so. Thanks for the encouragement! I hope your magazine over there in Beijing is giving you your due rewards! :-)