Blogs
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Charlotte

On Feline Fridays, Charlotte - the Ostendorf's kitten – joins our team.

She tries to be helpful, cleaning off our desks by pushing things onto the floor and entertaining us with her exploits. She walks all around the office on the tops of the panels that separate our desks.

"Aunt Denise" is clearly her favorite but all of us enjoy having her around. Don't even ask about the time she managed to get into the ceiling, however!

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Mirabel Technologies

Mirabel Technologies is a privately owned, international software company that empowers businesses to grow. Company President, Mark McCormick, founded Mirabel in 2003 with the original vision to help publishers in a challenging media environment. Drawing from his experience launching over a dozen successful magazines, McCormick introduced Mirabel’s first product, The Magazine Manager, the first web-based CRM for publishers, which now serves more than 15,000 media properties worldwide.

Since then, several other products followed suit including Digital Studio, The Newspaper Manager, Flip and Share, and now its newest, most advanced platform, Mirabel’s Marketing Manager. Like all Mirabel products, Mirabel’s Marketing Manager is supported by experienced web developers and software consultants who ensure our clients have a great user experience.

We've partnered with Mirabel to create a full-service classified platform, integrating their classified front end and print production capabilities with our QuickAds platform, which provides for inovative web classified displays and self-service classified web entry.

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President & founder

Bill Ostendorf

Bill Ostendorf is president and founder of Creative Circle Media Solutions, a network of talent he has been building for more than 30 years.

Bill has worked with more than 300 media companies on three continents as a trainer or management consultant and has led redesigns of more than 650 publications and more than 300 web sites. Bill founded Creative Circle in 1984 at the tender age of 28. Even then, he was committed to the concept of teamwork and named his group accordingly. After 16 years of balancing part-time consulting and full-time work as a newsroom editor and manager, Bill left The Providence Journal to manage Creative Circle full time in June 2000.

Bill is an energetic and entertaining speaker who has been featured at hundreds of industry conferences in 23 countries. Trained as a reporter, he aspired to be a columnist, but quickly moved from reporting to editing to design. "I wanted to be the next Mike Royko in my native Chicago, but it just never happened. I wasn't funny or engaging enough in print!" he says.

Instead, he became a specialist at helping "word people," "visual people" and "tech people" work together. "My bosses kept asking me if I could take pictures, manage the photo department, design pages or redesign papers – all things I originally had little training for. I kept saying 'yes' to these new assignments when I probably should have said 'no.' But I developed a passion for helping people avoid all the mistakes I had to suffer through learning on the job."

In a similar fashion, he later became an innovator in finding new ways for newspapers and other media companies to grow their revenues, especially online.

In 2004, frustrated with the terrible software options available to Creative Circle's consulting clients, Bill founded a software company arm for Creative Circle. "I knew nothing about software, but in some ways that was an advantage. We didn't follow the same path as traditional software firms."

He raised $2.4 …   More

Director of sales

Sean Finch

Sean leads the sales efforts for our software products and is involved in product development and sales of our other services – from outsourcing to print redesigns.

He also provides web sales training and leads sales blitzes to help our clients generate more revenue from our web platforms, particularly QuickAds and NativeNewsQ.

Sean started his sales career 25 years ago in Cable Television Advertising with TCI Cable and quickly rose through the ranks to General Sales Manager. He then joined DonTech, a subsidiary of Reuben H. Donnelley and Dun & Bradstreet where he sold yellow pages and was named MVP, winning President Club awards for sales.

Joining TownNews.com in 2000 as one of that firm's first sales reps, he spent 13 years in all facets of the company along with being instrumental in the launch of their SWAT division. He left Town News after a restructuring of the SWAT team and became a founding member of the SPARK Digital Sales Group, a team of ex-Town News SWAT sales folks.

Sean lives in Davenport, Iowa, with his wife Angela and sons Owen, a sophomore at the University of Iowa, and Oliver, a freshman in high school.

Contact him at sean@creativecirclemedia.com.   More

Welcome!

Hello there, and welcome to the CCMS dev blog!

