Many people ask me about my experience working in a tabloid newspaper and bringing visual storytelling to it.
I was interviewed by the SNDs Magazine, published in the Scandinavia countries, where I talk about it and about the power of telling stories visually.The magazine and the complete 6 pages interview are also avaiable as a digital magazine here: http://issuu.com/snds_magazine/docs/sndsmag_4_2015_web?e=1398717/31643322
For other issues of the magzine, check it here: http://snds.org/category/magazine/
Here some highlights of the interview:
“What was your process in order to introduce this in a Tabloid / Yellow press style?
For me, there is no tabloid-style or Yellow Press style. Yet, there is such a thing as tabloid-language, and it doesn’t have to be ugly, as many people say. I think popular newspapers have a special ability, more than any other publication, to surprise. Popular newspapers don’t need to be ugly to work.
Visual storytelling brings emotion and encourages action. Bad designed stories are like a potentially good movie, but have no soundtrack.
After the first months in the newsroom, nobody could convince me that all the poorly executed visuals which I found in some stories, were really what the readers wanted. I was sure that it was possible to unleash that power visually. Believe me when I say that, it’s possible to bring visual storytelling into the language of a tabloid. And the results can be impressive as well.”
“I’ve visited different tabloid newsrooms in Europe and many people have mentioned your work as a reference for raising the bar with storytelling for tabloids. But we know there is still a crisis when it came to number of sales, did this improve?
I’m not allowed to disclose profit numbers. But, after these 2 years, I can say it’s much better than the company expected. They are very good. (Smiles). I don’t think design is the only thing that can save a publication, although it can possibly kill one! I believe in the power of telling stories visually. For me, attracting readers at first glance, is key.”
“If you compare your experience to all those traditional newspapers where you have worked before, is there any special formula for bringing “visual storytelling” to a tabloid?
I’m not sure there’s any recipe written on stone for that matter, but I could say that understanding the language of the publication should be the first step. You need to know and understand your readers. And for me, what best defines “visual storytelling” is the combination between visual narrative and emotional reaction. If you achieve both, you can be sure that you’ve reached your readers.
Change is always hard. To change the culture of your team is even harder. If I could give any tip for a person who is trying to do it; “stop criticizing the past”. You have to get your hands dirty, inspiring your team with what you say by doing.”
Even in this digital age, visual storytelling remains an incredibly strong and powerful way to tell stories, bring emotion and seduce readers; what is more than never the key of success in the print media nowadays.
Print can not compete with the frequency of digital, but like I always say, can convince and surprise with the luxury of paper through the power of telling stories visually.
I am happy to prove that is possible to bring visual journalism to a tabloid newspaper. Bellow the result of some pages we published in the last 3 weeks, with an amazing team work.
(together with Rafal Piekarski and Marco Bratsch)
I collected the last 5 projects I did for mobile and tried to find out what were the common strategic points that I used in all of them during their development. It was an interesting exercise for me to go through all that project folders. The result surprised me. I found out that I had a small guide in front of me, that I collected through the experience that each project gave me.
The way I looked for answers to the question “how can we tell better stories on mobile devices?” made me establish strategies that I could resume in 5 important basic points. Those are definitely my mini strategy-bible for mobile.Describe a clear strategy of the evolution of a story since it breaks. Short narratives. Bullets. Visual Storytelling. All based on a “small screen experience”. Establish a clear workflow between news designers and editors, in order to work not only with the fixed templates you have developed, but to be able to create a different visual approach to a special story. Create a clear “content X visual” strategy that lures readers beyond links on social media. Find the element of frequency and timing. Get to know your reader in order to find out important basic answers. This will drive you to understand things like the best time of day to come out with a story on a mobile device: are newsier items better suited for early in the day as opposed to lifestyle stories? Or the other way around?
Those points guided me in 100% of the projects I developed and helped me to fight against the common habits of some newsrooms to think only on desktop and web when its about digital. Mobile is a completely different environment. We need experimentation and innovation around that small view size.
I am really honored to win 9 award at the European Newspaper Award with Bild am Sonntag, and to proove that there is not only space for visual journalism in a popular newspaper, but this combination can bring amazing results.
As I always say, visual journalism is more than choosing typography or the color of a box. It’s the use of visuals as content to tell stories. Visual storytelling encourage action and has the unic power to combine emotion and narrative information.
Here are the awarded pages and the categories:
News Pages (Refugees)
News Pages (News Pages in General)
News Pages (Refugees)
(together with Marco Bratsch)
I am honored to get 3 awards with my 3 latest works at the Lead Awards in Germany. It has been a great experience at Bild am Sonntag. The challenges are still in the beginning, but the results are already amazing.
Everybody knows that the use of Visual storytelling can attract readers also in the digital world. But is that all we have to care to keep our readers?
I have been saying it in the last digital projects I did for some newspapers: A simple article is the new front page. It is for most of the times where our readers meet us for the first time, and very often coming from the social medias. Keeping the focus on our traditional home pages, the way we have been doing in the last years, is not enough.
The use of visual storytelling attract readers to the story and to each details of it. But design was never such an essential tool, like it is now, in digital journalism. It is a support tool that helps each story standing on its own and luring readers into our website, if used in a strategic way.
This is the basic. The point from where we should start today when its about digital journalism strategy.
To read more:
This week I read a very interesting article about The New York Times and its plans to double its digital revenue by 2020. To achieve that, they plan to develop strategies that will entice readers to spend more time with the Times.
They announced the creation of the Express Team. “This new team will quickly and smartly weigh in on the issues and questions that are attracting attention across the day and around the world” they wrote.
This is the right approach in digital journalism frequency.
Last year I had the honor to redesign the biggest car Magazine in Europe, Auto Bild.
It was the biggest change that the magazine ever had. Typography, tables, graphics, photo language, grid, everything was rethought to make the magazine more attractive and easier to the reader.
Some weeks ago, Horizont (a specialised media magazine), evaluated the best redesigns done in Germany. Auto Bild is in the TOP 3 (with a note of 2,36 – 3 is the best) in front of traditional magazines such as Stern and Focus. I am really proud of this result, and of the amazing job done together with the Auto Bild team.For the redesign I developed 4 “project books”: StyleBook (where is all the project: with templates and libraries; despite of the style standards of typography, color and elements), Architecture Book (where all the structure of the magazine is defined: grid, distances, lines etc) and a HandBook (that explains how content and design should work together).
Bellow are some pages of the “number zero” and some very few pages of the Style Book.
Check here the “before x after” of the redesign.
Some pages of Auto Bild redesigned
Some few pages of the Style Book
I got 3 nominations at the “The Lead Awards” in Germany, with my 3 latest works. I am proud and happy with the results of bringing visual storytelling to a popular newspaper.
As visual journalists, we can get used to see sad images coming from different parts of the world.
But there are some things that are just impossible to get used to. Was the case of this last one. In the middle of the refugees crisis here in Europe, is hard to believe that this still happen today.
This photo went around the world. And even after seeing it everywhere, was very hard to do this page.
The headline says: Can a photo change the world?
I was said that there is still a lot to explore in terms of Visual storytelling with Twitter and all other social media.
During the debate last week, The Washington Post did it and illustrated its live tweets with colourful cards.
What a simple and great idea.