I’m Tim, our product developer here. Not too far back, while organizing this revamped website, I thought it might be fun to start up a discussion about life in the trenches of digital media, so to speak. A techie-to-techie kind of thing, covering things like software, infrastructure, coding, industry trends, and so forth — all as it pertains to our world of online publishing.

Progress in our industry just barrels along at a staggering pace. I’m lucky enough to have “grown up with the web,” so to speak. I cut my teeth in the 90s, writing Perl CGI apps, and supporting Netscape Navigator 3.x

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The Blinder Group

Grow your top line with effective on-site consulting and sales training from The Blinder Group. The Blinder Group provides sales support for Creative Circle products, including QuickAds and NativeNewsQ.

Choose from strategic planning, and dynamic, classroom training; or have the Blinder Group ride with your sales reps to close guaranteed new business for your media property! The bottom line is: We will tailor a program that will make you money!

The Blinder Group provides:

~ The "Multimedia Master Class"

Starting with the basics of the Web, to how to craft the best solutions, the Multimedia Master Class will offer proven methods that enable and empower traditional advertising salespeople and managers to offer online products for big dollars.

~ Sales Survival Training

We can train the novice as well as the seasoned salesperson on the skills and systems to help them close more business! Attendees will learn techniques in building better customer rapport, uncovering customer needs, identifying new prospects, closing more effectively, and establishing time management skills.

~ Assisted, "4-Legged" Sales Training/Closing Calls

No one has made more money for media companies than The Blinder Group! This is due to our vast knowledge of proven multimedia strategies, as well as a firm belief that the best method to teach a media salesperson how to sell, is show them how to do it! That is why so many media companies take advantage of our "in the car" sales call training, which guarantees new revenue for you!

~ Strategic Planning Workshops

The Blinder Group will consult and provide insights on multimedia program development, pricing, packaging, competitive challenges and sales infrastructure. We can reveal through "best practices" how other media properties are making money. And, then assist in crafting your offerings.

Plus speaking programs, seminars, webinars and workshops.

The Blinder Group

www.blindergroup.com

Tampa …   More

DuoPictures

DuoPictures is a small-footprint production company creating photographs and films for nonprofit organizations and clients in healthcare, high educate, technology and business in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Scott Kingsley and David DelPoio, both long-time photojournalists and photo editors, have partnered in the venture.

Clients include many entities at Brown University; the Warren Alpert Medical School, Public Affairs and University Relations, the Watson Institute for International Studies and the Cogut Center for the Humanities. Also, Johnson and Wales University, Bryant University, Thundermist Health Center, Coastal Medical, Inc. and many community-based service organizations and businesses, such as Independence Home Care, PACE Organization of Rhode Island and YWCA Rhode Island.

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Coming soon!

Watch this space for an engaging blog by Bill Ostendorf, president and founder of Creative Circle, along with other blogs from some of our top consultants!

We'll cover hot issues in the industry, talk about the next generation of journalists, share insights into design, writing and multimedia reporting and management.

We're looking forward to it!

– The Creative Circle team

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Sample dev blog

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Design director/Consultant

Lynn Rognsvoog

Lynn Rognsvoog has worked in the newspaper and magazine publishing industry for more than 30 years, and has experience in print and web design, art direction, design coaching, word and picture editing, and management. She has a passion for finding the best way to tell each story.

Lynn has worked with Creative Circle since 1998. Among her print redesign projects are Trends Journal, The Sumter Item of Sumter, S.C., the Daily Journal in Kankakee, Ill., the Middletown Record of Middletown, N.Y., the Idaho Statesman of Boise, Idaho, The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, Mass., the Post-Bulletin in Rochester, Minn., and The Record of Bergen County, N.J. She developed bermuda.com branding and marketing materials, and redesigned their print magazine, The Guide.

She was a lead designer and photo editor for the 13 years she worked at The Providence Journal, where she also worked with Bill Ostendorf, founder of Creative Circle. Large projects she worked on included stories about Noel Earley, a man dying of ALS; Edward DiPrete, the former governor of R.I. who was convicted of corruption; an oil spill near Newport, R.I.; and an historical look at Rhode Island over the course of the twentieth century. Lynn edited award-winning photo columns (Mary Beth Meehan's Our Times, and Connie Grosch's Weddings), and won numerous other magazine and newspaper design and editing awards.

Before working at the Journal, she was art director of the Boston-based Tab Newspapers, and art director and managing editor of New England Business magazine. She held other magazine editing and production jobs before that.

Lynn earned a Bachelor of Arts from Wells College in Aurora, N.Y., and has further training in design, typography and creativity. She lives in Rhode Island with her husband and son.   More

Digital operations director

Tim Benson

Tim is a techie who specializes print media. A jack of all trades with an equal footing in programming, server administration, and hardware, he has been active in the industry since 1999, having worked as a staffer for and consultant to a number of magazine and newspaper publications.

He is at heart a web guy, whose career has evolved alongside the digital landscape. He enjoys following the rapidly expanding technologies that drive our world, and can be counted on to bring the latest innovations to each project.

Tim began working with Creative Circle in 2006.

When not among the ones and zeroes, Tim can be found working on his house.

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Designer/programmer

Denise Bass

Denise handles a wide range of projects, from producing print products to designing web sites. She does some programming and web site modifications as well as coaching clients on photo pre-press.

Denise's background includes designing ads, pre-press production, color-correction, writing, and photography at two Rhode Island newspapers: The Providence Phoenix, and the Providence Journal, where she worked with both Bill Ostendorf and Lynn Rognsvoog.

She has also worked in pre-press at a printing company and as a web producer at Lifespan, a network of hospitals in Rhode Island.

She is also a freelance photographer who enjoys photographing weddings, events and live music and designing photo books. She grew up and lives in East Providence, R.I., with her husband, Greg.   More

Developer/programmer

Adam Crownoble

Adam is leading the charge of developing our newsroomQ platform, which is built in Ruby on Rails.

Adam is a veteran, full-stack software developer who's been working in the field for more than 15 years. He's proud to have had a small part it making the web what it is today and he's always excited to help drive it even further. Over the years, he's worked for small businesses, large organizations, startups and even individuals. He's been a one-man-team, led teams, built teams and trained teams.

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Writing Coach/ Marketing Director

Carolyn Flynn

Carolyn Flynn is a journalist, media consultant, newspaper designer and author of literary fiction and nonfiction based in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.

She is our writing coach and also has led newspaper redesigns, including the Santa Cruz Sentinel in California and The State Journal in Frankfort, Ky., Carolyn's home state. She is also marketing director for Creative Circle.

Carolyn had a 16-year stint as editor of the Albuquerque Journal’s Sage magazine, which won national first place in the National Federation of Press Women. Before that, she was assistant managing editor/design and photo at the Albuquerque Journal, where she led an award-winning redesign. in her diverse career, she has been a sports writer and has managed web operations as well.

Currently, she is collaborating on the development of an Innovation Academy course in media entrepreneurship at the University of New Mexico, where she teaches creative concepts, design and branding, and multimedia writing. An author of seven published books, she also is the winner of the 2014 Rick Bass/Montana Prize for Fiction. Much of her short fiction and narrative nonfiction has been published in journals and anthologies. Her TED talk on “Tell Better Stories, Live a Better Life,” about the power of narrative to change your path, can be viewed at tedxabq.com.

Find out more at carolynflynn.com.   More

Designer/Consultant

Kevin Dilley

Kevin Dilley, who lives near Kent, Ohio, is a 20+-year newspaper veteran with varied writing, design, editing, photojournalism, management and teaching experience.

Kevin has been working with Creative Circle since 2000 and joined the group full time in 2001. Kevin came to Creative Circle after a two-year stint at The Providence Journal where he was a photo editor, assignment editor and designer.

His previous experience includes five years at The Monroe Evening News in Michigan where he was a staff photographer, photo editor, designer and copy editor. Kevin received numerous state and national accolades while at this newspaper including twice helping the paper win AP's "Photo Member of the Year." Before he left the newspaper, he coordinated and led a complete redesign of the newspaper and helped with the transition to new color presses. Kevin has a Bachelor of Journalism degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a Master of Arts degree in Visual Communication from Ohio University. Kevin is married to Rosario and is the happy father of Alejandra and Diego.

Kevin played a key role in most Creative Circle projects for several years while he was on staff and was the lead designer and project manager for The Newport Daily News in Newport, R.I; The Telegraph in Nashua, N.H.; redesigns for the North Jersey Community Newspaper group; redesign and training for Recorder Community Newspapers; redesign and training for the Florida Catholic. He also served as project manager for our training program at The Daily Item in Lynn, Mass., and the redesign of the Staten Island (N.Y.) Register. In addition he has been involved in web design projects and has conducted workshops in photojournalism and design for large and small newspapers.

Kevin now teaches at Kent State University and manages student publications there.   More

Consultant

Curt Chandler

Curt is a senior lecturer in the College of Communications at Penn State University where he teaches multimedia reporting.

He earned a BSJ in newspaper writing from Northwestern University, but spent most of his career working as a visual journalist and manager.

He started out as a freelance photojournalist in Chicago, moved to Pueblo, Colorado, to be a writer-photographer, then skipped over the mountains to be chief photographer at the Ogden Standard Examiner in Utah. About the time he figured out that the mountains were now to the east instead of the west, Curt left the Rockies to become a photographer at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, where he helped to pioneer the transition to both color photography and digital workflow. In 1995, he moved east again, this time to be the director of photography at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, where he also helped the paper transition to color and digital imaging. While he was in charge of the department, Post-Gazette photojournalists won a Pulitzer Prize, the inaugural ASNE Community Photojournalism award and many other honors, including national recognition for picture editing and use of photography from NPPA’s Pictures of the Year contest.

In 2000 Post-Gazette editor John Craig announced that he thought there might be something to this Internet thing. He asked who in the newsroom could learn new technology while still committing journalism? That’s how Curt became the editor for online innovation. For seven years he experimented with multimedia reporting, training an entire newsroom to gather and edit audio, and creating a video production team. He had free rein to experiment with coverage on post-gazette.com, from the intense daily coverage of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, to long term projects.

While working full time at post-gazette.com, Curt also taught photojournalism as an adjunct at Duquesne University. That class helped him to hone his teaching skills and provided a classroom of test subjects he …   More

Designer/Consultant

Ellen J. Meany

Ellen J. Meany is the creative director for Isthmus — Madison, Wisconsin’s alternative weekly newspaper — where she oversees art direction, design and production for all editorial and advertising content. Her Isthmus work has been recognized with awards from the Milwaukee Press Club and American Advertising Federation.

Ellen is program director for Advertising Design for the Society for News Design, In addition to leading SND design seminars, she has spoken on editorial or ad design for the Association for Alternative Newsweeklies, the Pennsylvania Press Association, and the New Jersey Press Association. She has been working with Creative Circle since 2002.

After graduating with a B.S. from the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, she started her career as a production artist, reporter and photographer for the Advertiser PhotoNews in Warwick, NY. She moved from there to graphic arts director at the News/Voice newspapers group in Highland Park, Ill.

Ellen ended up in Madison on a whim in 1991, when she and her husband, Robert Baratz, purchased a farm in nearby Stoughton. Rob produces organic fresh market vegetables for the Madison, Milwaukee and Chicago markets. They have one beautiful son, Aaron.   More

Designer/Consultant

Jennifer Boucher Albers

Jennifer Boucher Albers, a native New Englander, has been working in the newspaper industry for 16 years. In that time she has held the roles of reporter, copy editor, designer and picture editor. She has particular interest in sports coverage, multimedia and alternative/niche publications, and often brings a younger, slightly unconventional sensibility to the mix.

Jennifer has been working with Creative Circle Media Consulting since 2000. Most recently she helmed redesigns at The Decatur Daily in Alabama, Bermuda Sun, Mercury in Newport, R.I., and The Citizen in Laconia, N.H., and did a Web site redesign for Manhattan marketing company Whitman Insight Strategies.

Before joining Creative Circle full-time in June 2003, Jennifer spent several years as a photo editor and designer for The Providence Journal in Rhode Island, designing page one, special sections and sports. She has won several design awards, including for her work coordinating and designing coverage of two Olympic Games.

Her photo-editing and design work on a deadly nightclub fire in 2003 - breaking news coverage and subsequent memorial section - helped the Journal become a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2004.

Prior to coming to Providence, Jennifer worked at the Democrat & Chronicle in Rochester, N.Y. (Best of Gannett during her tenure), and the Post-Standard in Syracuse, N.Y. She holds two degrees from Syracuse University, where she studied newspaper journalism, oboe performance and French literature and captained the lacrosse squad.

When not submerged in the media world, Jennifer cooks huge meals, studies German, travels extensively and helps out a local animal rescue. She and her husband live outside of Providence, in a renovated textile mill on the banks of the Blackstone River.   More

Designer/Consultant

Deborah Withey

Deborah's most recent staff position was as Deputy Managing Editor/Presentation of the The Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk, Virginia. She now freelances and runs an art studio in Wales.

Before joining the Pilot in June 2004, Deborah was Design Consultant for Knight Ridder Newspapers. Award-winning redesigns for Knight Ridder newspapers designed by Deborah are: the Detroit Free Press, Detroit, MI, the American News, Aberdeen, SD, the Centre Daily Times, State College, PA, the News-Tribune, Duluth, MN, The Tribune, San Luis Obispo, CA, The Herald, Monterey, CA, and the Philadelphia Daily News, Philadelphia, PA.

Five newspapers redesigned by Deborah have been chosen as finalists for the “World’s Best-Designed”: The Detroit Free Press, The Tribune, San Luis Obispo, CA, El Universal, Caracas, Venezuela, the Centre Daily Times and the Daily Camera, Boulder, Co. The Centre Daily Times was chosen as one of the “World’s Best-Designed Newspapers” by the Society for News Design for three consecutive years.

Deborah has won gold, silver, and awards of excellence for her illustrations and page designs from the Society of News Design, as well as Print, American Illustration, New York Art Director’s Club, APME and a variety of state press organizations. She was featured as one of the newspaper industry’s outstanding young professionals in Presstime magazine’s “20 under 40,” and was the 1999 recipient of the Majeri Award for Innovation and Leadership in Visual Journalism from Ball State University.

Previous to her position with Knight Ridder, Deborah was the design director of the Detroit Free Press and assistant art director of the Dallas Times Herald, Dallas, Texas. She graduated magna cum laude from Syracuse University with a BFA in visual communications.

Deborah was the 1995 president of the Society for News Design and a Founding Judge of the Malofiej International Awards for excellence in informational …   More

Designer/Consultant

Kristen Powell

Kristen Powell has more than 16 years of newspaper experience as an editor, designer and art director. She brings a reader-focused approach to design, using images, text and graphics to create pages that offer depth and context for heavy readers and rewarding scannability for light and occasional readers. Through training and hands-on coaching, she works with staffs to develop the reflexes to look at stories and pages in new ways to engage more readers.

 

Kristen has been a designer, consultant and trainer with Creative Circle since July 2001. She was lead designer for Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers, a group of four dailies in southeastern Florida, The Advocate in Baton Rouge, La., The News Journal in Daytona Beach, Fla., the Staten Island (N.Y.) Register, and others. In addition, she worked with the staff of The Birmingham (Ala.) News to create their entertainment tabloid, CityScene.

Kristen also led redesigns and training for The News Tribune in Tacoma, Wa., and the Anderson (S.C.) Independent-Mail.

 

She has received several Society for News Design awards for her work including a silver medal, two features portfolio awards, and an award of excellence for her 2004 redesign of the Anderson (S.C.) Independent-Mail. Her work also has appeared in Print Magazine’s Regional Design annuals.

Before joining Creative Circle, Kristen spent seven years as a designer and editor at The Charlotte Observer. In 1997, she led the creation of the paper's award-winning entertainment section, E&T. From ’97 to 2000, she coordinated content for the section and served as its art director.

Prior to that, Kristen was features editor at the Anderson (S.C.) Independent-Mail. Her sections won a Penney-Missouri Lifestyle Journalism Award in 1993, as well as several state press awards for content and design. Kristen also has worked as a copy editor and reporter. She has a degree in journalism from the University of …   More